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Harry Potter and Why Your Writing Matters


I hope you know the story of how J. K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series for seven years while struggling as a single mother on welfare. How she suffered a dozen rejections. And its subsequent publication for a print of run of ... 1,000 copies. That’s right, I’m not missing any zeroes. You know the rest of story. Over 400,000,000 copies later ... the Harry Potter series has been published across the world in dozens of languages.

But is the story about a young wizard all that important?

Yes. And here’s why:

The first reason is not the reason you might expect. Stories make us part of something bigger, something communal. You know those aliens that are all connected and think as one entity? To some degree that’s what stories do. If you like Harry Potter, I already know an awful lot about you and I know that we are connected on a deeper level. The same ordeal Harry went through, you did too. I did too. So did millions of Chinese, Indonesians, Brazilians, Iranians, etc. We're armed with the same messages. It’s a part of our collective unconscious.

And it goes further. When my twins were born premature, my wife and I survived hourly feedings by reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to each other. Later we read aloud the entire series to our growing daughters and they’ve read the books many times in both official languages. These are deep connections to my partner and my children, shared experiences.

Now try to tell yourself that writing doesn’t matter. That books don’t matter. Remember, that first print run was just a 1,000 copies. And now it connects the planet.

Stories can have great personal impact, too, even at a seemingly superficial level. Fiction that allows the reader to escape is powerful fiction. It can help a reader through some very rough times, never forget that, but that same fiction had to matter to the writer and that starts with it coming from you and you allowing yourself to write it.

So, as 2015 comes to a close, I'm encouraging you to write what's important to you. A story well told can last a thousand years, longer, but for that to happen it has to matter, and that starts with it mattering to you.

Don't dismiss your own writing. Don't allow others to dismiss it. Keep going. This coming New Years, give yourself the gift of unbridled rein to follow your dreams and write.

Michael Stewart is OPL’s  first official writer in residence for teens and tweens. Michael likes to experiment by combining social media with storytelling. He's both traditionally published and indie published. He writes middle grade through to adult novels, graphic novels and new media projects across many genres.

Image: With Zombies

With Zombies

By Stewart, Michael F.
Image: Assured Destruction

Assured Destruction

By Stewart, Michael F.
Image: Script Kiddie

Script Kiddie

By Stewart, Michael F.