RE: If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It

Rowling_TelereadYou’ve probably heard about this article over at Huffington Post or maybe you’ve read it already. It’s creating quite the buzz. Essentially the writer of the article, an author herself,  feels that because J.K Rowling is such a huge success and if she truly loves writing, she should retire so other writers can take a shot at success. You can imagine why this is creating such a noise. At first I thought it was a tongue-in-cheek piece, but all the evidence points to the contrary. She also riled me with this little nugget:

I didn’t much mind Rowling when she was Pottering about. I’ve never read a word (or seen a minute) so I can’t comment on whether the books were good, bad or indifferent. 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.

It angers me that there are people out there who would shame others for their choice in books or who would tell others what they should read or enjoy. I hate this elitist crap. It has no place in a book lover’s world. A true book lover’s world. And you know what, Rowling, in my opinion, instilled a love of reading in millions of people of all ages. That is quite the achievement.

I love to read and I read a lot. Authors do not compete for my dollars. My taste and mood determine what I read. In fact, I strongly believe that authors do not compete with each other. The notion that we do is a fallacy. I think the writer’s resentment is wrongly focussed. There could be many reasons for her writing this piece. Maybe it’s to get eyeballs on her work, following the “any publicity is good publicity” route, or she is harboring some actual resentment. I don’t know. It sounds like resentment, though. What I do know is that Rowling worked hard to get where she is today. Her circumstances wasn’t the best, but through sheer determination she carved a place for herself on top of that mountain. I will never begrudge Rowling her success. I will never begrudge any writer their success. Rather, it’s a cause for celebration.

I didn’t intend to leave a comment when I read the article, but I did anyway. This is what I wrote:

“I’m saddened by this article. Surely you must have known the reaction it would cause. The fact that you haven’t read her Potter books, or that you’re telling people what they should read or enjoy only further cements this feeling. As an author, and I’m going to assume reader (though you’re obviously limited by your tastes), you should know that writing isn’t a zero-sum game. Another author’s success won’t hamper your own attempts, nor will it prevent people from reading your work. Like most readers out there, I don’t buy just one book a year, or even one a month. I read a lot which means I buy a lot. So, her success isn’t preventing you from being read. Attitude and writing style and story are your enemies. And as enemies they are formidable. They could have minions, I suppose, but that is a different discussion. Anyway, I don’t know you at all nor have I read anything you’ve written which means I don’t know if you’re being tag-teamed by all three these bad guys. So what I suggest you do, and please know, this is only a suggestion–I won’t ever dare to tell anyone what to do–but get your defenses up, and protect yourself from these tag-teaming cowards. They have this thing where they color your lenses, twist your perception of reality. I suspect that’s mostly Attitude’s doing. He’s a slimy bastard that one. But don’t fret, there are weapons you can use. Rowling harnessed those and she won.”

I felt a little better afterwards. Posting the comment deflated my surly mood, but only for a short while. Her words kept bugging me, and so I blogged about it hoping that writing would get it out of my system. Hopefully this will be the end of it.

My apologies for the tone of this post. I just believe that writers shouldn’t fight each other. We should celebrate each other.

Woelf

14 thoughts on “RE: If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It

  1. Her article came from a place where fame and success is all she thinks about. Any writer/author who truly loves writing does not seek any of those. All they want is to be read, and being read has nothing to do with Rowling taking a space on a shelf.

    1. Hi, Jeyna. I agree with you, but I’d like to add some context, if I may. As a writer I’d like to be read, but I also want to support myself with my writing. To achieve this more people need to read my work. The one feeds the other. Thus, for me success would mean being able to afford to write full-time and having my own loyal readership. For others, like the writer of this article, it means fame and glory. It could be that they are both the same with scope being the only difference. Thanks for commenting.

      1. That’s true. For sure we would love to go full time if possible. But I guess the way she approached Rowling and her works emphasized on fame and money. One does not need fame to reach success :) Or at least fame on the scale of Rowling.

  2. I don’t understand why someone would go to such lengths to criticize another author except for jealousy. In my opinion, any book that gets people reading and talking deserves at least some respect. I make jokes about Twilight and 50 shades because they are not my cup of tea, however, I know several people who started on those and found their love of reading. They’ve moved on to experiment with several varieties of authors and genres all because of one book. I am another who buys several books a month, even a week, but I can say that Lynn Shepherd will not be an author I spend my hard earned money on.

    1. That is my point as well. We all have our tastes, but you don’t shame someone for liking something you don’t. And it is true, 50 Shades will have its place in history and it served a purpose just as Twilight did, and you know what, it is awesome that those authors found so much success. It’s inspirational! In my previous post I spoke about getting kids to enjoy reading and then this happened. I grew up reading comic books, and I seem to have survived with my brain still intact (well, I hope so). Reading is reading and Rowling has done a lot to foster that. Whatever Shepherd’s intention was, it certainly did not involve increasing her readership. Thanks so much for commenting.

  3. We are Writers. It’s what we do. A Writer can no sooner stop writing as she could stop breathing.
    The random individual who posted the article needs to re-think her process because really, if every successful Writer stopped writing just to make way for the rest of us lesser known individuals, the world would be a cold and empty place.
    It gives me joy to read. I swear I’d die if suddenly, my favourite authors decided they’d take a break just so I could shine.

  4. Urg.
    She should just go jump or something.
    We are Writers. It’s what we do.
    I love reading and I swear if the authors of the books I enjoyed decided to step aside for the up and comers like me, I’d kick them. I draw my inspiration from what I read, it expands my mind and my vocabulary.
    My world would be a dull place if things were done the way she wishes them to be done.

    It’s like telling a doctor to stop saving lives because he’s saved too many.

    (Shaking head and throwing bricks)

    1. Thanks for reblogging. I get your anger and frustration. When I read that article I felt like I had swallowed a rock and it was stuck in my throat. The writer’s reasoning is flawed. She thinks authors compete with each other. We don’t. There is plenty of room for everyone. As readers our appetite for reading is limitless. No matter how many books we consume, there will always be a want for more. I truly believe writers should celebrate each other. When we write we go on journeys, some very personal journeys. We explore our feelings about life and love, question our motivations and unpack it, and whatever we find, whether it is answers or just more questions, we dump it out onto the public floor for everyone to see to judge and criticize, and, hopefully, to enjoy and inspire. This takes courage. Writers attacking writers is the last thing we need.

      Thanks for your very passionate comments.

  5. I understand your feelings, Wolf. But don’t join the dark side. Enjoy the richness offered by the books you already have read. And those who will come.

    Sometimes, there are people out there envious of that what others have reached. Don’t sing their song.

    By the way: I search for beautiful fantasy books. Do you have any recommendations, sir?

    Cheers, nic

    1. Hi Nico. Thanks for the visit. Don’t worry, I won’t join the dark side, though that may be a relative term. I find that writing about this mess and discussing it is therapeutic. Besides, I don’t attack Shepherd’s character, only criticize her conduct.

      As for a beautiful fantasy book, I’ve heard The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is unputdownable. In fact, I’ve heard many great things about it and the people who have read it are quite verbal about it. That must mean something, right? I’ve read The Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence. I loved it, but I’m not sure if it would qualify as a ‘beautiful’ fantasy. Its more gritty and rough with somber imagery. I also enjoyed The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett. I hope this helps.

      Thanks for commenting.

  6. Crazy, just seems jealous to me. And not having read the Potter books and still says adults should not be reading them? They’ll be classics.

    I think the comment you wrote was spot on. Writing is about writing. Not about money. Though I would not turn any down for my work, of course!

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