I've never been part of a writer's group or had any tuition or guidance on the craft, except for some editorial feedback and what I've picked up from blog reading over the last six months. I tend to think that if you're any good at something you can mostly find your own way, until, that is, you've reached the point where you need concrete feedback on an actual piece of work. When it comes to novel writing I'm still just a beginner, and beginners need to get stuck right in and not worry about technique until they have something they can apply it to.
So On Writing has come to me at just the right time: revision time, right at the moment when I need someone to guide me through a maze of my own making and point out that readers don't actually want a maze, they want a journey, with clear signs and maybe a coffee shop or two on the way. On Writing is itself so clear and honest, and the author so close, that it almost feels like Stephen King was one of my Christmas guests this year! And I feel bad, because while he gave me the gift of his priceless experience and advice, all I gave him in return was a few percent of £8.99.
Next year I'll let him carve the turkey. I might not watch though.