Everyone’s heard about her. You would know her as the author of Harry Potter, the most selling fantasy novel series in the history of the world. She’s one of the most richest women in the world, with a legacy that grows every second of every year as more and a more children discover the magic of her writing. What most people don’t know, however, is that once upon a time she was just Jo, newly divorced, mother of a baby daughter and a very poor woman desperate for survival.
This is the not the usual, run off the mill , rags to riches story. This is a story about a woman hitting rock bottom and living to tell the tale.
As far as backstories go, Rowling had a pretty unremarkable childhood. She was born in Scotland, in The United Kingdom, to two unremarkable parents. She was closer to her mother and was always at heads with her father. She was a studious child with a conscientious temper and went to college like all the good children.
After stepping out into the real world was when Rowling’s problems really started. She and her husband, whom she had married early, started having problems. Things became so bad that she had to file a restraint order against her own spouse and soon, Rowling found herself alone, with a little baby by the name of Jessica to look after, with almost nothing to her name.
Rowling then proceeded to hit rock bottom.
She had no money. She had a baby and babies were expensive. She was so poor she had to depend on social security to make sure she could put food on the table and her flat was broken into by burglars. Her mother died.
Rowling said that as a child, a thing that had terrified her had been failure. To have nothing and be nothing, according to her, was worse than anything. And it happened to her and she could do all but nothing, helpless to its assault.
This was the time when Jo became J.K Rowling. She realised she had failed at life, just like she had feared, and that she was still alive and that she could do nothing but to go on like usual, because she still had a daughter whom she adored and an old typewriter and big ideas. She realised that failure helped her liberate herself from the expectation she had burdened herself with and be somebody who she really was, a woman dreaming about a small boy wizard named Harry.
Failure made her a survivor rather than a victim, a realist rather than a fantasist. She had infinite opportunities before her and there was nowhere to go but up.
Her book script was rejected by twelve publishing houses. The last one, the fated one, had a child read the story for evaluation. The child demanded more. The book was published. The rest, as they say, is history.
This is the not the usual, run off the mill, rags to riches story. This is a story about a woman finding freedom in failure.
This is a story about a hero.
“What we achieve inward will change our reality”
-Plutarch, as quoted by J.K Rowling in her Harvard speech.