Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday's Wisdom and a Little Pottermore

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So, in light of all the excitement surrounding Pottermore, I have a confession to make: every time I watch the trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, I tear up. 

Laugh if you must, but it's true.  I am a Harry Potter child.  It came out when I was fourteen years old and happens to be one of two children's books series that really shaped me, not only as a kid, but as a writer.

I remember the first time I finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  I was lying in my bed, and as soon as I'd read the last sentence, I bolted straight up--I can still picture this all in my mind today--and I remember thinking: "Holy Cow!  This guy (I didn't realize J.K. Rowling was a woman at the time) totally gets me!"  From that moment on, I knew J.K. Rowling had done something fabulous for the future of children's lit.  I also knew that it would impact what I was able to do with my own writing years later. 

And look what's happened!  The YA book market is bursting at the seams with amazing stuff, and I'm about to release my first novel! 

But that's not all I got from J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter series.  The fourth book came out when I was a senior in high school, and I was so busy that year that I didn't get a chance to read it.  I went to college, not knowing that she'd killed off Cedric Diggory, or that he even existed for that matter.  When I was a freshmen in college, the first movie came out, and at Christmas 2001, I finally had time to read book 4. 

My freshman year of college was synonymous with 9-11.  It was also the year my parents split up.  As I read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I felt once again that J.K. Rowling completely got me and had somehow gained a weird insight into what was happening in my own personal life at that time. Book 4 marked a dark shift in Harry's journey--a beginning of horrors better suited to an adult, but forced upon the shoulders of a fourteen year old boy. Coincidentally, I was beginning my own disenchanting journey into adulthood, and strangely, reading Harry Potter at that time in my life made me feel a little less alone.

When book 5 came out--oh, how miserably cool that book is--I was in my own kind of misery. I was finally over the shock of my mom and dad separating, and that year marked the beginning of a bout of depression for me. I read through book 5, and I couldn't believe how in sync it was with my present circumstances. Just as Harry was daily battling with Voldemort invading his thoughts, I was battling my own demons. That year was the darkest of my life to that point, and again, I felt like I had a friend. 

When book 6 came out, I had just gotten married, and Rowling decided to kill off Dumbledore.  That was the year I lost one of my own greatest mentors for a while.  As I read The Half-Blood Prince, I felt like I was experiencing the same confusion and loss Harry felt after Dumbledore's murder. 

When book 7 finally arrived, my son had been born. I was at a very important time in my life where I was really starting to understand myself and the past 25 years of my life--all that they'd been preparing me for.  Consequently, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows became my favorite book in the series--Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was my previous favorite--because it marked the moment I truly took control of my life and decided once and for all that I was going to succeed no matter what came my way. Harry's courage to face his nemesis no matter what the consequences brought, for the sake of what was right, inspired me to do the same in my own life. 

Looking back, now that the last movie is about to come out, I've realized what a huge part Harry Potter has played in my own journey to adulthood and understanding the world and my role in it. Ah, the power of a book! I know this might sound corny to some people--maybe to a lot of people, but even though I was four years older than Harry when I started reading, I grew up with him.  The end of the movies sort of marks the end of my childhood--yes I'm 28 and have a child of my own, but I still feel like a kid in SO many ways--which is why I cry a little every time I watch the trailer.

So, now that I've born a very private, and possibly embarrassing part of my soul to you all, I'd like to give a huge shout out to J.K.Rowling. 
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Ms. Rowling, I love your characters Harry, Ron and Hermione.  I love Hagrid, Sirius, Fred and George--Neville and Luna and Ginny, like they're my own real-life friends.  I've loved escaping into the magic and enchantment of your world during times in my life when my own world was too unbearable.  As strange as it sounds, your world and your characters, in a very real way, played a part in getting me through my adolescence, through my parents' divorce, through a bout of depression, and into adulthood by nurturing me in the way that only beloved book friends can. Thank you for sharing your creations with me and the rest of the world.  I only hope that my own books can do something similar for my readers.

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