In honor of Stephen “Uncle Stevie” King’s birthday this week (Sept 21st) I am going to forego our regularly scheduled programming in favor of five poignant quotes from Mr. King’s book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft that I bookmarked with lots of Post-it Notes so many years ago. By the way, this isn’t the first time Uncle Stevie’s been quoted here recently.
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”
“Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”
“It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”
“Put your vocabulary on the top shelf of your toolbox, and don’t make any conscious effort to improve it. (You’ll be doing that as you read, of course … but that comes later.) One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed.
“I’m not trying to get you to talk dirty, only plain and direct. Remember that the basic rule of vocabulary is use the first word that comes to your mind, if it is appropriate and colorful. If you hesitate and cogitate, you will come up with another word—of course you will, there’s always another word—but it probably won’t be as good as your first one, or as close to what you really mean.”
“Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference.”
Yes, I’m filing this a bit late. It’s my birthday weekend, so I’ve taken it easy today (I have Monday off from work as well). I had originally intended to write and post a Ruckin’ With You column for this week, but alas. I’ll either produce it in a couple of days, or just wait until later in the week. I also need to do a Workbook update (I skipped the August-into-September one). At any rate, I do remain committed to composing a blog entry that uncorks my headspace on a weekly basis, though.
So until next time, keep reading, keep writing, keep rocking.