There’s a couple of reasons why I should have hated author Stephen King’s memoir/writing textbook On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. First, I dislike most memoirs. I believe that the majority of people are just like me with lives that are pretty ordinary. Thus, I believe one must be extraordinarily full of oneself to justify writing a memoir. Second, I am in the .00002 percent of the world’s population who has never — not EVER — read a novel by Stephen King. It isn’t that I am protesting his prolificacy. On the contrary, more power to a person who can come up with that many ideas. He has written 58 novels, six non-fiction books, and some 200 short stories. And I’ve read exactly none. I just am not a fan of horror stories that involve talking cars and snarling giant dogs. I’ve loved the movies made from his books, however. Go figure.
At any rate, despite the fact that I SHOULD have hated this book, instead, I loved it.
The first part of the book is mostly memoir — his own fairly self-deprecating story of his ordinary life growing up in the 50s and 60s. It was a nostalgic walk down Memory Lane for me as in many ways, his life duplicated mine and many other Baby Boomers. But the story of his youth painted a clear picture as to why he ended up being a writer, and specifically primarily a writer of horror fiction.
The second part of the book is a writing lesson. I will freely admit that I’m a writing geek. I love grammar and vocabulary, and I mostly always have. King’s lessons were not preachy, just practical. Basically, he says, if you want to be a writer, then you must write, write, write. Find a spot where you are comfortable and write. Pay attention to life around you and write. Find someone with whom you are comfortable and let them critique what you write.
Even if you aren’t a writer and have no desire to become one, this book is an interesting look at an ordinary man during one of the best times to be a kid, and told by someone who can write one heck of a good story.