Thursday, 21 May 2015

Book Review: Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Up until last week, I had never read a Stephen King book. Not such a big deal right? Wrong. Around these parts Stephen King, John Grisham and Danielle Steel are all the rage. If these authors decided to set up base in the 254, they would probably receive a hero's welcome. It is safe to say it was about time I jumped on to this ride.

Stephen King: On Writing has since borne my fascination with all things Stephen King.

I was pretty much a blank canvas when I started reading this book and gladly so. My expectation was to find an instruction manual of some sort with do's and don'ts. Well, wasn't I pleasantly surprised to find that the book was quite the opposite.

This would be manual kicked of with a memoir. Within this section I found myself reading between the very lines that he urged against. I became acquainted with Little Stevie King, Steve and finally the renowned Stephen King. Through it all a couple of things are constant take for instance the support system he had in form of his mom during his early years and later on his wife, Tabby, who also happens to be his Ideal Reader (I.R.), his various journalistic stints which involved writing for his brother's paper Dave's Rag,  the much needed umph he added to the otherwise dull school paper, later writing for Playboy, Jugs etc. he has seen it or should I say written it all.

He explains a couple of creatives' misconceptions; this fascination of being deep and spontaneous through writing, calling it divine dictation,

"First there is a mountain/ then there is a mountain/ then there is no mountain"

When really it's not about being deep anymore; it never was even though you would have liked it to be. It is about understanding, understanding your own work, others understanding your work and you understanding their work.

Another misconception I am glad he expounded on is drugs and alcohol in the lives of creatives through his own struggle with alcohol and cocaine. He hides nothing, letting you into the mind of the addict. What made sense the most when it came to this,

"It's a misconception that creative endeavour and mind altering substances are entwined"

Then he gets to the good stuff. The nitty-gritty. Why we are reading the book in the first place. He gets you the budding writer going on what needs to be in your writing tool box beginning with the bare essentials; grammar, vocabulary, use of passive voice etc. Basically drawing the line on a couple of things.

Through this book aspiring writers and writers alike are torn apart highlighting some of their writing demons. They are torn apart limb from limb and more than that pounded and ground into a fine powder so that they are put back together with their tools of the trade sharper than ever before.

Leaving nothing to chance he illustrates everything he talks of through precise and clear examples borrowed from his own work or other famous authors. But if there is one thing he could not have emphasized enough is the importance of reading to all writers :

 "If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to work.

 "Reading is the creative centre of every writer's life"

 Can he make it any clearer. I mean the guy reads 70-80 books a year himself!

You have an opportunity to lose nothing and gain everything from this Stephen King installment. Die hard fans will have a sneak peek into what was going through King's mind when he wrote some of his best sellers and newbies like myself will become converts looking for their next "Stevie Wonder " fix from the wide selection he already has.

This book has earned a spot on my favorite book list and I honestly cannot wait to re-read it a good million times eventually becoming one of those snotty people  who whenever the opportunity arises gets the chance to quote him.

Have a good one!

No comments :

Post a Comment