Book Reviews, Writing

January Summary: The Shining and Writing Goals

I originally said that I’d be doing a Saturday Summary at the end of each month for a book but it took me a little longer than expected to finish The Shining by Stephen King. I did really enjoy it though.

Between maintaining my regular weekly themes on my blog and searching for a full-time job in my field, reading falls by the wayside. I would love to dedicate more time to reading books and even to a book blog, but I find I already have enough of a commitment to my blog and other areas of my life.

Each month though, I’ve made a promise to myself to read at least one book. It doesn’t seem like much, especially when other people can easily read a book a week. For me though, this is the most realistic goal I can set for myself.

The Shining: My Thoughts

The Shining is the first Stephen King book I’ve read, aside from his memoir On Writing (but that’s a non-fiction book, so it doesn’t count for me). I had seen Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation first and loved it. I love any stories with a psychological touch like A Beautiful Mind and The Shining was a great example of a psychological story.

The Shining

In this book, Stephen King offers a lot of helpful back story about the characters through the use of flashbacks. I think he does this artfully because it’s not jarring and he indicates that it’s a flashback with formatting. The intrusive thoughts from the Overlook are also included, adding another psychological element to the story.

Unlike Jack Torrance in the movie, I actually felt a lot of sympathy for Jack Torrance in the book. You realize that Jack is trying to be a better husband, father and person but seeming to succumb to his alcoholism at every turn. You just know the Overlook is claiming him and that he’s spiraling further into insanity.

I also like that Danny’s power is explained in more detail in the novel. Maybe I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the movie but it wasn’t clear to me that Hallorann and Danny possessed “the shine.” I just assumed that there were ghosts in the hotel that everyone could see.

The book starts out slowly with lots of explanation but there’s a good amount of foreshadowing and suspense that builds up throughout the book. There were lots of great moments of tension and fear that had me spooked and jumpy even when I wasn’t reading the book. So yeah, it affected me.  😛

Stephen King spends a large amount of effort fleshing out his characters and their fears. I love this. This is what makes his story so engrossing and scary because it feels very real.

The only things I weren’t fond of were the sometimes lengthy passages of inner dialogue and the frequency of flashbacks. I felt the story could be shortened and tightened with a bit of cutting. I was also a little disappointed that the scene with the twin girls was just an added part in the movie. (A reason why it’s probably best to read the book before you see the movie). That scene where the twins stand in the hallway, saying, “Come and play with us. Come and play with us, Danny” is such a creepy, memorable line.

A great read all-around. I’m very interested in reading its sequel Doctor Sleep, in which Danny is an adult who uses his “shine” to help others. I gave this 4/5 stars on Goodreads because it was very suspenseful and kept me hooked, but some of it was a bit long-winded for my taste.

My Writing Goals

My stories have been a long time coming but I’m getting there. I’ve finished two chapters of one, a chapter of another that I have yet to proofread and I’ve put the other on hiatus because I had a case of writer’s block with it. I’ve set my mind on finishing these stories but it’ll take a lot longer than I anticipated.

In the meantime, I’ve also been working on writing a personal essay. I’m unfamiliar with this kind of writing and find it very difficult. Each draft I write is on a different topic and there are some that I feel just fall flat.

So right now, I’m just experimenting and practicing until I refine the art of the personal essay. One of my city newspapers has a section where anyone can submit a personal essay. Every time I read a new one, I just think: “Wow, their writing seems so effortless. It’s so well-written.” I’d like to submit one too but just feel that my writing isn’t there yet.

I feel like January went by way too quickly…

How was your January?

2 thoughts on “January Summary: The Shining and Writing Goals”

  1. One book a month sounds manageable, and it’ll feel so good when you actually achieve it! 😊 I set myself an insane goal to read 104 books at the start of this year… It’s only February, but I’m already thinking to cut that figure by at least three quarters ^_^ Hahaha. So you definitely made a wise choice.

    And a personal essay sounds really interesting! That’s something I’d really love to do, too. Sounds like it would be great for a bit of self-discovery! 😊

    1. Thank you- I was wondering if the goal was too small 🙂 It definitely felt great to finish The Shining, both as an accomplishment and because of a satisfying ending. Wow! I think that’s a big but great challenge 🙂 I think it’s good to fill our minds with books. A personal essay is definitely good for self-discovery and for practicing another kind of writing 😀

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