I never thought I would be the type of person to start a blog. Not that there is a “type” of person that blogs, I’m sure bloggers are very nice people, some of my best friends are bloggers…please don’t flame me….(nervous laughter)…
Anywho, since I don’t know anything about blogging, but I do know lots and lots about reading books, I’m going to focus on that. I know, totally original eh? I bet nobody has ever written a blog about reading books!
I recently finished Stephen King’s semi-autobiography, semi-writing manual On Writing. I got it from the library and devoured it in a week. It took that long because I had to come up for air to feed my children and make nice with the spouse.
(On a side note: Go to the library people! Your tax dollars pay for it, and you would be surprised what a FREE library card will get you these days: bestsellers, audio books, some libraries even let you borrow PS3 and XBox 360 games along with new release Blu Ray DVDs. Do you need another reason?)
I’ve read a few of his novels. I liked The Stand. I loved The Eyes of the Dragon. I figured someone who’s written fifty-odd books could teach me a thing or twenty about writing. So I read it. I have to admit, I skimmed the first little bit about his early years. I slowed down when he started talking about the boozing – I know, I know, pathetic – and then I read the last paragraph of the autobiography section and I just stopped dead, and started crying.
In my defense, I cry very easily. It happens after you have children. The world suddenly seems more fragile, or maybe you become aware of how much you have to lose.
So anyways, I started crying. When I calmed down, I read the paragraph again and then showed it to the spouse, who said, “Interesting. I don’t get it.” I explain and he gets it, but doesn’t cry. (He’s got thicker skin than I do. One of us has to keep it together when those sad commercials come on T.V.)
Here is the paragraph for those of you too lazy to go the library, and too cheap to go to the bookstore:
“It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.” (King, 101)
I know, right? Gives you goosebumps. I never thought Stephen King was really ‘literary’ but I was wrong. Because he nailed it, in one sentence. That’s what writing is all about – live your life first, that’s the most important bit, and the writing will flow from there.
The rest of the book had lots of good tips ranging from grammatical hints, tips on character and dialogue, even an example of the writing process. After I finished reading it, I felt like I had taken the equivalent of a writing course. It’s the sort of book you read if you are interested in improving your writing, but you already have a pretty good grasp of the subject. There was a lot of, “For the love of God, don’t do that…” which was highly instructive (she said cheerfully.) Parts of it felt like he was ranting about the dumb mistakes writers make, but in a good way. Papa King, lighting the way to publishing success, or at least offering the lowly, hopeful writer a match to light his/her own candle.
For that one paragraph though, it was worth it. I’m going to buy a copy as soon as I get a chance. It’s worth having in anyone’s library.
Next up: Consolation by Michael Redhill