Stephen King talks about shame in the book. I was able to relate to that. He says that all writers, including him, have at some time felt shame for what they wrote. They feel like either it is not good enough or they feel terrible because someone else doesn't agree on the style or the subject and tell them how bad it is. It is important for anyone who creates anything to know that this feeling comes with the territory. I personally did not know that that was a common feeling. I especially hadn't imagined Stephen King every doubting any of his written words. He lets you know that when you are writing, write for yourself. Do not worry about the critics, or the different groups of people who won't like your work. If you did that, you would never actually write anything, would you?
It is, of course, well-written and easy to read. King makes it very easy to understand his points. Reading his history and the stories from his life really help in learning more about how someone seemingly normal can grow to become one of the most influential authors of our time. He is not just a science-fiction/horror author. He is a true artist and master of the craft we call writing.
Another great point he makes in the book is to trust your editor. The first draft must be rewritten to be even better. Make corrections and simplify it. He emphasizes to take out any of the "bullshit" and just tell a good story. In the end, after you have written and rewritten the best you can, accept what your editor has to add, and maybe a good book will come out of it.
Every tip is simply put. He doesn't come off as stuck up. It is very clear that painting a picture using words alone is second nature to him, but his tips are extremely easy to understand and to really get. He lets you know, very honestly I might add, how to get the most out of yourself and showcase the talent within yourself. He makes it clear that every writer is different. There is a great story about his band that he plays in called The Remainders, or sometimes the Raymond Burr's Legs. King plays with as small group of authors and columnists. They couldn't have more different writing styles. He writes about a conversation he has with Amy Tan, who is a fellow member of the band, over a meal. It struck me as funny. It was hard to imagine the likes of Stephen King sitting down and having a normal talk with the author of The Joy Luck Club. Of course, the book is not on his reading list that he makes sure to add at the end of this memoir, but it is clear a simple sentence from her gave him the "okay" to write this book. In fact, he dedicates it to Amy Tan.
Stephen King is the exception, not the rule. He was undoubtedly born with a very natural talent that may have been raw at first, but he was able to hone and mold and grow as the years went on. Not everyone can write. It is not something that can be learned (other than the basic grammar, punctuation, and style rules). It is a craving one is born with. King was definitely born with that craving and he manages to prove that over and over again. There is a reason he has been extremely successful when others still struggle. With that in mind, it may be discouraging for some if they do not feel they come close to the potential King obviously has. Writing seems to have always come easy for him.
I have always loved to write. Every since I was able to form my first word with letters, I wrote. I wrote every time I had a chance. In fact, I was writing high school vampire stories in junior high during the early 90's before any of those other people were. Anyway, it was always hard for me to concentrate on anything other than reading or writing. My only problem was that I didn't believe in myself. Although I loved to write stories, I never felt I was any good at it. In fact, I remember felling ashamed of how badly written everything seemed to be once I got it out on paper. I thought I would have been born with this magical ability to blow everyone else out of the water, but it was not meant to be. Or was it?
I threw away all of my old writings years ago. I threw away any journals and any papers I could find. I regret throwing all of that out. I would love to be able to read through some of it now and maybe even rewrite it. Think of all of the ideas I threw away just out of my own issues with self-esteem.
I am now 30 years old and have begun to write again. I can feel a future in it. I want to write novels. Even if they all turn out to be frothy beach reads, I am fine with that. Maybe I'll never turn out the great novel of the century, but I will try my best to simply tell a story to anyone who wants to read it. So, I picked up a book that was given to me years ago. Unfortunately I never read it. I put it on my bookshelf and went on with my life, assuming this is all there is. I was being silly about wanting to make a career out of it. There are so many writers trying to make it out there, and compared to my work, there was no chance of me succeeding. That book that was given to me was Stephen King's On Writing - a Memoir of the Craft. I wish I would have read it a long time ago.
If I could say one thing to Stephen King it would be: Thank you for being you and inspiring me without all the "bullshit".
He has written a beautiful book about what he knows. I cannot wait to read some of the other books he has suggested on the subject of writing. One in particular is by E.B. White, whom I am especially fond of from Charlotte's Web. I actually have a very, very old worn down copy of it sitting on my bookshelf. I think it is time to get it down and start reading it to my daughters.
Either way, I would suggest this particular memoir about writing to anyone who is an aspiring writer, or just wants a good read. I am happy I finally took the time to read it.
There is a great website that you can write a short essay, story, paragraph, whatever you choose and it is able to calculate this piece of writing in the database stored and compare it to a large inventory of different writers. It then comes back to you and tells you which famous writer you write like. I was compared to Stephen King, which was a huge compliment. If he were to actually read any of my work, he may say otherwise. I really don't know about how accurate it is. However, it is still fun to try. It is iwl.me.