I just finished reading Stephen King's memoir "On Writing," which ought more appropriate to have been titled, "On Stevie." I'll summarize King's writing advice to spare you all the time it would take to read and distill it:
3. Be born a member of the elect.
Suffice to say I was pretty disappointed by this book. King makes a beautiful story out of his life, just like he makes beautiful stories out of the lives of his characters; but this is a story King should never have written. As an aspiring writer, I look to the advice of professional writers to inspire and motivate me to do great things. But Stevie's point number three--which he more tactfully couches in the language that you can't make a good writer out of a bad one, i.e., writers are born--really struck me as an awful thing to put into a book that is supposedly about writing.
But, for one thing, it isn't. "On Writing" is mostly an autobiography. This ties in with its general lack of any magical illumination, and rather throws into stark relief King's deterministic philosophy. The philosopher Immanuel Kant once suggested that the faculty of reason causes human beings to think about--if not believe--the idea of freedom. But despite some of his more fantastical writings, Stephen King obviously doesn't believe in magic. His view of the writer's life is sad: according to King, either you've got it, or you don't.
Afterwards, I realized that the book as a whole pretty much keeps with King's fictional writing style. He does a great job writing about characters (such as himself), but his sense of the supramundane--despite his frequent use of the supernatural in his work--is about as sophisticated as my butthole. And no, my butthole is not a wormhole to another dimension. Rather, my butthole conceives the entire universe in terms of simplistic, black and white, good versus evil dichotomies, and, when speaking (usually in a low rumble), uses the attendant lame, pseudo-Christian symbolism to make uninspiring metaphors.
If you want to be inspired in your quest to become a writer, and if you want to hear the advice and ruminations of people who actually believe writing is a craft and would probably tell you that, yes, if you practice hard, one day you can be a writer also, go check out Writing Excuses. Despite the name, the Writing Excuses podcast is--unlike King's memoir--devoid of excuses. The crew offers useful advice and a lot of encouragement. Go check it out.
According to the library's automatic notification service, Orson Scott Card's "Characters and Viewpoint" is ready for me to pick up. I expect it will be superior to King's instructional method--the reading of which made me really glad that I got it out from the library. I am going to jam "On Writing" into the RETURN slot so hard.
But before I get on to Card's book, I need to go join Edgard Rice Burroughs on Mars.