On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft
By: Stephen King
Scribner; Anniversary edition (July 6, 2010)
On Writing is widely considered one of the best books out there on the art, of writing. If you are interested in writing, it will not disappoint. I would have to consider On Writing, along with Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird, two of my favorite. King expertly weaves writing advice with autobiography in a clear and concise way. The backstory is always fascinating to me. I especially enjoyed the scene where King – while living in a $90 per month apartment – found out the paperback rights to his first bestseller, Carrie, sold for $400,000.
Two of my favorite quotes:
I am approaching the heart of this book with two theses, both simple. The first is that good writing consists of mastering the fundamentals (vocabulary, grammar, the elements of style) and then filling the third level of your toolbox with the right instruments. The second is that while it is impossible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer, and while it is equally impossible to make a great writer out of a good one, it is possible, with lots of hard work, dedication, and timely help, to make a good writer out of a merely competent one.
My wife made a crucial difference during those two years I spent teaching at Hampden (and washing sheets at New Franklin Laundry during the summer vacation). If she had suggested that the time I spent writing stories on the front porch of our rented house on Pond Street or in the laundry room of our rented trailer on Klatt Road in Hermon was wasted time, I think a lot of the heart would have gone out of me. Tabby never voiced a single doubt, however. Her support was a constant, one of the few good things I could take as a given. And whenever I see a first novel dedicated to a wife (or a husband), I smile and think, There’s someone who knows. Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough.