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On Writing - A Memoir of the Craft Paperback – 2001
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For years I dreamed of having the sort of massive oak slap that would dominate a room..In 1981 I got the one I wanted and placed it in the middle of a spacious, skylighted study in the rear of the house. For six years I sat behind that desk either drunk or wrecked out of my mind...A year or two after I sobered up, I got rid of the monstrosity and put in a living-room suite where it has been...In the early nineties, before they moved on to their own lives, my kids sometimes came up in the evening to watch a basketball game or a movie and eat pizza..I got another desk-it's handmade, beautiful, and half the size of the T. rex desk. I put it at the far west end of the office, in a corner under the eave...I'm sitting under it now, a fifty-three-year-old man with bad eyes, a gimp leg, and no hangover. I'm doing what I now how to do, and as well as I know how to do it. I came through all the stuff I told you about..and now I'm going to tell you as much as I can about the job...It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support-system for art. It's the other way around.
Top customer reviews
.....There are a plethora of takeaways from this fine reference, far too many to include in my review. I will attempt to prioritize the more important ones for myself and relay them to anyone kind enough to read my review on Amazon. If I have neglected to mention any of value, they have probably been mentioned or discussed before in countless other reviews of this work.
Takeaway 1--Omit needless words, adverbs, the passive voice, and excessive description whenever possible.
Takeaway 2--Imitation often precedes creation. SK related how as a child he often copied stories from authors he enjoyed verbatim; sometimes omitting and sometimes adding story fragments of his own creation. There is no shame in imitation if it is part of the learning process!
Takeaway 3--King lists his wife/marriage and his physical health as his two keys for success. The message for aspiring authors should be to exercise regularly and marry someone who is both positive and supporting of your endeavors.
Takeaway 4--Read a lot and write a lot. The art of description is a learned skill that develops and improves with copious reading and voluminous writing. There is no substitute for time invested in this make-or-break skill set.
Takeaway 5--Keep your story chronological whenever possible. Flashback sequences sometimes work well in the movies or on television, but often come across as corny or cliche in novels..
Takeaway 7--Find a network of trustworthy individuals to read and give feedback on your first draft in its rawest form.
.......Affably written and educational, this well organized book is a delight to read. There were several revelations in this book, the most important one revealed as Mr.King recounted his near-fatal accident in 1999(he was hit by a drunk driver in a van while out for his afternoon walk). He professes that life isn't a support system for art --the reverse is actually true. Art is a support system for life. Mr King recounts vividly how the inseparable link between his writing and his life helped motivate him during the many months of his painful recuperation. My favorite quote of his is near the end of the book: "Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who read your work, and enriching your own life, as well." I cannot recommend this inspirational and entertaining book highly enough to readers. Pubished in 2001? Seems like it was written yesterday!
After reading the book, I found a new level of respect for Stephen King. He tells it like it is. At the end of the day, writing is really about the story. Truth be told, I read Hemmingway and Steinbeck in school because I had to and I read King because I wanted to. So he must be doing something right. New writers have a lot to learn from King, and I'm thankful that he took time to share his insight.