Review of ON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT by STEPHEN KING
The subtitle of this book summarizes it pretty well: part memoir and part writing guide. Though now a recognized must-read for aspiring authors, many other readers will find plenty to enjoy here in terms of insight into writers and Stephen King specifically.
I have a unique relationship with King’s work. It’s not my taste and yet I still retain the utmost respect for his talents. I have read a few books and stories by him and I consistently admire the writing, plotting, and characterization...but I'm simply not a horror fan. His advice to fellow writers also pops everywhere a beginner writer looks and I admire and agree with pretty much every quote I’ve heard attributed to him. One of my favorites from this book: “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” My critique partners, boyfriend, friends, family have all heard my similar rants - and now I’m definitely posting that quote somewhere around my writing desk.
As an aspiring writer myself, I’ll confess it’s always tempting to compare yourself when reading or listening to an established author talk about writing. I won’t go off on overly personal tangents here, but I will mention one thing that struck me as interesting simply from the standpoint of factors that can lead to becoming a writer. King says he was frequently sick as a child, and therefore often spent a lot of time indoors, usually reading. Myself as well. I have asthma and, up until a few years ago, had a terrible immune system, which led to pneumonia, bronchitis, strep throat, whooping cough, and mono that took me over a year to kick. King credits this misfortune, though, for giving him plenty of time to read and use his imagination. Personally, I feel the same about myself.
In summary, a humble and insightful peek inside a writer’s mind that only increased the respect I feel for this particular author.