Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Book Review: On Writing, by Stephen King

I'm not a Stephen King fan. Sure, I've seen Carrie and The Shining. Oh, and Misery. I generally get freaked out over scary stuff so haven't picked up a Stephen King book since that one time I read Pet Cemetery the weekend my roommates were gone. But now I'm reading On Writing, which is part memoir and part instruction and so far I've enjoyed every word.

I'd like to share these gems from the book:
  • "Your job isn't to find ... ideas but to recognize them when they show up." King is talking about writing, but really this could be applied to visual arts.
  • Hectograph. King and his brother created a newsletter that they reproduced on a gelatin plate. I heard mention of this before, and remember purple sheets in early school days, but never knew the term. Here's a youtube video on the process. A typewriter would be hard to find if you wanted to do text, but a drawing would work fine. (You can buy the paper on Amazon if you don't have a pal that works in a tattoo parlor.)

  • "You must not come lightly to the blank page."
  • "I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops."
  • "Dumbo got airborne with the help of a magic feather... Dumbo didn't need the feather; the magic was in him." King is talking about the use of adverbs in the above passage, but what I got out of it visual art-wise, was to put down the crutches/viewer digestible subjects.
  • To get better at writing you must read. Well, that's easily translated to art. Get out there. Study artists, study their art, critique it, etc.
I could go on and on, but instead I'll just encourage you to read the book.

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