It’s easy to forget that your favorite books were once a draft, an incomplete manuscript, a sliver of an idea conceived on a train. When you hold a book in your hands, you don’t often think of everything the author struggled through to get that book to you. It’s difficult to imagine a world in which a world-famous author struggles with something as common and human as writer’s block.
On Twitter last week, J.K. Rowling opened a door to that world, admitting to the difficulties she faces everyday as a writer. She told the Twittersphere on Thursday, “Upon rereading, the best I can say about today’s writing is that I got my second best Tetris score.” The tweet received thousands of retweets and favorites, obviously, and responses from aspiring and established writers alike. Even Sarah Dessen, the well-known author of The Truth About Forever and several other YA books, responded with her own writing troubles.
One Twitter user’s response even received a personal reply from J.K. Rowling. A user by the name of Lirit wrote, “I have been writing like that for a week….I think I have re-written a single chapter forty times because I can’t get it right…how do you get passed that?”
The famous author responded, “Chapter 9, Goblet of Fire nearly finished me. I rewrote it more times than I can now remember. You’ll get there.”
For those of you who don’t have the contents and context of every single Potter book memorized, first of all, shame on you. Second of all, the ninth chapter of Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire is an absolute whirlwind of a chapter. After Ireland wins the Quidditch World Cup, Harry, Hermione, and the Weasley clan return to their campsite to sleep. They are woken later to a chaotic scene– Death Eaters are levitating muggles, Draco Malfoy is sneaking around in the forest, and a house elf somehow gets ahold of Harry’s wand. The most important thing that happens, though, is the Dark Mark, the symbol of the Death Eaters and Lord Voldemort, appears green and glittering in the night sky. There are a lot of tertiary characters included in this chapter: Ludo Bagman, Winky the house elf, Barty Crouch Senior, and Amos and Cedric Diggory. It gets a bit confusing and muddled, and Harry is often just as disoriented as the reader.
After reading just the Sparknotes (yeah, sue me) for this chapter, I understand why it gave Rowling so much trouble. But I also understand how crucial it is. This chapter plants seeds that grow throughout the rest of the book, details that come back later, and also serves as some heavy foreshadowing.
Much like her initial tweet, many were quick to reply to this inside information on Rowling’s writing process. A user named Alex Hodges wrote back, “On tough days at work ill remind myself of the bandwidth it took to write the entire HP series, and that you did it flawlessly! Thank you”
Rowling replied humbly and graciously, focusing on Hodges’ use of the word ‘flawlessly.’
“Certainly not flawlessly, but I did it. Never wait in expectation of perfection or you’ll wait forever. Do the best you can with what you’ve got and be one of those who dared rather than those who merely dream. And thank you x,” she wrote. Of all the tweets from this thread, this one received the most retweets, spreading her writerly knowledge throughout the far corners of the Internet and the world. Her initial, lighthearted tweet about Tetris snowballed beautifully into an inspiring slice of advice for writers. And I don’t know about you, but I smell some ‘Be one of those who dared rather than those who merely dream,’ merchandise in the future. I’m talking T-shirts, posters, magnets, the works.
Featured Image Via wellandgood.com