Kill Your Darlings

Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.

Who better to spend a little time with on this All Hallows' Eve than the master of fear himself, Stephen King? While I've yet to read any of his fiction, some of which scares me off by its sheer scariness, I am a huge fan of On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

I've read my fair share of books on writing and this is the most dog-eared book I own—it practically falls open to his Toolbox section. This, along with Anne Lamotte's Bird by Bird, and The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White, are all the books that need line a writer's shelf.

You don't have to want to write to love this book. The first half is a memoir: a look into the life that built the writer, and when it's the writer behind the likes of Carrie, Misery, and The Shining, you know you're in for quite a ride. You'll learn that King is part of a writers-only rock band, along with Amy Tan, of all people, and how he wrote his first best seller in the eighth grade, The Pit and the Pendulum. Selling it for a quarter a copy, he had three dozen sold and was riding high with nine dollars in change weighing down his book bag, before he was summoned to the principal's office for turning the school into a marketplace. You'll be regaled with tales of poison ivy, potentially lethal science projects, how his first national bestseller was saved from the trash bin by his wife, and that in the end, it was his compulsion to write that brought him back from the brink of death.

I'll leave you with this early piece of advice from his mother, who encouraged King to get his teaching credentials as a backup, should the whole writing thing not pan out: "You may want to get married, Stephen, and a garret by the Seine is only romantic if you're a bachelor. It's no place to raise a family."

Posted by Rachel