Rating: 4.5 / 5
Stephen King is an author that my dad introduced me to many years ago (possibly at an earlier age than one might generally think Stephen King reading to be suitable). Even now we discuss when he has a new book coming out and whether or not each of us has read it. My grandmother (my dad’s mom) even got in on the action, tracking down some fun illustrated editions of the first few Dark Tower series novels at a library sale for me.
I have been on a slow quest to read through all of Stephen King’s backlist more or less in order going back to his earliest publications. It has been fun to revisit old favorites (like THE STAND and IT) and find a few that I missed along the way (like FROM A BUICK 8). When ON WRITING came up on my Stephen King publication list, I gave it a pass since I am not a writer and wasn’t especially looking to pick up non-fiction at the time.
Then in June I noticed that the King Buddy Reads group on Instagram was reading this book this month. I had been hoping to join one of their reads, so I decided to just see if I could get a copy through the library and give it a try. It took quite a while to come in, so I didn’t really get the chance to join in the buddy read aspect, but this book sucked me in as I hadn’t expected it to do.
This book is much more than just a manual on writing. Stephen King delivers a memoir of his childhood and his development as an author that was entertaining and heartfelt. He speaks of his earliest writing attempts and failures, his marriage and family life and much more. He doesn’t promise that this book will teach you the ‘right’ way to write, he just gives you insights into his way. It clearly has worked out well for him.
It was fun to hear little snippets about books he has written and why he made choices that he did. He talks about setting aside THE STAND to work out a sticky plot point and that at the time of the memoir he had a story about a Buick that he had set aside to do some research, the pages due to become FROM A BUICK 8 in the future.
The final section of the memoir talks about his horrific accident when he was struck by a car and nearly fatally wounded. At the time he was about halfway through writing this memoir. This was especially interesting to me because he uses this incident in the Dark Tower series and it was very interesting to hear the factual story that he would later incorporate into his fictional account of Roland and his companions.
I really didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did! It was especially good on audio as Stephen King narrates it himself. That said, the physical copy does have a few pages where he shows marked up pages of writing, so I am glad to have had both to enjoy!
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