Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.
Everyone and their mother (and my mother!) has read this book, so this review will be quick I promise. I am just glad I finally took the time to read it!
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
By Stephen King
Published Date: October 2000
Read Date: June 2019
Genre: Nonfiction, books about writing, memoirs
Page Count: 288 pages
Rating: 4/5 Moose
Rants, Raves, and Reviews
First, I am not a huge fan of Stephen King’s work. I can’t quite explain why, other than I find him overly wordy and occasionally gross when it isn’t necessary (see: the way Beverly is talked about in IT.) But I do love some of his work, and respect what he has done for the horror genre. Even though he’s not entirely for me, I am always willing to give him a shot.
Maybe that’s why it took me so long to read this book. I’ve owned it for…ever, and I’ve almost accidentally bought duplicate copies over the years. I even go through periods where I strangely devour “how to write” books, so why did I take so long to learn from the master?
This book is half a memoir of how Stephen King came to be the author he is, half a discussion on what he does to write and why it works. The memoir part I actually really enjoyed: Stephen King did not come out of the gate as a bestselling author. And the jobs he had in the beginning are worse than anything I’ve had myself. He touches on his years with addiction, the births of his kids, and how he focused more on short stories for a long time. Honestly, that was the most surprising part of the book. I actually do enjoy his short story collections quite a bit, and they do seem to be important to him as well.
As someone who experienced a horrific car accident, I personally could have done without that memory, but I get why it was in the book. It made me anxious as hell to get through, but it is a nice reminder that everyone is mortal. Even famous best selling authors who have three movies being made of their works in 2019.
As for the writing advice, there wasn’t a ton new or different. No one is going to give you, an upcoming author, the secret to writing a bestselling novel. If you are looking for that, I have a serum I can sell you for a good price. But I am truly fascinated by what works for authors. Some focus on time, some focus on word count. Some write for only themselves, and some write for an audience of two. (King works this way. He writes for himself and for his wife Tabitha, who is a fascinating woman as well.) I like the discussion of your tool box, and the descriptions of the places he’s written books before. It ….makes him feel human, like I can do it too.
If you’re looking for the secret to success, stop looking for it in author’s books on how to write. If you are looking for a short memoir and what’s worked for a successful author, then you won’t find too many more famous than Stephen King.