This weekend I was reading Stephen King’s non-fiction book called On Writing and Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. I read quite a bit of non-fiction and like to keep one of each on the go at all times. Both books are inspirational for their own reasons; King’s book inspires you to keep going and Coelho’s reminds you that the only thing that’s important in life is the moment and you have to follow your dreams.
I like to think that everything happens for some kind of reason and the books you read provide you with the knowledge you need at that time. If that’s the case then this weekend was a bumper edition.
It’s an incredible fable that reminds us of what we already know. It’s about a shepherd boy that follows his destiny and receives his treasure at last. It’s a great journey in which one thing leads to another, each teaching its own lesson, until ultimately he has found enlightenment and peace.
It’s about taking away the fear and uncertainty of following your dreams. It’s about realising that actually you have everything that you need, it’s just about having the necessary self-belief and confidence to use it and keep going. It’s an incredibly powerful tale that is currently the 12th bestselling book of all time.
On the other hand, where Coelho’s story is a classic fable that aims to teach a lesson through metaphor, King’s memoir is very specific to writing. But there are still similarities because Kings own story is very inspirational. It’s a classic rags to riches tale and reading about how King struggled to make ends meet with two kids in tow but was then saved when Carrie was published in 1974 is uplifting.
At the time he was working as an English teacher on a low salary, living in a trailer - they couldn’t even afford a phone line - when Carrie was picked up by Doubleday Publishers. He was given a $2,500 advance for the hardback rights but this wasn’t even close to changing his life. A year later however they sold the paperback rights for $400,000 and the rest was history. He gave up his job, moved house and became the writer we know and love today.
He was 27 at the time but had relentlessly continued to plug away even though giving up would have been easier. He’s famous for the number of rejection letters he received before he was discovered but has since gone on to publish 50 novels, 5 non-fiction books and 200 short stories. Carrie took him 2 weeks to write and it changed his life. I guess sometimes you just don’t know.