I’ve reread Harry Potter too many times to count since the books have been released. I tend to read the final scenes of the seventh book just when I’m feeling down.
These books inspire me in a way that I haven’t felt inspired by books in some time. After setting a goal to read 35 books in the 2016, reading lost some of it’s luster. It felt like a chore again — too much like school, like I was always trying to catch up.
So I picked up Harry Potter again so I could be cleansed.
And these past couple months, revisiting Hogwarts and the characters it houses, has instilled a new fire within me, another creative resurgence. It was a reminder I forgot I needed — to be brave, to hold friends close, and to keep trekking on because there’s no other option.
I usually end up feeling a void after reading the last chapters. No matter how many plays or movies are coming out now, Harry’s story is over, or rather, he’s done what he had to do and I can’t change it. I long for more midnight releases and more Potter conspiracy blogs (was Dumbledore’s death actually a plan?!?, etc.).
To fill that void I headed to Youtube where I found a conversation from 2011, between J.K. Rowling and Steve Kloves, the man who adapted the books for film. What I found there was an extremely interesting exchange about the writing process and the differing experiences these two writers had — both writing for the same cast of characters but for two different mediums. Each writer had freedoms the other didn’t and vice versa. They were in constant email conversations to overcome a 12-hour time difference.
And while the films and the books have slightly different narratives, one thing was more important than anything — that they were both true to the characters.
And it was the discussion of these characters that really intrigued me. Rowling knew she liked and could work with Kloves as soon as he revealed that Harry was not his favorite character — Hermione was. They talked about how a girl, armed with books and a thirst for knowledge is a hero in her own right.
Their discussion of Harry was even more interesting to me. They talked about how Harry is really just a vessel. We are introduced to a world of magic through the eyes of a boy who knows nothing about it. To use his own words, he’s “just Harry.” There is nothing remarkable about him.
It’s this very unremarkable-ness that has made him so appealing to people all over the world. He’s a vessel for us all to project ourselves and our own experiences onto. We find hope in his ordinariness, a hope that we too can make a difference.
Hearing these writers talk about their craft and not just the story, but the very practical reasoning behind every little detail reminded me that writing is extremely technical.
Maybe all of this is what’s up with me and my writing kick lately. Maybe that’s what’s behind my desire to stop thinking of it as a “writing kick” and start thinking of it as a career.
Because this time around I wasn’t rereading the books and watching the final movies right as I was graduating from high school, when it felt like the end of an era – my childhood. This time, I read it with the rest of my life before me, having had a taste of independence, and longing for a sign to lead me in the right direction.
I got the sense that these books will always be relevant to me. They’ve got lessons buried deep in those pages that I won’t find until I need to find them.
I’ll probably be rereading these books for the rest of my life.