I’ve wanted to be a writer for quite a long time, pretty much since I picked up the first Harry Potter book at the age of seven or eight. I was immediately entranced with the world, the story and the character, just like everyone else in my generation. I found myself particularly obsessed. One of my childhood friends swears that I vowed to end my friendship with her if she didn’t give the books a chance. I always was a little extreme in my passion for things, something that hasn’t really changed about me today. However, I’d say it was justified. After all, we went to ever midnight book and movie release together, both had multiple Harry Potter themed birthday parties, among the countless other ways we were involved in this revolutionary new community. And perhaps I was right, because when I think back to it the only very close friend I had who wasn’t completely enthralled by Harry Potter fell into my life at 12, after the last book had been published. In those magical few years where Harry Potter was alive in a way no other book series had ever been, why would I chose to associate myself with people who weren’t enthralled by the same magical experience? I was learning through these books, shaping my own identity, and I wanted to be around people who shared that joy.
Now I’m 19, and so much has changed. I’m an English major, looking to be an English teacher but with a secret dream of writing. I’ve written a few books to half way completion, one I nearly finished, and I have a small collection of short stories I’ve crafted for various creative writing classes. I found, however, that writing was hard work. It wasn’t a magical skill I was born with, the way it’s so often presented. I’d always pantsed my work because I thought that was how it was done. I though it was supposed to be natural, and easy. Sure, it takes practice, but if you were “born” to be a writer that practice is fun right? I’m always coming to terms with the misconceptions I have about the world, as all of us are in this constant endeavor to “grow up”, whatever that means.
After trying and failing so many times to write a novel, after finally completing NaNoWriMo two years ago and failing after 10,000 words this year, I know something isn’t working, and I also know it is probably fixable. Because I still love stories of all sorts, and I can’t stop my obsession with them. And also, I’ve found that it’s actually quite fun to write. It truly is a form of play at times, and to find yourself happy with something you created completely on your own is such a magical feeling. In the classic youthful struggle to find my own confidence and voice, writing has proved a wonderful source of character development for myself.
This year I was planning on doing Camp NaNoWriMo. In fact, I probably still will. I just don’t know if I’ll be writing a novel, per say. Because for the first time ever, I decided to plan my novel, really plan it, and I found myself really struggling to do so. I realized that while I do have a better knowledge of novel structure than probably 90% of the world, I am no where near ready to put together a novel as tight and well put together as the series that changed my life. This is not a bad thing of course. I’m nineteen, with (hopefully) about sixty years ahead of me. I’m still new on this journey of life and self discovery, and yeah I haven’t given much time to writing so far. But that’s how it’s supposed to be. When you’re a kid, you’re too busy falling in love, making and breaking friendships and finding yourself to really focus on your work. But now that I have a firm footing on my own life and identity, it’s time to consciously explore my curiosities too long put to the side.
When I found writelikerowling.com yesterday, I immediately went through almost the entire website, very literally. I’ll probably finish reading through the last few posts I have left today. I found so much help and inspiration in that one post, and I realized that I’ve been reading a lot but I haven’t really been studying the books I enjoy. I rarely if ever reread a book, because I find myself too bored to go over old material. But now I’d been given a new lense to look at the books through, and I found myself wanting to go through the entire book and map it as much as I could, to learn from Rowling. I’d already been struggling through the first few pages of the French version of Order of the Phoenix, using my English version as a reference as I try to get a better grasp on this second language I’m trying to learn. Yesterday I just started reading through from the beginning, and was so surprised on how much insights I found myself having, so I decided that I need to put these thoughts together in an organized resource if I’m truly going to learn from them. So my new goal is going to be rereading OOTP, and creating a chapter by chapter analysis of the story based on the new thing I’m learning right now through writing blogs, books and my own experiences.
JK Rowling gave my so much as a child: a sense of intelligence, power, self worth, a safe escape from the realities of real life, a community, a world, a passion and hundreds of other things. She is the reason I succeeded in school, she is the reason I’m an English major, she is the reason I write. That I’ve never taken the time to study her works is a disservice to myself that I am determined to rectify. So, thus starts my apprenticeship.