About a week ago I wrote a post about how Stephen King Changed My Perspectives on Book Reviews, which came from reading his book On Writing. It took me a long time to want to read the book. By long time, I really do mean years. The books was first introduced to me in high school by my creative writing teacher, 11 years ago. We read some snippets of it in class and then I probably didn’t think about it until a college creative class. While it wasn’t a required text for the class, I think it was a recommended text. I’m sure it was also referenced. That was 6 years ago.
Over the last couple of years, I have been getting a bit more serious about writing. I’ve picked up some other books on the topic. Some of them breaking down scene structures, character development, story arc, etc., and even a couple “write your book in 30 days” types. But Stephen King’s book never made it very high on my list, and there are couple of reasons for that.
First of all, I’ve never been a Stephen King fan. I don’t even know if that’s fair to say because I have never read one of his fiction novels. The genre just never appealed to me. But the second reason, that’s the heart of the issue of why I kept putting of reading On Writing. I think the book seemed intimidating. There is no argument that Stephen King is one of the most successful authors out there. Whether you are a fan or not, you’ve probably heard his name and can name at least one, if not a handful, of titles that he’s written. Maybe you even know that there are movies and tv mini-series adaptations of his work. You really can’t argue with success. For me, when I saw a book written by an author with that much success and experience behind him, I kind of figured that whatever he had to say would probably discourage me from writing.
I know what you are probably thinking. I should want to get all the advice I can from those who have been successful. In my head, I agree with that statement. But my heart worries about getting crushed. Writing is putting your heart out there, especially in the fiction world.
I was shocked when I was reading along in the book and Stephen King gave me (and anyone else who reads the book) permission to write. When I actually started reading the book, I never thought that I would read that. In a couple of times, he explicitly gives permission to write. Of course I realize that I don’t technically need someone allowing me to spend my time writing if that is what I so choose, but it does something to your mind to read something like that.
I loved my creative writing classes in high school and college. I wonder how much of it stemmed from the fact that they allowed me to write. They allowed a direction for me to pour my creative thoughts. And outlet for all those times I would think, “that would make a great story.” I had the permission of my teachers and professors to write. In an essence, I had the world’s permission. Afterall, I was only working on my assignment.
But now, as a wife, as an adult, I have responsibilities–ones that surely are more important than writing. Sure my husband encourages me to write, and I’ve been fortunate that no one has told me it would be a waste of my time, but something still feels wrong about it at times, as if there is always something more important I should be doing. So that book, the one that I avoided for years, gave me permission. Someone I have never met and probably never will, gave me, and anyone else who reads it, permission. For me, that is what I needed to ignite a spark to want to keep writing.