Book Review: “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King

On WritingIt’s been a few months since I read On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, but I wanted to make sure and get a review written for it because I thought the book was fantastic, and if there is anyone out there unaware of how helpful it can be to aspiring writers, then they need to know that it exists. I first got a copy of the book because I wanted to read it before giving NaNoWriMo a try, unfortunately I didn’t manage to get to it before then.

Ultimately my endeavors with NaNoWriMo were a pretty decent-sized failure, but after that was all said and done I did finally read this book and it gave me a little bit of a pick-me-up and encouraged me in my writing attempts for the future.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is split into two parts. The first part is a short autobiography about Stephen King’s life and how he first started to write when he was a young boy. It covers the silly stories he wrote when he was small, the newspaper he helped his older brother with, and then it moves on to his first successfully submitted short stories, novels, and then the beginnings of his career. I found the tales of his early career and his childhood to be fascinating beyond belief. There are so many little things about his early life that have influenced his writing in little ways, even the very small sampling of his books that I’ve had the chance to read so far.

The second part of the book is a series of chapters each dedicated to a different mechanic of writing short stories or novels. King talks about how to plot well, how to cut the extra fat out of your prose, how to make characters feel real, and a whole lot of other things. He gives straightforward, easy to understand advice that I feel anyone who wants to be a writer can find useful. Some of the things he mentions as good ideas I don’t agree with 100% due to personal style and preference, but despite that I can’t really argue with what he had to say, it was all good advice.

One of these days I’ll find the time to do some writing for real instead of not being able to dedicate much time to it and I’m sure when that happens I’ll be using the tips and tricks I got from this book to help me out. If you are someone who does any kind of creative writing of your own, do yourself a favor and read this book. You may only learn one small thing, but you may learn an entire mountain of things that will help you.

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Looking Back at 2013

For the past two days I’ve been writing about my personal reading goals and the blogging goals I’ll be working on for 2014. Now, three days into the new year it’s time to take one last look back at 2013 and how things went. I sort of fell off the band wagon a bit in the second half of the year, really losing a lot of steam in regards to how often I was publishing new posts, especially book reviews. But, 2014 should be better.

Let’s start by taking a quick look at the last few books I finished before the new year. The weeks of the year saw me driving my way through six pieces of literature, just narrowly surpassing my total pages read mark from last year. They were:

The Daedalus Incident was an absolutely spectacular debut for Michael J. Martinez, so much so that I’ve added him to my “must read” list already. He took some amazing chances with his storytelling and put together a tale that is unlike anything I’ve seen. Abaddon’s Gate was a wonderful installment to the continuing story that is The Expanse and I can’t wait for the next book in a few months.

Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft gave me a lot of motivation and hope for my own fledgling writing dreams and I’m hoping I can incorporate some of the insights and lessons I took from it into my routines this year at some point. The other three items on the list were all short stories written by the authors to add a bit of depth to the universes they exist in between the most recently released books and the upcoming ones. I enjoyed all three of them immensely. It was a good month of reading for me in the realm of quality writing.

As far as reading statistics go, here are a couple that might be interesting:

  • Total Books Read: 84
  • Total Pages Read: 31,512
  • Average Book Length: 375 pages

I had sort of hoped I could get all the way to 100 books read, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me. I had to navigate my way through some unexpected circumstances during the middle of the year that took my focus away from blogging and put it elsewhere.

In the world of blogging statistics, 20four12 saw 7,600 unique visitors over the course of the year for an average of about 20-21 visitors per day. That’s not too bad, but I would like to see it be significantly higher by the time this new year is finished.

And, last but not least, let’s take a look at two lists. In reading 84 books and novellas over the course of the year it is inevitable that I would find some favorites and least favorites. Part of me thought I should only list my favorites, but then I decided I was interested in seeing if any of the ones on my least favorite list would incite some discussion. Maybe some of them are favorites to other people, or maybe even some of the books I considered my favorite from this year are hated by others. I always find that to be incredibly fascinating. In no particular order:

Ten Favorite Books I Read in 2013:

Honorable Mention

Ten Least Favorite Books I Read in 2013:

I feel compelled to note that of the books listed in the least favorite category, I only find two of them to be absolutely atrocious, but I’m not going to tell you which ones. All of the others I just didn’t like as much as I wanted to, or they just simply were not my style when all was said and done. Take, The Great Gatsby for example. Widely considered to be a premier piece of fiction, I can’t stand it. It’s a matter of taste.

So, there you have it, a snapshot of my reading and blogging experiences from 2013. It was an interesting year for me as both a reader and as a blogger, but ultimately I feel like I did an okay job with both. Here’s to 2014 and making 20four12 really shine!