I just finished listening to the audiobook version of Stephen King’s “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.” If you haven’t read it, I suggest you get the audio version, because he took the time to narrate it himself. Stephen King’s narration of his own words makes them even more powerful. I don’t often wish I could thank an author for giving me the gift of his work, but this is one of those times. It made me type the following letter, which I might or might not print out and ship off. I’m still undecided.
Bangor, ME 04401
Dear Mr. King:
I’m writing to thank you. I hesitated at first, thinking about how much correspondence you must receive and how sometimes it must become tiresome. Then I pictured myself in the future I covet, as a writer who has done something to touch a fellow writer, reading the letter of gratitude. I couldn’t deny you the pleasure. Or perhaps I’m feeling charitable because I watched the Orioles beat the Red Sox last night.
I’m glad you pulled “On Writing” out of the trunk, but not as glad as I am you took the time to narrate it yourself. I’ve developed the habit of listening to writers talk to me about craft as I drive, but I couldn’t banish your book to my car. I had to keep listening to your words. I walked around with earphones on until you finished talking.
Every once in a while, I would chuckle, and my wife would wonder if I was losing my mind.
“What the heck are you laughing at?”
“Stephen King cracked me up talking about a copy error.”
“You’re such a nerd.”
“Yeah. Isn’t it great?”
“On Writing” is more than a mere memoir or manual. Through your words, you gave me, and the rest of the writing world, a call to action: Life is short—write your ass off. It seems trite when I distill it to a bumper sticker catchphrase, but the way you did it moved me and woke me up to that truth. I’m not the same me as I was before I listened to you speaking those words, and I’m grateful.
I’ve only recently begun assembling my personal collection of rejection letters after completing a novel manuscript somewhere near my own minimum standards. Your words will keep me going for as long as it takes. Thank you.