As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.
On Writing by Stephen King is a book I wish I liked. For one thing, it appears on many lists of recommended writing books. Since I am a developing writer, that attracted my attention. I want to read a book that someone says, “This book is worth reading. It will help you.” Secondly, Mr. King can write books that hold readers’ attention. I’m beginning to realize how hard that is. He is someone to learn from.
The author gives valuable insights into the craft of writing. One of his most important points is that success (and earning enough from writing to pay the bills) doesn’t happen overnight. A writer has to be willing to spend the time to learn and practice the craft, and even then, fame and fortune aren’t guaranteed. Mr. King also spends time on the importance of rewriting. He gives other tips too.
On Writing is a memoir as well as a writing book, so these insights are sprinkled among his memories. The tips are a little hard to pull out from the rest of the narrative.
Although I looked forward to reading a book from an expert in the craft, I was disappointed. The book would have worked better had the memoir been split from the writing insights. What really did it for me was the author’s use of offensive language. Never having read any of Stephen King’s books, I wasn’t aware of his liberal use of a certain four-letter word. About two-thirds of the way through, I had more than enough of that language and closed the book. The language he chose prevented his greater message from getting through to me.
Comment: I don’t want to read this again; it’s not worth my time.
2 responses to “Diving Into A Sea of Books–On Writing”
I’m with you about the language problem.
There are probably people who would get very upset at me for this comment, but if a someone drops the “F” word twenty times in a two minute conversation, I automatically assume that they’re a little dull-witted. I can’t help it. Comments like, “The f….ing car won’t f….ing start.” tell me that the speaker can’t put enough thought into choosing the proper adjectives or adverbs to describe the car or its actions. I suppose that people drop the profanities in to impress, but those words and phrases have become so common place that five-year-olds aren’t impressed by them any more.
After awhile, such language makes me almost physically sick. I was close to reaching that point reading the book. As you say, the speaker doesn’t put enough thought into what they are saying. They probably don’t realize what they are saying, and what’s worse, if someone pointed it out to them, they probably wouldn’t care. In the case of On Writing, any further insights I could have gained were lost. I didn’t want to have to wade through the junk. It’s ironic that because of words used, a book on communicating lost the chance to communicate more to me.
Thanks for your comment!