I used to read a lot of how-to writing books, but since I’ve become a published author I don’t read so many. But a friend gave me Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing’. While it is touted as a how-to, it is so much more than that. Part memoir, part why-to, and lastly, part how-to, it is an engrossing look at one man’s journey to becoming a novelist.
Making writing your a career is like dieting or the road to enlightenment… every individual has their own path, what works best for them, and to be successful is to adhere to your firearms… stick to your guns. I will freely admit that right now I am having a little trouble with this. How do I satisfy myself and the reading public’s tastes? How do I do what I need to do and yet write something that will be commercially viable? How do I meld what I want to write with what I should be writing?
It’s not like I’m writing The Unbearable Lightness of Being here. I write commercial fiction, genre fiction, and I love it passionately.
So King’s book comes at a good time for me. A friend asked me, “Does it explain why he’s such a weird person?” And I replied yes, it does. It explains how he uses his nightmares and dreams, his fear and his failures, his glorious depths and fearful heights, and I find it wholly admirable. It explains in part how all writers are a little ‘weird’.
I’ll admit I’ve only read a couple of Stephen King books, Carrie and Misery. I tried to read Gerald’s Game and couldn’t. His stuff is a little too offbeat for me, perhaps. But after reading On Writing, I think I will be looking through his backlist to see what else there is.
But first I’ll finish On Writing. I’m reading it slowly, digesting little bits like an especially flavourful entree that you want to linger over.
I’m glad I’m reading it.