Monday, February 3, 2014
Every newsfeed in the land was abuzz with J.K. Rowling confessing to second thoughts about how she wrapped up the Harry Potter series, and specifically about whether Harry and Hermione should have gotten together. The full interview has not yet been released, but that hasn't stopped the Internet from having a collective freakout, with some people agreeing and some people thinking everything turned out just fine thankyouverymuch.
From the quotes that have been released, it sounds more like she felt like she forced the Ron/Hermione relationship more than flubbing the Harry/Hermione relationship.
Count me in the camp that feels that a lack of chemistry between Harry and Ginny was a bigger problem than an unfulfilled desire to see Harry and Hermione get together, but setting that aside, there's a lot that this reveal tells us about the writing process.
1. Even J.K. Rowling has second-thoughts about her plotlines
Writing a novel can be such a confusing mess. At the end of the day you have to just pick something and go with it, but those nagging second thoughts might never go away.
By the time you read a good book it feels like canon, like it sprung forth fully-formed from its writer. You get lost in it and don't think about all of the difficult choices the author had to make, all of those times when the author went with their best guess about what would work with no prior knowledge of whether it really would make sense and be the best plot.
Second-thoughts and doubts are totally normal. You might feel like you're barely holding things together, and you wouldn't be alone.
2. It's hard for authors to see their works clearly
It's hard to get a sense of the forest from the trees when you spend hundreds of hours getting one inch of bark right at a time. Authors are so deeply immersed in their worlds, see them on such granular levels, that it's hard to have the distance to make the right choices. Or, even if you make the right choice, you might not even be quite sure why.
This is why editors exist. They can take a more objective look and see the forest and help guide writers to make the right choices.
In this case, whatever her second thoughts, I don't know that Rowling was wrong about how she ended up writing the books. Even many years after the series closed I'm sure it's difficult to see things clearly.
3. Authors and readers and books have an uncomfortable relationship
The other day, John Green tweeted that books belong to their readers. Which is true as it goes, (especially if they have purchased them), but books also belong to their authors. What J.K. Rowling says about her works really does change how we look at them.
When Rowling said that Dumbledore was gay that carried a whole lot more weight than if anyone else had said it. Nothing changed in the text, but it certainly changed how people interpreted the books.
The reading experience is ultimately up to the reader, but what the author thinks and says about their work really does matter.
What did you think about this revelation?