Monday, November 9, 2009

On Writing, Stephen King

All fans of Stephen King should read this book!

I've always enjoyed reading anything by Stephen King. I find his language and writing style to be so conversational. I am hearing a story - it's like we are talking.

In the first half of "On Writing", Stephen King talks about his life. When you hear the name Stephen King one thing that may come to mind is "famous author". Hearing about his early years was surprising to me, and encouraging. His road to success has not been easy street - far from it.

I was shocked to read that Stephen King was in his forties before he stopped feeling ashamed of the kind of books he wrote. He talks about a teacher making him feel ashamed for writing "trash". As a modern day educator - this is insane. If a student is interested in something you encourage it. Considering the success of his novels, not to mention how teriffic they all are, I was surprised to read that he ever felt ashamed of his writing. And he's right, no matter what you do - (music in my case) when you put your talent out there, someone is going to trash it. It's a reminder that even the people we admire most in this world have had times when they have felt inadequate. And even though this is unfortunate, it's at the same time an uplifting thought. When I feel like nothing is going my way I can think "Hey... even Stephen King has been here. And look how he turned out."

I had always read that Stephen King reads as much as he writes. I'm happy to find out that this is true! Reading "On Writing" has inspired me to get an audiobook to listen to in the car and while I'm cooking dinner. I thought it appropriate to choose an audiobook of "Hearts in Atlantis", a Stephen King novel. OK, I'll be honest, my husband suggested this to me 6 months ago, but it sounded different coming from Stephen King. I guess Dennis was right after all!

Stephen King talks about having a favorite spot to read. I suppose most of us have a favorite place. Mine - the loveseat in the living room. It's the perfect size for me to stretch out if I want, there's a place for the cat to sit with me. It's under a window and next to an endtable with a lamp, so there's a good blend of natural and artifical light. The endtable provides a nice place for me to put my wine glass, coffee cup, or water bottle. Plus - I can see into the sunroom where Dennis is on the computer or watching TV so if I need a smile it's not far away.

What is your favorite place?

I am someone who is more of a reader (ok, a lot more of a reader) than a writer. You look at books like "The Dark Tower" or "The Stand" and they're so massive! It was facinating to hear King's process on taking these ideas and making them into the final product. (Not "product" as in an item to sell - "product" as in a finished piece... you know what I mean!)

I will not give away any of Stephen King's insights here - because you should really read the book yourself, and I cannot retell them nearly as well! One insight I want to comment on is this; King talks about his ideas as a fossil - a fossil which needs to be carefully excavated. This is delightful to me. It's an encouraging thought. Your story is there, and you need to get it out bit by bit.

Besides this "fossil" idea, Stephen King has much to offer about the language. I am attempting to use these tips right now, and this is only a blog. I've already eliminated many unecessary words and I'm hoping it's making my writing more direct. Throughout "On Writing", Stephen King uses lots of examples, which I loved. It was great to have him talk about something and then see an example of it right away. It helped me to really understand what he was talking about.

I've only touched on a few things that made this book great. I highly reccomend it. It's wonderful to hear that an author enjoys writing his books as much as you enjoy reading them. I'm glad there's a balance!

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