I have read most of what Stephen King has written. I think there was probably a point in time where I could have said I had read all of his novels (short stories are a whole different ball game), but the man is prolific and I haven’t necessarily made a huge effort to always keep up with what he is doing. Sometimes he explores topics I am not as interested in. For example, I held off on reading the follow up Bill Hodges books after Mr. Mercedes because I was a bit resentful about a few developments and deaths in that one even if it was a good book as a whole (so I think King has made an effort to stay aware of any gender issues in his writing and has evolved but I have still had issues with how he portrays some of his love stories/relationships, including 11/22/63).
Hit or miss, though, even in his least successful efforts, King knows how to create communities, people and stories that are engaging, starting with “what if” ideas for his concepts. He may be slightly notorious for how often his endings frustrate readers but he has created some great adventures and characters over the years, and is one of the more consistent writers out there. You can count on King having something in the works and creating new content, and he explores a variety of topics so if anything doesn’t work for a reader, his next release will probably be something completely different.
I’m currently having a minor mid-life crisis ( :p ) and slightly questioning my career choices since I would not describe any of the professions I have had as passions – there have been moments at various points where the work was rewarding and meaningful, but my passion? Eh. Unfortunately, reading books and writing about them isn’t exactly a career option, especially in this day and age where everyone with a computer wants to be a writer and freelancing doesn’t seem to pay anywhere near enough unless you are in the top percentage. Still, it couldn’t hurt to read about the writing process from the brain of one of most successful current authors.
King had started this book prior to his life threatening accident. He begins with his CV, a collection of vignettes about his life – not a regular memoir but I quite enjoyed it. The second part deals with writing, starting with the tools and then discussing the process. He said he had many ideas when he originally came up with this book but he realized as he wrote that when it truly came down to communicating about writing, it was the simple advice and guidance that was the most relevant. Grammar, vocabulary, reading other books, authenticity to a character, the ability to cut and edit. Simple but important concepts. After all that, he includes a post script, describing the accident and his recovery, and the vital part that writing played to bringing him back to his normal.
All in all, it was an illuminating and honest look into one writer’s life with some straight forward advice about writing. The parts about his wife and later on his accident were incredibly moving and powerful, and I can’t believe it has already been almost 20 years since we nearly lost King. He made a comment about how The Stand tends to be everyone’s favorite and how it is a bit sobering when one’s best received work was written in the first half of one’s career, but I have to join the crowd in saying that The Stand is my favorite. Followed by Gerald’s Game and Salem’s Lot! I guess I am not really helping since those are all early stories but I think there is something about reading something when one is young and how much more of an impression it makes. I’m sure I might find those books less than perfect now but King helped shape me as a reader, and even if I might take long breaks between books by him, I always come back.