Stephen King’s book seeped into my writing life when I began to take myself seriously as a writer. Kind of like when I stopped smoking. First I was “trying” to quit smoking; then I was stopping smoking, and then somewhere along the weeks of not smoking I heard myself say, “I’m a non-smoker.” Similar to writing. I was “trying” to write some decent pieces, I was writing regularly and sharing my writing at open mics. At some point I began saying, “Yes, I’m a writer.” King’s life anecdotes matched bits and pieces I remembered from his books—settings, events, and character traits. I tucked that away for some time in the future when I would “try” to write fiction.
But it was his Toolbox that I took to heart. Having the tools to do a job sure makes it easier. And his toolbox had shelves that lifted out holding vocabulary and grammar. Other compartments were for the tools of words into sentences, paragraphs, adverbs, and elements of style. After reading On Writing, I sketched out a drawing of my toolbox and what was important to me. I used all of King’s tool suggestions along with visual words, styles, and a reading list to study the style of favorite authors.
Occasionally my tool box gets messy and overcrowded like the tool kit in my laundry room gets thread in the nail box, and the empty plastic packages from ceiling hooks stuffed in the bottom level. Then I have to take time to throw out the idea of rewriting an entire piece when a partial revision will do. I have discarded my list of adverbs and replaced it with more personal dialogue that doesn’t require tagging each character’s mood. After this last cleaning, it even had extra space for new writing “gadgets.” I’m ready for a new year of writing.