I read Paulo Coelho's - The Alchemist - in mid-2008. The right book to come to my hand at the right time of my life. If I write my auto-biography some day I will give credit to The Alchemist for having changed the direction of my life.
After that I read all his books and loved them all. I am not a big fan of biographies but after reading Steve Jobs my opinion on biographies have changed - now I am curious to know what made them successful.
I picked up this biography on Paulo Coelho and got a glimpse of my favourite author.
He had a troubled childhood. He had no interest in schooling but was a voracious reader - he was crunching 300 books in a year at one time! That is almost like one a day.
He was a rebel, did not want to toe the line his parents were setting up for him - the usual college education - but wanted to be a writer. Conflicts happened everyday and Paulo was generally not interested in his daily life. His parents put him in a mental asylum - 3 times. He was made to undergo electro shock therapy.
But he bounced back - started doing cameos in Theater, started writing screenplays, became a lyricist and started a new era in Brazilian rock song, became a Music Executive and money poured in from all quarters.
Still he was not satisfied. There was an yearning desire to be a writer. He went to London and spent almost half a year trying to become a writer. But nothing came out of it.
Then he gets inducted to the order of the RAM - Regnus Agnus Mundi, or Rigour, Adoration, Mercy - where he had to undergo lot of quests periodically - like spending 40 days in the Mojave desert or going on a 700km pilgrimage.
All these experiences will form part of his books.
The first book will be The Pilgrimage. He wrote this book in one stretch of 21 days - not leaving the home but working day and night. This book will immediately go on to become the best seller even though critics tore it apart for its simple language and no literary value.
Later he will write The Alchemist - which will go on to become not only a best seller in Brazil but throughout the world - even while the critics in Brazil gave demonic reviews of it!
This is the gist - like a fairy tale - Paulo fights the inner demons and comes out successful. It was not an easy life he had - but all the experiences made him produce books that just don't entertain but also give a new perspective and direction to ones life.
Here are my posts I had written on some.
He is still young - 65 years - and the best are yet to come!
Viva Paulo Coelho!