On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’ve never read a single book by Stephen King, so this makes my first. While reading On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (2000), I decided, however, that I’ll very likely read a few of his books.
On Writing is down-to-earth, humble, honest, and enlightening. King doesn’t speak down to the reader-wanna-be-writer, but rather plainly and on equal terms. The book is divided into about three equal parts (out of 291 pages, can be read in a few days):
1) King’s Past, growing up and as struggling writer; 2) The Mechanics of Effective Writing; and, 3) On Living.
The first part of the book about King’s past really opens the door into King’s personal life, and the reader comes out respecting the man more. Coming from a middle-class, broken home, King swiftly pinpoints and relates key moments in his childhood and adolescence that had some influence on him becoming a writer. The memories (at times he says are “snapshots”) are sometimes a page in length, and are usually quite funny and charming.
King writes, “At some point I began to write my own stories. Imitation preceded creation” (p 27). As the reader follows King from a small child to his first big sale of Carrie for $400,000 (he’d get half of that) on Mother’s Day in 1973, the reader is watching history unfold—how an unknown writer-high school teacher has his dreams come true, and the story is gripping and inspirational, to say the least.
The second part of this book is primarily about the mechanics of writing. At several times King mentions Strunk and White’s book The Elements of Style (which I highly recommend for any writer, new or not).
Much of what King has to relate here is nothing new or special and has been repeated a hundred plus times in many other craft books on writing. But he explains it simply and briefly, and one can tell he is adept at what he does.
The last section of the book focuses on two areas: a) King’s near-death accident when he was hit by a van in June 1999; b) the story “1408” before and after edits. King’s traumatic event is told with clarity and is quite interesting, and shows that he is a man like other men, just one who really enjoys writing. After the accident, King explains how difficult it was to finish a book he was working on, which turns out to be the very book being read, On Writing.
King writes: “The pain in my hip was just short of apocalyptic. And the first five hundred words were uniquely terrifying—it was as if I’d never written anything before them in my life. All my old tricks seemed to have deserted me. I stepped from one word to the next like a very old man finding his way across a stream on a zigzag line of wet stones.
There was no inspiration that first afternoon, only a kind of stubborn determination and the hope that things would get better if I kept at it” (p 268) and later, after the writing becomes easier, he says that it makes him happy “because it’s what I was made to do” (p 269).
One more quote I’d like to add really sums up King’s view on writing, which is there’s no bullshit, and he’s right. In this book, he has kept the bullshit out of it. Toward the end, he writes: “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well” (p 269). No bullshit there.
Exactly a book any writer needs along the way to enrich his/her life. A strong recommend for any writer at any level, whether you’re a fan of King or not. After reading On Writing by Stephen King, I won’t hesitate to try out his other books.
The American novelist CG FEWSTON has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (Italy), a Visiting Fellow at Hong Kong’s CityU, & he’s a been member of the Hemingway Society, Americans for the Arts, PEN America, Club Med, & the Royal Society of Literature. He’s also a been Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) based in London.
He’s the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Father’s Son (2005), The New America: A Collection (2007), The Mystic’s Smile ~ A Play in 3 Acts (2007), Vanity of Vanities (2011), A Time to Love in Tehran (2015), Little Hometown, America (2020); A Time to Forget in East Berlin (2022), and Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being (2023).
He has a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors), and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Fiction. He was born in Texas in 1979.
A TIME TO FORGET IN EAST BERLIN
BREW Book Excellence Award Winner
BREW Readers’ Choice Award Winner
“A spellbinding tale of love and espionage set under the looming shadow of the Berlin Wall in 1975… A mesmerising read full of charged eroticism.”
~ Ian Skewis, Associate Editor for Bloodhound Books, & author of best-selling novel A Murder of Crows (2017)
“An engrossing story of clandestine espionage… a testament to the lifestyle encountered in East Berlin at the height of the Cold War.”
~ Lone Star Literary Life Magazine
“There is no better way for readers interested in Germany’s history and the dilemma and cultures of the two Berlins to absorb this information than in a novel such as this, which captures the microcosm of two individuals’ love, relationship, and options and expands them against the blossoming dilemmas of a nation divided.”
~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
“A Time to Forget in East Berlin is a dream-like interlude of love and passion in the paranoid and violent life of a Cold War spy. The meticulous research is evident on every page, and Fewston’s elegant prose, reminiscent of novels from a bygone era, enhances the sensation that this is a book firmly rooted in another time.”
~ Matthew Harffy, prolific writer & best-selling historical fiction author of the “Bernicia Chronicles” series
“Vivid, nuanced, and poetic…”
“Fewston avoids familiar plot elements of espionage fiction, and he is excellent when it comes to emotional precision and form while crafting his varied cast of characters.”
“There’s a lot to absorb in this book of hefty psychological and philosophical observations and insights, but the reader who stays committed will be greatly rewarded.”
“Readers of The Catcher in the Rye and similar stories will relish the astute, critical inspection of life that makes Little Hometown, America a compelling snapshot of contemporary American life and culture.”
“Fewston employs a literary device called a ‘frame narrative’ which may be less familiar to some, but allows for a picture-in-picture result (to use a photographic term). Snapshots of stories appear as parts of other stories, with the introductory story serving as a backdrop for a series of shorter stories that lead readers into each, dovetailing and connecting in intricate ways.”
~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
“The American novelist CG FEWSTON tells a satisfying tale, bolstered by psychology and far-ranging philosophy, calling upon Joseph Campbell, J. D. Salinger, the King James Bible, and Othello.”
“In this way, the author lends intellectual heft to a family story, exploring the ‘purity’ of art, the ‘corrupting’ influences of publishing, the solitary artist, and the messy interconnectedness of human relationships.”
~ Lone Star Literary Life Magazine
GOLD Winner in the 2020 Human Relations Indie Book Awards for Contemporary Realistic Fiction
FINALIST in the SOUTHWEST REGIONAL FICTION category of the 14th Annual National Indie Excellence 2020 Awards (NIEA)
“Fewston’s lyrical, nostalgia-steeped story is told from the perspective of a 40-year-old man gazing back on events from his 1980s Texas childhood…. the narrator movingly conveys and interprets the greater meanings behind childhood memories.”
“The novel’s focus on formative childhood moments is familiar… the narrator’s lived experiences come across as wholly personal, deeply felt, and visceral.”
American Novelist CG FEWSTON
This is my good friend, Nicolasa (Nico) Murillo, CRC, who is a professional chef & a wellness mentor. I’ve known her since childhood & I’m honored to share her story with you. In life, we all have ups & downs, some far more extreme than others. Much like in Canada, in America, the legalization of marijuana has become a national movement, which includes safe & legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use & research for all.
“This is a wellness movement,” Nico explains. The wellness movement is focused on three specific areas: information, encouragement, & accountability.
In these stressful & unprecedented times, it makes good sense to promote & encourage the state or condition of being in good physical & mental health.
To learn more you can visit: Americans For Safe Access & Texans for Safe Access, ASA (if you are in Texas).
The mission of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use and research.
TEXANS FOR SAFE ACCESS ~ share the mission of their national organization, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), which is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use and research, for all Texans.
Stay safe & stay happy. God bless.
Nico Murillo Bio ~ Americans & Texans for Safe Access ~ Medical Cannabis
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