I am always hungry to read memoirs about the writing life. I'm downright greedy for more information: How do the best writers think?
How do they arrange their days? How do they view themselves and their work? What do they do with schedules, when and what do they read, do their families think they're crazy?
All that juicy stuff.
But sometimes, it gets depressing.
Some writers hate writing. Or at least they find it so difficult and excruciating that, yeah, it practically amounts to hatred.
This is not the kind of stuff I want to read about. (I know it can be helpful to all yowl about writing together, but ... sheesh. It does get discouraging.)
I'd rather hear from someone who's been around the block and still loves to write. Someone who still has that freshness, who can't help enjoying it, who thrives on stories.
That's how I want to be. That's who I want to learn from.
I loved this book for his tone--he's funny, salty, honest, and generous. It has a practical, companionable feel, but there's a crazy amount of wisdom in it as well. (Get ready to underline a bunch!)
Best of all, he still loves writing so much that it reinvigorates me when my own enthusiasm starts flagging.
The first section he calls C.V., "a kind of curriculum vitae--my attempt to show how one writer was formed."
It's essentially a memoir, but a memoir through the lens of writing. Experiences from childhood that turned into themes in his fiction.
Totally cool, right? The story nerd in me just eats that up. It sent me musing through my own childhood, thinking again about stuff from childhood that stayed with me, the themes I am always writing toward.
And King shows how the kinds of stories he loved as a kid became the kinds of stories he aimed to tell as a writer. (Which, I'm finding, is also true of me.)
That whole first section is laced with writerly thinking, but it's in the second half of On Writing that he talks about writing itself--what makes good writing good, and why you should read everything you can get your hands on.
He also talks through his own process (soooooo helpful), and how he thinks through each stage of a project. There's so much practical stuff in here! A lot of ideas that I took and applied to my own work.
This is a good one, friends. It's personal, and interesting, and will help you see how your life has shaped your writing, and how your writing shapes your life. At the same time, he talks about the craft in a way that sharpens your writing, and hones your attention.
This is an especially good book to grab if you're tempted to feel grumpy about your writing life, or how hard writing has been.
As King says near the very end of the book,
Writing isn't about making money, getting famous.
... It's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work,
and enriching your own life, as well.
It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over.
Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.
He's been through just about everything, he's written a zillion words (I'm sure that's an accurate number), and he still gets happy about writing.
That's exactly how I want to be.