“…Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged” – J.K. Rowling
She is as one of the world’s most successful authors. Many people simply know her as the woman who created Harry Potter. But, what most of us don’t know is what she went through prior to reaching her vision. Her life was not a bad of roses. She struggled tremendously. “I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless”. Does it sound easy for you?
In 1990, Rowling first had the idea for Harry Potter. While she was on a train from Manchester to London fully formed idea suddenly came into her mind. She started a long process of creating a Harry Potter‘s world. Later that year, her mother died after 10 long years of fighting Sclerosis.
Two years later she moved to Portugal to teach English. She got married and had a daughter. In 1993, her marriage ended in divorce and she moved to Edinburgh, Scotland to be closer to her sister. At that time, she had just three chapters of Harry Potter in her suitcase. When she finally finished those first three chapters, she sent the manuscript off to publishers but one after the other they quickly turned her down.
“I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be”.
Broke single parent
Rowling saw herself as a failure at this time. She was a jobless, divorced and broke single parent. Suffering from depression, she eventually signed up for government-assisted welfare. She was in a very dark place and in a very difficult time in her life but she pushed through those adversities. “Failure meant 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 into 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 arena I believed I truly belonged”.
Somehow, she found determination and courage to finish her work. She sent it to other publishers, but again, the answer was no. Her mailbox filled up with rejection letters, but she was far from being over.
After sending her manuscript to 12 different publishers and getting rejected by every single one, she began losing confidence in her book.
A year later the editor Barry Cunningham from Bloomsbury publishing house read the manuscript. And so did his 8 year-old daughter. The little girl loved the opening three chapters so much, that she begged to read the whole thing. This made Cunningham to agree to publish Harry Potter. Bloomsbury made a deal and paid a very small £1500 advance to Rowling. The book was published in 1997 with only 1000 copies, half of which were distributed to libraries. Rowling was given an advice that she should get a day job, because she wouldn’t make any money writing children’s books. Once Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published, she simply proved everyone wrong.
107 million copies
The book won many awards including the British Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year. J.K. Rowling herself went from being a jobless single mother living off unemployment benefits to one of the bestselling authors of all time. But it didn’t happen overnight. She faced rejection and constantly strived for success. She worked hard at her craft before anyone noticed her. That practice, along with strengthening herself against rejection, was what made her work unforgettable. Looking back, the Harry Potter series has earned over $400 million in book sales only. With a 107 million copies sold, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the 5th on the list of bestselling books in the history. Rowling is the first female to become a billionaire author.
If you have a dream or a passion and you keep getting rejected or running into failure, don’t let that stop you. If you’re going through a tough time in your life, but you’re working on something you really believe in, don’t give up. If you do, you’ll never know what could have been. Who knows, where you can end up. “As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters” – J.K.Rowling
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