On Writing

Roughly one month ago, my old paperback copy of King’s On Writing resurfaced, seemingly happenstance, and I, in turn, told my wife, Tanya, that she should read it.
“You really should,” I emphasized.
She demurred, practically insisting I re-read it.
“Even though it would be my third reading?” I asked, incredulous that she’d suggest such a thing.
She went on to say–and hope–that it’d inspire me enough to write again.

Needless to say, her words impacted me, and I couldn’t clear my mind of the notion. She really believes in me, I thought, as if I didn’t already know.
A few weeks later, the decision had been made. As soon as I cracked open the book, I found it difficult to put down. A very serene quality overcame me, and I just knew I’d made the right choice.
I believe that God had used Tanya to speak to me; to guide me in the correct direction.
The autobiographical section served as a reminder of the love I feel for it. The reader also gains a sense of King’s formative years, told in a humble way. However, the text didn’t begin to earnestly hit home until around p. 139:

” ‘..If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot..’ “

Immediately after said paragraph, I took a minute to ask myself: is that really what I want to do? Where do my other passions lie? Frankly, nothing else quite compares. I can’t see myself doing anything else. 
Once again, that divine sense of rightness overwhelmed me, radiating throughout my being.
A handful of pages later, another passage gripped me. In it, King talks about how some writer’s aren’t prolific, or tend not to write as much as they could. The following is very profound, and left me feeling utterly dumbstruck:

” ‘..I’m probably being snotty here, but I am also, believe me, honestly curious. If God gives you something you can do, why in God’s name wouldn’t you do it?’ “

Why, indeed? I asked myself. Why aren’t I utilizing my God-given talent? What’s stopping me from doing His will?

At about the halfway point (what King calls “the heart of the book,”) there’s a particularly telling paragraph in which he likens his “secret of my success” to maintaining his marriage to Tabitha King, who’s strong-willed and self-reliant, amongst other things. He goes on to express a strong belief in the opposite, as well:

” ‘..that my writing and the pleasure I take in it has contributed to the stability of my health and my home life..’ “

Reading the latter made me realize that Tanya and I’s marriage has more than likely suffered because I haven’t worked on my fiction in a very long time. In fact, our marriage has suffered to some extent or another. Simply put, I’m not the same person when I haven’t written in awhile.

A bit further in, while discussing the importance of theme, and an especially severe case of writer’s block: ” ‘..If I’d had written two or even three hundred pages of single-spaced manuscript instead of more than five hundred, I think I would have abandoned The Stand and gone on to something else–God knows I had done it before. But five hundred pages was too great an investment, both in time and creative energy; I found it impossible to let go. Also, there was this little voice whispering to me that the book was really good, and if I didn’t finish I would regret it forever..’ “

Immediately, this brought to mind my unfinished novel. I can relate because I, too, have come much too far to leave it as is. I’d eternally regret it. Not only that, I hear that ever gentle voice , telling me it’s good.

On the cusp of the books’ conclusion, King briefly describes his tragic roadside accident which nearly killed him. Parts of the narrative are difficult to read, and all five senses are fully utilized. In so doing, the reader is transported to that fateful day and locale, to the point that you can almost smell Smith’s chocolate bar, see the resulting blood, and King’s excruciating agony can nearly be felt. It feels that real.
Following the accident, he didn’t want to write again. The pain involved would be too intense. If not for Tabby, On Writing might not have seen completion (though I’d like to think it would have happened regardless.) He might have even forsook the craft entirely. 
King’s story, and eventual recovery, inspired me to no end. I really hadn’t expected it to make such an impact.
Beneath all that emotion, I felt that if King managed to write under such trying circumstances, certainly I can. If the desire’s there, I think anyone can.

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6 thoughts on “On Writing

  1. Great review!! I truly love this:
    ” ‘..I’m probably being snotty here, but I am also, believe me, honestly curious. If God gives you something you can do, why in God’s name wouldn’t you do it?’ “

    Isn’t that the truth?! And you know what, I agree wholeheartedly when you are not doing what you are meant to that your life is out of whack. Right now I’m feeling blue and sad all of the time and I haven’t picked up my novel in weeks. I know what I need to write for the next scene so it isn’t writer’s block, and I know if I worked on it I’d feel a heaping lot better. In fact, after reading your inspiring reviews, I feel an urge to get back on it. Thanks Dustin for your motivation.

    1. Oh, Miranda, why have you been feeling sad and blue? I’m concerned.. you have always struck me as a happy, high spirited type person, and now you tell me that you’ve been sad.. Please write back soon.

      You are very welcome.

  2. I’ve never read this, sounds good. Are you still writing as much as you would like to? I know for myself, it’s always a challenge to find the time. With my children here at home all day and night, I really don’t get a chance to write until I am at the point of complete exhaustion. Of course then what comes out, isn’t very good. Take care and have happy Friday! 🙂

    1. I recommend On Writing more than any other book, Michelle. Even if you weren’t a writer, I think it’s an important book to read. Writing every day is an ongoing struggle, but I can’t ever give up. I’ve been doing better than I used to, but I’m not where I want to be. Tell me about it! Having a nearly three-year-old constantly under foot certainly makes for a challenge.:) Take care of yourself, as well, and God bless.:) Thank you for visiting Flaggfan!

      1. Another book to add to my ever growing list I suppose! I need an extra lifetime just to fit them all in! 😉 Everyday we get a little bit closer to where we want to be, but we never quite achieve complete satisfaction, and thankfully we never will. Or why else would we ever need God? 🙂

  3. I know, right? Mt TBR is out of control…and I love it! Of course, we’ll never read all of the books in our lifetime, but isn’t it fun to try?:) Amen to that, sister!!

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