on writing

I just finished Stephen King’s On Writing (actually, I finished it late Sunday night) and it was amazing. This book has been so helpful–will continue to be so helpful–that I want to reread it immediately. I’m giving the library their copy back tomorrow, and then I’m going to have to purchase a copy for myself and read this thing until I’ve memorized it.

The best part of it all is that I went into the process thinking, what in the world can I learn from Stephen King? And the answer was: quite a lot; also, please to cease being a lit snob. There is valuable information in this book for any author, no matter the genre or subject, as long as you’re willing to set aside pretensions and read, and learn.

I’m not sure that I’ll ever get over that feeling of oh-my-gosh-this-is-completely-terrible while I’m writing, but at the very least, I can tone down the adverbs in the first draft. Reading this book has been an incredibly freeing experience, that way; I feel like I now have permission to suck on the first draft. And I knew, beforehand, that first drafts are, for the most part, terrible; I’ve read enough encouraging literature to tell me that you can’t judge the work by the first draft, and that you’re supposed to hate this early incarnation of your work. That really didn’t matter, though; every time I started making progress on my novel, those creeping doubtful thoughts would saunter in. And you can’t help it being terrible, through the first draft; at least, I can’t. But the way King writes about writing–how he lets the plot find itself, and just goes with it and has fun–that resonated so much. I want to get back to having fun with writing. It’s exciting, turning a new page and writing so much that your hand hurts (but not quickly enough to keep up with the sentences in your head). I’m going to have fun with this.

Thank you, Mr. King, for helping me with that.


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