Burning the Bible and Paulo Coelho: Becoming Inspired to Write

Paulo Coelho’s novel, the Alchemist, opens with the story of a young shepherd boy in search of his personal legend. As he progresses through the book, he has to overcome the obstacles that get in the way and the fear he has of his ultimate success. This book is often tied with another of Coelho’s, the Pilgrimage. Each book discusses the value of going for your dreams and the steps towards succeeding at your goals.

The Alchemist was the book that made me write my first novel, Burning the Bible . I had originally created the concept for my book back in my freshman year of high school, but had always put off the project as too time consuming. When I first arrived in Taiwan to teach English, I started my life there with no friends or acquaintances so the only thing I could do was write.

Within a few months I finished Burning the Bible , but the editing process was a daunting one. Supposing I did complete my book, what would I do with it? Would I even be able to publish it? What if it just was not good enough? Doubts and fears about my book inundated my mind and I put it aside. As I clicked save on the file, I reassured myself that I was just logically giving my book a rest before editing. Above all, I told myself that it was not out of fear of failure or success that I set my work aside.

After returning to the United States, I came down with a terrible cold and found myself at the grocery store stocking up on Emergen-C and vitamins. Determined to become well that day, I half-heartedly checked the book section for something to keep my mind occupied as I recuperated on the couch. Out of the depressingly predictable array of romance novels and self-help magazines, something caught my eye. Gazing up to me from the book shelf was a brand new copy of the Alchemist. As I read the back cover, I was surprised- for a grocery store novel, this book was not bad! Tossing it in my cart, I hurried off to make my purchases and curl up at home.

The back cover of the book did not even begin to do it justice. In the miniscule volume I held in my hand, I read of a call to find your personal legend and live out your dreams. Until that point, I had been afraid of finishing my novel and discovering it was a failure. As I read the novel, I realized that everything the main character struggled with emotionally, I had undergone as well. If he could do it, so could I. Wasting my life on doubts and uncertainty seemed ridiculous the more that I thought about it. As I finished the last delicious page of his novel, I realized that whether my project came to success or failure, I still would have to try. This was a book that made me write and made me want to write. Living my life out of a fear that I would never be good enough was no longer an option, so I finished editing my novel.

If my story were out of a novel than at this point the reader would smile as the hero saved his dame. Unfortunately, life does not entirely match up with the plot lines of out novels. Although I completed my book, editors seemed to be entirely uninterested in what a new novelist had to offer. I chose to publish through Create Space/Amazon and to date on February 10. In the last two weeks my novel has sold a total of 102 books. It is not the great success I hoped for, but neither is it the failure I so feared. Paulo Coelho’s novel was a book that made me write and discover that sometimes our dreams should be fought for, regardless of the outcome.

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