At some point I began to write my own stories. Imitation preceeds creation; I would copy Combat Casey comics word for word in my Blue Horse tablet, sometimes adding my own descriptions where they seemed appropriate.When little Stevie showed these to his mother, she was at first astonished and impressed, before finding out the truth. Her disappointment affected him deeply. But she told him then the magic words that would shape his life from that moment on:
"Write one of your own, Stevie," she said. "Those Combat Casey funnybooks are just junk -- he's always knocking someone's teeth out. I bet you could do better. Write one of your own."And write he did. He wrote about Mr. Rabbit Trick and friends who rode in a car, helping children. His mother loved it, and told Stevie to write more. So he did.
Four stories. A quarter apiece. That was the first buck I made in this business.But it wasn't always smooth sailing for Mr King. He tells about rejection after rejection. He nailed the disappointing letters onto his wall. But he persevered. He also tells how he met his soulmate, his Ideal Reader, his inspiration to keep on going -- his wife, Tabitha. He had to take a dayjob to keep his family afloat. He worked in a mill, a laundry, and other minimal-wage places. He was also a teacher (his mother encouraged him to get a teacher's credential to have something to fall back on). From the rejections, from all the hardships, Stephen King kept on writing, even when the days looked the bleakest. He created stories drawn from his experiences, of places he'd lived in, and from his observations. He is the Stephen King because he refused to give up writing. Mr King also gives a good explanation on what writing is. It's telepathy. You can write something down, describe it in any way, and people from different places, from different times, will conjur up similar images.
You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair -- the sense that you can never completely put on the page what's in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.In the second part, one he names Toolbox, Mr King describs the tools a writer needs to equip himself with. A toolbox, with three or more levels, just like the one in your father's shed (or in my case, storeroom). The top level, where common items are placed, is for the writer's vocabulary. It's a matter of how one uses it, not how much one knows. Also belonging in the top shelf is grammar. Here Stephen Kings talks a little on the technical side of writing, but in an informal manner. Oh. And he hates passive voice and adverbs. On the second level is style. He encourages his readers to read The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. In the third section of the book, On Writing, is where Stephen King imparts with his knowledge, his experience, his instructions. Equally informal, equally informative, as the rest of the book, the instructions come in his distinct voice, his distinct style. He describes about the pyramid of writers, where bad writers belong at the bottom, adequate writers above them, and then good writers. At the top are geniuses, the select few whom people talk about ages after they no longer are. Although it is impossible for bad writers to become adequate writers, and from good ones to geniuses, it is possible to rise from being just adequate to good. The trick is: there is no trick, no shortcut. One has to read a lot and write a lot. Hold on. What about the third level in the toolbox? What does it contain? To learn that, my friend, you have to read the book for yourself. I highly recommend this book for it is an inspiration to keep on writing no matter what life throws at you. I bought my copy, published by Pocket Books in 2002, at RM 32.11. What is learned, what is shared by the great author himself, is priceless. Go on, get one copy now. Or when the bookshop opens.