I’ve been reading Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. It’s a short book, 288 pages including the two “And Furthermore” sections. My step-dad recommended it to me because both he and my mom read and enjoy my blog, and the idea of writing a book has been doing laps in my head for…well, for a really long time. He felt this would be a primer of sorts, I believe, to help me make the leap from thinking about it to possibly actually writing one. Whatever the final outcome, I am enjoy myself with another Stephen King creation.
Stephen King was one of the first authors I read as a young girl leaving the world of Shel Silverstein and entering more adult type books. Don’t get me wrong. Shel Silverstein’s books, the ones I know of (Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, Falling Up), are ones I still flip through from time to time. They are somewhat timeless in my opinion, and reading them as an adult changes the way I see the stories, but only moderately so. They also help me remember the little girl inside of me that fell in love with his style before life replaced so much of my child-like innocence with life experience, as it tends to do.
I have loved Stephen King since the first book of his I read. The worlds that he opened for my imagination were new, exciting, horrific, and mesmerizing and I could not get enough. This is not to say that there aren’t books of his I have not enjoyed – Thinner, It – they just weren’t my cup of tea. I have, by no means, read all of King’s books. Thinner I just couldn’t seem to get into, even many chapters in, and ended up just walking away. It, well, to be honest, I never read. I did see the movie, though, and it is also one I walked away from, but for different reasons. That clown is just plain evil and my imagination gave it way too much life, making it as close to real as it could be without actually being so. Many a middle of the night trip to the bathroom was traveled with a fearful anticipation after less than half the movie. Stephen King definitely has the ability to take imaginary fears and make them life-like in a way that drags me along through the story wanting to run away but completely unable to do so because I must, MUST, find out what happens next.
Anyway, On Writing is not that type of book, though King shows his ability to grab onto fears as he does so often, but, in this book, he presents them to the light, causing them to dwindle down to just annoying nudges, if not disappear all together. These are not the fears of psychopaths entering your life or other such things but the fears of putting your words forward for the world to read. Backed with stories of his own journey, King gives straight forward advice on how to deal with your own writing gremlins, takes some of their powers to induce paralysing fear away by exposing them to the light of truth, as he has seen and experienced it, though I doubt the man ever experienced paralysing fear over exposing his writing. As I read the book, I get the feeling Stephen King was born already formulating stories to be told to the world.
I’m most of the way through this book, and have to say that it has changed my perspective about writing in so many ways. Sure, there are The Committee members that are all too ready to voice their doubts and beliefs in a stern, almost chastising, voice, but they seem a bit more timid, now. Perhaps these Committee members are somewhat like the shame Brene Brown speaks of: exposing them to the light, sharing them, takes away their power and they can’t survive being fully unmasked.
King has also reminded me of the importance of reading. Reading keeps the imagination growing and strong. Sure, I have been listening to a ton of audiobooks for quite some time, but there is something about holding the book in my hands, especially with fiction, that is akin to what I imagine laying my hands on the Philosopher’s Stone would be like: all empowering, connecting to the source of all that is possible, finding real magic.
So, my dear blogging and non-blogging readers, if you feel there is a book inside of you waiting to get out but you do not believe you are capable, that you do not have “what it takes,” I am recommending On Writing by Stephen King to you, as it was recommended to me. You may make it through the book and decide that writing a book, or anything for that matter, is just not your path. So be it. You have at least taken a look at it from a different perspective and come to a decision. Good. On the other hand, you may make it through the book and dive head long into your first novel. You might not even make it through the book before the writer in you can wait no longer and must begin to put words on paper (or laptop screen or whatever your writing medium is), begin creating new worlds and experiences, and to connect with and wield incredible magic.