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THE VERDICT (dun dun duuuun):
Well, once again, King has proven to me that he does, in fact, know what he’s doing when it comes to the written word.
The first half of this book is memoir, and the way he talks about his journey with writing growing up mimics the way he writes his novels. You’re probably thinking, well, duh, the same guy wrote all of it. Well, duh, I know. But is a difference between fiction and nonfiction, and they are both usually (unfortunately) written very differently. Not everyone who writes nonfiction manages to write it as if you’re reading a story. This is how you’re supposed to write a memoir, but in my opinion it’s how most nonfiction should be done (with a few exceptions I suppose).
The second half of this book is about the craft. But, again, you can still tell it’s King writing. Which is important for me, since he’s half the reason I bought the book in the first place (a quarter of the reason is because the world of writers told me to, and a quarter is because it’s a book about writing and a memoir rolled into one). We all assume that, due to his success, King is a guy who knows his stuff. If his billions (disclaimer: slight exaggeration) of published novels and short stories are not enough proof, this book sure is.
So, the big question: Would I recommend this? Abso-freakin’-lutely. But do I? Well, not for everyone.
Stay with me. This isn’t a bash on King by any means. I would never. As mentioned, I love the book. I’m going to keep it handy at all times to pull out whenever I need some encouragement or advice or a reminder of some brilliance he mentioned. If I could, I would recommend it to everyone in the world. But alas, I cannot. And therefore I will not. WHY?
Because I don’t think that’s what King wants. In fact, I think I know that’s not what he wants. We’re on the same telepathic level here (read the book and you’ll get this reference, I promise).
There’s a section near the end of this book where King briefly discusses writing classes and how he is hesitant to believe that we need them. (I half agree and half disagree with this opinion, but that’s why it’s an opinion.) He also mentions that, hey, in fact, we don’t even need this book he’s written. Now, you may be thinking that this is just some bad marketing on his part. How dare you tell me I don’t need a book that I just spent money on and spent all of my free time reading?! Slow your roll and let’s think.
Did this book exist when he started writing? It most certainly did not. If you read this book, you’ll realize he didn’t even need a book about writing to get started. He started way too young to need or even want a book that explains what he’s trying to do. He just did it because he enjoyed it and he happened to be good at it. While I’m sure he’s done his fair share of reading books like these as the years went on, maybe during college (or maybe not, he didn’t really say), what got him started was his love for reading and mimicking what he loved to read. And in the end, writers, isn’t that kind of what we all do, on some level? We mimic what we love, but it comes out different because we’re all different.
If you’re a writer and haven’t read this book, you don’t need to read it. Why? Because you’re already a writer! Even if you’ve never been published, even if you’ve never let anyone else read your work, you are a writer. Without ever reading this book, touching it, or possibly even hearing of it before now, you’re a writer. You did that all on your own. Before you ever picked up a book about the craft, you at one point decided you wanted to write and you did. So, really, you don’t need a book like this. Well, let me rephrase: You don’t need (NEED) a book like this.
But we also don’t need the shelves full and piles of books we have laying around, do we? We don’t need collections of movies, some in DVD and some in Blu-Ray just for the better picture. We didn’t need toys when we were young. There isn’t much in life that we need other than sustenance, shelter, and clothing. Everything else is, more or less, material. But that doesn’t stop us.
If you’re interested in learning about Stephen King’s life, maybe don’t buy this. Do a Google search. If you have absolutely no interest in him or how he got to where he is today or the accident he had in 1999 and just want to learn about writing, maybe look at a different book.
If you’re a writer, it’s safe to say you should have this in your collection. This baby should be sitting pretty at your designated writing spot, ready to be cracked open and skimmed (after being read thoroughly once or twice of course). There’s just too much in here that’s valuable information, I don’t think writers should pass it up. I personally even think it would be interesting (and beneficial . . .) for the everyday reader to pick up, but I’m trying to be practical here. Don’t spend money where it isn’t needed. In some cases, this isn’t needed.
In others, though, grab this and scarf it down for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and make yourself a better writer for it.
Book: On Writing
Author: Stephen King
“Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King’s critically lauded, million-copy bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work.
“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.” [taken from Amazon]