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‘A Far-Seeing Place’
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
2000, Scribner, NY, 288 pages
8/31/20
On Writing consists of three interwoven portions of fact, opinion and inspiration on the craft by the most successful popular writer of our age.
-The social and economic mechanics of “getting published,” of kneeling before the insipid altars of our vast post-cultural pantheon, are almost entirely superseded by technological developments which came into fruition after this book was written. I had no idea until know that King started out writing for porno magazines and developed the art of titillation there. I remember a fellow reader from my teen years who read erotica while I read Tarzan and Conan. He told me—and he would go onto pursue creative writing in college—that those who wrote this stuff were honing the writing craft… I scoffed then, but he was correct.
-The second aspect of the book covers the author’s largely uninteresting life, including the thing he seems to like doing more than writing, which is playing in a band consisting of writers and agents and such in the publishing biz named The Wallflowers. This and the former point make King the perfect lens for boomer morality and sensibility and explains why his work has such wide appeal.
-The lesser thread of On Writing, is contained in a single chapter from page 103 to 108 and is titled “What Writing Is.”
This chapter is far more valuable to me, a lesser writer, who has no interest in King’s pedestrian life or the superseded civics of getting published through an agent, than the rest of the book.
King likens writing to telepathy and he has me here, as I have settled on writing as my Time Machine, ever since I figured that a mastery of quantum physics and a berth at the Pentagon were likely out of reach, not to mention that they would send some Navy SEAL through the damned thing instead of my scrawny ass…
King describes his writing space as a “far-seeing place,” and has me again with his connection to the craft of writing in a guise I have often attended. It is my contention that one learns more about the work of writing from fiction authors than from their terrestrial counterparts.
The centerpiece of this chapter is an interactive writing-reading exercise in which King does a word sketch of a rabbit in a cage in certain circumstances and imbued with certain details…
King is losing me with the rabbit, playing the magician on one hand and the gatekeeper on the other. Then, having burned up half his wordage on this pedestrian exercise, he reveals himself as a gatekeeper with flare, like a boxing coach addressing a hesitant fat man stepping into his gym:
“You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair—the sense that you can never completely put on the page what is in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly: Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.”
He then suggests washing the cat like the boxing coach would suggest taking up tennis to the prospective boxer.
What King really did in these 288 pages on Writing was give a clinic on how to take a 16-page essay and stretch it into a novel-length book without tapping into any of the inspirational creativity or dark pathos what must be reserved for the novelette he’s going to pad-out into an epic…
On Writing was a master stroke of commercialized communication dressed in the sordid vestments of slothful aspiration.
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MichaelDecember 29, 2020 6:32 AM UTC

Sir, King is a terrible writer. He owes his popularity solely to being a leftist Yankee hack from the State of Maine who never tires of mindlessly repeating communist talking points and spitting on Southerners. That's it, that's his entire "career", if he had spine, talent or insight he would have never gotten published in an industry completely controlled by Yankee Jewry. When I was younger I read several of his books foremost due to a lack of options for modern writing, the same bland authors and boring troupes over and over. I thought that if so many people read him he must be good. My God, his books were terrible, I read half of his dark tower series for instance because I knew a girl reading them and I liked to talk to her, note half of the series. They were so bad that I was willing to never talk to any girl again if it meant I did not have to read one more word. I tried several of his books and short stories and can't remember any of them. It was not until many years later that I saw him in fake news interviews and the vile nature he possessed, his decidedly Yankee brand of hollow, unearned arrogance coupled with his cardboard personality that it became clear why he was a allowed to write books. He exists because he is a shill and there were no other options. He belongs on the trash heap with every other popular writer that groveled to the (((publishing)) industry in the last 60 years. You can do better than a hack for guidance.