Paulo’s everyday life



What kind of person Paulo Coelho is in everyday life?
( Richard, in Twitter)

I’m first and foremost an “Internet addict”. I spend 3 hours every day talking to my readers through social communities: this blog, Facebook and Twitter.

For the past two years, I decided to stop giving interviews – I am tired to repeat the same questions over and over again. Of course this is not a final decision, and I can eventually accept an invitation – but my mailbox is full of requests that my office answers with a single word: “busy”.

I also have small rituals that I need to accomplish (at home or travelling): walking in the morning, reading the news in the internet, talking to my friends and my wife.

Of course, I also live my life in a way that every day will present new challenges and unexpected things. I don’t like to have everything planned beforehand.

This is mainly because:
a] It’s pointless : life is impossible to predict
b] It’s the very salt of life – I don’t want to know what’s going to happen.
 
 
 

Online Bookstore HERE
Kindle (four languages) HERE

Literature and success

The Nobel prize winner, Kenzaboro Oe once said that you had discovered the secrets of literary alchemy. I’m sure there are several younger writers interested in leaning about these secrets. Would you mind sharing them with us? (Valéry Peyrot, France)
 
The average book print in the US or France is that of about 3000 copies – the same as in Brazil.
Therefore, the only secret I know is the word-of-mouth.
It took me close to ten years, for example, to appear in the New York Times Best Seller List. (but now the book is breaking all records – almost four years there)

As for the formula: an author that tries to express himself or herself thinking only about the market, may have a successful book once, but he/she most likely will not repeat the same success – which will not permit that the author makes a living out of literature.

In my case, I did the only thing I should have done, or use my writings to get to know myself better. As long as I kept being loyal to myself, without looking for formulas, the readers have also remained loyal.

Two of my books, for example, did not sell well: The Fifth Mountain and The winner stands alone. However, if I could go back to the past, I would still write these two books, because they express what I feel about tragedy and celebrity

Literature got further away from criticism, exactly because instead of being more traditional, criticism became reactionary. Thus, literary criticism does not have the power neither to sell, nor to avoid sales.

The reader, on the other hand, is watching reality more closely, and he/she buys whatever will reflect his/her state of mind or the status quo.

You write because you need to write. The career of a book is beyond your control.
 
 
 

Online Bookstore HERE
Kindle (four languages) HERE

The source

pen_gs


Illustration by Ken Crane

 
How can we be able to retain good values in ourselves? (Ankit, Twitter)

I don’t see this from this perspective – I don’t think we “retain” good values.
This would mean that we would be trying to keep inside ourselves things that ultimately do not belong to us.
In a way your question is quite revealing of what society tries to instill in us: to be able to retain the rules of “dos” and “don’ts” of others.

I see good values in a different way; I see them in the sense of a greater understanding and joy.
This can only be found within our souls – not outside from us. We have then to “tap” into this source that is available in virtually all of us.

This is the moment when we identify, in the silence of ourselves, the greater light, the greater path.

Once we recognize this inner fountain, we stop “retaining” and actually become instruments of a higher purpose: to allow it flow without questions, without the seeking of a reward.
This is the only value, in my eyes, that truly matters.
 
 
 

Online Bookstore HERE
Kindle (four languages) HERE

 

Doubt and fear

I had many moments of pain and doubt. Becoming a best-selling author was a long journey and I faced many setbacks along the way.

For instance, I had a rough time with my second book The Alchemist. It was first published by a small publishing house and even though it sold well, at the end of the first year, the publisher decided to give me back the rights since, according to his words, “he could make more money in the stock exchange”.

At the time I decided to leave Rio with my wife and we spent 40 days in the Mojave dessert. I needed to heal myself from this and when I came I decided to keep on struggling.

I realized that despite the fear and the bruises of life, one has to keep on fighting for one’s dream.

As Borges said in his writings “there no other virtue than being brave”.

And one has to understand that braveness is not the absence of fear but rather the strength to keep on going forward despite the fear.
 
 
 

Online Bookstore HERE
Kindle (four languages) HERE

 

Any journey is a pilgrimage

o aleph 3


What is the appeal of traveling and what do you receive from traveling? Are they reflected to your work? Please let us know what does traveling means to you
(Eduard, Twitter)

I’m a pilgrim writer and that inevitably appears in the way my characters deals with space.
I’m in constant movement and very often I find that my characters need to equally find themselves in a journey.
I believe that we are constantly experiencing transformation and that’s why we need to let life guide us.

Every day is different, every day can have a magic moment, but we don’t see the opportunity, because we think: ‘Oh this is boring I’m just commuting to work.’
How many interesting people you are missing, just because our parents told us “don’t talk to strangers”?

You must get as much as you can from any journey, because – in the end – the journey is all you have. It doesn’t matter what you accumulate in terms of material wealth, because you are going to die anyway, so why not live?

You have to look at life itself is a pilgrimage. Therefore, start moving, start talking to strangers!

 
 

Online Bookstore HERE
Kindle (four languages) HERE

Marriage & Monotony


I read Zahir recently. I could not understand clearly though that what do u think should be done to avoid making this relationship so monotonous. What are your views on what is Marriage? (question by Shipra)

How to keep our relations out of monotony is a very personal thing.
In regards to the situation you mention in The Zahir, what enabled the main character to finally re-live his passion for his wife was her absence.
I will quote here one of my favorite writers, Khalil Gibran, on the subject of marriage since I think he expressed really beautifully what marriage is:

“You were born together,
and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings
of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the
silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between
the shores of your souls.

And stand together, yet not too near together.
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress
grow not in each other’s shadow.”

 
 
 

Online Bookstore HERE
Kindle (four languages) HERE

My unfulfilled desires

You have probably reached many of your goals for your life and many of your dreams must have already come true. What is an example of a dream or goal that you are still working towards and hoping will come true? (question by Ushani)

A ] to learn how to dance well (from a 1 to 10 scale, I would say I am 2)

B] to learn how to play guitar ( from the same scale, I am definitely 1)

C] spend three months in a monastery, totally isolated from the world ( I already talked to the abbot three years ago, but I am always postponing)

D] a safari in Africa (politically incorrect, of course)

E] to sponsor a good boxer (I know it sounds politically incorrect, as the previous item, but boxing for me is the ultimate body dialogue)

F] to learn boxing myself

G] being in orbit circling the planet (the Russians are making a business out of it, but I never actually sought the information out)

H] to have dinner with Nelson Mandela (this one I tried, but I did not manage so far)

I] to fly a Mirage (as a passenger, of course)

While writing this list, I realized that I did most of the things I wanted (the most recent being a 9.280 kms train journey from Moscow to Vladivostok, in 2006 – theme of my new book, ALEPH ).

Q&A: Transformation

Many times we need to compare things, situations and people in order to decide what is best for us. Do you consider that in most cases this is a positive attitude? (Mara Adriana)

It all depends on the context: if we make a decision that is based solely on what other people tell us, we may be straying from what we truly desire and want. But if we are able to listen to our souls – keeping of course a channel open to others – then we are able to grow and walk in the direction of our dreams.

I have just finished reading the Witch of Portobello. What is the one thing that I must remember during this time which is full of doubts and fears but at the same time curiosity and excitement? (by Sarah)

You should always bear in mind the goal of this transformation, without shutting away the process. It’s actually in this very moment that you can grasp the wider meaning of your life.

I had this realization while doing the pilgrimage to Saint James. I was, in the beginning obsessed with my sword and so wanted to get straight to the end of the journey. It was actually by living the journey in all its aspects that I was finally able to find my sword. Both elements then must be present in your spirit in this time of change.

What is fear? (by Benedict)

Contrary to what we believe, fear does not arise because we feel utterly alone. If we were totally alone there wouldn’t be anything to fear.

Actually fear comes from the fact that we imagine there are forces ready to attack us, things that escape from our power to understand.

Our fear arises from what we can’t grasp. What we don’t understand is actually what fills us with dread.
The moment we realize that things that go beyond our knowledge are not harmful, then the object of fear disappears.

Past and Present


How do you make peace with a negative past and with those who have wronged you?
(By Alex)

In order to move from the past to the present you need to accept your scars. But you need to do everything in your power in order to heal them so that the ghosts of your past will no longer barge in your present life.

It is a long and difficult process I grant you – but it’s a way out of guilt and hatred in my eyes.

How does one keep enthusiasm, especially when you meet people who are well.. scary and mean?
(By Gina)

It’s normal that we don’t always keep our enthusiasm in front of obstacles. Indeed some people truly make an effort in destroying our plans and hopes and so they appear as evil.

But in these moments, if you are able to remind yourself of the reason of your actions and also see that those that are committed in creating pain around them are actually their first victims – then you may at least find an extra dose of consolation in your path. Ally yourself with those that wish you the best and don’t give strength to those that want to see you down. Don’t even grant them the right to be called your “enemies”.

How do you stop sadness? (By Nuri)

By welcoming it and living it intensively for a determined amount of period. In my case I give myself three days to be completely submersed in this feeling.

Once I’ve let sadness pay me a visit, then I kindly ask it to leave. Sadness is then satisfied and leaves.

Is it written?


Are coincidences in our life are a part of our destiny and if everything is written as we say ‘maktub’, then what is the point in following our dreams? (by Saakshi)

There’s a traditional story that in my view sums up quite well the answer to your question:
There was an old man who had a dream one night that he would be protected from a ravaging storm that would engulf his whole village.

The next day, as expected, a terrible storm came to his region. The first day a neighbor of his offered help for him to flee – help that he denied since he was sure God was going to help him.
The second day, when he had to take refuge in the second floor of his house given that the waters had taken over all of the first floor, a rescue team came to his house and offered him to get out of there – help that he again refused given that God had promised him to get out of there.
The third day came a helicopter to rescue him but he was adamant that God was going to save him.
Not long after he drowned and died. Once in heaven he complained to God: “why didn’t you help me as you promised?”
To which God replied: ” I sent your neighbor, a rescue squad and even a helicopter to which you simply declined!”

You see Saakshi: things are written, but you need to be attentive to the signs that constantly try to remind you that life wishes you to be “saved”. And salvation is the path that leads you to your dream, your fulfillment in this life.

Destiny and fate

What does fate have to do with our Personal Legend? (by Mike)

There’s an important difference between blind fate and the path of the personal legend. When we speak of fate, man’s free will is absent: we are merely puppets in the hands of a cold and distant puppeteer.
In the case of personal legend, there’s the dimension of mission. This means that the person has to actively wish to thread down the path that will enable her to flourish. It is a difficult path, there are many obstacles, but it’s the person’s choice. There is always the possibility for us to turn our backs to our personal legend.

Can the heart be wrong? (by Antonya)

How will you judge that? With your mind? If you do this, you will always find ways to discredit your heart. But these are illusions.
Think of your heart as an instrument that goes beyond the typical right and wrong views. Your heart will always be your north star in life – as long as you listen to it and give it a chance to talk to you.

If the Universe says No, sometimes more than once, to something you really want, what do you do? (by Angie)

If your wish is deep-rooted in your soul, persist. If not – the Universe is simply echoing your inner turmoil.
Always ask yourself how far are you able to go in the path of your dreams. Only when you are capable of answering that question will you be able to move forward.
But don’t forget: to enjoy the rainbow, you must also enjoy the rain

We are not victims


Solar Meninos de Luz, Favela Pavão-Pavãozinho, Rio de Janeiro

(BELOW YOU FIND SOME QUESTIONS FROM READERS IN FACEBOOK AND TWITTER)

When you were 17 your parents had sent you to an asylum because they thought you were psychotic. And now you are the world’s biggest-selling novelist! How has been the journey? (from Katya)
 

My parents locked me up three times in a lunatic asylum. The reasons in my medical files are banal. It was said that I was isolated, hostile and miserable at school.
I was not crazy but I was rather just a 17-year-old who really wanted to become a writer. Because no one understood this, I was locked up for months and fed with tranquilizers. The therapy merely consisted of giving me electroshocks. They were intended to clear the uppermost layer of my memory in order to bring peace to my head.

I promised to myself that one day I would write about this experience, so young people will understand that we have to fight for our own dreams from a very early stage of our lives. The message in “Veronika decides to die” is that: dare to be different.
You are unique, and you have to accept you as you are, instead of trying to repeat other people’s destinies or patterns. Insanity is to behave like someone that you are not.
Normality is the capacity to express your feelings. From the moment that you don’t fear to share your heart, you are a free person.
I was a rebel. I was opposite everything, and that is actually a good thing to be when you are young of age. My parents tried to make me behave properly. They tried everything, from threats to complaining about how much I let them down, but nothing worked.
They thought they had lost control, and said to themselves: “He is mad. He wants to be an artist”. And then they committed me to this institution and I learned at very young age that I had to fight.
I chose not to look at myself as a victim but thought ” Paulo, now you are experiencing the difficulties that real artists actually should experience.”

When and where the duty of an writer finishes? (from Nuria)
 
For a period of my life, I was too busy, fighting for my own chance. Then, for another period, I could see – In my case – the light at the end of the tunnel. However, at this time I did not have money to help the others to fight for their dreams. In 1995 I earned enough money to start a project, so I chose to:

a] support the children, the future of my country, giving them the same opportunity that I had as for education and love

b] support people who do not have enough money to live, so they only survive.

Today I invest up to 300.000 USDollars a year in these two projects. I could invest more, but there is a problem of physical space: we work in a “favela” ( a shanty town ) close to my apt., in five different houses, taking care of 310 children. We need three more houses to take care of another 200, and, although I have money to expand the project, there are no places to rent or sell in this area, so we are waiting for the first opportunity to do this. I also use my “influence”, as much as I can to get things from the govt., like credits for new projects developed by these people, basic sanitary needs, etc. You can see some of these children in the photo above.

 
However, I only contribute with money and some sporadic visits to the places. The anonymous heroes and heroines, who are there all day long, working hard, are the ones who deserve the honors. Without them, my money would be useless. The great warrior Isabella Maltarolli is also in the photo above

Readers and writing


Do you need a lot of time between books? Do you need time for a story to live in your imagination? (from Hadrian )

Actually, when I’m not writing I dedicate myself completely to live. I don’t seek stories or anything of the sort. I simply enable myself to be immersed in life – this way I know that somewhere along the line a novel will take hold. But I can’t force this.

Have you ever thought of writing a sequel for the Alchemist? (from Adam )

No – for me a book has a beginning and an end. It has never crossed my mind to write a sequel to any of my books.

Are all the feelings that guide you through your books the same ones that resonate in your life? (from Paloma)

The feeling that guides me through my books is the need to share. In this perspective others are essential. As a writer I cannot write a book while being isolated from people. Books only emerge from this interaction.

Did you walk a path that wasn’t yours?


photo by Paulo Coelho

Have you ever felt that – without regret – you have chosen and are on the wrong path, and though you wish to be free of it, abandoning this road will cause much more chaos and hurt than staying on it? (Sue-Ann Marquis)

I had moments in my life that I absolutely knew that I was on the wrong path. For instance, when I became an executive for a record company.
My paycheck was good, I had a woman I loved next to me but… something vital was missing.

For a time, I had the impression that if I let go, it would cause much hardship for us. But inevitably the situation got unsustainable. I was truly unsatisfied with my life and started to notice that my soul was dying in the process.

I decided then to leave my job and travel for 6 months across Europe with Christina (this was back in 1982). This initial travel enabled me to encounter my master in Germany, then Amsterdam. From this moment on, I focused on trying to get as close as I could to my calling: being a writer.

However, it took an extra 4 years to actually be able to tell a story – my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella ( The Pilgrimage).
So – in order to answer your question: yes, I walked a path that wasn’t mine. I felt scared to leave this path that I knew so well. But the moment I stepped out, it turned out that all the demons I expected to face weren’t there at all. I had hardships of course, but all was worthwhile – because my soul was alive.

Today’s Question : Linda

I always wondered what’ll be our lives after death. Do you have any imagination how it’ll look like if I may ask you?

I don’t think about this. But when I will be in front of this gate, I want to tell to the doorman: I lived my life fully.

Please send your question for selection to question@paulocoelhoblog.com

Today’s Question by the reader : Alisha

In your books you have mentioned that “One should listen to their heart..” But how to recognise the voice of heart , how can a child distinguish between black and a white when he is taught that black is white, while white is black? How can you recognise your real mentor, who could enlighten your soul? How can you distinguish between your soul mate and someone to whom you are lured?

Only through expericience and intuition. You need to push aside rational explanations from your acts and think outside of the box of “security”.
Dare to dream and see where this dream will lead you : this is where you will find the whisper of your heart’s voice.

Please send your question for selection to question@paulocoelhoblog.com

Today’s Question by the reader : Maria Edwards

My question is, can you tell us more about this quote of the day, “Anyone who gives help also receives help and needs to teach what he has learned?” How can we share the light we’ve found with people in our lives who may not have found their own path yet?

Firstly by trying to understand why they are acting the way they are. Before judging if a person is or not in their path, first we need to understand why they thread in the current path they are threading.
Of course, if a person is unhappy and they let you know about this – then you can actually say what you think. But remember, while giving your opinion you need to leave very clear that you are doing this out of love and nothing else.
The best way to reach someone is by letting them know that they have reached your heart first.

Please send your question for selection to question@paulocoelhoblog.com

Today’s question by the reader : Kerttu

The reason I’m writing, is regarding your recent youtube video in which you asked who are the people who support the most.
There was a person who always supported me through everything – my grandmother. She passed away almost a year ago. But somehow I still feel that she is there for me somehow. Like she was watching over me and guiding me. Do you think it’s possible? Do you believe that there is somehow a way she could still be here for me?

Yes, I believe in presence of our loved ones and how their memory affects us all our lives. I even published a story about the death of my father-in-law and the “sign” we all received from his presence. You can read it here.

Please send your question for selection to question@paulocoelhoblog.com

Today’s Question by the reader : Martin

What is your vision about free online distribution?

For me internet is a way of being in touch with my readers and this contact has been priceless. I really enjoy having a direct contact, with no middle-men, with my readers.
In regards to online distribution, I have also always been very clear that I don’t consider pirating as “stealing” at all. I see this as a way of enabling the circulation of information and entertainment.
That’s why I created Pirate Coelho and constantly spoke about the necessity of changing our view about free online distribution.
You can read the speech I gave at the Frankfurt Book Fair, to have a more in depth grasp of what I mean.

Today’s Question by the reader : Betsy

I do have one question about your book The Alchemist. The person who referred it to me is a LT. Col. in an Army over in Pakistan and said how you discribed the desert life was very much so. How did you know? Was it through experience? Curious… He has read the book 10 times now.

I had been to Egypt before writing The Alchemist. But to be honest with you much of the inspiration for the description of the desert came to me from tales of the Desert Priests, the Bible and of course Arabic tales.
Truth can be easily recognised as long as your heart is open to it. Hence of the miracle of literature – and my constant effort in letting myself be guided by it.