Famous writer J.K. Rowling, who created the magic world of Hogwarts, is truly a modern day Cinderella. Only, she did not have to find a prince, but unleash her own power of creativity to make her fortune. From a single parent living on welfare to becoming the recipient of an OBE title (Order of the British Empire – a prestigious British order of chivalry granted to persons who bring great contributions to arts and sciences), J.K. Rowling has come a long way. And she remains a constant source not just of writing inspiration but also of an exemplary determination to never give up.
One thing that stands out in the case of J.K. Rowling, is her constant drive to become a writer. In an interview given back in 1998, she detailed how she wrote her first story when she was 5 or 6 years old. This, and other little stories, was created for the benefit of her younger sister, Dianne.
In the interview, the famous writer and creator of the Harry Potter universe said: “Certainly the first story I ever wrote down (when I was five or six) was about a rabbit called Rabbit. He got the measles and was visited by his friends, including a giant bee called Miss Bee. And ever since Rabbit and Miss Bee, I have wanted to be a writer, though I rarely told anyone so. I was afraid they’d tell me I didn’t have a hope.”
Not Giving Up on Her Dream
The circumstances certainly seemed to work against J.K. Rowling’s dream of writing stories and making a living out of them. None of her parents went to college and the family lived within a small income. However, the future novelist managed to go to college – the University of Exeter, where she studied French.
This type of education became useful when she started writing the Harry Potter novels and she had to think of names for the various spells used in the books. Her first job was that of secretary for the Amnesty International charity. She quickly found out that she was really not cut for this kind of job. The only perk of it, according to the famous writer, was being able to sit down in front of a typewriter to create stories,
A Late Train – The Moment that Generated a Wondrous Literary Universe
If you are looking for writing inspiration in special and select places, you may miss great opportunities in mundane circumstances. At least this is the big lesson that any aspiring writer can learn from J.K. Rowling.
She stumbled upon the idea of a gifted boy who gets invited to study in a special school for wizards as she was sitting in a delayed train. It was 1990, when J.K. Rowling was 24 years old. Over the next several years, she kept developing the plot, adding new characters and secondary storylines.
However, her life would be sidetracked by two major events, before she managed to submit her ideas to an editor. In 1991, J.K. Rowling’s mother died after a long fight with a debilitating disease. The famous writer states that it is still the most traumatic event in her life.
One year later, in 1992, J.K. Rowling took up an English teaching position in Portugal, where she met her husband, a television journalist. By the end of 1993, she would be divorced and the mother of a girl, Jessica.
The Struggling Years
J.K. Rowling returned to England with a baby girl and “half a suitcase was full of papers covered with stories about Harry Potter.” Jobless, living on welfare, she would go to cafés and keep writing.
Discipline helped her stay on track and continue writing stories. “You’ve got to work. It’s about structure. It’s about discipline. It’s all these deadly things that your school teacher told you you needed… You need it”, is the number one advice the famous writer still gives anyone who asks her.
She also admits that she never follows trends and “must-do” recommendations: “The truth is that I found success by stumbling off alone in a direction most people thought was a dead end, breaking all the 1990s shibboleths about children’s books in the process.” Instead, if you want direct writing inspiration from J.K. Rowling, her five guiding lines are:
- Resilience and humility
No Is Not an Option
Young single parent J.K. Rowling certainly needed courage to pursue her dream of becoming a writer. Her first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was rejected by no less than 12 publishers.
Finally, Bloomsbury agreed to publish it, but only in 500 copies, in 1997. By March 1999, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone sold in 300,000 copies in the United Kingdom. Next, J.K. Rowling sold the rights to the book in the United States for the then unprecedented amount of $100,000. At this point, she purchased her first home.
Another aspect that makes J.K. Rowling a writing inspiration for anyone is the way she uses her own life experiences in her books. During the darkest time of her life, struggling to provide for her child, she suffered from depression and even had suicidal thoughts. She used this debilitating experience in describing the Dementors and the effect they have on Harry Potter.
The end of the Harry Potter saga was not the end of this famous writer’s career. J.K. Rowling reinvented herself as and author of novels for adults. Under the penname Robert Galbraith she wrote the Cormoran Strike series of detective novels, the most recent being published in 2018.
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