Saturday, July 31, 2010

Happy Potter Day!

Happy Birthday JK Rowling and Harry Potter!

If you haven't already, please check out our Birthday Contest a couple of posts below.

To celebrate the life of JK Rowling, and the richness of imagination she has shared with us, I've posted below a few quotes from her that focus on writing and her inspiration. Enjoy!

  • (On whether she has unpublished works): Yes, quite a lot, though none of it is published (which is no loss, I assure you). The first things I wrote were the Rabbit stories, which were about a rabbit called Rabbit. I wrote them between the ages of six and eight. Then when I was eleven I wrote a novel about seven cursed diamonds and the people who owned them. Since then I’ve written loads: short stories, bits of novels for adults, all kinds of things.

  • The five years I spent on HP and the Philosopher's Stone were spent constructing The Rules. I had to lay down all my parameters. The most important thing to decide when you're creating a fantasy world is what the characters CAN'T do. - Southwest News Interview, July 8, 2000

  • It took me a long, hard five years to complete The Philosopher's Stone. The reason so much time slipped by was because, from that very first idea, I envisaged a series of seven books - each one charting a year of Harry's life whilst he is a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And I wanted to fully sketch the plots of all the stories and get the essential characteristics of my principal characters before I actually started writing the books in detail. - TheStar.com Interview, November 3, 2001

  • Whenever Jessica fell asleep in her pushchair I would dash to the nearest cafe and write like mad. I wrote nearly every evening. Then I had to type the whole thing out myself. Sometimes I actually hated the book, even while I loved it.

  • Only once have I sat down, written something end to end, and let it stand. That was the chapter in Philosopher's Stone when Harry learns to fly. - BBC Interview, Fall 2000

  • There were many different versions of the first chapter of 'Philosopher's Stone' and the one I finally settled on is not the most popular thing I've ever written; lots of people have told me they found it hard work compared with the rest of the book. The trouble with that chapter was (as so often in a Harry Potter book) I had to give a lot of information yet conceal even more. There were various versions of scenes in which you actually saw Voldemort entering Godric's Hollow and killing the Potters and in early drafts of these, a Muggle betrayed their whereabouts. As the story evolved, however, and Pettigrew became the traitor, this horrible Muggle vanished.


  • When we were editing 'Philosopher's Stone' my editor wanted me to cut the scene in which Harry, Ron and Hermione fight the troll. Although I had accepted most of the smaller cuts he wanted me to make I argued hard for this one. Hermione, bless her, is so very annoying in the early part of 'Philosopher's Stone' that I really felt it needed something (literally) huge to bring her together with Harry and Ron. - JKRowling.com

  • I wrote what I thought was half the book and suddenly realized that there was this huge, gaping hole in the middle of the plot ... The whole profile of the books got so much higher since the third one and there was an edge of external pressure. - The Wizard Behind the Harry Potter

  • It took a year for my agent, Christopher, to find a publisher. Lots of them turned it down. Then, finally, in August 1996, Christopher telephoned me and told me that Bloomsbury had ‘made an offer.’ I could not quite believe my ears. ‘You mean it’s going to be published?’ I asked, rather stupidly. ‘It’s definitely going to be published?’

  • So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

  • So given a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement.

  • Though I personally will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

  • Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places.

  • One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.

  • ...we touch other people’s lives simply by existing.

  • We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

  • (In quoting Seneca): As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.
I hope you find these as informative and inspirational as I have. Please, share more. What are your favorite quotes from JKR as they relate to writing, imagination, or inspiration?

Sources: JKRowling.com Accio-Quote Harvard Magazine Veritaserum Quips and Tips for Successful Writers For more on JKR on writing: JK Rowling's Commencement Address at Harvard (A MUST read!) WordCount article by Michelle Rafter
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