I picked up Stephen King’s On Writing outside the Chaoyangmen subway station a week or so ago before meeting Ray for lunch. The paperback cost eleven kuai, it came wrapped in plastic, and the words on some of the pages were large and somewhat distorted, as if the book had been lifted off of the glass as the copier light passed underneath.
The Tommyknockers might be the only Stephen King book I’ve ever read, although I have seen The Shining and The Green Mile. I don’t remember the story, but I remember finding it on the shelf in Nancy Parcifal’s classroom during Writing Quest, our seventh grade writing course. I probably enjoyed The Tommyknockers, but apparently not enough to induce me to read any other Stephen King books. I bought On Writing because I wanted to have something to read on the road, and because I’d seen it referred to and quoted online, and it sounded interesting.
Maybe there’s something wrong with me, because I seem to have enjoyed every book I’ve picked up over the past couple of months. In On Writing, King tells his story of developing as a writer, shares his thoughts on the process of writing, and finishes with thoughts on life and writing through the lens of his being hit by a truck in 1999 (the book was published in 2000). The title is On Writing because King is a writer, but many of the stories and lessons are applicable to any profession and any life. The importance of nurturing discipline, doing what one loves, having a support system, and working through challenges may seem obvious, but King’s personal examples offer fresh reminders and a unique perspective.
Now… I think I’m going to read The Stand first, and then maybe Misery.