Book Review – On Writing by Stephen King

Let me start this review off by saying that I do not often read Stephen King. I started The Stand a long time ago but my son was all of three years old at the time and the dead children disturbed me so much I couldn’t move forward with the book.

I’m sure I could read it now, but at the time I wasn’t ready for that sort of reality. I needed to keep my happy bubble of pretend-safety around my little boy. (C’mon, now, as safe as we try to keep our kids we all know there’s only so much we can do.)

While I haven’t read much of his work, I know who Mr. King is and have great respect for him. I’m not sure why it took me so long to pick this book up – it looks like it was written during my senior year of high school – but I’m pleased that I finally did.

This book is freeing.

Yes, he reminds us about some of the mechanics of writing such as the dreaded adverb or adverbial clause, but he only touches on these for a moment. But for the most part, Mr. King’s “memoir of the craft” feels like a commiseration.

He proves that reading and writing are magic. And he invites authors to embrace that magic, reminding us why we enjoy this craft in the first place. I recommend this book to any and all writers out there who haven’t already picked it up. It’s a worthy read.


Authors Who Inspire Me

My son knelt beside the sofa, his Lego toys spread out on the cushions as he created little stories involving Star Wars and Batman and the occasional Ninja, while I curled up nearby with a book. It was a familiar book, a favored volume with yellowed pages and a cracked binding from too much use, and I had chosen it in spite of the many unread novels surrounding it.

I’ll get to those other novels another day.

For now, I’m content to relive a story that has managed to stay with me for over a decade; Sara Donati’s Into The Wilderness. 

I’ve read other works by Donati as well, but this one is my favorite. There’s a richness to it that draws me in, a vivid depiction of life in another time and complex characters all fighting for what they want, and I can get fully engrossed in its pages.

This is a book that inspires me. It challenges me to be a better writer and reminds me that being an author is not merely about telling a story, but about the art of telling a story. Donati knows the art of language, as does Diana Gabaldon and Cassandra Clare.

I’m sure there are others but these are the authors who inspire me. I find that when I read them, my own work improves. Not because I’m emulating them or anything, but because they remind me to focus on my word choices, on the internal conflicts of my characters, and on the setting in which those characters live.

I know that there are more books in the world than I could ever read in this lifetime, but there is something to be said about re-visiting a work that you love.