Friday, February 03, 2012

An Open Letter to J.K. Rowling

Dear J.K. Rowling,

I wish that I could say that I had grown up with your books, and that I had gone with Harry on his magical adventures, or that Hermione had been my role model in school, or that Ron's loyalty was something I aspired to... and Neville had inspired me to be brave.  But they didn't.

I was twenty-five when I first read the Harry Potter books.  Half Blood Prince was all ready on it's way to DVD before I picked up my first Harry Potter book (a well worn, used copy purchased from E-bay for $3).

I fought the Potter Phenomenon for years.  I didn't think the story would be worth my time.  I read books like "Lord of the Rings" and "Bag of Bones".  I had no time for Children's books.

One of my biggest regrets, at least where Pottermania is concerned, is that it took me so long to give it a chance.

I read the entire series in two (sleepless) weeks.  I couldn't put the books down.

You are the type of talent who simultaneously makes me love and hate my decision to be a writer.  On the one hand, it makes me appreciate that if I can ever make half the impression on my readers that you made on me, I've done something amazing.  On the other hand, it makes me wonder if I'll ever be able to weave that kind of intricate story.  Can I ever write characters like Severus and Dumbledore?  Can I create a world of magic, and mystery and love?

Though the story of Harry Potter is over, I take your magic with me everywhere I go.  The wisdom of Dumbledore's Words, the Bravery of Neville, the love of Lilly, and the perseverance of Harry... Those are qualities I strive to have.  I'll never be as smart as Hermione, or as good a mother as Molly.  I'll never be as responsible or as serious as Professor McGonagall.  I'll never be the Dark Knight that Snape was... but I can be brave, and I can love, and I can fight for the people who mean something to me.

James taught me that I don't have to be a perfect person to do the right thing... and Lily taught me that love can conquer all.  Harry taught me that no matter how tired I am, and no matter how hopeless a situation is, I had to see it through to the end.  Severus taught me that I should never take anyone for granted, because you may lose them forever with one thoughtless remark.  Hermione and Ron taught me to stick beside my true friends.  And Dumbledore... he taught me that it does not do to dwell in dreams and forget to live.

I have immersed myself in this secret world, lose myself in the magic of your talent... You made me laugh.  You made me cry.  You taught me to be a better person.  Your words, your inventions, everything you created has suddenly shaped me differently.  I can only imagine all that you have done for those who grew up with it.

I read somewhere that if you looked into the Mirror of Erised, you would see your mother, who never got to see you finish Harry Potter.  I just know that she would have been so proud of you, because what you have done has shaped a generation, and generations to come because my children will know all about Harry, Ron, and Hermione... but also because you followed your dreams.

When I write, I often ask myself, "WWJD-- What Would Jo Do?"  I try so hard to be a tenth or even a twentieth what you are.   I admire your strength, your passion, your drive, your determination, and above all your talent.  You will have heard this a million times by now, I'm sure, but I am blown away by you.  Every time I read the books, which has been more than I care to admit, I am shocked that you were just about my age when you began to write about Hogwarts and The Boy Who Lived.

In a world where the Jersey Shore is one of the highest rated programs on TV and children forgo reading for video games and vapid cartoons, your work brought joy to me and breathed life into my hope for the future.  If everyone who reads Harry Potter loves it half as much as I do, we're not doing too badly.

I have never felt so strongly about a series of books as I have about Harry Potter... and I have read a LOT of books... but your books are like Hogwarts... They are my home.  I will always come back to them.  I love them.

Thank you, Jo, for letting me be a part of the magic.

With Great Admiration,