I have a couple of writing friends who are both keen Stephen King fans and one of them recently lent me On Writing after I had mentioned reading about it here.
I’m not a great one for ‘how to’ books, generally. I tend to find that if I try to do things the way somebody else does, it doesn’t work for me. That’s not to say ‘how to’ books are a bad idea, they just don’t work for me. A bit like ballroom dancing (can’t remember patterns of movement) and opera (in my opinion, the singing holds up the action, but that’s a subject for a whole ‘nother blog).
The friend who leant me On Writing said it was a really good read even if you didn’t listen to the writing advice as it was also a kind of autobiography, so I decided to give it a try. It has become my breakfast reading – the reading I do with the Bassist in front of our light box.
And I’m really enjoying it. I’m not an automatic fan of autobiography but I like the way King has approached his early life.
He tells us early on not to expect a blow-by-blow account as his memory is patchy (I sympathise) and, therefore, we get treated to a series of illuminating windows into bits of the King childhood and youth. It’s as if he’s sitting in the room swapping ‘remember when?’ yarns with a friend – delightful and engaging. And very self-deprecating. He’s particularly good on his own drug and alcohol addiction, making it very clear that he doesn’t want any writerly special pleading.
‘Any claims that the drugs and alcohol are necessary to dull a finer sensibilty are just the usual self-serving bullshit. I’ve heard alcoholic snowplow drivers make the same claim…’
Anybody who can stand up and say I ‘drank because it’s what alkies are wired up to do’ is the kind of honest person I wouldn’t mind sharing dinner with. I feel I would like him if I met him, which means that, as I outlined here, I’m probably going to start badgering my King-obsessed friends to lend me whole arms’-worth of his writing.
One of yesterday’s films – Secret Window – turns out to have been based on a Stephen King story. I’ll tell you what I thought tomorrow.