Monday, March 3, 2014

If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Keep Doing It

(Sorry for all those who've seen this post already. Partially because, for some reason, posts posted on Mondays get more views, but mostly because I watched the Oscars last night and I'm way too tired to come up with a coherent, good blog post, I'm republishing this one! Enjoy! (AND HOW ABOUT THEM OSCARS?!)

JK Rowling at the opening of the Anne Rowling Clinic
I do not own this picture, all rights belong to respective owners.

Recently, there was an article about how JK Rowling should stop writing if she cared about it. It's a pretty famous article which caused a lot of say the least.

But I'm here to beg Jo Rowling to keep writing. Adult fiction, I mean (the very genre the article wants her to stop writing).  

Jo is a writer and a human, and like any human, such an article would without a doubt elicit feelings of remorse, anger, confusion, and guilt. Even though the article was wrong and got a lot of angry reactions, the article is still, well, famous. And it's getting attention.

You guys know how I feel about her "The Casual Vacancy." Frankly, I think it's the best Adult Contemporary of our time. A masterpiece only hindered by the expectations of Harry Potter and magic wands. I'm seriously in love with her adult fiction. I honestly don't know how to convey this to you guys, BUT HER ADULT NOVELS ARE SO INCREDIBLY GOOD. Please, please, keep writing them, Jo!

One of the reasons I thought I should address this article is because - other than the fact that this blog has 'Harry Potter' on its heading (maybe I should change it to JK Rowling?) - some of that article's words seem, well, painfully true. In the back of many of our minds, there's a little devil saying, 'Maybe the article is right.' (The general idea of the article, I mean.) Because if one starts reading it, they know it's, well...not credible. But the general idea that successful writers are making it hard to be published is a well-known mentality.

"Aw, man, agents are so busy with their own clients, they don't have time to read queries and offer me representation!"

"Aw, man, that big book company gives all its big advances to its big authors and doesn't give any money to the smaller authors, man!"

But let me show you a graph:

I do not own this picture, it came from here.

(I couldn't find the real graph, so this'll have to do. The shape is all that matters. If you can find the real graph, I'd love for you to comment a link to it below!)

Let's pretend A stands for money made by the authors of a single publisher, and B stands for authors that a single publisher publishes. The most successful authors are near the left, the least near the right of the graph.

Now, see how a very small portion of all the authors are generating the most profits for the publisher? The rest of the 'smaller' authors all together combine to generate about the same revenue as the big authors.

This is what it means:

Publishers basically live off of their big authors. The big authors are the 'safe bets'. They're guaranteed sellers, and publishers give them big advances in order to keep them happy. They make money, no questions asked. Very little to no risk. And this in turn helps the smaller authors because publishers have a good enough buffer to take risks. Debut authors are risks. Without the safe buffer of the big authors, publishers would be incredibly wary to take on any new author. They simply wouldn't be able to afford a loss, especially since the majority of books don't earn back their advances.

Simply put, because of the big authors, we authors desiring to be published stand a chance to fulfill our dreams. So, thank you JK Rowling.

But that's the technical side. The mathematical side. The, "Well, there's an increased probability that debut authors will be published due to the profits made by big authors." But how about the emotional side?

Do you know how big an impact Jo Rowling has had on reading? On writing? On me?

I remember that for about a year or more, all I would ever do is read and reread the Harry Potter novels over and over. When I tried reading something different, most of the time I'd read a page, growl, and put it down. It wasn't as good as Harry Potter, dang it. But once that stage of my life past, I wrote. I wrote, I wrote, I wrote.

Jo Rowling is the reason I write novels. I wrote poetry and short stories and random stuff before (and a lot of it) but I picked up novel-writing as a result of a very conscious decision. I was going through a tough time and needed an outlet. And because of Jo, I thought that writing could be that outlet. And here I am now, hosting a blog in one of the best online communities out there. I love writing.

Partially because of Jo Rowling, I became someone who wants to be published. Jo Rowling has created writers. (Which is a good thing. Being a writer is a good thing. Not a frustrating, anxiety-causing, probably-hopeless-by-all-accounts, why-are-we-even-doing-this-in-the-first-place, thing. (I've almost come to the point where if someone tells me they're a writer, I  put my hand on their shoulder and say, "I am so, so sorry.") In the end, we do love it, though.)

From JK Rowling, I've learned more about characterization, plot, and world building than any other novel (probably because I reread Harry Potter so many dang times and that series is a masterpiece in all three of those categories). She's made me a better writer.

And she's made me a better person. She knows when to act, she's compassionate and caring, and she's down-to-earth. She's my role model.

JK Rowling has contributed SO FREAKING MUCH to writing. If she truly cares about it, she should keep doing it.

(While we're at it, the author of the article has gotten a lot of backlash. It's honestly too much. It's simply one person with one opinion. Although we don't have to agree with it, we don't have to destroy her entire career over one article. What she says at its basest is true: it is very hard to get published. But debuts have been published for centuries, and it'll keep happening. In trying to defend Rowling, let's not destroy another writer.)

So keep on writing, Jo. (And please, please, can you write something like "The Casual Vacancy"? That novel has given me an addiction for good adult contemporaries, but just like in my Harry Potter stage, I can't find anything published in this century nearly as good as "The Casual Vacancy". I might have to go for (another) reread.)

How do you feel about this?


  1. I almost could have dismissed the entire article as a run-of-the-mill case of sour grapes. But what really got to me was her comments about children's literature and how it's somehow beneath adult literature. I have trouble accepting that viewpoint because I don't understand it at all -- what on earth could anyone possibly find wrong with children's literature? Even if they don't like it, it's not like the people reading it are doing anything wrong or anything that affects her (article writer's) life. I will probably never understand people with that attitude, and I wish I could be open minded enough to accept it as her opinion, but I can't. I'm not okay with it.

  2. Jo should most definitely keep writing. It's who she is - and who we love.

    After all, the article (if you could call it that) was written by an ignorant person who was spitting its dummy out of its cot.

    And anyway, I shouldn't think she cares less what people think. She does what she loves to do. And very well at that!

    Good post, SC :)

  3. I. Haven't read Casual Vacancy yet. But I agree that JK has done so much for writing/reading. It's astounding. She inspired me to get moving. Seeing how fun HP was showed me I could do it too.
    Now I have to read CV!!

  4. Hey, the Harry Potter series is what got me started writing too. Writing fan fiction showed me just how much fun it is to write fiction. Writing technical reports still bores me, though.