5 Authors Who Fought the Odds and Lived their Passion
Life experience and passion are necessary to make any kind of writing pop off the page. The most famous authors today have meshed their life’s work, or their favorite hobbies, with their writing. Clive Cussler, Dan Brown, John Grisham and Robin Cook are a few of the authors that have written to their passion by writing about the subjects with which they are most familiar.
The writing of many authors seems more real because it is infused with their own life experiences. Some writers are inspired by personal tragedy or political beliefs. Some authors are motivated by a dysfunctional childhood to create a unique writing style or imaginary world.
Who are Some Famous Authors Who Have Survived Incredible Odds?
• Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (1830–1886) was an American poet who lived a mostly introverted and reclusive life. She was considered eccentric. Although she was a prolific poet, fewer than a dozen of her poems were published during her lifetime. Those that were published were altered significantly by publishers. It was not until after her death that the full scope of Dickinson’s work was discovered.
• Steven King (1947-present) is, arguably, the top-selling author of horror novels in the United States. Many of his books have been made into successful motion pictures and mini-series over the decades. Mr. King wasn’t always successful. His first major work, Carrie (1973) was rejected over 30 times. His wife retrieved an early draft out of the trash and demanded that he finish it. In the late 1970’s, Carrie was made into King’s first blockbuster movie. Another struggle that the author dealt with was the desertion of his father when King was 2 years old. The family was left near penniless. Steven King’s most recent complication occurred in 1999. He was walking on a rural highway when he was struck by a distracted driver. He suffered multiple injuries.
• J.K Rowling (1965-present) is the United Kingdom’s top selling author. She writes the Harry Potter Series. She has had many challenges in her life, including the following: her mother’s illness and death, a challenging relationship with her father, domestic abuse during her first marriage (finally ending in divorce), a miscarriage, clinical depression, and poverty.
• Malala Yousafzai (1997-present) is a Pakistani author, social activist, and youngest-ever Nobel Prize recipient. She was the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. She fought for human rights, including equal education for girls, in her home province where the local Taliban had often banned females from attending school. She began blogging anonymously on the BBC Urdu website in 2008 about the militant Taliban’s growing influence. She kept blogging despite death threats. In October, 2012, she was shot three times by a Taliban gunman while traveling on her school bus. Yousafzai’s memoir I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban, was published in October, 2013.
• Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was an American abolitionist and author. Her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) was a depiction of life for African Americans under slavery. It energized anti-slavery forces in northern states while provoking widespread anger in the southern states. President Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying that Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book helped the northern states to win the Civil War. She and her husband were critics of slavery. They supported the Underground Railroad by temporarily housing several fugitive slaves in their home.
What Can These Achievers Teach Us?
• Address topics that impassion your imagination and real life. Harriet Beecher Stowe and Malala Yousafzai wrote about extreme social injustice. The works of J.K Rowling and Emily Dickinson are fueled by fantasy born of childhood isolation and personal trauma.
• Write on topics, or in styles, that will change the world. Uncle Tom’s Cabin opened the eyes of America to the horrors of slavery. Emily Dickinson’s groundbreaking style of poetry broadened the spectrum of that genre.
• Illuminate your own world as you envision it; readers may want to become temporary residents. Most people do not live in a world of haunted hotels, psychopathic high-school students and children, or cars that seem to come to life. Yet, Steven King’s horror novels have been bestsellers for over 30 years. Many readers choose to read to escape reality. They are looking for something new.
• Expose the truth at all costs, no matter how ugly it is. Malala Yousafzai fought to expose the repellant truth of legitimized social injustice in her own country despite bullying and an assassination attempt. I believe that the unbelievable perseverance of survivors like the five trendsetters listed above can inspire every author. They are inspirational in how they dealt with personal trauma, their refusal to quit, their groundbreaking techniques and topics, and their passion. May we follow their examples as we write to our own truth and passion!
Now it’s your turn: How have you meshed your passion with your writing?
Traci Lawrence writes about her passion: communication, relationships, the value of individuals and rising above verbal bullying, or trash talk. She lives in the Northern Virginia area of the United States and teaches English, among other subjects. Please find more on her blog, and read her book: Accept No Trash Talk
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Tagged: Abraham Lincoln, Emily Elizabeth Dickinson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, J.K. Rowling, Malala Yousafzai, Steven King, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Underground Railroad