This article is now available in video form with a bonus story about how I begun writing full time.
The original, superior written version can be found below if that’s more your thing.
Carrie, along with being one most well known and celebrated horror books of all time, is noted as being the story that launched Stephen King’s career. Few people realise though that King started writing that story almost purely because someone told him he couldn’t.
Before he was the best-selling author/reason people are scared of cars, dogs, shitty hotel rooms and twin girls we all known and love today, Stephen King was making ends meet the way most struggling writers do, working a series of brain-numbing, menial jobs. In between working as a janitor and a gas station attendant, King was able to scrape together a meagre living writing stories for magazines like Playboy and Penthouse.
Although writing for Playboy sounds like a dream come true for most people, the reality was that every now and again, a cheque for a few hundred dollars would arrive on his doorstep, the rest of the time he wouldn’t even receive so much as a rejection letter. We honestly don’t know what’s more depressing, that one of the most celebrated authors of our time had to earn his living writing sending unsolicited stories to Playboy, or that he didn’t even earn a decent, sweaty living from it.
While King didn’t earn many Playboy fun dollars writing these stories, he did manage to get a few fans, which of course meant he got a few critics too because as we all know, the nice person to asshole ratio in any creative industry is massively skewed towards assholes. One of these “critics” sent King a letter basically taunting him, accusing him of being “scared of women” because all of his stories involved “macho things”, seemingly blissfully unaware that King was writing stories for fucking PLAYBOY MAGAZINE!
Rather than dismissing the criticism of a person who literally read Playboy just for the articles, King took the comments to heart because, as any person in a creative job will tell you, criticism hurts. It doesn’t matter if the criticism is coming from your own mother or someone with an anime avatar on Twitter, being told something you worked hard on, sucks, is a tough pill to swallow.
Determined to prove his asshole critic wrong, King sat down and began drafting a story about a teenage girl in the middle of going through puberty, who also just so happened to have bitchin’ psychic powers.
After 3 pages, King heroically threw in the towel and shoved his draft into the trash, presumably after stamping on it a few times and then promptly forgot all about it. A day or so later, King’s wife Tabitha found the draft in the trash and after reading it, decided to encourage him to finish it. Which he did, in two weeks.
After being bounced from publisher to publisher, the novel was finally accepted and the rest is history. King became a household name, his stories have topped best-seller list after best seller list and every copy of Carrie ever sold has been published with a note thanking his wife. We’re assuming King decided against writing a note for the critic who said he couldn’t write anything about women because he was simply too busy counting all of his millions of dollars.