Title: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Published by: Simon & Schuster Audio, 2000
ISBN 10: 0743506650
ISBN 13: 9780743506656
Author: Stephen King
Read by: Stephen King
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King is just that, a memoir. He reminisces about his writing history from grade school through this book on writing that he is currently writing. At least half of this book is stories of King’s life, implicit in those stories is how those events affected his writing. He also has about a quarter to a third of the book on specific suggestions on how to approach writing. Those are all pretty much just letting us know how he writes, but it is still valuable advice to hear, and if you are writing something, especially fiction, probably something to pay attention to. I listened to the book on audio, read by King himself. I think this is a really good way to experience this book. Since it is really a memoir, hearing it in his own voice somehow makes it seem more relevant.
I listened to this book once before years ago and I did not remember much of it this time around. Having recently completed a novel myself, it did resonate with me more than before. In fact, his discussion of adverbs got me to go back and re-edit my manuscript (again).
If you like Stephen King’s writing, and you want to understand a little more about his life and how he does what he does, this is well worth the listen. I think he is a very good, but not quite great, writer (I think King would agree with me on that). I enjoyed the book and I learned from it. If you want to understand the writing craft a little better, this is a good intro from a VERY popular writer. Again, it is from his POV and others would probably disagree with some of his specific advice, but it’s worked pretty well for him over the years.
Title: Zen In The Art Of Writing
Publisher: HARPER COLLINS (May 21, 2015)
Author: Ray Bradbury
Zen In The Art Of Writing by Ray Bradbury is really a set of essays that the author wrote over time for different purposes. Some of them were previously written as introductions to books or as stand alone essays or magazine articles. This does not distract from the essays themselves, but does lead for some repetition of information across the content.
The title of “Zen in the Art…” shows his thoughts of the writing as emerging from the process, not always a conscious effort. Bradbury is a master story teller, even in telling the story of how he creates his stories. He focuses more on quantity and practice and grinding away every day to come up with those occasional stories that really work. He made his living early on grinding out about a story every week and getting them published wherever he could for a few dollars.
I use the word grinding to illustrate the dedication and focus he showed to produce the works, but I think he would use different words. He obviously loves the craft and probably would not have stopped turning out those stories even if he had never sold a one. Luckily for us, he sold a lot.
I think King would agree with Bradbury about the importance of practice, of writing and writing and writing and being amazed at the occasional (or not so occasional) gem that the writer finds coming out at the end of the process. They both obviously love the work and love that they can do it for a living. I get the impression that King is a bit more of a craftsman, and Bradbury is a bit more of an artist, but they probably have more in common than not when it comes to writing. Write a lot. Write because you have to. Write some more. Enjoy it.
Writing is hard, but it is a lot of fun. I had fun writing this book: Plastivore: F*ck Around And Find Out I think you’ll have fun reading it.