Monday, May 29, 2006

Library Book #4

On Writing by Stephen King

So some of you may think "heck no, he scares me." And that's probably true. King is an absolute master at horror. But his book On Writing is fantastic. It tells of his journey to publication, explains his theory of "the writer's toolbox" and what he thinks you need inside and it delves into his philosophies on writing itself which contain many great things to remember.

King makes two statements that I particularly love. The first is "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot." He insists there is no shortcut and I agree with him.

Then he goes on to explain that even for those that think they don't have reading time avaialable, there are creative ways to find some. This next comment is probably my favorite of all my writing books and all writers should adopt this as law and feel the luxury of living this way. He says "Reading at meals is considered rude in polite society, but if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the 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."

Now does that mean as soon as your book is in print, you become the scourge on humanity? People cross streets to avoid brushing up against you, women cover babies and run screaming in horror? Of course not. But how many of you have written something you loved then wondered or worried about who it was going to offend?

Stop worrying. Be true to yourself and your art.

After receiving some truly odd contest scores once (perfect in preliminaries and lowest in finals complete with rude remarks), I asked a published author friend, Jane Graves/Sullivan, about this anomoly because it had happened more than once and the disparity was odd to me. She said "you are in the perfect place with your work - people either love it or hate it - but you're creating a strong emotion in them and that's what you want or you'll be a low mid-list writer forever."

WOW! That really opened my eyes. It was okay for people to hate my book because for everyone who absolutely detested my work, there would be people who thought it was the second coming of the great American love story. What a trade off! I can take a few tacky comments along with glowing praise. Who wouldn't?

Write your story your way, without concern for anyone else and what they think. Be true to yourself and your characters, your plot. After all, no one else has the stake in your writing that you do - don't sell yourself short when you can create huge emotion in your readers. Even if it's bad.


Anonymous said...

Morning, Jana. There you go adding to my TBR pile again! I know theres a lot of mixed opinion on Stephen King, I personally love him. I think the way he can take the mundane twist it up and write 4-500 words about it is mazing. He has also personified some of the most memorable characters IMHO.
I love the bit about editing through anothers eyes...will my mother read this? my kids? cut copy paste, put it in, take it out LOL been there done that. I'll definitely be picking up King's book.

Jana DeLeon said...

Good morning, Lainey. Sorry to add to your TBR (and remove from your wallet), but I absolutely loved SK's book. It is informative and very inspirational. And the biggest surprise I took away was that SK is very, very funny! He has an amazing way of gettng right to the heart of matters, no holds barred. And you have to respect his journey to publication. Truly a great author.

Cari Manderscheid said...

Ah, yes, this is one of my favorite writing books, as well. His down-to-earth style is so unexpected, it was half the pleasure of reading the book.

I had this book recommended to me when I first started writing, but some reason or another, I didn't purchase it until many years later. I remember reading it and wondering why the hell it had taken me so long to go and buy it!
Now it sits permanently on my bookshelf.


Jana DeLeon said...

Hey, Cari! SK is definitely a keeper! Weren't you surprised at how funny he was?

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