Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Kelly's Book 1.14: On Writing

Dear Jenny,

Does this feel like déjà vu? Didn't I already post a preview of my Book 1.14? Yup. But there has been a change of plans!

After reading one chapter of Don't Know Much About History, I knew that I couldn't do it all in one month. Conveniently, it's got 12 chapters so I'll read one per month and tell you all about it in December (or maybe do some mini-reports along the way... depends on how I'm feeling).

I didn't like the unsettled feeling that I would have all year if the numbers of my books did not correspond with the actual month numbers (Yeah, yeah. I've got my issues.), so DKMAH will be my 12.14 book and this post is about my new 1.14: On Writing by Stephen King.

When I first heard about this book, I wasn't that interested because I'm not a writer (of fiction) (I am, of course, a writer of blog posts) (and emails and comments and... oh, you know!) but it turns out that the book is also a memoir (it actually says so right in the subtitle: On Writing: a Memoir of the Craft) and I am interested in Stephen King, so I picked it up.

My favorite King novels have been the non-horror ones (like 11/22/63 and Joyland -- so good!) and I am totally amazed by his ability to create memorable characters (I still think about the crew from It and I read that book over 25 years ago). I, myself, could not invent a completely made-up story to save my life (seriously -- making up a story? Can. Not. Do. It.) so I am pretty curious to get into the head of a guy who not only can do this, but often does it spectacularly.

I also thought this would be a good one to read with the ToB coming up, since there is usually a lot of discussion about authors and writing during the book-y talk, so it seems like it might be pertinent.



  1. I have no problems with you changing your numbering! Do what you must!

    This sounds like a fun read. I wish more authors would take writing lessons from Stephen King. He's the master, and I really have enjoyed so many of his books. My friend Stacy was telling me she was listening to the audiobook for 11/blahblahblah/63 and that she couldn't stop! I remember you saying the same thing.

    Meanwhile, tell me aobut NOS4A2. Is is super scary? It seemed scary!

  2. I don't know if it's because I read so many horror books as a kid (while you were reading trashy romance, I was reading trashy horror...) but it's pretty difficult for me to get scared by a "horror" book (a horror movie, on the other hand... cannot do it!)

    Having said that, there were definitely some creepy moments in NOS4A2. I listened to the audiobook. It was Kate Mulgrew narrating (a-mazing!) and the way she says "ChrisssstmassLand" is totally creepy. This past holiday season, if anyone said "Christmas" and hissed at all on the s's, I did get a little shiver. Heh.

    Other than that, yes, some of the descriptions were horrifying, but Joe Hill has got the Mad Character Development Skillz, so that's really what I focused on. Also, I thought it was going to have a terrible cliff-hanger-y BS ending, but he totally sticks the landing!

  3. Oh, and the reason I said it's difficult for me to get scared by a "horror" book (w/ horror in quotes) is that other kinds of books can and do scare the sh*t out of me -- real books about truly terrifying things... like the very, very bad things that people can do to one another in horrifying circumstances (Exhibit A: Reasons why I will never read The Road. Exhibit B: I may never forget what happened in Blindness.)

  4. Hmm. That's a good point. Maybe I'll get back on board with NOS4A2. I think the thing I really like about romance novels, and mysteries, and horror books---trade fiction---is that it's so PLOT driven. Interesting things happen! What will happen next?

    That is fun.

  5. PS - Actual "real" frightening things (as defined by my clarification note) do, in fact, happen in NOS4A2... just wanted to clarify that. I mean, kidnapping is scary. But I'm just saying the supernatural stuff doesn't generally scare me. ;)

  6. I am 50 pages into On Writing and so far, I LOVE it. (So much that I had to put it down to come here and make a comment!) I have laughed out loud several times and highlighted passages full of great writing advice.

    It's super engaging -- I have a ton of chores to deal with today and I am worried this book is going to waylay me! Trying to remember I have a long flight tomorrow and to save it for that, but it will be difficult.

  7. Hi Jenny and Kelly

    Kelly Ray here :)

    I'm checking out your blog to see what y'all are reading this year, and saw that Kelly was reading On Writing. I freaking love this book! I haven't read much King -- maybe three of his novels, and one of the Bachman collections -- but I'd agree that his handling of character development is truly brilliant. I'm not a fan of horror, but dude knows what he's about when it comes to craft.

    But this book is wonderful. I sort of need to read it again now that you're talking about it.

    Anyway, as your occasional guest commenter, I just had to say hello... anything either of you read last year that I simply must read?

  8. Kelly,

    I really loved Americanah and consider that probably my "must read" book in the last year. Otherwise, I read a lot of stuff that I enjoyed but I'm not sure I would give my whole-hearted recommendations to many others. This year's The Fault in Our Stars is Eleanor and Park. It's a little too racy to recommend to middle schoolers, but I thought it was good. I also recommend The Goldfinch. I don't think it was the most brilliant thing ever, and I actually struggled with the ending---but it was still a "good read" and that's saying something!

    I also think you might like The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. I read it pretty quickly, and at the time, I was sort of "meh" about it, but I keep thinking about it.