Like a coin, life is two-sided. Some were born into wealth, and some were born into extreme poverty. But what separates the becoming people from these two sides is their determination to become great and overcome their miseries and failures in life.
Stephen King happened to come from such an ugly background and paved the way for himself to become a successful man, but he got distracted again.
He slipped along the Journey toward success. But Stephen King fought his way back till he became The writer who sold more than 350 million copies than any other writer in history.
He had already earned himself a seat at the high table. Continue reading to learn how Stephen King fought his failure and became the famous and successful writer he is today.
Stephen King was born to Donald Edwin King, a salesman, and Neil Ruth King, in 1947 in Portland, Maine, United States.
After his return from World War II, Donald moved with his wife to Maine from Chicago, where they’d been living with his parents.
Stephen King’s life became a mess after his father left him and his older brother David with their mother. Stephen was just two years old when this happened.
It became more like hell for their mother to raise two kids as a single mother amidst poverty. Sometimes, they had to move around the country to seek financial aid.
From living with families in Chicago to Indiana, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts. She did all she could so her boys would survive.
On turning 11, King’s family moved to Durham, Maine, where his mother took care of her parents before they passed away. She later got a job as a caretaker in a facility for the mentally challenged.
At Durham, Stephen King attended Durham Elementary School. He did well as a young student and attended Lisbon Falls High School in 1996.
Stephen King found writing to be funny. He developed his interest and began writing stories for his brother’s newspaper, Dave’s Rag.
Many of the stories he wrote were inspired by the comics he read, such as EC Comics and Tales from the Crypt. Both comics were horror, and he fell in love with them.
King later decided to sell his stories to his peers in school. But most of the stories he sold to his friends were from the movies he had watched.
His little story-selling business crumbled when his teachers forced him to return profits from every sale he made. This drained all his efforts and strength to sell again.
In 1965, King published his first story, “I Was A Teenage Grave Robber,” in the Comic Review. He was really proud of himself. He applauded himself and wrote more short stories till he won a Scholastic Art and Writing Award.
A year after his publication, Stephen King entered the University of Maine and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1970. That same year, Naomi Rachel was born.
On campus, Stephen wrote a column, which he called Stephen King’s Garbage Truck, for his University’s Newspaper, The Maine Campus.
Most of what got his time were the workshops organized by Burton Hartlen. These writing workshops helped him secure his writing prowess and significantly shaped his mentality.
At one of these workshops, he met a fellow student, Tabitha Spruce, who he later married in 1971.
Stephen King’s life looked more like a decent one. But no life is straight, and no life is perfect. King’s life is at that stage that we call the roller coaster.
Right from University, King had been his sponsor. He fed himself and did all the clothing. After graduating, he wanted to become a teacher, teaching in high school.
He tried hard to get this job, but all to no avail. He substituted his laboring wage, where he worked as a laundry man, to publish some of the stories he wrote while at University.
Life became tough for King, who had a baby, and a wife to fend for. He got annoyed by a traffic cone that dismantled his mufflers. He was arrested for allegedly stealing traffic cones and was charged $250 as a fine.
Stephen King had no money to pay this fine. Neither did he have anyone to turn to. He cashed out, and paid the fine. As the good earth will have it, a check arrived for one of his stories, The Float.
Later that year, he got hired to teach at Hampden, Maine. He used this to write short stories and contribute to magazines. This gave him enough time to settle and keep gathering ideas for novels.
Stephen King’s first official novel was Carrie. It was published in 1973 by Doubleday. Carrie was his fourth novel. He never published the other three. He always felt they were not good enough.
Carrie initially was a short story for a magazine. But after the first three pages of typing with his wife’s typewriter, he threw everything into the garbage. He did this because he was frustrated. He couldn’t picture clearly the other perspective he was writing on.
Tabitha saw this in the garbage. She picked it up and encouraged him to finish it. She offered to help him with the female perspective that he was battling with. He followed her advice and expanded it from a short story to a novel.
After the release of Carrie in 1973, King’s mother died of Uterine cancer in 1974. This brought another obstacle for King. His mother had been so dear to him. He felt he owed her the whole.
Stephen King took the death of his mother personally and blamed himself for her death. Anybody could have done the same. From bringing you to life to nurturing your growth. At least, she should have reaped the fruits of her labor. Her death hit him hard.
He couldn’t bear it after many days. He got into drinking and smoking. He got addicted to substances until the 1980s when he got sober. It was terrible that he read his mother’s eulogy while drunk at her funeral.
Kings couldn’t have become who he is today without his family’s intervention.
After he published Cujo, his family and friends brought before him all the packets, bottles, and ashes of all the substances he’s been taking.
They made a light combo. Addiction is a failure. Grieving is a failure. These are absolute failures. They could have brought him down before he could know it.
Stephen King mentioned in On Writing that he could barely remember how he wrote Cujo. He later sought help and became sober in the late 1980s. Needful things was his first book after becoming sober.
When Doubleday chose Carrie for publication, they couldn’t reach Stephen on the phone. So, William Thompson, Doubleday’s editor, wrote him a telegram in April 1973.
The telegram read, “Carrie Officially A Doubleday Book. $2,500 Advanced Against Royalties. Congratulations Kid. The Future Lies Ahead”.
Barely a month after the Doubleday good news, New American Library purchased the book’s paperback rights for $400,000.
Carrie was seen as King’s messiah. It has set his life free and on smooth sale. Stephen once mentioned that he bought a new Ford Pinto with the advance he got from Doubleday.
Carrie didn’t stop at bringing King a fortune. It went ahead to become a famous novel in the horror genre. In 1976, it was successfully transformed into a significant horror film. And it set the basis for other horror movies to come.
This event gave Stephen King a play name “King of Horror.”
After freeing himself from his addiction to substances, Stephen King went on to publish 61 novels and approximately 200 short stories. He has sold over 350 million copies.
Stephen King has also won 107 awards out of 280 nominations from the world of writers.
Stephen King’s life highlighted several vital points.
– Rejection – No matter the number of rejections you get from people, you must keep pursuing your dream. You don’t have to back down because some people reject you. Rejection only means that you work more on yourself and get better.
– Surround Yourself With Good – Stephen King’s wife is also a novelist, just like him. He had a family that was so concerned about him. Without his concerned family, King wouldn’t have become the successful writer he is today.
– Luck is not always going to come. You have to set yourself on a path. When opportunity meets you in thar path, then you are lucky. Learn to surround yourself with the best people; together, you can only soar higher.
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