Blog by Toby Welch

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Writing Heroes


It's important to have heroes in this business that you look up to; they can keep you motivated and inspire you. They may only wear a cape when sitting in front of their keyboard but they rock! Here are my top ten literary heroes:

Emily Dickinson - Sure, she is beloved now but out of her nearly 2,000 works, only a handful of poems were published during her lifetime.

Stephen King - Anyone who can read knows his name now but King did not have an easy start. He could barely afford to live on his teaching salary. He wrote on a table in his furnace room, supplementing his income by selling short stories. He almost lost his tiny home in the beginning but obviously didn't lose his creativity.

Stieg Larsson - A photographer and journalist, Larsson wrote the Millenium series after his days at work. He put the pages in a trunk, never seeking publication for the works. The books were found after his death in 2004 and Larsson went on to become one of the best-selling authors of the 21st century with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest.

J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter has made her a tidy bundle but before Dumbledore was created, Rowling divorced her husband and suffered from depression and poverty, barely keeping a roof over her head.

Jack London - The uber-successful author amassed over 600 rejection slips before his first work was published.

Nurmemet Yasin - This writer may not be well-known in the Western world but he is a hero to many of his fellow Chinamen. Risking harsh reprimands, Yasin published Wild Pigeon in a Kashgar literary journal. For his act of "inciting splittism” by publishing the story, he was sentenced to a decade in prison. He died in 2011 in the Shaya prison in western China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, a man who would not be silenced even under threat.

Mo Yan - The 2012 Nobel Prize winner for Literature had to quit school at age 12 to help support his peasant family. He grazed cattle and worked in a factory until he joined the People's Liberation Army at the age of 20.

Jozef Teodor Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski - He wrote and published Apocalypse Now but not before a great deal of strife - his family was exiled from Poland, he was orphaned at age 11, he was a petty criminal, he was riddled with gambling debt, he shot himself in the chest in an unsuccessful suicide attempt, and witnessed horror and evil during his years in the British Marines.

Anne Frank - The Jewish girl was murdered in a concentration camp when she was 15-years-old but in her short life she was a literary gem. The Diary of a Young Girl endures over half a century after her death and Anne remains an inspiration.

If you’ll indulge me, my #1 writing hero is Sidney Sheldon. The seventh best selling fiction writer of all time, he inspires me as he wrote what he wanted to and was always ahead of the times, a literary trend setter. And while I've never been accused of being a feminist, his strong female heroines in his book and in his TV shows were iconic. When Sheldon died in 2007, the world lost a literary treasure.
Use the strength and inspiration of literary heroes to keep you barrelling ahead!