ON WRITING by Stephen King

“Put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.

King, 101

King (hopefully) taught me to avoid the passive tense. Again. Remember: the subject of the sentence is doing something, something is not being done to the subject of the sentence. King’s style and tone threw me in a dryer and tossed me around, humiliated like a load of laundry with a lovely smelling dryer sheet and warmth. Luckily, he didn’t scare me away from writing, just instilled in me the importance of writing well.

The book is part memoir, part writing resource (reiterates Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style), and part motivational speech. King is playful and clever and his metaphors are brilliant. Each word he chooses means something and takes the reader somewhere, if sometimes aggressively. Probably related, his writing surprises me. King doesn’t include plot as one of the main parts of a story because “our lives are largely plotless.” Which is why, perhaps, his sentences are surprising.

Thank you, King. I admire your attention to your wife, your ability to stop drinking and snorting drugs, and your courage to find the right words to write about all of it. Thank you for sharing your writing process.