I very rarely think in words at all. A thought comes, and I may try to express it in words afterwards. —Albert Einstein
Stephen King’s bestselling book is part memoir, and packed with funny anecdotes and pithy advice on the craft of writing. Having pondered why he wanted to write a book on writing, he acknowledges that the easy answer isn’t always the truth: “We are writers, and we never ask one another where we get our ideas; we know we don’t know.” He states it in no uncertain terms: “Let’s get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”
Even, like Einstein, if no one know where the ideas come from, King makes an honest attempt to put down, briefly and simply, how he came to the craft, what he knows about it now, how it’s done, and warmly recommends the widely acclaimed Strunk and White, for style. He notes: “This is not an autobiography. It is, rather, a kind of curriculum vitae— my attempt to show how one writer was formed. Not how one writer was made; I don’t believe writers can be made, either by circumstances or by self-will (although I did believe those things once). The equipment comes with the original package. Yet it is by no means unusual equipment; I believe large numbers of people have at least some talent as writers and storytellers, and that those talents can be strengthened and sharpened. If I didn’t believe that, writing a book like this would be a waste of time.”
A great writer perhaps emerges from a mysterious blend of nature and nurture. King’s advice on writing, however, is grounded in salient memories from childhood recalling encouragements of his mother, and his early experiments as a writer: “imitation preceded creation; I would copy Combat Casey comics word for word in my Blue Horse tablet, sometimes adding my own descriptions where they seemed appropriate.” Some suggest that it was his passion for writing, and the beautiful meaning that writing bestows, which helped him recover from the near-fatal accident in 1999. Brilliantly organized and inspiring, On Writing, will charm and entertain anyone who loves the written word and wonders about the unknowable thoughts behind it.