I bought this book towards the end of last year when I knew we were moving to a bigger apartment. The idea was that we’ll turn the second bedroom into an office and I’ll have a ‘room of one’s own’ (another book on my TBR). This was supposed to give me the mental space to take a stab at going back to writing fiction…this is still in progress, it’s a process you may say.
Back to the book – I read raving reviews of it and decided it may just give me the much-needed nudge. And it did indeed tickle my brain, but not enough, for now, to overcome my fear. I discovered I am scared of going back to writing fiction because I am not sure if I still can do it. Writing other things is relatively easy for me because there is usually a specific thing that forms the backbone of the text, something real one builds around. With fiction, I feel that all bets are off.
King divided his book into three parts. The first one is a memoir, he tells us how he became a writer. How he started and developed, failed, succeeded and failed again. He writes about his personal life, but only in relation to his writing. Clearly showing us that life will always get in the way and if you want to write you just have to write. That simple.
He then moves on to the more specific and practical part of the book. Presenting us his toolbox. Starting with grammar and vocabulary all the way to symbolism and finding an agent. This part is very to the point and loaded with examples. He is never only theorizing, but always drives his point home using samples of various texts. Walking us through them, analyzing the good and the bad.
The third part is the story of the car accident he had while writing the book. His recovery was slow and painful and it took him months to get back to writing.
As always King’s writing is direct and approachable, but not simplistic. He opens his workshop for us. Sharing samples of his texts with the edits he made as he went on. He shares his reading lists, his writing habits and rituals, his pet-hate. All of that without being patronizing.
It was a great read and an inspiring book. King never says it will be easy, but he also shows it is manageable if writing is what you want to do. The book also made me a bit more conscious about the ‘toolbox’. I have a long way to go before I use it with full awareness, but it got me thinking and observing more and that’s a good start.
I will definitely go back to this book many times. It reminded me of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, but King’s no-nonsense delivery definitely worked better for me.
Quotes from On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft