J.K Rowling's five reasons to launch a new career
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Harry Potter author J.K Rowling's worth more than $1 billion. She's sold more than 450 million books and will long hold a special place in the history of children's literature.
She doesn't need to work. And she must be satisfied with what she's already achieved.
So why would she want to risk it all by launching a new career as an adult writer?
Unfortunately, the Potter creator herself wasn't available to personally let me know (perhaps next time). But based on the handful of global interviews she's given to promote her latest book, The Casual Vacancy, I've listed five reasons why the author should want to open herself up to the critics, to failure, and to the rollercoaster that comes with putting yourself out there, all over again.
- Her greatest fears have already been realised. Rowling told Harvard graduates back in 2008 that seven years after her graduation day, she had "failed on an epic scale". She was jobless, on welfare and a lone parent following the "implosion" of her marriage. "I was set free because my greatest fear had been realised and I was still alive and I still had a daughter whom I adored and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life."
But failure doesn't stop, it needs to continue. "You can not live without failing," she told the ABC's Jennifer Byrne this week.
- She wants to be a better writer. Rowling told the BBC her ambition as a writer is to get better. "I think you're working and learning until you die," she said. "I can, with my hand on my heart, say I will never write for any reason other than I burningly wanted to write the book."
- She has to write. Rowling loves her work. She's committed to her art and more than a job, it's a relationship -- with the characters and the process. She famously mourned Potter upon finishing the last book, a series she started as a means to emotionally escape the realities of living on welfare and the tragic death of her mother.
- She doesn't have to worry about money. Really, she's fine. Rowling's richer than the Queen, enough said. "I'm not being snotty about that, but I feel quite disconnected from that sort of expectation," she told The Guardian on the need to sell books. Wouldn't that be nice?
- And she doesn't care much about the critics, either. This latest book, says Rowling, is not an attempt to prove her literary merit. And she's not using her second writing career as a means to prove she can meet the standards of those who bemoaned the Potter series.
"I did not sit down to write this novel thinking 'got to prove'," she told the BBC. "Now I certainly don't mean that in an arrogant way, I certainly don't mean that I think, well, you know, I can't improve as a writer. I certainly don't mean that I'm coming from a place of self-satisfaction.
As for those who love the author, what's the worst that can happen? Rowling says she won't be "throwing a party" if the reviews are bad, but she'll live – and perhaps even get back to the wizards.
And finally, a couple of comments that show Rowling really is much like the rest of us.
"I just hate meetings," she told The Guardian on why she wouldn't work with commercial partners like McDonald's, which had put in a request to create Harry Potter Happy Meals.