Word Lust and Author Adoration Lead to a Sorry Exercise in Self Control

Cover of "On Writing:  A Memoir of the Cr...

Cover of On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Last week I read Periphery’s review of “On Writing” by Stephen King and was super-intrigued. A long time King admirer, I was aware of the existence of this tome, but had never read it. (Periphery is a wonderfully written blog, check it out!)

Since every copy in every branch of my local library was checked out, and probably always would be, I put a request in for it.

But today I got antsy, jonesing for some writing so good I wouldn’t be able to put it down. Longing for inspiration. Wondering what the Master might be able to teach me. And wondering if there was any of his particular kind of genius that could indeed be taught.

I headed off to take a “quick peek” at the book at Barnes & Noble.

Big mistake. Shoulda known better.

But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Now, if I was half as great a writer as Mr. King, I could easily convey just what it is that’s so great about his writing. Alas, I am not.

All I can say is, his plots — intricate, original and spellbinding. His characters — so well developed you “get” their innermost being, their every fear and desire. His pacing, flow and mood, the way the storyline builds and builds until you can’t stand the suspense another minute — simply unparalleled. His turn of a phrase — don’t even get me started.

If you could fault him for anything (I dare you. I double dare you.) it could only be his subject matter, which certainly does not appeal to everyone’s taste.

As usual, Stevie grabbed me right from the introduction. By the time I was 30 pages in, it was all I could do to walk out of the store and leave the book behind. I was attached. Addicted. Obsessed. Desperate for more.

A painful battle ensued, between the “voice of instant gratification/nothing to do on a Friday night/obsessive compulsive disorder” and its long time frenemy, the “voice of reason/not liking to own a lot of stuff/serious budget constraints.”

“Buy it! Buy it right now!”

“Don’t be silly, you’ll get it from the library.”

“Just BUY IT already!”

“Wait, it will show up at the library any day now.”

Finally, I wrenched my silly and sorry self apart from the bewitching book and left the building. If I was jonesing before, you can only imagine the state I’m in now… sigh…

When I get my hands on this book, I will inhale it whole. I will devour it like a starving beast. I will cuddle up with it in bed and caress it like a long lost lover. I will… well, you get the picture.

Any King fans out there? Have you read this masterpiece? Can you give me any tidbits, anything at all to keep me going until my object of lust arrives?

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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Posted on March 16, 2012, in About Writing, Occasional Rants and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. “On Writing” was on a list of books I have been intending to read. So shortly after receiving a Kindle as a birthday present from my dear husband last fall, I downloaded it along with several others on my list. That was five months ago. My husband likes the Kindle so much, that I have never yet gotten to read a single thing on it. I’m not sure I could even remember how to turn it on any more.

    In Brad’s family, this is known as a “dumptruck.” A dumptruck is a gift that you give to someone that you really intend as a gift for yourself. Years ago, my brother-in-law gave his wife a bass boat for her birthday. Linda doesn’t fish. Steve fishes. And he really wanted a bass boat but couldn’t justify the expense. (Or maybe Linda had just said, “no way.” Nonetheless, the bass boat was sitting in the driveway with a bow on it on her birthday. The name painted on the stern: S.S. Dumptruck.

    Kay in Hawaii

  2. I had not even heard of the book, but now you have me interested. Love reading, especially a great book. Now I’ll have to go check my library out. Thanks! Hope you get your book soon. :)

  3. I have also been dying to read On Writing after hearing so many good things about it. My copy arrived last night, along with several other books I had bought on Amazon. I’m probably going to start it today and I’m so excited! I hope your copy shows up from the library soon!!

  4. I’ve read this book when it first came out, and it was such a lovely read. Books on writing are my guilty reading pleasure (there’s a part of me that says that if I’m gonna read how-to books on writing, I better be writing too, heh) and this is a solid read. I hope you get your hands on it soon!

    (Also, you’re stronger than me. I broke my two-year no-book-buying streak Friday; I blame author Rachel Caine. Curses!)

    • I occasionally break my “no book buying” policy also, and who’s to say this won’t be one of those policy breakers by the time I’m through!

  5. Leslie, go to Amazon.com (more temptation, sorry!) and Look Inside.. you can usually read the foreword and introduction!

  6. I just finished the book (learned about it from Periphery) and LOVED it. I am honestly overwhelmed at the amount of great advice it gives. I’m not a fan of Mr. King’s fiction (too gory for me) but no one can deny that he is a genius of a writer. I got my copy from the library, but wish I’d bought one so I could mark it up. I will be buying it some time in the near future. I could give you a whole slew of quotes, but I’ll try to pick just one-
    “I’m not asking you to come reverently or unquestioningly; I’m not asking you to be politically correct or cast aside your sense of humor (please God you have one). This isn’t a popularity contest, it’s not the moral Olympics, and it’s not church. But, it’s writing, damn it, not washing the car or putting on eyeliner. If you can’t take it seriously, we can do business. If you can’t or won’t, it’s time for you to close the book and do something else. Wash the car, maybe.”

    • Genius indeed! Still waiting on this book, wondering how many people are in line ahead of me. (I tried to put a hold on the Hunger Games last year, but gave it up when I saw 83 holds ahead of mine…)

  7. Crap. I messed it up. “If you CAN take it seriously, we can do business.”

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