I have SO much respect for JK Rowling.
I can not even describe what the Harry Potter books meant to me and, obviously, millions of others. They spanned generations and bridged cultures. Whole families waited gladly in endless lines dressed up as witches and wizards (I think the parents were just as excited as their kids) for a chance to hold the latest Harry Potter book in their hands at midnight and stay up all night reading until dawn.
I am not joking when I say that at one point I clung to those books like a life raft and Harry Potter literally saved me. I could wax poetic for pages and pages about Harry Potter. I will never write a “review” or post a “discussion” about them because they are so much more than books to me, they have truly become a part of my story.
In case you were wondering how deep my devotion runs: I have a whole Harry Potter section on my bookshelves complete with both British and American additions, a wand from Olivanders (I TOTALLY cried when the actor chose me for a wand), Griffindor scarf and the TriWizard cup my husband and I toasted with at our wedding. I have been known to reread the entire series approximately once every year or so which means that I have now probably read the first book at least 15 times (not kidding).
So why did I feel the need to write today?
Well… after reading Rowling’s confession about Ron and Hermione’s incompatibility I feel it may be worth discussing the role of the writer (artist) in the lives of their work after it is published.
But first, lets just chat about Ron and Hermione.
Really. Why should’t they have been together? I can understand, being an adult myself these days… and a married one at that, how given time and perspective away from a story she might look at those two and say “Yeesh!! what was I thinking?? It’s true that they did not seem perfectly suited to each other and on paper Harry looks like a better match for Hermione. But I don’t think that automatically means they were going to end up in marriage counseling!! And I DONT think this means that Harry was Hermione’s soul mate. They were all kids in the books, Ron and Hermione argued like kids…but they were also best friends who had a lot to give to each other and who shared their childhood together in a way that Harry, being the “Chosen One” did not.
The truth is: people love who they love. Sometimes we fall for someone who is our equal in every way: intellectually, emotionally etc. But just as often we find ourselves bafflingly in love with our polar opposite only to discover that they have a lot to teach us about ourselves and the world. That is who Ron and Hermione were together, opposites, two people experiencing the same (rather traumatizing) circumstances who were able to offer each other (and Harry) a different set of skills and perspective. It is not inconceivable at all that they might have fallen in love. Or that many years down the road with Voldemort behind them they might still find value in the other persons brand of wisdom.
Lets just be honest with ourselves for a second though… Relationships fail for any number of reasons. Maybe you woke up one day and realized you were lying in bed with someone you don’t know or understand at all anymore or maybe you felt like you and your partner were so alike that you could no longer see where you ended and they began… I am no relationship guru…I’m just a woman who loves books but I DO know that relationships are tough and they require a lot of work no matter who you are or how perfectly matched. (Twilight isn’t real Yo!)
But relationships aside, wether you agree with me about Ron and Hermione or not, I think the more important conversation here is about understanding when it is time to cut those apron strings and let your work go.
My husband is a writer, my sister is an artist and in the days before I hit my head, lost my freaking mind and decided to go to medical school…I was a theatre major. I KNOW how personal art is. Especially for a writer…SO much work goes into a single book, literally YEARS of blood sweat and tears… I do not think it is an understatement to compare a book to a Horcrux, it does contain a part of the authors soul and we are having a HP inspired chat after all. With that said I must confess to you that I do not usually like it when an artist “explains” their work to me.
Difficult though it may be; once you have released your work into the world it is no longer yours, it is mine. THAT is the beauty of art and that is how it should be. I (the reader/viewer/listener) have taken your creation into myself mixed it with my own experiences and allowed it to speak to me through the filter of my life. If the work is good it has now become a part of me, just as it was a part of you.
In theatre school one of the lessons we learned was this: It doesn’t matter what you, the actor feel, your heart might be breaking into a million pieces on stage and you can be FEELING all you want….. If the audience doesn’t see it, doesn’t feel it, it didn’t happen.
In the same way once you have given your story over to the reader it no longer matters what you think might have happened to those characters in twenty years (unless you plan to write a sequel…which I will HAPPILY read) If your story is told then it is up to each individual reader to color in the afterlife.
I think that this concept is tough for a lot of artists and I think that Rowling is probably one of them. I am not unsympathetic. Like I said, I know that works of art are a little (or a lot) like your children. They are representations of you and it is understandable that it would be hard to let go. But like children, they grow when they are exposed to other people, they become bigger than the parameters of the world you imagined for them. It is not fair to the story and it’s new owners to revisit it time and time again trying to tweak little things, rewrite history or backtrack on decisions. PLEASE please let’s learn from the mistakes of George Lucas and just let it be. Go tell a new story, build us a new world and use that life and energy to give us all another reason to curl up on our couch and read from dusk til dawn.