On Writing (Part 1)

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I’m reviewing books on writing and the first book on my list is On Writing by Stephen King.

The first edition came out in 2000. So it’s a millennium baby and dated if you think about it. But I’m reading it and a book hangover is how I feel right now.

King has the kind of conversational style that makes you think you are the only one he is talking to. It’s not surprising that his writing is the stuff of page turners. In his CV, the first part of the book, he talks about his problems with substance abuse and addiction; it’s strange how his writing has that addictive quality as well. I’d rather read his book than write this review but ZenScribe decided that we needed reviews on the go.

So yeah a review and a half here, or a quarter.

King is a page turner and it’s not all that surprising considering how long he’s kept at it. He was formed, not made, he says. Many things shaped his thinking- his lovely mother, his two hundred pound baby sitter, the merciless ear doctor, his genius brother…..

The memoir part of the book spells Honesty. King is transparent and he is not bitter about anything which is why the reader would like him and want to learn from him. He came from poverty and he knows what rock bottom feels like but what he always wants to do is to write. You got to keep writing if you want to be a writer, right?

He writes in school. He writes after work. He writes through his marriage. He marries a woman who writes as well. He writes through substance abuse. He writes in the corner of the room. He takes in everything, the pulse of the world he knows, the movies he loves and transcribes them into a basement world, a zone where he can just be the King.

That’s romantic stuff- being a writer through adversity.


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But what I think is incredibly(forgive me for the adverb, Steve!) important is that he is an Entrepreneur and always was. He’s born to market his books. He knows a book survives on an audience and he goes the length and breadth of the bones of his craft to sell.

When Miss Hisler, a prim teacher tells him off for wasting talent, he’s forward thinking- the writer who knows how to write spook and writes it. He works his way up the writing ladder- notorious editor of the school paper, diligent sports reporter, mill worker and then a best seller churner.

He doesn’t say he wants to write. He writes and he sells his writing- first to his mom for a quarter and then years later to Double Day for an advance of two hundred thousand.

There’s a lesson there for writing wannabes and even writers who have a book or two to their credit. You can’t complain about having to market your book and write it too, especially if you are a good writer. It’s your book remember? Find a way to get it out there! Reading On Writing is a good nudge in the right direction.

4 Comments

  1. I enjoyed your reviews King. He certainly has come a long hard road. Congrats to him for following his dream and his love.

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