3) On Writing – Stephen King (Writing)
Some time ago, I heard this was “the definitive book to read about writing”, if you were a writer/planning to be a writer/wrote things/etc. I ignored the advice, figured I was good with my other writing books, and moved on. This past Christmas, out of curiosity and for the sake of giving my mother a list of books to choose from (she asked!), I included this one. I decided to read it on a lazy Friday afternoon, sitting in a local café with a mug of smooth, black coffee…
And for crying out loud, I should have read this book a long time ago. Forgive me, O Muse, for I have been derelict in my duties. Although I’ve never read a novel by Stephen King – and I have no desire to – I have a great respect for the man after finishing this memoir/book on writing. I had no idea the kind of background King came from, nor the struggles that he went through to reach the place of success he is in now. What I found perhaps most commendable of all was, throughout the memoir section where he recalls his struggles with drugs/alcohol/a negligent mother/living in a decrepit apartment, he discusses these things as if they were simply ‘matter of fact’. It happened, he moved on. He never sensationalizes his past, and I never got the sense that he was recalling the events looking for pity, or trying to make an ‘I had such a hard life, look at me now!’ boast. These things were the way they were, he learned from them, and moved on. He freely admits his mistakes and the faults of his family, without giving praise where it isn’t due, but also seeing good where it lay.
The section on writing was very encouraging as well, and I found my resolve steeled. I will finish my own novels, I will make better use of my writing time, I will be a better writer. It is possible, though it will be difficult. I already knew these things, but somehow, King was able to say it without being condescending, discouraging, preachy, or trying to give me the “Number #1 method for becoming the best writer ever!”.
I must say – I never thought that this book could impact me the way it did. When I finished, I set it down, thought about it, and considered how to not only put into practice the things I’d learned about writing itself, but how I could learn from King’s own experiences along the journey from amateur writer to best-selling author.
If you want to write, read this book. I almost didn’t… and I deeply regret not doing so sooner.
Rating: 5 coffees out of 5
4) The Door in the Hedge – Robin McKinley (Fantasy)
This book consists of four short stories, written like fairy tales – old language and all! They were entertaining, albeit brief, and reworked the traditional versions of a few tales. It wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever read, but I’d give it a 3.5/5. There were brief lags in a few places, but for those who enjoy new or reworked fairy tales, it’s worth the time invested.
Rating: 3.5 coffees out of 5