So, ‘next time‘ was longer coming than I meant it to be. My intentions are still way ahead of my attention span. But while It’s fresh in my mind, I wanted to cover the other good thing about Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, and that’s the biographical material.
The first part of the book is a series of autobiographical anecdotes revolving around King’s writing, from the moments that first inspired him to craft fiction, through his early publishing career, to his life as a professional writer. Apparently unrelated incidents add colour and help understand his motives and emotional state at each point.
Some of it is very dark stuff, in particular his experience of alcoholism and the accident that nearly killed him in the late 1990s. But it’s also inspiring. It shows how he kept motivated, kept passionate, kept going.
Above all it’s wonderfully written. King has an eye for detail, for picking out the little touches that make an experience come alive for the reader. He balances the joyful and the melancholy, recognising that the two coexist not just in life but in each moment, and that demonstrating this makes for a more believable narrative. In short, he writes his non-fiction like good fiction, with himself as a very convincing character.
You’ll probably learn as much about how to write from the examples in this first part of the book as from the ‘how to’ section. And if you’re not interested in that, then this is the part that’ll make the book worth reading. Because it really is.