Last Updated on November 21, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 622
I remember an immense feeling of possibility at the idea, as if I had been ushered into a vast building filled with closed doors and had been given leave to open any I liked.
King describes the first time his mother encouraged him to write a story. He copied out a story from a comic book, and when she expressed her approval of his achievement—a rare sentiment from her—he confessed that he didn’t write the story, so his mother said he should write his own. King began writing his own stories and enjoyed this new ability to gain his mother’s approval, experiencing a sense of possibility and creative release as a result.
By 1985 I had added drug addiction to my alcohol problem, yet I continued to function, as a good many substance abusers do, on a marginally competent level. I was terrified not to; by then I had no idea of how to live any other life. I hid the drugs I was taking as well as I could, both out of terror—what would happen to me without dope? I had forgotten the trick of being straight—and out of shame.
In his memoir, King describes his battles with drug and alcohol addiction and the ways in which his addiction affected his writing. Though he did not ask for help, his characters, such as those in The Shining and Misery, acted as extensions of his physical and mental condition at that time of his life.
At the end of my adventures I was drinking a case of sixteen-ounce tallboys a night, and there’s one novel, Cujo, that I barely remember writing at all. I don’t say that with pride or shame, only with a vague sense of sorrow and loss. I like that book. I wish I could remember enjoying the good parts as I put them down on the page.
King describes how his addiction problems eventually became so severe that he wrote while intoxicated—and was later unable to remember the process. This passage exemplifies King’s honest approach to describing his life and addressing the grim reality of his substance abuse. He takes a matter-of-fact tone, neither exaggerating nor denying his faults.
All the arts depend on telepathy to some degree, but I believe writing offers the purest distillation.
King uses the metaphor of “telepathy” to describe writing and reading. According to King, the magic of writing lies in the ability for writer and reader to communicate without any physical connection except the words on a page and the ability to read them. He calls this process of reading “a meeting of the minds.”
You must not come lightly to the blank page.
King’s point is that there is a power in writing that must not be taken lightly, the same power that allows us to communicate with Shakespeare, Dickens, and Herodotus. No matter the emotions of the writer, they must approach writing seriously and with intention—and they must realize that writing is a responsibility that requires the full effort of the writer’s mind and energy.
I want to suggest that to write to your best abilities, it behooves you to construct your own toolbox and then build up enough muscle so you can carry it with you. Then, instead of looking at a hard job and getting discouraged, you will perhaps seize the correct tool and get immediately to work.
Here, King states that writing involves a metaphorical toolkit much like the real toolkit his uncle had. Writing requires the use of different tools from this box—vocabulary, grammar, paragraph structure, and so on—and understanding the use of these tools is vital to constructing style and form.