I don’t know J.K. Rowling. I’ve never read the numerous Harry Potter books or seen the films, yet I feel like I know things about her that I don’t know about my closest friends.
I know that she gets very annoyed when people pronounce her last name as “Rawling,” and not the correct pronunciation of “Rolling.”
In her early years, she taught English in Oporto, Portugal, and worked for Amnesty International, doing research into human rights abuses in Africa. She won a grant from the Scottish Arts Council, which she used to buy a computer, but she writes all of her books by hand.
She got the idea for Harry Potter on a train from Manchester to London, and wrote the first book in a café in Edinburgh, Scotland while living on the dole. She now shares a birthday with Harry.
Through the years, she has gained many successes, honorary degrees and the like, but they don’t erase what it took to get there. Even though she was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II and she is listed as being richer than the Queen of England, money and success did not come overnight.
She married her first husband, had a child and divorced, all within eleven months. She was diagnosed with clinical depression and even contemplated suicide. Somewhere in all of the turmoil, writing is what helped her turn it all around - and that is what saved her.
"There's always room for a story that can transport people to another place," J.K. Rowling says.
Some people think that a writer is not worth his/her salt until they are published - and that still doesn’t guarantee a spot on the various best seller lists. J.K. didn’t write with this in mind, she wrote to survive. People don’t understand why writers write and what goes through our minds at any given moment.
They don’t understand that if we have nothing to eat, writing provides food for the Soul. We are always thinking. Thinking about characters. Narration, plotting - structure comes later, after we talk to and talk through our characters.
There is always a conversation going on in our heads between people we may not fully know yet. Our characters help us survive like we help them come alive.
As writers, we hope that our words reach as many people as possible and that our words are within reach of everyone. We make the intangible tangible. We show you the world through our eyes. Our pain is not always palatable, our struggle is not silver-lined, but our happiness is in reaching you. By the time our words get to you, they have been seen by a million different eyes.
So in my summation of J.K. Rowling, I see a lady who survived struggle. A lady who in her darkest hour, saw the light. I see a lady who in her superhero dreams would love to fly - and is effectively doing it for millions of fans. I see a writer who has created a whole new world of survival; a new world of living and a new world of dreaming.
The pen is mightier than the sword, but in J.K. Rowling’s case, the pen is as mighty as the sword - they both leave an indelible mark that leaves us feeling the pulse of life.
How do you overcome struggle? Share your story.