J.K. Rowling is probably the most successful authors in the world, but that’s not why I chose her for today’s Operation Inspiration. It isn’t her fame or her wealth that inspires me. It’s her tenacity. She didn’t have the easiest life starting off or the best circumstances in which to write, but she didn’t let that stop her. She didn’t let motionless trains, rollercoasters, the absence of Dory (from Finding Nemo), or typewriters get in her way. Not following me? Let me see if I can explain it better.
She took inspiration when it came, and ran with it.
When your train is delayed you can look at your watch and start complaining to other passengers, or you can write a million-dollar book. It’s your choice. Easy right? I know, I’d look at my watch too.
Ok, so J.K. Rowling didn’t know that million-dollar inspiration was about to hit her, but that’s the point. None of us really know what moments will change our lives forever. Most of the time, we walk past those moments because they’re too simple to seem life-changing. J.K. Rowling didn’t know that a moment as simple (and annoying) as being stuck on a train would change her life in as many ways as the moment Harry found out that he was going to Hogwarts.
What would have happened if the only thoughts she allowed to fill her head were complaints? She could have been thinking about all the things she needed to get done, how the lady behind her had an obnoxiously loud voice, or how the person in front of her had smelly pits. If she had only let herself think of how awful the situation was, the idea of a scrawny, bespectacled boy wouldn’t have been able to shove his way past the noise and say “Hey look at me! I may not look like it, but I’m going to be famous one day and I want you to come along for the ride.”
We may not have Harry and the whole world of Hogwarts in our head, but the inspiration that Rowling found on the train reminds me to be open to inspiration anywhere. It doesn’t have to be a magical moment with multi-colored glitter and violin music (actually, can I have one of those moments?). Even a bad situation can bring good things if you’re looking for them.
It wasn’t the best time to write a book, but she did it anyway.
We all have a goal. Maybe it’s to write a book, maybe it’s to write a blog post, or maybe it has nothing to do with writing at all. Whatever our goal, things always seem to get it the way. Things like life. You know that thing that you can’t control, that feels a bit like a rollercoaster without a seatbelt?
Well, J.K. Rowling didn’t let the rollercoaster or the missing seatbelt get in her way. She had just been through a divorced, a move to yet another country, and went through her mother’s passing. She was a single mother staying in public housing and living on welfare. With all of this, it isn’t a surprise that she was diagnosed with clinical depression. She must have felt completely overwhelmed and alone. If anyone had a reason to give up on her dream, it was J.K. Rowling.
But she didn’t give up. She found inspiration even then, in the darkest time in her life. It was her depression that inspired her to create the Dementors. I guess sitting on that stopped train taught her something. Even a bad situation can be inspirational.
She made time when there wasn’t any.
Being a single mom meant that everything, and I mean everything was up to her. She hardly had time to take a five second shower in peace, much less write a 76,944 word book. Most people crash on the couch in an exhausted stupor when their infant finally lays down for a nap, but not superwoman Rowling. She wrote. Most people spend their lunch break searching Pinterest for memes that make you laugh so hard your latte will come spurting out your nose. Not Rowling (granted, Pinterest wasn’t around then…she would have been just as sucked in as the rest of us). She spent her lunch breaks writing. Most people sleep at night, but that wasn’t good enough for J.K. Rowling. Take a guess at what she did. Write. Write. Write.
She didn’t let what she didn’t have get in her way.
Have I ever mentioned that I love my computer? Writing is so much easier with one of those. But what if I didn’t have one? J.K. Rowling wrote her first book on a typewriter. Before that, she wrote everything on something called *gasp* paper. While I like to take a break from the computer screen every now and then and write in a notebook, I must admit that I’m spoiled and would complain if someone forced me to write using only a pen or that clacking monstrosity somewhat similar to a computer keyboard; a typewriter. No Microsoft word? No spell check? No copy paste? This typewriter thing does have google search doesn’t it?
J.K. Rowling didn’t care that she didn’t have the latest thing or the greatest tools to work with. She knew she had a dream and she was going to use whatever she had to achieve it.
So who cares if you don’t have Scrivener, high-speed internet, or a fancy desk. Your dream is worth pursuing. Your story is worth telling. Just be glad you aren’t pecking it out on a typewriter.
She didn’t give up.
She worked on her book for five years. Standing ovation please. That is a long time to work on something with no results. I mean, yeah, she had a bunch of typed pages, but no readers, no followers, and no income. That takes some resolve to work on something for that long not knowing if it will ever be published.
But, she finally finished the book, so the hard part was over. Not. Now all that was left was having the work of your life rejected over and over. Nope, not hard at all. Publishers rejected the book at least 12 times before anyone would take it, and this is after she got an agent to take it (which is another time-consuming, soul-crushing journey).
Because she was willing to take the knocks and not give up, there are now more than 450 million of her books in print and they are read all over the world. Rowling is now Britain’s 13th wealthiest woman—wealthier than even the Queen!
If that isn’t inspiration, then I don’t know what is. I’m ready to be packing the dough. Bring it on!
Ok, so reaching our dreams won’t make all of us millionaires, but it’s Rowling’s spirit that inspires me, not her bank account. She pushed on, even when things looked bleak. In her character’s words…
And those are the words I want to leave you with. When your dream seems impossible and you’re stumbling in the dark, don’t forget to turn on the light!
Does J.K. Rowling inspire you to keep working toward your goals? (If she didn’t, I bet Dory did 😉 ) Leave me a comment and tell me about it.
If you were really inspired by Rowling, Dory, and anyone else who made a surprise visit (yes, I’m glaring at you Gandalf) let your mouse float over to the follow button….Well don’t just leave it there. Click! 🙂
This is part of my Operation Inspiration series.
The button below holds more inspiration than you can take.