Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stephen King writes, "Only 5% of writers can support themselves with their work"

Stephen King's book On Writing didn’t inspire me to quit my day job as it did Trent on The Simple Dollar, but I did enjoy the book.

For me, this paragraph alone made the book a worthwhile read:

"Another argument in favor of writing courses has to do with the men and women who teach them. There are thousands of talented writers at work in America, and only a few of them (I think the number might be as low as five percent) can support their families and themselves with their work. There’s always some grant money available, but it is never enough to go around. As for government subsidies for creative writers, perish the thought. Tobacco subsidies, sure. Research grants to study the motility of unpreserved bull sperm, of course. Creative-writing subsidies, never. Most voters would agree, I think. With the exception of Norman Rockwell and Robert Frost, America has never much revered her creative people; as a whole, we’re more interested in commemorative plates from the Franklin Mint and Internet greeting-cards. And if you don’t like it it’s a case of tough titty said the kitty ‘cause that is just the way things are. Americans are a lot more interested in TV quiz shows than in the short fiction of Raymond Carver."

FYI, King feels critiques given by fellow participants at writing workshops are useless and may even be detrimental to your writing process. He recommends writing the first draft quickly for yourself and the second draft for your readers. Questions and comments from others while writing the first draft breaks your concentration and could change the course of your book.

I haven’t read a lot of King’s fiction, but I am familiar with most of his work through movies. I enjoyed his autobiographical section, learned a little bit about writing and was touched by the moving account of his near death accident and the challenges he encountered in recovery.

I rate this book 4.5/5.

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