When your legs are tired, walk with your heart

The above encouragement is yet another gift from the Brazilian storyteller Paulo Coehlo. Paulo recently sat down with New York Times reporter Julie Bosman for a frank conversation. Here’s a little taste:

Q. (NY Times) When did you decide to become a writer?

A. (Paulo Coelho) It took me 40 years to write my first book. When I was a child, I was encouraged to go to school. I was not encouraged to follow the career of a writer because my parents thought that I was going to starve to death. They thought nobody can make a living from being a writer in Brazil. They were not wrong. But I still had this call, this urge to express myself in writing.

Q. Your most famous book, “The Alchemist,” has sold 65 million copies worldwide. Does its continuing success surprise you?

A. Of course. It’s difficult to explain why. I think you can have 10,000 explanations for failure, but no good explanation for success.
_ _ _

(A quick reminder: The Alchemist is a story about Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who one night dreams of a distant treasure in the Egyptian pyramids. And soon after, he was off—litterally. No grand plan—he just left for Spain to literally follow his dream. The first time I read it, I found the Alchemist deeply moving in its simple way.)

Paulo Coehlo was not always Paulo Coehlo.
It’s easy to forget that.
But why is it easy to forget that?
Because the truth is that he invested 40 long years of uncertainty into his writing career.
And in this case, the truth is not what most people want to hear.
Why? Because demand for certainty is a natural craving for us humans.
What people want to hear is: here’s how you get an agent, here’s how you write a script, etc.

So, what can you do to move forward when your “creative legs” get tired, and not despair?
One of my all-time favourite practical suggestions as to how to solve this dilemma comes courtesy of the remarkable Nassim Taleb in his book titled The Black SwanWe are good at doing. Tinker on. Keep tinkering. Tinker more.

My 2¢: Who is to say that your tinkering is not a midwifery gift to a promising future struggling to be born?