Okay, so this is a rant. A writing related, very angry little rant. So, here we go.
This article popped on my news feed yesterday. With a title like “If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It,” I knew I was going to be a bit miffed after reading it. Or that the author was going to be telling some kind of a joke and that we’d all have a good laugh about the title. Nope. Just angry. Just. Angry.
First, the author admits that she’s never read the Harry Potter books. If that’s not your bag, I totally understand that. I groan about the Twilight Saga because I got through the first two and then failed to see the characters going anywhere, so I stopped reading them. I can’t comment on the last few, but I’ll sure as heck giggle about the shell that is Bella in the first two. But this is not a Twilight rant, that’s for another day. This was the quote that started my “wtf” with this article.
I did think it a shame that adults were reading them (rather than just reading them to their children, which is another thing altogether), mainly because there’s so many other books out there that are surely more stimulating for grown-up minds.
Okay, so I’ll say that I started reading Harry Potter when I was young, when it came out, and followed it through. But you know who else did: My mother, father, and older by six years brother. Harry Potter was, for our family, a bonding experience, and one we still share. Standing in long lines at midnight releases and staying up for a day straight until the first reading of the book was done were exciting. And I’ll return to my father for a moment, and her bit about YA books not being “stimulating” for adult minds. Perhaps this is just me being Daddy’s youngest daughter talking, but my father is intelligent. Like, can re-build you a computer, fix a car, and then sit down and try to help you sort out complex algebra and the theories of Hawking. He introduced me to Stephen King, Terry Brooks, and RR Martin. And I gave him Percy Jackson, Artemis Fowl, and Alanna. Why? Because they reminded me of the “grown up” books that he was reading. Granted, I got to read some of them to when I was old enough enough to not cringe at some of the things that King was writing.
The fact of the matter is this, “Young Adult” fiction is not just for the “Young Adult” audience. I was certainly not a part of that audience when the last few Harry Potter books made it to publication, and was near the end of it when I met Tamora Pierce in a Boarders and legitimately cried. And why did I cry? These authors have given me all the lessons I’ve needed to become the person that I am today, and even their new writing continues it. Alanna and Kel taught me that girls could be heroes, and is the reason that I’m a feminist (or equalist if you prefer, but we’re going with feminist right now). Harry, Ron, and Hermione taught me the importance of building strong friendships, and that with them you could overcome insurmountable odds. Draco Malfoy and Severus Snape taught me that you shouldn’t judge a person by their appearances. Or their families. Because that isn’t what defines a person’s character. And these aren’t lessons just for children. Adults can learn from brave young people too, and can enjoy reading their stories. So yeah, if you’re doing it the right way, it’s just as stimulating for a twelve year old or a twelve times twelve year old.
And then there was this:
So this is my plea to JK Rowling. Remember what it was like when The Cuckoo’s Calling had only sold a few boxes and think about those of us who are stuck there, because we can’t wave a wand and turn our books into overnight bestsellers merely by saying the magic word. By all means keep writing for kids, or for your personal pleasure – I would never deny anyone that – but when it comes to the adult market you’ve had your turn. Enjoy your vast fortune and the good you’re doing with it, luxuriate in the love of your legions of fans, and good luck to you on both counts. But it’s time to give other writers, and other writing, room to breathe.
This author is clearly writing for the wrong reasons if she’s concerned with waving a magic wand and becoming an “overnight bestseller”. And that’s certainly not what Rowling was after when she was writing on napkins in coffee shops because she didn’t have money. You do not write because you want to be a superstar, or make millions of dollars. You write because you have a story to tell, and beyond that, you have a story that you want to share. If you can market it, and maybe a few other people will get something from it, then that’s great and you should do it. But you should never be writing a story or poetry for the soul purpose of trying to make money. Because that’s not what storytelling is for.
I guess my point is, telling JK Rowling to stop writing just because she’s good at it and you think she’s making it hard for you to get in to the market is like telling Meryl Streep to stop acting, or Beyonce to stop recording. It comes from a nasty place of envy. And you know what? Those three women didn’t get to where they are overnight. It took time, and it took work. And it took stories that they thought needed to be told and poured every ounce of themselves in to making them audible.
So this would be my plea to JK Rowling: Please never stop writing. People like you, and the wonderful worlds you create (Adult, YA, or otherwise) have made me who I am today. You’ve crossed over generations, and the magic you’ve brought even to just my family and friends is something that no mere “YA” book could do. You write stories that touch people (Even if it’s a little uncomfortably like with Casual Vacancy but dang if that wasn’t still awesome). If the stories you tell can still speak to people, then we’ll listen.