Remember that one book I didn't feel bad about buying a couple posts ago? Nice to know my reader's intuition was dead on. Stephen King's On Writing is a gem. I have never been a King fan, only because I do not read or watch anything remotely horror related. However, I thoroughly enjoy his ventures in other genres, although a couple are somewhat related to the horror genre I guess. Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and 11/22/63 to name a few. And as I read 11/22/63 I noticed that King really is an excellent writer (yes, I'm way behind on noticing this...better late than never.)
So, having finally picked up King's book On Writing, I have fallen in love. He reaffirms so many things I have found to be true, things I have questioned myself about, and things I didn't think of when it comes to writing and being a writer. Look at these quotes (in bold):
If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot....I'm a slow reader, but I usually get through seventy or eighty books a year, mostly fiction. Yea, okay, the story of my life (at the 50-60 count level)! Nice to know I've been doing something right the past 32 years!!
You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. It's hard for me to believe that people who read very little (or not at all in some cases) should presume to write and expect people to like what they've written, but I know it's true....Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. THANK YOU! Finally, someone who gives support for why teaching writing isn't working so well in schools these days. Students do not really read (at all), so it is very hard for them to grasp the craft of writing when they have to. (Not saying we shouldn't teaching writing, but it is an uphill and slowly losing battle.)
Reading is the creative center of a writer's life. I take a book with me everywhere I go, and find there are all sort of opportunities to dip in (he names a few that I agree with :)....Reading at meals is considered rude in polite society, but if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway. AWESOME!!! I love my friends and family, but there are so many times I'd just rather be with my book...and it seems at this point it was all for a reason. Is that harsh? I don't know that I care that it is. It's the truth, it's how I've really felt at times. And while I am all for balance, once a dream has been birthed and is obviously meant to be (remember, I'm not claiming anything about publication, just the act of writing), that really is all there is to it, if the person is willing to put in the work! I cannot remember a time when I didn't want to read or write. God has programmed this into me!
King goes on to name a bunch of places you can squeeze reading in. I have to add this one in just for my husband and TV lovers everywhere. Yes, he's talking especially to writers, but still: You must be prepared to do some serious turning inward...and that means, I'm afraid, that Geraldo, Keith Obermann, and Jay Leno must go. Reading takes time, and the glass teat takes too much of it. Here's the part I love: I'd like to suggest that turning off that endlessly quacking box is apt to improve the quality of your life as well as the quality of your writing. Sounds like advice to the world at large (my italics).
Anyway, you get the picture. Finding King so long after he's been a big deal was perfect timing for my writing life.