"Genius is nothing more nor less than doing well what anyone can do badly."
- Amelia Barr, British novelist
I've just finished reading Stephen King's memoir on writing and am still processing all he has to say. So much of the advice he gives is really common sense when I think about it. Alas, that is the problem with advice, though. It's always struck me as an easy and cheap pitch to a child to tell them to "just sit up straight, keep peddling, and don't look down, look where you're going" when helping them to learn bike riding. This is basically what Mr. King tells the would-be writer reading his memoir. Sound advice, but boy, it's a lot harder than it looks ... at first.
Many a child has pitched off the bike to scrape knees and hands just as many a writer crashes up against the hard pavement of creative roadblocks and criticism ... or rejection. It takes a determined soul to stick to the task and that is where King's humor and bravado serve as a wellspring of encouragement. It was interesting to read about his early life and the events that shaped him as a writer. He looks at his life with an honest eye and a sharp sense of self-deprecation. Through that lens, the reader can see some of his stories and novels as small slices of his life. He distills images and events that he has experienced and, with the incredible power of his imagination, unearths his stories from the primordial muck of his unconscious. He is an amazing talent.
Yes, he is a diamond in the rough character with a vernacular that may shock some readers, but when you get past the foul language and rough humor, you find sound ideas and knowledgable theory about the writing process ... a good read. Oh, and the guy has good taste in literature - his reading lists are full of good stuff - just sayin'.