The Magic Of Writing Novels: Don’t Stop Believing, by Jenn J McLeod
Last month I discussed dreams – and how family and friends (usually unintentionally) tended to stamp on your dreams. I also introduced you to my standard response for disbelievers – “HOGWARTS!” – and to one of my favourite sayings:
“The moment you’re ready to quit is usually the moment right before the magic happens.”
Sticking to the Harry Potter theme for a minute, let me reiterate…
For a writer, getting published does not involve magic wands. Every step is the result of plain, hard work and, much like Harry Potter’s main characters, some writers have to work harder than others to achieve the same level of success:
- The bumbling Ron Weasley was born into a family of wizards. He hardly had to try (or be too smart about it.) Magic came naturally.
- As a Muggle, Hermione worked hard, not so much at the magic, but at fitting in and always proving to others she was capable.
- Harry had the magic, but he didn’t believe. Raised by an ordinary family, he saw himself as an ordinary boy. He had to be convinced about the magic.
Believing is a message woven through Harry Potter stories, and mirrored in JK Rowling’s own success story. For anyone who has been living under a rock, I’ll explain…
JK Rowling was a single mother facing depression and at the lowest point in her life when she started writing. At the time she saw herself as “the biggest failure she knew.” Her marriage had failed, she was jobless with a dependent child, but she described her failure as liberating:
At the Harvard commencement address, 2008, she said:
“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 to 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 area where I truly belonged. I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized, 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 a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” – J. K. Rowling,
She believed. She didn’t stop believing. She made it happen. (And it’s with her story in mind that I came up with “HOGWARTS” when someone dares suggest I can’t do something!)
You see, we have to believe. Imagine if Harry had missed the Hogwarts Express that day because he didn’t have enough belief in himself or in the magic to reach the elusive Platform 9¾! All Harry saw in the train station that day was a brick wall. Luckily there were people around who did believe in the magic – and in him.
There’s no magic for a writer faced by the impenetrable publishing brick wall. You just have to be courageous. Like Harry, surrounding yourself with people who believe and engaging with an encouraging community of like-minded people (online or face-to-face) can help you break through any personal barriers and self-doubt.
Do you agree? Have you faced your own Dementors? (The type that can suck the determination and self-belief from you.) What sort of writer organisations have helped you? (Online or face-to-face?)
Jenn J McLeod’s author website: www.jennjmcleod.com
Writing Novels in Australia