Friday, September 10, 2010

Review: ON WRITING by Stephen King

Review: ON WRITING by Stephen King

First, an update on me.  My reading for fun has taken a hit the last couple of weeks, because I’m taking this stupid MBA class that is totally kicking my ass.  On top of that I have had to break down and get a day job.  I know!  That sucks the big one!  After sixteen months of retirement (unemployment), my sugar daddy has decided I need to make some cash.  I’m only going to work part time, 20 hours a week, so I still should be able to continue my writing.  I’m telling you all this because my personal reading might take a hit and therefore, my blog will not be updated as often as it has been in the past.  Don’t worry, even while working full time, I still read two novels a week, so the blog will still be plenty active. 

Now, on to business.  On Writing.  Whether you like his style of books or not, I don’t think anyone can disagree that Stephen King is a genius.  My reading history with King has been perilous.  As a teen, I read every book he wrote—devoured them like candy—until The Tommyknockers.  I’ve never quite forgiven him for The Tommyknockers.  It killed me to have to put it down, but seriously—250 pages on the inner workings of a battery?  I understand that King was coked out of his mind when he wrote it, and it showed, but his editor should have had a “come to jesus” talk with him at that point. 

Okay, I know King has been drug and alcohol free for fifteen years now, but I just wouldn’t let myself go back to him…until On Writing.  Mr. King, I want to publically forgive you for The Tommyknockers and let you know that I’m a believer again. 

On Writing is part memoir/part guide for new writers.  As a writer myself, I am fascinated by those who have “made it” in the business.  Since King is one of the most recognizable and prolific authors of our time, there is no greater expert out there to talk on this subject.  In fact, reading the second half of the book was like King having the “come to Jesus” talk with me.  He called me out and kicked my ass on all of the things I’m doing as a writer that I shouldn’t—and he’s 100% right.  I needed this book right at this time.  I am ¾ of the way though my second novel and have completely fallen out of love with it.  Since King wrote this in second person, it felt like he was talking directly to me, calling me out on all my bullshit excuses.  I needed that. 

On Writing is not just a dressing down—the story was very inspiring as well.  King has been through a lot of crap over his career, some of his making and he’s honest about that, but he has come through it strong.  Most of all, this book showed me that even successful writers have been through the same self-doubt and aggravations that I go through.  He too had a formidable stack of rejection letters wracked up.  Finishing this book made we want to tackle that manuscript again.  Thank you, Mr. King. 

Overall, I give On Writing

Plot – 3 bookmarks (primarily non-fiction, but there is a personal narrative which threads through.)
Practical Application – 5 bookmarks.  (Every writer should read this book—preferably when they are down on themselves.)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Stephen King as himself.  


  1. I've heard so much about this book, but I've never read it! I must do that

  2. My cousin was a journalism major and just recommended this book to me.

    I have a blog encouraging mothers to record stories from their youth for their children and am interested in the genre of memoir for ordinary folk.

    She shared with me his analogy of a story being like a small bone in a dig and you have to keep digging (writing) to uncover what is there. Looks like I'll need to go find the book!:)

  3. I love this book! The seven bucks I spent on it was far more worthwhile than the three hundred I once wasted on a college creative writing class. My copy is full of underlinings and turned down page corners.

  4. Creative writing professors in universities should be using excerpts from this book in their classes.