Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On Inspiration

One of the other things I like to do during August (besides take a vacation) is to re-read Stephen King's On Writing.  While I don't read a lot of horror, I am a huge fan of two books written by Mr. King: On Writing and a collection of his short stories called Four Past Midnight. Fantastic read, by the way!

Anyway, back to inspiration.  I find King's On Writing to be extremely inspirational.  It is a non-fiction book about writing and reads a lot like a memoir.  Even though it's filled with a lot of stuff that most writers should know--e.g. avoid adverbs, have a writing space, avoid cliches like the plague, focus on the story, and blah blah blah, I find King's sarcastic advice to be wildly inspirational.  He makes me laugh.  And I like to laugh.  A lot.  I also like to read his book at least once a year, if only as a reminder about some of the general things that I should remember whenever I sit down in front of my laptop.

This year, however, I found the final chapter of King's book to be more inspirational than in previous years.  He calls it "On Living."  This year, that chapter made me cry sob.  Yeah, big time.  Crocodile tears.  In it King details the almost fatal accident he had over 10 years ago.  I think it hit me hard because this year I got body-slammed with equal parts wonderful and sad news in my personal life, and this moving chapter was an excellent reminder to take time to smell the roses and appreciate the people in your life who make sacrifices so that you can follow your dreams.  Maybe next year, when I read On Writing on a quiet beach somewhere like I'm prone to do, I'll have a different perspective. Who knows...

Do you have any books that you read over and over for inspiration or guidance?

17 comments:

Holly Vance said...

King's On Writing used to be required summer reading for my AP students.

King was probably my first, big inspiration. My writing started off imitating his until I developed my own style. I think he's a master of characterization.

Bonnie R. Paulson said...

I too enjoy that book. Another one I ADORE is "You CAN Write Romance" By the founders of RWA. That one sums it up and it's a compilation from multiple genre authors. It's awesome.

Ann Best said...

I also love King's "memoir" on writing. I come back to it many times during the year. The only other "writing" book I have on my shelf is an old one by famous YA author Lois Duncan (whose daughter was murdered when they were living in New Mexico a number of years ago). It's called How to Write and Sell Your Personal Experiences. I see the latter with a different perspective than I did when I first read it. I'm sure this will happen for both of us with On Writing next year, wherever we are.
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

Pk Hrezo said...

i so need to read this one. I've read so many writing books and I still haven't gotten around to that one. I know it's a good one. I also love Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. It's kind of the same thing and it's just beautifully written.

Sarah said...

This book has been recommended in so many places by so many people that I respect, that at some point, I'm going to have to check it out! I don't usually read craft books, but this one sounds like a classic.

Carol Riggs said...

I read On Writing while at a writing retreat last year, and it was good. You're right--it's like a memoir, but it has great things to say about writing. Inspirational, and practical too. :)

cherie said...

I don't have King's On Writing, but I know a lot of writers swear by this. Will have to get it NOW.

I like Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I have the book, but I haven't read it yet. Guess I need to!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

This may seem like a strange book for writing inspiration, but Personality Plus by Florence Littauer is one I reread often. It really helps when developing characters.

Danette said...

King was definitely inspiration for me when I first started writing. The practical advice was so-so but the way he spoke about writing was great and I definitely laughed a lot. I also enjoyed how much he incorporated reading into his day!

Deniz Bevan said...

King's book was amazing. It's time I reread it.
But of course Tolkien was my first, and is my longest lasting, inspiration.

Liz Fichera said...

Thanks for the additional book recs!

Colette said...

Liz, I have not read On Writing, but will now!

Angela Felsted said...

I bought "On Writing" about two months ago, but haven't gotten very far into it. Probably because it's summer and with my kids in the house all day, I can hardly think.

As a result, most of the stuff I've read lately is escapist. Perhaps I'll revisit his book in the fall.

Talli Roland said...

I LOVE 'On Writing', too. Especially the last bit - gets me every time!

LTM said...

hmm... not at the moment. But I did enjoy reading On Writing. Hubs gave it to me when I decided to be a novelist. That last chapter is powerful. And that's what good writers do, yes? Make us feel it~ <3

Trisha said...

I don't read much non-fiction at all...but I have this on my TBR list. Your description of it here really bumps it to the top of the list!