There’s a place in cyber space that we bloggers like to hang out come the weekend, and its affectionately known as the Pink Fibro. The lovely Al hosts a “weekend rewind” where old blog posts are showered with new love. For bloggers, its like lovingly dusting off an old memory and re-sharing with the world.
The theme for this weekend relates to November posts, which for me was when I was exploring my obsession with all things Oprah Winfrey and all the things I know for sure. And one of my most treasured is the Ms O interview with the inspiring authoress JK Rowling.
It was June 2008, Harvard Commencement Speech, where arguably the world’s most successful author, JK Rowling imparted some of her most powerful words of wisdom – those that were not in print on the pages of her equally famous books – to an enthralled audience:
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all”. She reveals, “My greatest fear had been realised – and I was still alive”. You see, the woman christened Joanne Rowling, faced rejection 12 times with her wonderful tale of wizardry. But thirteen soon proved a lucky number and Harry Potter was to be in print. Now, 400 million books sales later, translated into 69 languages in 200 countries, the final book in the series has the auspicious honour as the fastest selling book of all time.
Rowling is, as Oprah announces, “the first self made billionaire author in history”, who went from utter obscurity, living in borderline poverty, and dealing with clinical depression and life as a single mother; a time where she acknowledges she was “barely hanging by a thread”, to being hailed as “the Queen of the Publishing World”. She can now lay claim to an enormously successful literary empire, the likes of which has been responsible for reignited a passion for reading, an imagination, amongst the world’s youth. Indeed, its no stretch to proclaim that one-day, every child in the world will know the name Harry Potter.
Jo, who was requested to make her pen name the initials JK, so as to also appeal to the male readership market, was, surprisingly, like many wannabe writers, also one to suffer attacks of self doubt. She acknowledges being a writer was “all [she] ever wanted to be” – deep down she knew there was the undeniable fact that she could tell a story – it was just a small process of finding the right tale to tell. And when she did discover it, aboard a train en route from Manchester to London, the floodgates opened. “It was the thing I was meant to write”, she recounts with a sincere simplicity, even though she admits writing for children was never something she had given much thought to. Little would she know that it would be many generations who would lose themselves in her magical make believe world of wizardry…
We share quite a few similarities (one unfortunately, is not our bank balance!) and appear to have harboured so many of the same dreams. We’re both been rather terrified of cars, previous to being published she was, as Oprah tells us, leading a“modest life as a secretary in London”, and most compatible of all, we both share a love of words. But where the similarities end, is that she conquered her fear of failure and finally found success. Many of us (ok, ME) are living “in a straightjacket of our own making”, scared to dip our toes into the rushing waters of life, lest we don’t manage to swim to shore. She happens to think failure is a beautiful, blessed thing, because it makes the reward, when it finally comes (as long as you have the self belief and resolve), all the more worthwhile.
So what I know for sure, during this most memorable of hours spent ensconced in the delight that is viewing the Oprah Show, is that JK Rowling can be an inspiration to anyone who feels they too have a tale to impart to the world, yet still struggle under the murky depths of self doubt.
And what she knows for sure, as she recounted to Oprah, during the final minutes of the enlightening interview (of which Oprah announces with heartfelt honesty, that she just has had so much fun chatting to one of the most respected women in the world – it was a dynamic meeting of mutually great minds) is that love conquers all. And that is some sort of rich belief to cling to, when you have beared your soul to God in the face of utter despair, many, many years before. “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life”: a simple, yet profound statement that furnishes for so many of us, a hope that we too can overcome our own personal obstacles in our individual pursuits of success.