Nothing comes easy about being a writer. It’s difficult to be recognized as one when you didn’t start off as a celebrity or a reality star. Some authors started out in poverty and experienced multiple rejections before ultimately writing bestsellers. Individuals who have strong convictions to become an author has even worked multiple jobs to support themselves and their writing journey.
Some of us might think that being a writer means writing books in coffee shops or chilling around in their quaint attic bedroom. Reality is rarely so romantic, though. Sure, some writers wrote their masterpiece in coffee shops, but many authors wrote in trailers or wrote late at night after working at factories. Some writers wrote to support their children while facing a lot of challenges and trauma and were told multiple times that they would never amount to anything. And yet, all of these writers managed to achieve their greatest dream in life and that is to publish bestselling and life-changing masterpieces.
If you are one of the million struggling writers around the world, don’t give up. There are famous writers that started from nowhere and eventually went on to become the greatest writers of all time. Let’s read their successful stories.
1. J.K Rowling
This writer is a household name for being the author of the famous Harry Potter series. The name is J.K Rowling, born Joanne Rowling on July 31, 1965, in Yate, England. She graduated from the University of Exeter and moved to Portugal to teach English in 1990.
Her life prior to her success was not easy for she suffered in poverty. She was a single mother and she lost her job. She was living on welfare and at the same time, was struggling with clinical depression. All these challenges came tumbling into her life but not once did she give up on writing.
Rowling still manages to take her infant daughter to coffee shops while writing her masterpiece, and in 1995, she finished the manuscript of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Her writings were rejected immediately by twelve publishers, but Bloomsbury finally accepted the book. Still, the company warned her not to quit her day job since they probably wouldn’t make much money.
However, we all know how that went and the rest is history.
2. Octavia E. Butler
Octavia E. Butler is known to be the most successful and groundbreaking sci-fi author of all time. She was born on June 22, 1947, and studied at several universities in the United States. Her writing career began in the 1970s. and her first novel was published in 1976, titled Patternmaster; later on, it became one of her installments in the four-volume Patternist series.
Butler, before her success, worked as a telemarketer, potato chip inspector and even as a dishwasher to provide for herself. Between juggling her job, she would wake up at two or three in the morning just to write her novels. Despite multiple rejections spanning for years, Octavia never gave up.
Her hard work paid off when she sold her first story to author Harlan Ellison. Later on, she dedicated and inspired herself to continue writing and Ellison encouraged her to attend science fiction workshops which ultimately led her to writing famous and bestselling sci-fi books.
3. Ishmael Beah
Ishmael Beah is a famous writer and human rights activist born on November 23, 1980. His book “A Long Way Gone” was what catapulted him to fame. He also published a novel titled “Radiance of Tomorrow” in January 2014 and just recently in April 2020, “Little Family.”
Before all of that however was 1991, when the Sierra Leone Civil War started and rebels invaded Ishmael Beah’s hometown and at the tender age of 12, he was forced to become a child soldier. He fought for Sierra Leone for almost 3 years. Eventually, he was rescued by UNICEF and his life went back to normal.
Ishmael continued his education after he moved to New York City. At that time, as a way to preserve his memories from the war, his famous novel “A Long Way Gone” came to life and has reached the success it deserved. Up until the present year, Beah is still writing and advocating for human rights.
4. Stephen King
Stephen King is the writer who created the famous horror novel, Carrie. He was born on September 21, 1947, in Portland, Maine. King got his degree from the University of Maine and was a teacher while also establishing a career as a writer.
Before his success as a writer, Stephen King worked as a janitor, gas pump attendant and a worker at an industrial laundry. King’s first book, Carrie, an epistolary horror novel, was rejected by 30 publishers, which greatly discouraged King, even to the point of throwing the manuscript away. Tabitha King, his wife, saved the book and encouraged Stephen to keep on writing. Amidst the struggle, King and his wife have two children to support and lived in a trailer.
Eventually, King’s writing prowess was acknowledged and Carrie was published. Since then, Stephen King was highly acknowledged as one of the greatest writer in the horror genre.
5. Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou is a well-known American poet, civil rights activist, and novelist. She was born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928. She published seven autobiographies, several books of poetry, three books of essays, and is credited with a list of movies and television shows for over 50 years. Her autobiography titled “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” is one of her famous writings.
Before her writing catapulted her to success, Maya Angelou struggled early in life. She was bullied and abused. Other than that, she was homeless and gave birth to her son at the tender age of 17. While struggling to raise her young son, she briefly became a sex worker to make ends meet.
Maya Angelou found work as a singer and dancer, and later on, she focused on writing poets, essays, and novels. She was also an activist, and has published seven acclaimed memoirs. Despite the struggle, Maya Angelou didn’t give up on her life and the hardships she faced was her foundation to her writing career.