The last time I picked up a book by Steven King I was still in college, which might be why it took me more than a decade to read his book On Writing....moreThe last time I picked up a book by Steven King I was still in college, which might be why it took me more than a decade to read his book On Writing. The author describes this work as more memoir than a book about how to write. His philosophy is there are great writers and then there are the rest of us who need to be very dedicated to the craft and work really hard to maybe be good. I found the memoir sections to be highly entertaining and King is more engaging as a narrator of his own life than from my memory of his fiction. He is down to earth, accessible, and honest about his humble background and battle with addiction. He is the kind of guy you want to sit down with and have a non-alcoholic beer and a long conversation.
As for the sections on writing, I can boil his advice down to: - Write a lot. - Read a lot. - Never use adverbs. - Be true to your own voice. - Set tight deadlines for writing your first draft, shelve it, then edit the hell out of it. - Get feedback from people you trust, not necessarily from people you love. - Don’t forget, writing is a lot of work.
Just as the best way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more, King reminds authors that you don’t need an MFA or to read every book on writing in order to be successful. Writers write and writers read. End of story.
The one thing I most appreciated in this volume is his tying compensation to his craft. Many writers shy away from discussing money, and when you are first in the game you may have to do it for the experience, but if you want to do it professionally, you are either going to need an independent income or to make money from your craft. This is the one piece of advice I will take away from Mr. King. I’ll will also add 11 22 63 to my reading list to rediscover his fiction.(less)
If I were a rich philanthropist, I would ensure that every high school in America carried Mr. Read's book. Though he admits that his West Virginian co...moreIf I were a rich philanthropist, I would ensure that every high school in America carried Mr. Read's book. Though he admits that his West Virginian coming out story is unique in that he had the support of his family and friends, his tale is a guide on how to begin the lifelong commitment to coming out. He recommends that you do not disappear from your hometown, but make appearances to allow the locals to know you as a gay adult, to answer questions and remove the mystery of gay life from the equation, and to be honest to your calling at all times. He also makes an appeal for more openly gay role models and understanding teachers who can answer questions of both gay and straight students. Each short chapter contains a lesson learned, including the title story, where an older gay teen shows him how to snap as means of saying, "I am not afraid." A must read for any gay teen and their parents.(less)
I would love to deliver a copy of “A Report from Winter” into the hands of every opponent to gay marriage. I, for one, am glad that we are inching tow...moreI would love to deliver a copy of “A Report from Winter” into the hands of every opponent to gay marriage. I, for one, am glad that we are inching toward the option of marriage for same-sex-couples, but like most, am hesitant to embrace the traditional heterosexual rite of passage, as would Wayne and his partner Ralph even though they are as married as gay men get. Wayne is forced to deal with the lingering death of his estranged and verbally abusive mother, consoled only by his distant and uncommunicative aunt and older brother. It is not until Ralph, Wayne’s partner of 8 years, is brought into the picture that Wayne is able to face the challenges with any real spirit. Those who want to deny the rights for same-sex relationships to exist might better understand that we aren’t all that different from them; gay life ain’t all cocktails, anonymous sex and parties (for that aspect you might want to read Wayne Courtois’s more adventuresome fiction). I had a similar experience when I was forced to make end-of-life decisions for my equally estranged father and many of Wayne’s experiences rang true for me. The memoir, as honest as it is, is not without its shortcomings. Wayne’s observations often stray off the path and distract from the meat of the story. Even though my actual experiences were very similar—complaining about the lack of places to eat in the small town my father chose to retire in while facing the very real fact that he was dying—his story would have been stronger if it had left some of these diversions on the cutting room floor. The book claims to be “stubbornly unsentimental”, and I would agree to a point; when it comes to his relationship with Ralph you can’t help but see the trust and understanding Wayne was never able to find with his biological family. (less)
Second Class Citizen is a very auto-biographical account of Buchi Emecheta’s emigration from Nigeria to London. It’s a personal story, one that candid...moreSecond Class Citizen is a very auto-biographical account of Buchi Emecheta’s emigration from Nigeria to London. It’s a personal story, one that candidly depicts the challenges of living with a difficult and unfaithful spouse, of being a young mother with little money, of the added challenge of “polite” racism that forced her to live beneath her previous standards, and even her own trivial concerns, such as not being properly dressed in the hospital after nearly dying during childbirth. One wants to reach through the pages and shake this obviously intelligent woman and make her stand up on her own. Her upbringing in Africa has taught her that women are second class and do not matter as much as their husbands, they are only to take care of the home and have as many children as possible. Thankfully, after living in London for years, she unlearns those childhood “lessons.” You can hear this woman’s voice as you read and know she is a person you could easily befriend and always be entertained by; she almost always finds the positive in the negative (and she’s got plenty of negatives!). Dr. Emecheta is an author who has been an inspiration to me; not only was she living in a foreign country raising five children and acting as the sole support for her family, but she still managed to have a career and write prolifically. Where she had the time is anyone’s guess. (less)