This Review contains spoilers.
“In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
Published: 2012, by Hodder & Stoughton.
Genre: Nonfiction, Language, Writing, Autobiography, Memoir, Biography
Contains: Strong language, descriptions of trauma.
‘On Writing’ is part memoir and part advice on the world of writing. Split into separate sections, ‘On Writing’ allowed King to guide readers through various important factors necessary to be a good writer. C.V. is his story of how he became a writer, Toolbox is a metaphor regarding a Writer’s Toolkit of essential techniques, On Writing educates on the elements of what makes a good story, and, finally, On Living: A Postscript is how Stephen King grew as a writer after a traumatic accident.
I began reading this book after seeing it on a recommended reading list for my University dissertation, and admittedly I was a little skeptic to start. Like most books on writing, I was expecting three-hundred pages of boredom, or as King puts it – “…most books about writing are filled with bullshit.” (page xv) However, this is the most entertaining one I’ve read yet.
The first part of the book is full of entertaining anecdotes about his life, those which he claims are what made him a writer. He opens up about problems with illness as a child, to times where his Mother would buy his stories and always seem supportive of his goals. As a writer myself, these moments in his life were inspiring to read, following through his life and insecurities until he feels comfortable with enough knowledge of the craft to write a whole book on it. Throughout the book there’s also multiple references to his work, especially Carrie, Salem’s’ Lot and Cujo, which have since urged me to pick them up and read more about the stories he’d talked so much about creating.
The second part of the book is where he discusses the craft of writing, yet doesn’t linger in too much detail. Unlike other books I’ve read there’s no overwhelming feeling whilst reading, King manages to educate the audience without making them feel like writing is completely hopeless, which is desperately appreciated after having read so many previous.
Finally, the third part returns to the memoir, yet is focused on a serious traffic accident leading to him nearly losing his life. The event itself is told in traumatic detail, which as a reader shows how much its held in his mind. Although, singling this moment out seems a little out of place to the rest of the book, it oddly works shows his recovery and passion for writing as he eventually returned to his work with the help of his wife.
Overall, ‘On Writing’ was an easy, entertaining read. I’m thankful for the pace of the advice, having left me content with my own work and appreciative of the insight into King’s life.