In my quest for publication, I’ve started collecting a number of books about writing. Some, like The Chicago Manual of Style, are great references, but not something I’m likely to read cover-to-cover any time in the near future.
Then there is Stephen King’s On Writing. The book came highly recommended, and I have to say that, for me, it’s the best thing he’s ever written. I haven’t finished it yet, because I’ve found myself savoring the read. King offers a lot of solid advice for writers, especially those of us not yet published.
First and foremost, of course, is the persistence issue. Most of us have heard at some time or other: If you are a writer, you can’t NOT write. I would argue that you can, but from my experience it makes you miserable and a bear to live with. Okay, it makes me that way, but I’d lay odds it is like that for many writers. However, one CAN write and never publish a word. The persistence issue is all about publication. It’s about growing a thick skin because it’s likely you will be told “no” a lot before someone finally says “yes”.
Another wonderful piece in the book is about a writer’s tool box. Even if you want to skip the first hundred pages of On Writing, I recommend every writer take a look at the toolbox section. It will help to narrow down all your concerns about your own writing to the ones you really need to work on.
I could keep going on all the reasons this book is a must read for aspiring novelists, but the short and sweet of that is just to tell you to read it yourself and take from it what you can.
So, you might ask, how am I going to do a series about this book? The answer is simple enough. While I agree with much of what King says, there are pieces I whole-heartedly disagree with. Had I come upon his book when I was younger, less sure of myself, and less outspoken, parts of it may have stopped me from writing. Not just from seeking publication, but potentially writing at all. So, I plan to take the parts I disagreed with and dissect them.
Some might argue that I don’t have the authority to do that sort of thing. After all, King is an award-winning, international bestselling author, and I’m … not. But, I am a reader, and as such, I’m entitled to my opinions on what I read. That’s what this series is, a second opinion. Mine doesn’t mean that King’s is wrong, but his doesn’t mean mine is wrong either. Or yours for that matter.
So, dear reader, cozy up in your chair with me and, for the next few weeks, let’s dissect Stephen King.
Oh, come on, don’t tell me you never thought about doing it before.