Harry Potter and the Fear of Failure

Depending on how big a book nerd you are (and how many Harry Potter figurines you had as a child*), you may or may not know that J.K. Rowlings’ first post-HP book releases tomorrow.

It’s adult fiction this time, and much discussion was had after the announcement, mostly comments about how few authors succeed in multiple genres.

And I’ve wondered this week if it scares her, this new book. I wonder if she worries that no one will like it, that she won’t be able to live up to the expectations, that nothing she ever writes will be so beloved as that wizard boy under the cupboard.

I wonder if she ever experiences that heavy twinge of nostalgia when she remembers the midnight release parties, the millions waiting in lines and gathering excitedly in warm-yellow-lit bookstores, waiting together, sharing tangible anticipation for the stroke of midnight?

Maybe not. Maybe tonight, she’ll just enjoy a cup of tea and go to bed, glad that she doesn’t have to stay up all night.

But I wonder if it’s ever easy to create something you love, and then hand it over to the world. I wonder if we ever outgrow the shaky knees, the self doubt, the am-I-enough’s.

I wonder if the author who wrote what might be the most iconic book of a generation, who inspired songs and art and musicals and intramural quidditch games, is ever scared to write.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

― J.K. Rowling


At least we know the Barnes & Noble employees are grateful they won’t have to spend the morning cleaning the remains of pretzel wands and butter beer lattes.






*Guys, I had drawer-fuls.I had figurines and boxes and a “collectible” edition of the first book. I had bumper stickers that my poor mother had to scrape off my bunk bed and my closet doors and my blue textured walls. Go ahead. Judge me. I won’t blame you.

I’ve calmed down since elementary school, but they still feature prominently on my bookshelf, and as far as I’m concerned, they always will.

Also, I wrote this ridiculously sappy post when the last movie came out. Tumblrs everywhere were all having a collective memorial, like someone had died, and I might have become a tad bit sentimental.

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