Book Review. On Writing.

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On Writing

A Memior of the Craft

Stephen King

2000

Scribner

Simon & Schuster, Inc.

For the man who speaks of books “First Line’s” Even this, he opened with a proper one.

I read this book and then re-read this book, marking it up with highlights and underlined passages, notes all along the sides.

What I liked is it wasn’t boring and textbook but rather a novel like read. It wasn’t instructive in a “I know what the hell I’m doing” but rather humble. And instructive in showing that “Though here are some things that I CAN tell you, writing is more easy learned by doing” and in doing so writing is just that…writing. One must write, one must have that within them and do it and not everyone makes it. But writing…the craft…the art, itself, cannot be taught. The fundamentals of grammar and spelling, the story of how one successful writer went about it. A few tools for the tool-box as King put’s it but in the end, you either have it…or you don’t. Without focusing too much he also shows that you must DO it, in discipline…not in the ideal setting but a writer will write…anywhere and everywhere. Including laundry rooms in his case.

Through the second reading I had begun NaNoWriMo, writing Behind The White Gate, and slowly reading in only portions, and not even all the way through, many other books in the meantime, and so I also I read through the first start of editing.

On Writing didn’t teach me How To write…but it did teach me often that I was on the right path. I like simple…but it also taught me to cut out the extra crap and get on with the point…to move the story along. To learn to pace it.

It taught me that others should read your work before a publisher. Something that is a personal hard one for me…I can stand the stranger but not at all the face in the audience who I know..and who knows me.

And it taught me that my idea of discipline was on the right track…as well as writing my style and what I thought was right. Or at least me.

Often I didn’t learn anything new but had moments of “ok ok…I am doing that…wait…I am doing exactly what a successful writer says I should be doing. Awesome. Maybe I am on the right path then.” Maybe.

I enjoyed reading about King himself as long time fan growing up my entire life. Sometimes bits of works I easily took for granted of his were put into perspective and a new respect deeper than an enjoyed respect came out of this.

I do take away to be prepared for rejection but to keep on going. How to learn from rejection and keep on going and sometimes how to ignore , tweak or handle rejection and keep on going.

Reading about his horrible jobs that paid the bills at the start of his career kept me going through a summer of serving tables at a busy restaurant in a beach town. My mantra often became “If he can do that, I can do this.” And even more than getting through the work that paid my bills was getting home and still writing when exhausted. This is one big lesson I took from this book. Even if these were things I was already doing, it was what gave me push to keep going and told me that I was doing right.

I loved the line “Dodie was everything they were afraid of.” This resonated with me deeply on a personal level.

I personally also needed the entire talk (I felt this was a I’m lookin’ at you kid” moment) of dialog. And here I learned, I hope, a lot. Now just to actually use the tool.

Reading through On Writing made me want to go back and read some of his novel’s.

As a writer I certainly recommend, and ad, On Writing, along with every Stephen King quote about writing, into my writers toolbox.

 

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