The Success of a Writer [inspiration to keep at it]

I read this article yesterday titled “11 Books That Will Definitely Disturb You“. The columnist, Nick Cutter, gives the following (slightly self-deprecating) praise to Stephen King, regarding the second book on the list, Pet Sematary:

“This whole list could be devoted to the modern master. No other person (with the possible exceptions of Poe, that wacky opium-eater, or Lovecraft if you’re into that whole “nameless dread” stuff) seems as keyed-in to what scares the hell out of all humanity quite like King. It’s infuriating from a fellow writer’s perspective: You try to take his writing apart to see what makes it work, same way a mechanic takes an engine apart, but it’s impossible. The terror somehow lives behind the words on the page: a gathering groundswell of dread and panic. So thanks, Uncle Stevie, for making the rest of us look like muddling crap-stains! Pet Sematary gets my nod as scariest King, but it could’ve easily gone to It or any number of his short stories from the collections Night Shift or Skeleton Crew…”


He gives further props to Stephen King when he sites the author’s (no doubt highly sought-after) endorsement of a younger, up-and-coming horror novelist, stating:

“Man, this guy can write. Lord, what an imagination! Stephen King anointed Barker “the future of horror,” and he wasn’t off base.”


Of course this is just one person’s admiring thoughts about this truly outstanding writer, but Mr. Cutter is not alone. You’d be hard-pressed to find a genuine critic of King’s talent. Even those who don’t do horror can’t help but admire the man’s incredible ability in his craft. I chose to site these two statements from this “11 Books…” article because it was the most recent one in my memory of Stephen-King-is-awesome posts and I enjoyed reading it.


Now – part 2!

I just learned this little blurp about Stephen King a few moments ago from a piece by LearnVest author, Erin Scottberg:

“[Stephen] King was broke and struggling when he was first trying to write. He lived in a trailer with his wife—also a writer—and they both worked multiple jobs to support their family while pursuing their craft. They were so poor they had to borrow clothes for their wedding and had gotten rid of the telephone because it was too expensive.
King received so many rejection letters for his works that he developed a system for collecting them; in his book “On Writing,” he recalls: “By the time I was 14 … the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and kept on writing.” He received 60 rejections before selling his first short story, “The Glass Floor,” for $35. Even his now best-selling book, “Carrie,” wasn’t a hit at first. After dozens of rejections, he finally sold it for a meager advance to Doubleday Publishing, where the hardback sold only 13,000 copies—not great. Soon after though, Signet Books signed on for the paperback rights for $400,000, $200,000 of which went to King. Success achieved!”


Did you catch this one:
“By the time I was 14 … the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and kept on writing.”

I certainly relate all this to writing because obviously that’s my whole deal. And also because it is hard, even when its your passion, your art, your craft…it is not easy to do. It takes a lot of time, focus, emotion, energy, and obviously the use of one’s strengths and abilities to create engaging written art in the first place. Quite frankly, it can be a real pain in the ass sometimes, no matter how much we love it.

But the point here is that regardless of the heaping level of rejection this person received, he did not give up. Especially when it really is so much easier than pushing on. There have been so many times that I’ve told myself things like:

  • Screw the book, Danielle.This is too big a task.
  • Just be a blogger and do your regular job.
  • This isn’t worth it. Nobody even reads books anymore.
  • Nobody is going to care about the story you’re pushing, even if they do read.

And I wonder what I would do. Like what if I finally finished this thing and printed it and submitted it and did all the things I need to do, and then nobody wanted it?

Would I write another one? Would I pour my heart into something like this all over again? Would I face the critics a second time, put myself out like that again?

I don’t know. I’d like to believe that I would, but I can see my sensitive self being too butt-hurt to try again. And sadly, that is often our response, because failure hurts. Nobody wants that, even though we are reminded constantly that what we are called to do is supposed to be kind of hard. If it were easy, would we grow from it? Would we learn? Not likely. Not much.

I need to promise myself – we all need to promise ourselves – that we will not give up on the passion inside, the call put on our hearts. That we too will replace the nail with a spike and keep on truckin’.


Photo Credit: The Denver Post; July 10, 2013; Journalist, Tucker Shaw; Photographer, Unknown.

© Danielle Hewitt (of Loving A Fit Life) and (including 2011 – 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Danielle Hewitt and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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