Stephen King’s “On Writing”

I love books about writing. I think for me they serve as sort of a moral support to keep me going. I don’t know that they’re particularly informative or can really teach you to be a better writer, at least if you’re not writing a lot already.

Anyway, I’m reading On Writing by Stephen King now. Actually, I’m listening to the audiobook. It’s a really good read (listen?) even though it’s geared more towards novelists and it had a lot of his personal history, which I wasn’t really expecting. Part memoir, part discussion of the craft. And I haven’t read many of his books either.

Anyway, I’m not going to review the book or anything. But there was one passage that made me laugh, where he says something like “every writer remembers the first time they put a book down because they just can’t stand to read it.” And that reminded me of the first time I did that.

I was in a hostel in Lisbon, Portugal and somehow I had acquired a John Grisham novel. Not one of the more well-known ones. I have no idea which one it was, this was maybe 13 years ago. And I remember being hungover in this hostel and having absolutely nothing else to read and just trying to slog through it but the plot was so emotionally manipulative and the dialogue was so awful that it would make me anxious whenever someone was about to speak.

And I just had to stop reading it, even though it meant having nothing else to read except for the weird rantings on the side of my bottle of Dr. Bronner’s soap, which is not really a good read per se but can occupy your mind because the writing is so convoluted and hard to decipher.

I had read John Grisham in high school and remembered liking the stories so I thought maybe I just grew out of them? Or maybe this one was just a bad apple. I don’t know. Later on in the trip I stumbled upon The Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy and boy was that good travel book because it sucked me in and was like 900 pages. And even though the writing wasn’t Dostoevsky or anything, it was good enough to not want to throw the book out the window and make it through.