I believe I’ve mentioned before, at the very least in passing, that my writing bible of sorts is On Writing by Stephen King. I try to read it at least once a year. I’ve read other books on writing, but this is the one that really resonated with me.
It’s divided into two sections (okay, there’s also a postscript as well, but let’s not go splitting hairs just for the sake of splitting them). The first section, the C.V. is a biography of sorts, detailing memories and events that he believes helped shape him as a writer, or at the very least, pushed him on his writing path. The second section is the toolbox, in which he provides all of the “tools” he believes a writer needs. (If you’re curious, the postscript recounts his being hit by a van, nearly dying, and how writing fit into his recovery.)
It’s the toolbox portion of the book that really got to me, though I have to admit, I loved reading about his life (I’m voyeuristic like that). Stephen King was brought up lower middle class and that’s how he presents the toolbox. It is what it is without pretension. It was the first writing book I read that didn’t leave me feeling stupid afterwards. It didn’t leave me feeling like I was doing it wrong.
The book is very much “Here’s how I did it, here’s what I do, here’s what I think works, here’s what I think might help you, now go and work it out for yourself”. Like I said, no pretension. He acknowledges that there’s no one way or right way to writing success or even writing period. He makes me feel like not only is it okay to do it my way, but to experiment without abandon to find out what my way is. I appreciate that.
I appreciate the advice, the experience, and the straightforward way he presents the sometimes aloof subject of writing. There’s no glamour, no nose-in-the-air snottiness. It’s a job. It’s a lot of work. And if you really love it, then it’s more than worth it.
As I said before, I try to read it once a year to remind myself what I’m doing. It’s like a map. I read the book to get my bearings so I can plod on. I don’t belong to a writer’s group. I have a few writing friends, by not many. This book is my guide, which may be a little silly, but it works for me.
And thank you, Stephen King, for giving me the freedom to find out what works for me.