Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

A Boy, A Scar and an Epic Fantasy

I would be remiss in talking about children’s book authors without mentioning J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series. The first Harry Potter book was published when I was barely 30 years old. Still, I was drawn to the description and scooped it up without hesitation. This was long before the hype would begin – the midnight sales with thousands of people dressed as wizards, the movies, the awards. I didn’t know yet that it would be a series of books and that I would pre-order them months in advance and anxiously track the package as it made its way to my doorstep on release day. I didn’t yet know that I would read the first book and fall in love with the idea of writing all over again. I didn’t know that it would rekindle a dream.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone depending on which side of the pond you live on) is one of my favorite books. And I can honestly say that I felt that way long before the book-buying, movie-watching fans got ahold of it. In 1998, I came across the hardcover at Barnes & Noble on one of my frequent visits to the children’s section. As many of you know by now, I turn to children’s fiction as a means of escape when life and work are too stressful.

I recommend that everyone read at least the first one (my favorite in the series). It made me believe that there is magic everywhere. And if we can just believe a little bit, wonderful things can happen. It made me fall in love with writing again. It made me want to write for kids, and it made me want to include a bit of magic in any story I write.

I loved the entire series, and the movies as well. My advice –  See the movies – yes. BUT read the books!! The movies are fine, but the books are wonderful!

J.K. Rowling led a “rags to riches” life. She went from living on government benefits to being a multimillionaire within a handful of years. And she owes it all to the 8-year-old daughter of Bloomsbury’s chairman who read a chapter of her manuscript and demanded more. Until that point, she had received multiple rejections and had even been told to get a day job since she would never make money writing for children. The Harry Potter global brand is now worth over $15 billion in US dollars.

I think that Harry Potter made a lot of would-be writers stand up and take notice. It more than likely kindled writing dreams in millions of people who never thought to try before. I am sure there are those who figured they would just whip off a book and be the next big thing.

I don’t think that way. Sure, it would be wonderful if my first book was discovered and sold millions of copies and Pixar or Disney made a movie out of it. And hey, these things sometimes happen. 🙂 But writing a book is hard work. It takes dedication, perseverance, and a suspension of reality. It takes the ability to put aside any self-doubt and do it anyway. A book is not something you just whip up in a weekend and toss at the public.

Harry Potter made me believe in magic again. It had me and some of my other 30-year-old friends wishing we could attend Hogwarts! It was no longer embarrassing to be sitting in public reading a kid’s book. And it made me want to capture some of that magic in a story of my own.

I had written two books by then and tucked both of them neatly into a drawer. I had not thought that I could publish them, let alone follow the self-publishing route. Watching the Harry Potter craze unfold made me believe that anything can happen. 🙂 I may never be as big in the children’s book world as J.K. Rowling, but if I can write a story that one kid falls in love with, I will have succeeded.

 

8 Comments

  1. I really love this post, because I had a similar experience with Harry Potter. It was just such a phenomenal experience — the midnight launch parties, the months of eager waiting and speculation, writing fanfiction to make the time pass faster. Those books made me love fantasy, and made me love writing. Even years later I still sometimes get dreams where I’m chilling at Hogwarts, getting up to all sorts of awesome magic shenanigans. Such an amazing series!!!

    • Every few years I reread the series, and it still holds the same magic!

  2. Reblogged this on The Freelancer and commented:
    I also fell in love with the Harry Potter series during its infancy. My mom bought the two installations of the book during her London trip with her boss, but I did not pay it no mind. I was a college student interested in Mills & Boon, what was my mom thinking buying this children’s books for us? When I exhausted all the Penny Jordan and Carol Mortimer romances, I finally gave Harry Potter my full attention – almost a year after my mom bought it. And I was hooked. I regretted not reading it sooner. Even while re-reading it now, I am still drawn inside a magical world that no other book can do for me. Sadly, since I’ve read the series nearly a hundred times, watching it on screen is like watching a severely truncated movie. I have never watched a single Harry Potter movie from start to finish. And when the casts inevitability became adults, the last movie became painful because Harry was still a young adult in my head.

    I have to admit that JK’s success should be an inspiration for us new writers as we have a high probability of getting rejected, not only by editors and publishers, but also by our target audience. What’s hard is convincing ourselves that self-doubt means poor work and productivity as we are already anticipating world-shattering rejection. So what if we got rejected? So what if we the world did not receive our beloved masterpiece with the same love and affection that we gave to our books? Shouldn’t we all be concerned of (heaven forbid) spending our twilight years regretting for the thousandth time that we did not write our book? Sure we may not be as successful as JK Rowling is, her stars are only hers and hers alone. But our stars already said that we should be writers, and that should give us all the push that we need to pick up a pen and paper (as with my case), or let our fingers dance over the keyboard and see our book through from start to finish.

    • Thank you for the repost, Donna! I agree 100% with your comments. We follow our own stars, and even if a mind blowing best seller is not in our stars, a book or three is. The worst thing in life is regret. To sit in a rocking chair at the ripe age of 90 and regret never having put our words on paper would be a terrible thing.

  3. I’m sooooo wiht you. I ADORE Harry Potter, and was sooooo gutted when I finished the last book and knew there would be no more. I’ve been to teh cafe in Edinburgh where JK used to write, and have seen all the films several times. I’ve always believed in magic, but it was sucha joy to see a book rekindling that belief in so many others, whatever their age. She’s done a lot fr so many people by writing that series, and so has that little eight year old girl who saw the potential (I didn’t know that part of the story, thanks for sharing it…kids know best what kids want!) Hugs, H xxx

    • I saw the movies, too, but must say that as usual, the movies could not touch the full on magic of the books. Though admittedly the first movie came close! 😊

  4. You definitely added a bit of magic to your story!

    • Thank you, Candace! I could not have polished it without your expert advice! 😊

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