Tuesday, December 30, 2008

All Hail the Stephen King!

I can't claim to be a fan of Stephen King. To speak of his fiction, well, I can't say much. I've tried to read things like Pet Semetary and It but, though I've seen several of the movies in the past, I couldn't get into the written versions. Not because of his voice or style, but because I'm not a reader of horror, plain and simple.

So when other writers would reference his book On Writing, "a memoir of the craft," I'd think to myself Really? The master of horror? A non-fiction book? But so many raved of its perfection, I thought I'd give it a try. He's successful. Many, many times over. 50+ WORLDWIDE bestsellers. Kinda tells me he might have something worth sayin'.

Boy, does he. He's straightforward, courteous, funny, very personable. I enjoy his approach, and I find inspiration at every page turn. Motivation is oozing from his words into my core. Corny? Yeah. But true.

Here's the first nugget worth sharing. Relish. Digest. Apply.

Let's get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn't to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.

27 comments:

Joanne said...

Love that quote. I guess it's all about being aware, all the time. I read On Writing a few years ago, but I think it's time to give it another read. That's the kind of book it is.

Melanie Avila said...

Janna, I thought the exact same thing before reading it. I can't watch or read horror and while I can appreciate the following King has, I had no interest in reading any of his books.

On Writing gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the man behind those stories, so I no longer feel like I'm missing out. I love love love his advice and the stories of his struggles before making it big.

Josh said...

neat!

Melissa Marsh said...

Lke you, I have never read one of King's novels because I don't read horror, but I think On Writing is a must-read for any writer, regardless of where they're at in their career.

aaroncrocco said...

I also don't read King but I have respect for him as an author. That quote is awesome. Honestly that's sort of how I got the idea for my current WIP.

Janna Qualman said...

Joanne - I certainly agree. It's one I'll have to keep on hand.

Melanie - Great way of putting it! "Behind the scenes." I like learning of him as a man, as a writer, and reading all the stories from his life.

Josh - Are you a King fan?

Melissa - Absolutely. :)

Aaron - Neat, huh? I'd never thought of it that way.

colbymarshall said...

It creeped me out so much...yikes!

Rafael said...

I bought and read the book early in the year while I started down the path of writing my first novel. One of the best buys I have ever done.

Janna Qualman said...

Colby - ROFL! It took a couple rounds of WHAT creeped her out? before it smacked me in the forehead. :D Me, too. Such a messed up and 'pooky story.

Rafael - Welcome! I'm so glad you stopped by. :)

Dominique said...

I keep meaning to read this book. I'm not a fan of King's horror novels, either...but I've come to enjoy reading his columns for Entertainment Weekly magazine because I like his personable style there. It sounds like his writing book is written in a similarly accessible style.

Jessica said...

Huh. That's very interesting. I'm not a reader of non-fiction, but you're really inspiring me to try this book.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Not a SK fan either, but I thought the toolbox he presented writers in this book were great. With Lamotte's book and the Maass one I'm enjoying now, that's a trio of good solid advice. The thing I got most out of On Writing is we all need a "Tabitha" in our lives...that one perfect reader; the one who "gets" us and can give great crits for improvement. I'm blessed to have my own Tabitha. :)

Janet said...

At first glance I thought you said "King Stephen" and I was surprised that you would be commenting on Canadian politics...

Is there something wrong with me that I blew $100 in bookstore gift certificates without buying a single writing book? Almost everybody loves this one though, so maybe I'll put it on my next wish list.

I've read the Breakout one before, and it's worth owning.

I don't read horror either, but there's a couple of his I have on my TBR list anyway. The Green Mile was a worthwhile read.

Janna Qualman said...

Dominique - Is his column regular? I'll have to check it out, given I like this book so much. Thanks!

Jessica - You know, come to think of it, I'm not real big on non-fic, either. It seems even if I get into such a book, my attention peters out in the second half. I think Ellen DeGeneres's first memoir and Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird are the only two I've finished completely. :/ Plan to add On Writing to the list, though...

Angie - Oh my goodness, what an amazing woman Tabitha appears to be, no?

Janet - *snicker* Not much politics for me, let alone those in Canada! ;) And no, there's nothing wrong with you! I think it's awesome you bought stuff you wanted with that GC - books you'll enjoy getting lost in.

Anonymous said...

Well, I've always been a Stephen King fan. For example, I read Cujo years ago the summer I was sick in bed with mono. A real page turner and scary because a dog with rabies is something that can really happen, not some made up tale of ghouls and flying pigs or something.

I haven't read his non-fiction book but I'm sure he has lots to offer us in terms of advice.

Janna Qualman said...

Ack! Anon, you're not going to tell me who you are?! :) You know something fascinating King talks about in On Writing, is that he was struggling with his alcoholism so deeply at the time, he remembers nothing of writing Cujo. Isn't that crazy wicked?

Jen said...

*coughs*

Well, I am a big Stephen King fan; have been since I was a wee girl. Which does, naturally, explain quite a bit about me, doesn't it? LOL

In any event, I love On Writing. Hugely. The copy I have right now is my second, and it's dog eared, stained, and the spine is cracked. I pick it up and read from some random part at least once a month and always come away inspired.

Time for a new copy, though, I think. :) Glad you're enjoying it so much, Janna. It's my favorite book on the craft, evah.

Janna Qualman said...

Oh, Jen! It all makes sense now! :P

thedomesticfringe said...

I have read a few of Stephen King's novels and I think they are incredibly written, but twisted as a twizzler. I'd love to read a book he's written On Writing.
Thanks for sharing that quote with us.
-FringeGirl

Sharla said...

LOVE that book, think I need to pull it out again, it's been quite a while. Thanks for the motivation!

Janna Qualman said...

FringeGirl - I def think you should read it!

Sharla - Thanks for stopping by! :)

Pink Ink said...

I discovered Stephen King when I quit working full time to stay home with our first child.

Not a good idea when you are stir crazy with a baby :-)

I stopped reading him because I would feel icky afterwards, but I learned a lot about suspenseful writing from him. He is amazing.

Happy new year, Janna!

Janna Qualman said...

Jewel - LOL, you poor thing!

spyscribbler said...

His genius is that he can make a character come alive in seconds. It's phenomenal! I'm not into horror these days, but have you tried Rose Madder?

I mean, WOW. It's like women's fiction. The main character is an abused woman who finally leaves, and his vivid, real, authentic portrayal is absolutely stunning. He doesn't have any horrorish elements until halfway through the book, so it reads like women's fiction.

You MUST read at least the first two (or three!) chapters. I mean it! I don't say that lightly!

Janna Qualman said...

Spy - I've written it down, and I'll give it a try. Thanks!

Dominique said...

Yes, King has a regular column in Entertainment Weekly magazine. It runs about once a month and talks about "Uncle Stevie's" eclectic interests in books, music, movies and the entertainment world in general.
I particularly enjoy seeing what he's listening to in the way of music. He's got truly wide-ranging tastes, and I've sometimes found an undiscovered gem I'll just need to check out at iTunes or the local music store :)

Janna Qualman said...

Thanks for the info, Dominique! I'll keep my eye on the mag. :)