“You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.”
Personally, I have never read a Stephen King novel in my life (so far). I have a copy of "It" thicker than the pages of homework I get and a couple of his other gems residing on my black bookshelf, but I have not read his novels, despite loving the horror genre. Why? I'm not very sure.
However, my mother bought a copy of "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft" for Christmas, and I sped through the book during my brother's baseball games. I was focused more on absorbing King's intellect he gained from long years of being a successful writer than watching my brother slam a home run out of the park.
"On Writing" by no means informs you of everything in the writing world, for then it would be about a million pages. Instead, King simplififies the writing process with a taste of his hilarious personal experiences, to even heartbreaking ones. The book is separated into five sections. The first section dives into his childhood, and King claims that this is not an autobiography, but sporadic whispes of memories peeking out from his mind. He recalls his development as a writer, how he met his wife, other instances that landed him to the spot he is at today. Perhaps my favorite part of this section are the hilarious stories laced throughout.
The second section is about what writing is, simplified to the core. King offers the advice that to be a successful writer, you must read and write a lot.
The third section highlights about the "writing toolbox." There are parts dedicated to writing, grammar, and more. I learned a lot about the process of writing a novel in this section due to King's own processes as well. It made me consider the question of, "What is really inside my writing toolbox?"
The fourth section is my personal favorite, as it guides the reader into King's advice on symbolism, themes, and the other recurring parts of writing. With his own examples, King made the book a learning experience for starry-eyed dreamers like me. Getting taught by one of the most dominanting authors in the business was something that would stick in my mind like gum, transferred to my long term memory.
The final section dealt with a tragic car crash incident that King suffered from when he was struck by a van. His descriptions of the injuries were enough to make one cringe and squirm in their seats. What struck me the most about this was the fact that King plunged into a four month long writing block. Instead of being discouraged, he continued to persevere through it. This specific part put into context that the best of us struggle too, and that we are all human.
I also specifically liked how King provided examples in the book. He mentioned a few of his specific novels and novellas. In the end of the book, he also had a long reading lists of books that inspired him or that he simply enjoyed. Immediately, I searched for them all on Goodreads.
This book is by no means a bible on writing, but it changed the way that I view the craft, averting my gaze. King allowed an inspiration to bloom inside my mind.
I recommend this book to anybody interested in the art of writing, who one day dreams of having the story drilled in their head unfold into others.
"Books are a uniquely portable magic."