One of those people who has managed to make millions of dollars from their creative minds is Joanne Kathleen Rowling. She is an acclaimed writer who is well known for her mega best-selling book series of Harry Potter. The series which consists of seven novels have also been turned into eight box office movies and has been adopted by Universal Studios as one of their most attractive rides. From the book success itself, it is estimated that more than 500 million copies have been worldwide since the publication of her first Harry Potter book in 1997. In fact, Rowling was listed in Sunday Times Rich List with a total nett worth of £600 millions in 2016.
Considering such huge success, it may be easy for us to simply think that she is lucky. However, the truth for such success story requires way more than just luck and analyzing a bit deeper into the story behind the scene of J. K. Rowling may help us learn at least four important life lessons.
1. Determination to succeed
Looking into her life as a teenager, Rowling might have seemed more troubled compared to her peers. Her mother was ill and she had issues with her father. Despite the problems in the family, she managed to perform well at school. One of her secondary school teacher recalls that she was not exceptional, but bright. Her A-level tests showed similar fact: she got two A’s and a B. In an interview, she revealed that character Hermione Granger was made based on her own personality at the age of eleven. This suggests what a good student she was! Usually, trouble at home means trouble at school, but in this case, it does not show the usual pattern. Rowling seemed to have the driving force to succeed in her academic life and was strong-willed enough to fight for her future in spite of the domestic crisis she had to face at home.
2. Continue pursuing your dreams, even when you’re employed
Upon her high school graduation, she applied for Oxford, but was not accepted. She then decided to continue her study at the University of Exeter to learn more about literature. In a way, it looks like she had plan B and determination for her academic endeavour, after all. She finished her degree in 1986 and landed on a job at Amnesty International as a researcher and secretary. While working, she kept chanelling her passion: writing. The work was published in a journal of Exeter University. After some time, she moved to Manchester to work for the Chamber of Commerce. She began writing her phenomenal Harry Potter story while working there. Come to think of it, it was pretty cool that she came up with the multi-million dollar idea while working as a regular employee.
3. Ability to see the silver lining and turn ‘lemon into lemonade’
In 1990, her mother died and this sad event is reflected in the first Harry Potter book. The silver lining of this sad event was that she used the feeling of loss to complete the real-life elements of Harry Potter. Well, not only did she turn lemon into lemonade that one time. A few years after the death of her mother, J. K. Rowling’s marriage fell apart and she was held responsible to raise her first child without a job. Back then, she lived on state benefits and was in depression. During this ‘dark’ time, she still managed to change such miserable feelings to her benefit by creating Dementor character in her book.
4. Capacity to face hard times and perseverance
After around a year, Rowling started to pull herself together and get back on her feet. In 1995, she attended a teacher training program and completed the manuscript for the first Harry Potter book. What happened next was quite a common knowledge. She faced rejections from twelve book publishers. It took one year to get a publishing house to accept the manuscript. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was eventually published in June 1997. Several months later, publishers were fighting for the publication rights of the book in the United States. In early 1998, an auction was conducted and Scholastic Inc. paid US$ 105,000 for the book rights. Rowling’s financial life has never been the same since then. Apart from the popularity of Harry Potter, she is, in fact, also well known for her ‘rags to riches’ life story.
All in all, the liveliness of the easy-to-relate characters and interesting plot of Harry Potter books that have fascinated millions of people around the world were born because of the creativity of a tough, determined woman who can create lemonade out of lemon.
“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.” (J.K. Rowling)