One of the best books I’ve read on the subject of writing is Stephen King’s own On Writing: a Memoir of the Craft. The reason this book Stands out, is not because it is written by the master himself, which yes, makes it instant gold, but more because it comes from a person, ridiculously successful in the craft, who is simply speaking his truth.
At no point in the book does Mr. King say This is what any person who wants to be a successful writer MUST do. In fact, he stresses in several instances, this is just what works for me. Likewise, he does not shove any flowery sentiments up the reader’s ass that everyone has what it takes to be great—they flat out don’t, and so saying, there is simply no way to turn mediocre to master, sorry!
Another thing that makes this book beautiful, is the way Mr. King begins with a story. The story of a boy growing up with a mother and a brother, and a tremendous love for a good adventure. As he tells the story of his life, the reader gets a glimpse of what shaped a man into a legend, yet it is by no means magical. And that, I think, is what allows the reader to feel like they are sitting on a curb, chatting with a friend. He is not puffy. He is not elevated. And he is not out of reach. He is real—just like me and you. And he has a genuine desire to tell us how we can do this too, if we possess the love and the skill.
I have never read a how-to on writing that did not profess the only way to write a book is to tackle it as you would a math problem. They ALL go on at length on the importance of structure, and outlining, and plot, and character development…blah, blah, blah! But not Stephen’s! In fact, Mr. King says something of the opposite. In regards to plotting, he states:
I distrust plot for two reasons: first, because our lives are largely plotless, even when you add in all our reasonable precautions and careful planning; and second, because I believe plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren’t compatible… I want you to understand that my basic belief about the making of stories is that they pretty much make themselves.
OH MY LAWD!! Hallelujah! Praise the MUSE, and thank you, Mr. King!
This quote is like air to me. Understand that Mr. King is NOT saying these elements of writing DO NOT come into play, but that they are NOT the driving force. They are not where you begin, but rather only tools that you may pick up should you get stuck. Ultimately, though, the story writes itself and we are merely the scribes… (this is another loose quote).
Though I can rattle on at length about my new friend Stephen (I say this because as I was reading, I gave my husband nightly updates on what my buddy Stephen told me that day), I would just like to say to ANYONE, not just writer’s, this was a wonderful book— personal, touching, instructive, and delightful to read.
I highly recommend!
~Hope you’re livin’ your best life!