I have never been a Stephen King fan. As part of some class in high school I had to read a short story about a possessed dry cleaning machine (or at least that's what I think it was) and that put me off him forever. It wasn't the writing - I probably couldn't have identified good or bad writing at the time - it was the subject matter. I was not interested in horror then, and still don't care for it now. In fact it generally irritates me.
In hindsight, that judgment - made when I was about 15 - might be too harsh. Maybe that story was simply a poor example of his work, or I woke up on the wrong side of the bed that day. Whatever the case, I am forced to reevaluate King now.
Those who know me well know I have a desire to be a writer. I suffer from some of the usual writer's problems, though, and haven't done enough writing to make me happy as a result. (That said, this blog is an excuse to write, so I am at least making strides in the right direction.)
Recently I decided to chase this dream a bit more aggressively, and this book came up as a recommendation. I'd never heard of it - I'd ignored King for roughly 25 years - but sometimes a search engine can point you in a surprising direction.
In On Writing King gives us several things:
- The experiences in life that made him the writer he is.
- Some tools (his metaphor) you need to write: vocabulary, grammar, etc.
- How to write. The actual day-to-day process of writing and editing, discussed clearly so you know what you're in for.
- An example manuscript before he edited the first draft and what the marked up pages looked like.
- Permission to read and write 4 to 6 (or more) hours a day.
Anyone looking to write should consider reading On Writing. And I will reconsider King's work. Anyone want to give me some recommendations for things that aren't horror?