Posts Tagged ‘JK Rowling’

Ahem. It’s not you, it’s me.

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted much lately. Part of that is the inevitable press of other work but before November 2016 I managed. The last couple of years have been harder. Too many distractions. Too much uncertainty. Too much crazy.

Something had to give, and you’ve seen the results in my absence here. (Sadly, I’m not alone.)

That said, I’m still working, still thinking, still writing. Still coming up with things I’d like to post, if I could just find the mental space and time.

When it comes to this blog, I’ve realized something important. The more it helps me do my work, the more I’ll write, here and elsewhere.


New plan. Let’s see if I can siphon off the ideas and thoughts that are spinning around in my head. If I can put them down here, I may be able to focus more on work to be done, and on new projects for the future.

“I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form.”
— Albus Dumbledore


Buckle up, it might get weird:)

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Life is not supposed to be neat. And it’s a comfort. It’s a comfort to all of us who have messed up. And then you find your way back…

— JK Rowling

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A friend with a shared love for Harry Potter sent me a link the other day. Some creative and determined person decided to make a Weasley clock.*
The magical ‘Harry Potter’ location clock exists in DIY form

For those who may have missed this detail from the HP book and/or movie, the Weasley clock is a magical JK Rowling invention that tracks each Weasley family member’s location and displays it on an antique clock face.

Rowling thought it up, and a Muggle made it real. How cool is that?

So with thanks to my friend, today’s installment of #ThingsILike is the real-world power of fiction.


“If you just focus on what you know, you’re blinding yourself to new opportunities.”
— Tyler Jacks, MIT

There are a lot of discussions of this topic out there, both contemporary and historical, but it’s a point I like to touch on periodically. A writer imagines a thing and someone else finds a way to make it real.

That’s magic right there.

This applies to specific items like the clock but also to everything from emotional states to broader goals. Want to generate ideas, stir up communal interest, and apply creativity to complex problems like living in space long-term? Tap the power of fiction:
The White House Wants To Use Science Fiction To Settle The Solar System

How to get into space? Excite the minds of young (and not so young) people with stirring tales of adventures in space. This applies to stories from Asimov, Clarke and other Golden Age of Science Fiction authors, but also to more recent blockbusters like Andy Weir’s The Martian.

The latter was particularly good at building future versions of current technologies, and NASA was happy to help Weir build his fictional (for now) world from the Popular Science article on the support NASA gave Ridley Scott as he turned the book into a blockbuster movie:

If you want to understand why it is that NASA loves The Martian and is so gung ho for this movie, you have to realize that this movie more or less presents exactly their future vision, minus all the drama.


I’ve cited this quote before but it’s so fitting I’ll use it again:

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

That’s the power of fiction.


* There may be other such clocks out there (in fact, I hope there are) but this is the version that caught my attention. Feel free to build more!

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I planned to avoid the kerfuffle around Lynn Shepard’s call for JK Rowling to stop writing, because the idea that Rowling should quit for the good of other writers is flat-out ridiculous. The sensible approach to scarcity isn’t to fight over the last tiny slice; instead, make the pie bigger. Rowling has certainly done that.

Mark Pryor’s article says most of what I was thinking about Lynn Shepard’s essay, and I was glad to see it come out. Here he is on Rowling: “…authors like you actually bring more readers to our books. More books from you means more readers for us, not fewer.”

I do disagree with a point at the end of Pryor’s article, however. The part where the author says that writers don’t write to make money is an old excuse to explain away economic marginalization: “…writers don’t sit down and write books to make money… We write because we love to share our stories.”

It has been said before but bears repeating: Doctors don’t examine you out of the love of anatomy, plumbers don’t fix your pipes for free. Professional writers are, or should be, the same. Yes, most people can “write” in the broad sense of the word, but very few can do it at professional levels. It’s like dismissing an Olympic sprinter because “anyone can run.”

“…this is the sort of thinking, intentional or otherwise, that gives bad people cover to screw writers with regard to money, and gives uncertain writers a reason to shrug off being screwed.”
John Scalzi

Writers have a lot of motivations, and the pleasure of being read is certainly one. But we also write because (we hope) it pays the bills, because it’s less physically demanding than ditch digging, or because we have something to say. We write to entertain, to connect with other human beings, to understand the world and to communicate what we see. We write to make sense of a problem or an emotion and to pass that knowledge along. We write to provide adventure or mystery or humor or a place of refuge. If we do it well (and that’s what we’re all striving for, is it not?), we give to the reader, not the other way around.

And Ms Rowling does it well.


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“…perfection is not necessary to make a real and lasting difference in other people’s lives.”
— JK Rowling

Thank goodness, that’s all I have to say. Because some days the best you can hope for is some small measure of progress. Why, Monday, why?

Time for another cup of tea, methinks:)

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