Don’t you just love the feeling when your written words influence someone in even the most infinitesimal way? Like when you wrote that piece for your school or college magazine and the teachers couldn’t stop gushing about your amazing talent? Or maybe a few words or a poem in a card for some loved one on their special day that left them utterly overwhelmed?
Oh the power a few artistically strung together words can have! Now imagine that power amplified a million times over and you can only just begin to picture how a universally loved author can shape the minds of entire generations. Goosebumps already? I’ve loved writing ever since my fifth-grade English teacher introduced me to a “diary entry” exercise in my course book. But the lightning strike that strengthened my resolve to become a writer was the works of a 12-time rejected British author which, when finally published, was nothing short of a literary phenomenon. I am talking, of course, about J. K. Rowling and her Harry Potter series.
What fascinated me wasn’t just the popularity of the books or the movie franchise that followed. There is an audience for all kinds of works out there; fan conventions and the Internet will tell you that. But this… this sway Harry Potter and his magical world held over readers across nations and age groups! Awe-inspiring! Miraculous even! I had never before heard of children and adults alike dressing up as character from the book, waiting outside bookstores since midnight for the release of the next installment in the series. Friends who had never picked up a book in their lives were considering reading the books because the movies left them wanting to know more about this orphan boy wizard.
And that’s when I knew what kind of writer I wanted to be. Yeah sure, there were those famous writers with their bipolar personalities and reclusive lives, whose works were termed classics that appealed to only a few scholarly loyalists.
No, I want my work to be loved by all. Something on the lines of the JKR phenomenon, where my readers write me letters describing how my books have changed their lives. How my characters and their struggles, even if mythical or fantastic, are relatable on some deep, metaphysical level. I want my books to lead millions of kids to fall in love with books again. I want parents to read my books to their children, not just as a daily exercise but because even they are curious to know what happens next. And when times are difficult, and there is no hope in sight, I want my books to inspire people to believe in happy endings and silver linings. Because wouldn’t that be a truly fitting use of this powerful magic that an author can wield?
Seventeen years since Philosopher’s Stone was published, and even after there are no more new books or movies, the Harry Potter/JKR phenomenon very much persists. The sheer numbers of fan clubs, websites, conventions, theme park rides and updates on social networks prove that people’s love for The Boy Who Lived is as strong as ever. I wonder how it must feel like, being loved by millions, immortalized in more ways than one and having such a profound effect on the minds of generations. Would I ever be able to pull off such a feat? Maybe a blessing from a literary-minded witch would really help. After all, these are extremely high ambitions to live by. But as they say, Go big or Go home, right?