Sunday, February 17, 2008

Book Review: "On Writing" by Stephen King

When we decide we want to write and the wind catches us just so, we'll put pen to paper or allow our fingers to set sail on the keys of our keyboards. Our voyage will take us here and there and back again, because that's what writing is for most of us, a form of escape.
Sometimes, however, we can't seem to get there. We lose that intimate relationship with our medium and that gap soon drives a wedge between us and our storytelling. It's a common occurrence, I suppose. If it weren't all that common I doubt Barnes & Noble or Amazon would have so many books available to get you writing again.
Writers are a delicate bunch. We have ego's and we loathe criticism. After all, who knows better than we do how our stories should go or how they should end? Obviously there must be something else, so we turn to books, as if someone out there has written something that will give us all the answers and confirm our belief that we really are that good.
I suppose that was a very wordy way of saying that I've bought my own fair share of books to get me writing again. To be honest, none of them kicked me in the pants enough to get me to churn out the rest of my novel. I'm still getting there, but I'm not ready just yet. The last book I read on the subject was Stephen King's "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft". I thought I would take a little time to write a review since it took me a little off guard in a very refreshing way.

Whether you like horror or not Stephen King is, without a doubt, a very good writer. Of course he has the sales to prove it, but what makes him so likable to me is that I don't really like all of the things I've read with his name attached. This makes him human and if Stephen King is human then that sheds a little hope for the rest of us.
In "On Writing" Stephen King takes the first part of the book to explain to us, and very likely to himself, exactly what it is that makes him qualified to offer advice when it comes to writing. He weaves a tale about his childhood and the events that made him who he is today. Once we know where he's coming from he starts to slide in the way it all applies to writing.
There is actually only one writing exercise in the book. At first I was a little disappointed but I took the time to finish it and what I found was that I had written the short story in a whole new light. I approached it from a new angle and hadn't really even realized it until I sat back and read it afterwards.
The mantra of becoming a writer, according to King, is that writers write. They don't always have to write well, but they have to write. Another important aspect of being a writer is reading. A lot. If you don't have time for these, King says, you probably won't become a famous author.

These words sting a little but the truth of it is there and it's staring us in the face. It's a lot of fun talking about that novel we're writing or the story we're working on, but if we don't actually sit down and write then we're not writers at all, just dreamers and talkers. Today I am a writer because I have written. I'll have to earn that title again tomorrow if I'd like to wear it.

I give "On Writing" a big thumbs up!

Writing Exercise:
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