When I opened my email this morning, I was greeted with a message to check out a new post by a blogger I follow, Cristian Mihai. His lovely post this morning is on a topic which means a great deal to me. Entitled, The book that changed everything, for me this sentiment cannot be more true.
For those who meet me in real life, the importance of this book can be ascertained from only a conversation or two with me. Seriously. I talk about it, think about it, read about it, live it, every single day of my life.
That book is in fact, not a single book but a series. I give you, Harry Potter.
Yep. All that lead up and I’m sure that there will be a few who read this who scoff at a children’s series meaning that much to anyone. But I will confess right now, that every time I read those books, every time I watch the movies, or the musicals (did you know there are musicals?), or listen to the music (wizard rock), I cry. I cry with joy, with sorrow, in pain and laughter. I have poured my heart in soul into this book series, and what has grown since I was ten years old into a fandom of epic proportions.
Prior to being introduced to the first book, at the time there were only three out, I hated reading. I hated books. I hated sitting down and being forced to learn. Harry Potter was the first book that I read, which spoke to me. It came off the page and was real before I even finished the first chapter. I loved it and subsequently I found it necessary to seek out that realism, that emotion invoking power in literature anywhere that I could. I became that kid who went to the library twice a week and picked up half a dozen books at a time, and actually read them. A book or two a night, and soon, I had a whole collection of books which whispered to me, varied as their messages might have been, but none spoke so clearly or powerfully as Harry Potter did.
From there it was only about a year later, (at eleven years old) when I decided that even though I had found many new friends within the pages of story books, I couldn’t forget Harry, Ron, or Hermione, and I couldn’t wait for the next book. Enter fanfiction. Harry Potter fanfiction was just beginning to boom on the internet and I soon found myself creating my own, albeit poorly written, adventures with my friends. I could escape to Harry Potter whenever I wanted, and others could comment on my work, and my plots and make suggestions. Soon, I wasn’t just revisiting people and places I knew, but making up my own. I kept writing HP fiction among others, but the pile of short stories and half conceived novels had begun to grow.
In bursts and fits I continued to write and I read voraciously all through grade school and high school. Hours and hours were devoted to crafting my own stories, but I still spent a ridiculous amount of time revisiting my Hogwarts pals to find inspiration and faith in myself and the world. I even went so far as to take a community college class at fourteen in an attempt to learn more about creative writing.
When the theme park opened, I planned a trip and showed up within two weeks. Btw, it was awesome. When I studied abroad in France my junior year of university, if I felt depressed or lonely, I watched and rewatched the Harry Potter musicals and reread the books in French. My senior year in college, my small single was covered floor to ceiling in HP posters. And two months ago, I took a Greyhound bus for 30 hours to attend Leakycon, a four day Harry Potter convention in Chicago.
Clearly, as I’ve grown older, even graduated from college, my childhood love has stuck with me more powerfully than anything else in my life. I can mark the dates of my life based around my involvement with Harry Potter events, such as book or movie releases and important Fandom events.
Even now, with a nice shiny diploma which has absolutely nothing to do with creative writing, I plan to work as long and hard as I must to publish the works that I’ve been writing for years. When adults ask me who I plan to write for, I say young adults, teens, children. Why? Because I want to do for them what J.K. Rowling did for me.
To provide an escape from divorced parents and alcoholic abuse, to give comfort when other children are mean, to develop courage when the day becomes dark and to say that with enough love and hope and faith, in yourself and the world, you can achieve anything. You can fight the bad guy, prove yourself in front of a crowd, outwit the bully, get good grades, find help and hope if you only look hard enough, and to teach them the morals which have become so deeply ingrained in me.
Maybe these are children’s books, and maybe as an adult I should grow up and move on, but I’ve seen the difference in people who have been schooled by this woman and her incredible story as I have.
A common topic between fans I met at that conference, where nearly 4,000 people were in attendance, was that no matter who you are, where you come from, and who you’ll become, we love you. Why? Because we’ve lived this crazy ride and it’s changed our lives.
My love of writing and reading aside, I personally found comfort not to crumble in the dark times of my life because of these books and they are my rock. More important than family or friends that I’ve had over the years who’ve betrayed and faded, these books are immortal and I love them.
Oh dear god, I’ve gone on for forever and still I think I could go on for another three hundred pages.
Well. Please dear reader, is there a book which has changed your life, influenced you in ways which nothing else has, please share it’s name or a link to your own post on this topic in the comments below and I hope you find happiness between the pages of a lovely book as I did.