Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except Sundays), I’ll be sharing a short bookish memory with you.
“Almost everyone can remember losing his or her virginity, and most writers can remember the first book he/she put down thinking: I can do better than this. Hell, I am doing better than this! What could be more encouraging to the struggling writer than to realize his/her work is unquestionably better than that of someone who actually got paid for his/her stuff?” – Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
On Writing by Stephen King is my favorite writing craft book ever. That’s a huge compliment because I’ve read a lot of craft books, and I think they’re naturally boring. Stephen King proves that he has writing talent in On Writing because he manages to take a tedious subject and turn it into something you actually want to read about.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft - Stephen King
Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King's advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.
The quote at the start of this post refers to writers, but when I read it, I also thought about readers. Do you remember the first book you DNFed (did not finish)? I hated reading when I was a kid and probably DNFed 99% of the books that were forced upon me, but by the time I was a teenager, I was a rabid reader. I read every book I could get my hands on.
I rarely DNFed books as a teenager, but there is one DNF that stands out in my mind. When I was fifteen, English class forced me to read Black Boy by Richard Wright. Fifteen-year-old me could not make herself care about Wright's rambling infatuation with communism. I know Black Boy is an important American classic and blah, blah, blah, but I was bored. Truly, mind-numbingly, bored.
Black Boy - Richard Wright
Black Boy is a classic of American autobiography, a subtly crafted narrative of Richard Wright's journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. An enduring story of one young man's coming of age during a particular time and place, Black Boy remains a seminal text in our history about what it means to be a man, black, and Southern in America.
I have a memory of shoving Black Boy off the edge of my bed and having this conversation with myself:
There are millions of books in the world.
I won’t live long enough to read all of them.
I tried really hard to read this book, and I hate it.
If there are millions of books in the world, why am I wasting time reading one I hate?
To be a happy bookworm, sometimes I have to DNF. Forcing myself to read something I don’t like makes reading feel like a chore instead of a hobby. I need my hobbies to be fun, not stressful. Making the decision to DNF can be hard sometimes, but life’s too short to read boring books.
Do you remember the first book you DNFed?