5 Star Review “On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft” By Stephen King

As a fan who grew up reading Stephen King’s stories, I enjoyed this book so much that I read it twice, one right after the other. Let me make it clear, I have never read a book, flipped back to the beginning, and read it all over again. That’s how much I loved this book.

During the first read, I took my time savoring every word, and didn’t take any notes. The second time around, I took 6 pages of single-spaced notes.

“On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft” is not just for writers. It provides interesting back story on King’s life and career as an author. Learning about his challenges as a struggling author was quite refreshing, and a good reminder that we all start somewhere.

When King had his accident in 1999, I was graduating from high school, and remember hearing that he had been hit by a blue van. I thought it was some lunatic who had hit him on purpose, had no idea how badly King was injured, and knew nothing of his lengthy healing process. It was heartbreaking to read about what happened, but it was also eye opening. I saw King’s struggle and triumph, and was inspired.

At 288 pages it’s not a long book. As King says, “Fiction writers, present company included, don’t understand very much about what they do – not why it works when it’s good, not why it doesn’t when it’s bad. I figured the shorter the book, the less the bullshit.” I will attempt to omit needles words, leaving the bullshit out of this review.

If you are like me, you have wondered, “Where do good stories come from?”

King says, “Let’s get one thing clear right now shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”

King reviews his Toolbox contents, including tips on vocabulary, grammar, and elements of style. I rather enjoyed his opinion on adverbs, “I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops.” HAHA! If you have a sense of humor, you will have a few good laughs.

King discusses dialogue, offering tips, and examples on good and bad dialogue. He shares the three parts that every story or novel should contain, and provides a story exercise to help “plotters” to let go of the control. I don’t have mine complete yet, when I do, I will be sharing it. If you do the exercise please let me know, I would love to read it.

One of the most helpful sections was the process of writing first draft, second draft, polish (or third draft), and what an author should be focused on during those drafts. King shares points on how to find an agent, get published, and gives an example of a cover letter to include when submitting your work.

My biggest takeaway: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Find the time to read this book.

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Why remember 9/11?

Another year has passed, and once again I’m taking the time to reflect on September 11th, 2001.

I was living in a small basement apartment with my friend Pam. After showering I sat down in our tiny living room with my breakfast. I had just moved back to St. John’s, Newfoundland, and began my third year of University. As I was flicking through the channels I caught sight of a tall building on fire, smoke billowing towards the sky. Thinking it was a movie, I turned the volume up to see if I had watched it before. The image switched back to a newscaster, who said a plane had hit one of the Trade Center towers. At first I was under the impression it was an accident, and felt sad for the poor man or woman who somehow crashed their little plane. Without warning, a second plane came out of nowhere and hit the other tower. My jaw dropped. I called out, “PAM! Two planes just hit the world trade center!” She came to the living room and we both stared at the screen as the shocked newscaster was fumbling for words.

I walked to class in a daze. The impact of what had happened hadn’t set in just yet. I must have heard at least 20 planes fly over head during the short walk to class. That was when the real panic started to set in. Was this the beginning of World War 3? My naive feeling of safety were abruptly shattered.

Some people question why September 11th has remained “a big deal” when plenty of other heartbreaking, world-changing events have occurred before and after. The sadness around this day is not just about the people who were murdered. That day is the day I realized, as I’m sure many others have, that we are not as safe as we thought, and world war 3 was a possibility. That was the day I learned the word “terrorist”.

Moments of intense anguish may be stressful and cause intense sorrow, but they also present the opportunity to rebuild, experience growth, and appreciate life.

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“Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.”
President Obama in a 2011 radio address

“My father was the best person I have ever known and though he was taken from me on that day, nothing and no one will ever be able to take way the eight years and two days of my life that I shared with him. After my father died, and after I lost so much, I promised myself that I would never lose who I am as a person – the person that my father brought me up to be. … If you owe someone an apology, tell them you are sorry today. If someone asks for your forgiveness, forgive them. Start being the person you always wanted to be today and don’t waste your time worrying about tomorrow.”
Mary Kate McErlean, whose father was killed on 9/11 when she was 8 years old.

The Crash #poem

Here is another poem I wrote back in high school.

The Crash

She says, “Hello?”
As she picks up the phone
He asks to go for a ride
She hangs up, and gets ready to go

The headlights approaching
Then the car slows
Hear the horn sound
As the paths painted white
Drive out of sight
With the winds raging

Twists and turns
A wicked roller-coaster ride
The screeching metal
Brakes stamped on
Because a drunk ran a red light

Red splashed on white
Fear splashed on safe
Agony in place of love
The screams and the tears
Take over the night
As minutes become years

He awakes to bright lights
The hum of machines
His loved ones watching
Crying
Except his angel

“Where is my angel?
The one that I love
Tell me she’s alright.”
Pain passes through him
Right through his heart

“Oh honey, sweetheart,
The crash was so bad.
She’s a true angel now.
My son,
She’s passed.”

Shock blazed through him
It could not be true
The fire of heart, put out
Turned cold
How can he go on
Without her?

The night came again
As he drifted to sleep
She slipped in, and whispered in his ear
“Don’t ever forget my
Love for you.
Keep me in heart,
But try and move on
As I watch over you.”

Written by Amanda Drover-Hartwick

Did you ever love someone? #poem

Did you ever Love Someone?

Did you ever
Love someone,
But you knew
They didn’t care?

Did you ever feel
Like crying,
But you knew
You’d get nowhere?

Do you look
Into their hearts
And wish that
You were there?

Did you watch them walk away,
Not wanting them to go.
Whispering, “I love you,”
But you never let them know?

You cry all night in misery,
You almost go insane.
There’s nothing in this whole wide world
That causes so much pain.

If I could choose between love and death,
I think I’d rather die.
Love is fun, but it hurts so much,
The price you pay is high.

So, I say, don’t fall in love.
You’ll get hurt before it’s through.
You see, my friend, I ought to know,
Because I fell in love with you.

Written by Amanda Drover-Hartwick
1998