On Writing, A Memoir Of The Craft, by Stephen King
I had read this remarkable work a few years back, on the recommendation of my friend Loretta. Recently, it was mentioned and praised by my writing group, so I found an inexpensive used copy on Amazon and bought it to not only read again, but to refer to when I get stalled in my writing.
I've been a Stephen King fan for years. I distinctly remember where I was and what I was doing when I read several of his books. Salem's Lot: the first night I spent in my first apartment, a third floor walk-up in an old row house in Bethlehem PA, furnished with only a lamp and a sleeping bag until the furniture got moved in. Scared the bejesus out of me. The Stand: During a week-long vacation down the Jersey shore, I went to the beach every day and read it all the way through and started it all over again. It felt like the characters were friends. Misery: On a plane going to California. I gasped involuntarily several times throughout and had to stop reading to compose myself. Cujo: One of the last summer vacations I took en famille to the cabin up North. So, Mr. King has provided the backdrop to many of my memories.
I haven't been so impressed with most of what he's done after Gerald's Game, but he's so prolific and such a good storyteller, his works stand the test of time. I was thrilled to read On Writing, to get a glimpse of how he works.
On Writing delivers. Two of his suggestions I can readily agree with: write a lot and read a lot. He also suggests not watching a lot of television, but I disagree with that. Although a lot of tv is pure unadulterated crap (The Bachelor? Survivor? 90210?) there are some well-written shows and these can be an inspiration as well.
He has useful advice about the workmanship of writing. That it is work, that you need to have a workspace of your own, no matter how humble (he wrote Carrie in the laundry room of his double wide trailer) and you need to write nearly day. He suggests 1000 words a day at minimum. He also recommends that after your first draft is done, you let some select friends/family read what you've written for feedback.
As with most of King's works, there is underlying humor and smart-ass remarks are sprinkled throughout. If you are a fledgling writer or just a Constant Reader who has an interest in the art, I highly recommend On Writing as a reasonable enough explanation for the whole thing.