Perhaps there was an element of ‘luck’ to the record-breaking popularity of the bespectacled, black-haired boy dreamed up by children’s book author J.K. Rowling. After all, a lot of events had to fall magically in place before one small publisher finally decided to gamble on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Legend has it that the publisher decided to move forward with the book when his eight-year-old daughter read the first chapter and asked for more.
What fabulous luck!
So what does ‘luck’ look like to you? (For example, what does it mean when you say ‘just my luck’? Has something devastating—or spectacular—happened?) Behind every stroke of luck there is typically an iron-willed belief and a lot of hard work. And when these two get together, luck happens.
Alchemy, if you will.
Children's Book Author J.K. Rowling: Dogged by an Idea
According to the well-known story, Rowling mapped out the plot for her first book on a train. The idea of this boy-who-was-a -wizard-but-didn’t-know-it came to her and she simply couldn’t ignore it. Her description of the experience almost sounds like she was receiving a ‘download.’ She could hardly write fast enough to keep up. Where was that stream of consciousness coming from?
We don’t know. But what we do know is that Rowling was an open vessel, ready to receive what was coming to her. She was enchanted by the story and held the belief that she was the one to write it.
Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience with your writing. Do ideas follow you around, begging you to write them down so other people can hear about them, too? If so, you might be surprised by what happens when you sit down to actually write. When an idea is stalking you, there is usually a lot more to follow. The act of getting it on paper may have a quality of ‘effortlessness’ to it.
Children's Book Author J.K. Rowling: Tapping In to Something Inside of Us
Rowling describes her books as touching on religious themes—but not overtly. She is a master at telling a story that has multiple layers, but all she does is tell it like it is. Discovering the universal truths in her mythology is up to each of us to do for ourselves.
And when we do, we feel something.
The Harry Potter series weaves a golden thread of longing, hope, magic and love, beginning with The Boy Who Lived and not stopping until the end. There’s a lot of darkness in the series, too. This epic tale appeals to the hero inside of us—child and adult alike.
I asked one (young) reader what he liked so much about Harry Potter. His answer was simple: “J.K. Rowling is so creative.” But these words didn’t come close to expressing what was on the boy's face—the way it lapsed into a dreamy, far-away look at the mere mention of his beloved Harry. Now a college student, this young man has read the entire series at least 20 times.
Children's Book Author J.K. Rowling: A Flash of Clairvoyance
I love what J.K. Rowling revealed in her interview with Oprah. At one point, Oprah asked Rowling if she ‘knew’ that ‘one day every child in the world will know his [Harry’s] name.’
This excerpt from the 10/3/2010 transcript of that interview is riveting:
Winfrey: But isn’t it interesting that in the first book, when Harry is being dropped-off at his uncle’s, it is predicted – ?
Rowling: One day every child in the world will know his name.
Winfrey: One day every child in the world will know his name.
Rowling: Well, the screenwriter –
Winfrey: So, didn’t you know?
Winfrey: Wasn’t there part of you –
Rowling: Part of me –
Winfrey: Subconsciously, that knew? Yes.
Rowling: I – I remember once and it was like – it was like – well, like – I’m going to call it clash – a flash of clairvoyance now. Obviously if it hadn’t come true it would just be some crazy thought I had. But I do remember one day, writing Philosopher’s Stone, I was walking away from the café where I’d been working on –
Winfrey: Philosopher’s Stone which became Sorcerer’s Stone.
Rowling: Which became Sorcerer’s Stone, exactly. So that’s the first novel. And I had this moment where I suddenly thought – It was like another voice speaking to me and the voice said “the difficult thing is going to get published. If it gets published it will be huge.”
Wow. Great insight. One that begs the question: If you are a writer, are you listening to the voice in your head? Is your heart telling you it’s a go? If so, now may be the time to follow Rowling’s lead and start creating your own luck.
Just make sure it’s the good kind.
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Blog about Reading, Writing and Kids: Musings, stories and tips about teaching children to read and writing books for children.
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