Review: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft


“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 will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Stephen King has always been a huge inspiration for me. His writing is breathe taking and he’s so honest with his craft, it’s hard not to love.

“On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” is a memoir of King’s life and also his ideas and thoughts on how and why he’s the big name that he is today.

It is part biography, part collection of tips for the aspiring writer. In the final chapters, King tells the reader of his recent accident.

In June 1999 a Dodge minivan lurched over the hilltop, totally out of control and run him over while on a walk. It was driven by a local man named Bryan Smith. After bouncing off the windshield, King found himself at the side of the road with his lap turned the wrong way. One of his legs was broken in nine places, “like so many marbles in a sock”, as his surgeon described it. He had a collapsed lung and lacerations on his scalp.

Understanding her husband’s need to write, Tabitha created a makeshift desk in the hallway only five weeks after the accident. Soon, he was back to his own self. In the 15 or so months since his accident, he has written the e-novella, Riding the Bullet, most of a teleplay in six hour-long parts for TV, and a 900-page novel, Dreamcatcher. He added the story of his accident to a book about the craft of writing that he’d already finished as well.

Stephen King knows how to teach writing without telling you what to do. He’s vague enough for the reader to understand their own path while avoiding things that will make writing harder for you.

“In my view, stories and novels consist of three parts,” he explains “narration, description, and dialogue.”

He warns, “The adverb is not your friend.”

He advises writing behind a closed door: “It is your way of telling the world and yourself that you mean business; you have made a serious commitment to write and intend to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.”

Fans will find moments of interest here, especially when he talks about his own extraordinary writing habits.

The best part of the book remains his account of how writing saved his life after the accident. It’s a bizarre and absorbing story, told brilliantly by one of the great storytellers of our time. It’s a keeper in my collection and I plan on rereading it as much as I can.

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