Stephen King On Writing

Alright, for some reason, King’s work has been on my path lately.

I started following him (and a few other authors I could think of) on Twitter when I decided to take my writing seriously. I figured I should surround myself, even if it was just virtually, with other writers. And I’m glad I did, because one of his tweets inspired a story (which is still simmering).

On Writing came up often as recommended reading for me in 2017. So I bought it and it’s the first one I read from my 2018 reading list.

And now, from reading it, three things have happened:

  1. I want to read more.
  2. I want to read more of his stuff.
  3. I now feel I have permission to write what and how I want.

I’m not usually drawn to the genre of fiction he writes. But I quite enjoyed his writing style. I want more!

The first part of On Writing is a sort of brief biography on how he got into writing. He has a sort of disclaimer at the beginning saying that he only remembers snippets of his childhood, so that’s what and how he wrote it. Reading that lifted a self-imposed weight from my shoulders.

Where did that weight come from?

Well, one piece of advice I’ve read on writing (from a few different sources) suggests to practice by writing about your life. That’s always sort of stopped me in my tracks. I don’t think that I could write all of my life story with great accuracy. So, since I don’t expect to write it perfectly, I haven’t even been able to start writing it at all.

However, King wrote what he remembered of his childhood. And as I was reading, I started to see how I could do something similar with my life story. In fact, some of his memories triggered some of mine. They’re not even similar, but nevertheless, they were triggered.

Ah! Maybe I’m starting to sound like a weirdo?

I’m not obsessing over King. He just happens to be one of the current muses. And who cares where inspiration comes from, as long as it comes. Right?

My commitment to my poor neglected unread books

A few days ago before Christmas, I ordered two shiny new books.

After I ordered them, I started thinking about all of the other books my partner and I already own that I haven’t read.

I felt guilty.

No. Not guilty. But rather, a little sad for these poor neglected unread books who are just sitting there patiently waiting for me to read them.

I promised I would.

So yesterday, I received and unpacked my freshly delivered new books. Then, I went around the house to gather the books I’ve been meaning to read.

In the spirit of new beginnings with the arrival of the new year and all that jazz, I decided to commit to reading these books before the end of 2018.

I’ll keep them separate from the other books so that they’ll be there. Together. Staring me in the FACE every time I walk by. Reminding me of my commitment.

The list:

  • La chasse-galerie by Honoré Beaugrand
  • Letters from a Stoic by Seneca
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  • Petit cours d’autodéfense intellectuelle by Normand Baillargeon
  • Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
  • On Writing by Steven King
  • A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Man Who Made Us by Richard Gwyn
  • Nation Maker by Richard Gwyn

I don’t expect to understand the one by Stephen Hawking, but I’m curious and want to try.

Four of these books I had started but never finished. So I’m committing to finish reading them this year.

Now, looking at this list, I realize that there is only one tiny book of fiction out of the ten.

I suppose if I want to write fiction, I should probably read more fiction.

So here’s another commitment: I will follow up every non-fiction book with one of fiction. I’m not sure which ones they’ll be. I’ll decide that as I go along.

I welcome any suggestions—in French or English.