J.K. Raises the Bar

It’s been said a thousand times how J.K. Rowling and her seven Harry Potter novels have rejuvenated children’s literature and young people’s desire to read.  But what’s not talked about enough is the effect J.K. Rowling has had on authors.

Look at the events last week in London.  Fans camped out for three days to catch a glimpse of their favourite author, and the cast of the record-breaking franchise.  For the first time ever, a film premiere was held in Trafalgar Square, truly marking Rowling’s unique achievement.  Harry Potter is huge.  Beyond huge.  But it’s more than action films, and an excuse to dress up in long black robes.  The story is amazing.  Say what you will about Rowling, and her unorthodox interactions with the world and the media, but in my opinion the woman is a genius.  The stories themselves are so intricately layered, neatly-crafted jigsaws, with key pieces scattered right the way across the series.  On coffee shop napkins, and in council houses without central heating, Jo Rowling invented a world, and filled it with every intricate detail.  She created an incredible, over-arching story, but also managed to segment that story with individual all-encompassing adventures.  She penned characters who have become household names, icons, ‘Gods’ even if you believe the current Twitter trends!

Today the final movie in the franchise officially opened, and I returned home from seeing it, to notice that 4 different characters from the film are trending on Twitter.  (Interestingly, not one of them Harry himself, begging the question, has that name been removed from the trends because it’s just too popular and obvious?!)

And as I return home, having left behind a world where wands have opinions, and stone statues form a guard of honour, what I feel is INSPIRED!  For so long now, my ‘end goal’ has been getting published.  To be quite honest, as soon as the hurdle of getting myself represented by an agent was conquered, publication has been the next obstacle ahead.  And the longer it’s been there, the more it’s seemed like ‘the end’.  Getting published seemed so hard, that I felt like it was my finish line, the thing in the distance I will always be aiming for.

And yet, that really shouldn’t be the case.  Because I ought to be looking for more.  As an author growing up in this day and age, J.K. Rowling should be my inspiration.  I’m proud to be British, and I’m proud to be an author, and I guess for a long time J.K. has been raising the bar for British authors.  Asking us to look to her and truly see what we are all potentially capable of.  We can create worlds that people won’t just buy, but love.  Worlds they will conjure in their heads, and revisit time and time again.  Characters who will grow to be as beloved as family.  As familiar as their closest friends.

But J.K.’s bar isn’t just appreciation.  Look at the legacy Trafalgar Square.  Her bar, her legacy, is world domination.  A story that can change millions of lives.  A tale that can touch people young and old, from every background.  A tale which has seen her become the world’s first billionaire as a result of literature.

Today shouldn’t make the end.  It should mark the beginning.  Because for us authors, J.K. Rowling has been the flagship.  She’s blazed the way into people’s hearts, and reminded the world that even in this day and age, when a book is no longer necessarily made up of separate pages, a story CAN capture the world.

The world needs more Potters.  More Hogwarts.  The stories don’t need to be about wizards, and the settings don’t need to be schools, but that should be where we take our personal inspiration.  Our desire to suceed.

So … today I am an unpublished author.  But my goal is publication … or rather, my goal isn’t JUST publication.  My goal is to BE that person that everyone always mentions when you say you’re trying to become an author.

‘Oh, so you’re trying to become the next J.K. Rowling?’

‘Hmm … well, yes actually, I am!’    After all, that scene last week in Trafalgar Square was pretty bloody cool 😉

C-C xxx

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14 Comments

Filed under C-C Lester, Unsigned Author Commentary, Writing

14 responses to “J.K. Raises the Bar

  1. I agree with you completely. I’ve loved those books for most of my life, despite some niggling issues I had with the resolution of Deathly Hallows. The effect they’ve had on both my generation and those younger and older is incredible! It truly is an inspiration for both readers and authors. Plus, becoming the ‘next J.K. Rowling’ is a totally worthwhile goal.
    -C.K. Palmes

  2. As an author I would have to agree completely with the your summary of how JK has given literature an amazing opportunity to re-engage the youth of today with the written word.

    I have to admit that I have not been swept up in the HP phenomenon, but that probably says more about me than the efforts of JK. However, there is no denying that HP probably opened the door for Twilight..

    • I think you’re right – Harry Potter was the first book phenomenon, and others were bound to follow suit, though it is interesting that Twilight was the next to be picked up by the hysteria. As someone who enjoyed both series (for very different reasons), the concept, story and intricacy of HP is something writers should aspire to, even if they don’t like the subject matter, whereas Twilight just falls comparatively flat on all those counts! I think it’s a shame Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights hasn’t been treated with such super-stardom, and that the first film didn’t really work out, as in my opinion that series is a lot more deserving of world domination!!!
      C-C xxx

  3. You hit the nail on the head. Her series took some age old tale, morphed pieces, made a deeply woven world that many find amazing and fun. Beyond being genius I believe that she just wrote a great story of a hero that wasn’t a hero all by himself, but had friends that believed in his journey and she made each and every character fully developed to the point where they because real people to the reader. Also, I’d like to note for authors that fear reviews – I first picked up my own Harry Potter book due to reading a scathing bad review about the book. I’m glad I did since I’ve been in love with the series every since.

  4. J.K. Rowling has left a huge mark on all the world – for many, many years to come. At the bottom of all of us – writers, especially – we want to leave a mark, too. It’s great to have her as an inspiration and aspiration. Good luck C-C – sure you’ll make it.

  5. It’s wonderful when a book can reach into imaginations and make children and others readers because that can make them life long readers.

  6. I agree with your post, however I think what separates JK Rowling from previous literary geniuses such as Frank Herbert and JRR Tolkien is today’s cult of the celebrity.

    If you’re a celebrity you get paparazzi following you, and newspapers writing about everything you do, no matter how trivial. You also get elevated to god like status in people’s minds.

    Another factor is the ability to turn a successful book into a movie within a year or two, while previously there just wasn’t the budget or technology to make movies based on books such as Dune or Lord of the Rings.

    These two factors helped create the HP hysteria, and give Rowling an advantage over other equally deserving literary geniuses of the past.

    • I think you’re right that today’s society definitely helped raise J.K. Rowling to a near-godly status, however interestingly she’s been particularly careful to avoid the cult of celebrity. Over the past 15+ years Rowling has kept out of the public eye on all but essential occasions, and remained a rather elusive figure.
      There are a couple of interesting points about her attitude – she is very rarely ‘papped’ and I wonder if this is simply because she’s an author, or because she is so carefully guarded. I also wonder if the reason she has reached such levels of global stardom is because she is so entirely guarded. She has a mystique about her, which only the upper echelons of Hollywood appear to maintain – the people who see their fame as so inevitable that they do not need to pander to the press in order to get column inches. As I’ve mentioned before, unlike a number of other best-selling authors, Rowling neither blogs, nor Tweets (she has a Twitter account which she has used less than ten times). Her message to the fans on the new Pottermore website was one of her first public messages in over fifteen years.

      I think from a sociological standpoint she’s a great subject, as she really stands out as an anomaly in the ‘cult’ of celebrity, and it will be interesting to see if future authors of such status behave in a similar way.

      Thanks for checking out the blog and commenting 🙂
      C-C xxx

  7. Pingback: Emotional Jump-starts | elementarycircle

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