On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King is half mini-biography of how King found writing and published his first novel Carrie, and the other half is tips and insights of the writing process, the end goes back into biography to take the reader through his accident that could have killed him. This is a reread for me, I read it when I was in college and had the writing bug, well the bug is back and I thought I would get another lesson from the master Stephen King. When I had read On Writing before I was a Stephen King novice having only read about five of is works, now I’ve read 26 which is a huge difference. There’s a lot of insights into his past work that I missed because I hadn’t read more of his works. The one that I have not read which is Misery ( I plan to soon) has really good insight, into his process of ideas, and his original ending is pretty wicked. He had a great section on The Stand and how to end it. The writing lessons are invaluable and also inspiring, he details the way for a writer to reach success, with a lot of hard work and a plan for submissions.
What I learned: I learned that Stephen King threw Carrie away and his wife Tabitha King pulled it out of the trash and said there is something there, since this was the first novel that he sold it was pretty cool. Stephen King put all his rejection letters on a nail, then later a train spike, when he had so many. He writes a novel then puts it away for 6 weeks to get a fresh perspective. His original idea for Misery was drastically different from the original ending in his mind, he listened to the characters and let it guide him to the new ending. He writes 10,000 words a day which is about five pages, then he stops sometimes he accomplishes this fast, but sometimes not. His work ethic is detrimental to his success.
What I Liked: The insights in to the craft, are special. I like how real and honest it is, we has no quick fix to being a writer, work hard submit short stories to place that don’t pay, your job is creating an audience, build up enough published works to start submitting for an agent. I like the insights into the works of Stephen King, we get stories about Salem’s Lot, The Green Mile, Misery, Carrie, The Running Man, The Stand, The Shining, The Dead Zone, Heart in Atlantis, Different Seasons, Night Shift and From a Buick 8. He also discusses his addictions and recovery in a very raw and real way. The story how his agent phoned him about the sale of Carrie was priceless.
What I Disliked: I did want more stories about his most famous works, I can’t believe there was more about IT, there was a small blurb about his brother and him blocking a creek which flooded various parts of town, but I wanted more.
Recommendation: I think this is a great resource for those curious about the craft. This book will not make you a writer, but King lays out the hard work and the long hours it takes. I love that it recommends reading as a great tool to learn form and style. I rated On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft 5 out of 5 this is the same rating when I was and college and now have an even deeper sense of understanding.