On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Stephen King wrote “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” about his learning and living the craft of writing. The informal conversational style makes the book enjoyable. King organized the book in three sections.
Autobiographical describes the book’s first section. It centers the content on his early exposure to fiction. His first attempts at writing began in elementary school. The journey begins in the family basement with the story of his writing for his brother’s mimeographed newspaper. King was next editor of his high school paper in his sophomore year in high school. The high school administration tells him to accept a job at the local newspaper by the school faculty after he wrote a satire newsletter about the school faculty.
A nail on his bedroom wall holds his rejection slips. He shares how and what he learned from the rejections as he recalls the tales of his early tries to get published.
The adventure continues to the University of Maine, where he majors in English, meets his wife, and transitions to adulthood. We learn how his teaching high school English and his summer jobs played a role in his breakthrough success with the novel Carrie ($2,500 advance on the hardcover release and $400,000 for the paperback rights), and his later development as an author.
King also discusses his problems with drugs and alcohol. He shares how his wife has played a major role in his personal and writing life. From the book, you can tell he loves and respects her very much. She plays a key role in his life.
No-nonsense instruction on writing describes section two. It covers everything from tips on grammar to ideas about developing plot and character. King uses this section as a guide for “how a competent writer can become a good one.” Stresses his beliefs that a writer should edit out unnecessary details, he also points out words how one should avoid words ending in “ly” and adverbs. We learn how he writes first drafts and second drafts.
Epilog describes section three. Recalling the 1999 accident where a van struck and injured him during his afternoon has you as an eyewitness to the event. We learn the van driver was trying to keep his Rottweiler dog out of an ice chest of raw meat while not paying attention to his driving. King describes his brush with death. We learn about his painful recovery. He tells of his struggle to write again.
I recommend purchasing and reading the book. It is also available on audiobook.