At stage left, you'll notice a little ticker I've got goin' on featuring Daniel Radcliffe's smudged, bespectacled face. Only, he's not just good ol' Dan, looking all breathless, intense, and eager to get out of a full day's worth of nonstop, "stand here, do this, look this way" etc. etc... He's Harry Potter. Ready to battle the odds, defeat the most dangerous dark wizard of all time, and save the entire world from the tyranny of Death Eaters and a ginormous snake who's doubtless fighting a serious case of indigestion.
This Friday at midnight marks the conclusion of what has been an enormously successful franchise in movie-making history. Whether you are young or old or somewhere in between, I'll be my last dollar you know at least a little about the orphaned boy who found out he was a wizard, went to a wizarding school (some weird name... what was it? Pigsfeet? Dragonsbreath? Ah! Hogwarts!), and proceeded to meet up with two introverts, much like himself, who helped him in more ways than studying for Charms and Potions exams.
|Hermione Granger, Harry Potter, & Ron Weasley|
Harry Potter has, in some way, meant something to you, whether you wanna own up to it or not. If you're a kid, he's taken you on an adventure beyond your wildest dreams, made you believe in magic and elves and stones which can bring one back from the dead. Heck, he's done that very thing with us adults, too! If you're a graphics artist, the movies have wowed you with all their magical elements, scary beasts like trolls and basilisks, and sets that'll make the viewer declare they wanna pack up their bags in suburbia and move to a castle in Scotland. Finally, if you're a writer, there's no turning away from the success that is the fabulous, multi-talented Ms. Jo Rowling (J.K. is merely a pseudonym she used for the first book, so she could easily sell to both boys and girls. I'm thinking it worked!).
Yes, as writers, most of us yearn to touch even a portion of Jo's enormous success. That's why so many of us fans write fanfiction! Yours truly being one of them (look to the right for my personal renditions of what might've happened years later, after the seventh book, sans epilogue). Fact is, the stories spun by Jo are among the most fascinating ever told. A new world, an old concept with a new spin, and elements which each and every one of us can understand. I mean, who at one point in their life hasn't been a frightened child, headed for their first day at a new school? Add on the pressure of making new friends, possibly not knowing what the heck's going on in your classes, this one kid blowing up stuff every time he swishes & flicks his magic wand...
|Harry & Seamus Finnigan in 1st Year Charms Class|
Yeah. We all know what that's like. Except for maybe the last part. So, then, you have to wonder... What can I do in my own writing to equal this incredible burst of imagination Jo had whilst traveling the subway from her first to her second job? (She thought, "What would it be like to fly?") How do create a new version of an old concept? Because, really, that's what we're told the editors and agents want, am I right? Beuller? Beuller? Old concept, new spin. Give us what readers like to read, only make it your own.
Wow. Okay, Madam Editor. Just back off. Here's the thing, guys: I believe you need to throw all that out the window. All right, maybe not ALL of it. But a good portion, I'd say, because this is supposed to be YOUR story. Not what someone wants. Yours. YOU are the artist. Do you really think Jo Rowling was worried about what Madam Elite Editor or Mister Highfalutin Agent thought of her little story about an orphaned boy wizard from Surrey? Heck, no! She BELIEVED in herself. KNEW she was onto something. She just needed the right timing, and the right support group.
|Alan Rickman, Tom Felton, Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Matthew Lewis|
(better known as Professor Snape, Draco, Hermione, Harry, Ron, and Neville) at this year's NYC premiere.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone got rejected twelve times before it was finally take on. If you're a writer, you probably already knew this. As a matter of fact, Jo's agent said to her, "This will never sell. People aren't ready for this kind of a story." But she wouldn't budge. And you know what? It did sell. And people were more than ready. Potterworld is a multi-billion dollar franchise, with not only Jo's books still selling in print and (soon!) ebook, but films and theme parks and prop replicas and hats and scarves and people proudly declaring their houses. (Hogwarts! Slytherin! Hufflepuff! Ravenclaw!)
So, why am I telling you all this? I'm so glad you asked!
1) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2, the final installment in the Harry Potter film series, releases to the public in theaters nationwide this Friday at midnight. Woop! Woop! One of your local stations has doubtless been running every Potter movie over and over for the past week or so. They do this every time, not that I'm complaining. :)
2) I want YOU, whether you are a writer, a teacher, or the busboy at T.G.I.Fridays, to never give up on your dreams. Don't let others tell you what to do. Yes, do take good advice, use it to your advantage. Set goals, achieve them. If you fail--and you will--pick yourself back up, and try again. Believe in your abilities. Go after what society has deemed as impossible, a dreamworld, unlikely for the average Joe/Jill, and do it! Because you can, and you will. I believe it, 110%.
3) I've posted this before, and it pretty much goes with what I said in #3, but I want you to read it again. Plus, it goes in keeping with the whole Harry Potter/believing in your dreams theme for today.
The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.
Given a time machine or 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. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone's total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.
You might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I 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 empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.
Dream on, gentle readers. The only person who can stop you is you. Tell me: When adversity comes your way, how do you face the challenge? Have you had people ridicule you for what you believe in? The goals which you've set for yourself? What do you tell those nonbelievers when they laugh or try to discourage you, etc.?
Peace, Love, Junior Mints, and Harry Potter (and Draco, too, because I love the bad boys),
Quick Note: From this day forward, I will blog on Tuesdays & Fridays, instead of Thursdays. Need a little more time in between. :) Thanks for following and/or reading!