Dear Lynn Shepherd,
J.K. Rowling is a horrible human being. She is rich and selfish, and wrote a series of overrated pieces of garbage that she clearly ripped off of other writers. She struts around London, Paris, all over the world, thinking that she is better than all of us who are struggling in this down economy. She doesn’t deserve her success, as it is so clearly on the backs of so many millions of people who deserve it so much more than her.
By the way, just kidding.
But since you wrote this, I know it in my bones that you believe much of it. To sum up what you wrote, J.K. Rowling should stop writing because by continuing to do so, she is pushing out other writers who don’t have her success. By your own admission, you have not read any of the Harry Potter books and you think it’s a shame that adults like them.
As Homer Simpson once said, sweet merciful crap.
Writing is the hardest thing you can do while sober and sitting down (me, I prefer a standing desk, but I digress). One of my college professors called it, “a debt of honor.” I am not so sure I’d go that far…oh wait, oh wait, yes I would. In spite of everything, people are reading books faster than they can print them, and KIDS are reading more now then ever before. We have Ms. Rowling in large part to thank for that. People are turning off the boob tube and picking up their Kindles. I, for one, love it. We live in a society of nothing but distractions that cater to a silly stupid collective Attention Deficit Disorder brain…
And you want J.K. Rowling to stop??? Friggin-A, lady, she has children dragging around 700 page books instead of watching the Kardashians and you WANT HER TO STOP???
By your logic, hey there, Mr. Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet was enough. Put down that manuscript you are working on (BY HAND with a gosh darn quill and ink) about a Danish prince who wants to kill his stepfather and let Christopher Marlow take over.
Mr. Spielberg, Jaws and Raiders were good, so don’t bother with that story about the boy and the alien so that the Director of, “Xanadu” can have a crack at it. And forget about that silly Holocaust movie you wish to make someday. And Marty? Well, “Taxi Driver” was cool and all, but there are other filmmakers who want to make films. Let Peter Hyams direct the Jake LaMotta biopic. And go back to the Columbian Nose Candy while you’re at it.
Everything about your open letter is dead wrong. Every. Single. Thing. Right off the bat, look at your title: “If J.K. Rowling cares about writing, she should stop doing it.” Nope. Swing and a miss, yerrr outta there! Sorry hon, baseball reference.
Anyway, if you care about writing, you NEVER stop doing it. You write every day and take no days off, no exceptions (Stephen King even writes on the 4th of July, and the dude is going blind!). If Ms. Rowling didn’t care about writing, she would have stopped after, “Prisoner of Azkaban” and hired other people to write for her. She would have retired to the Virgin Islands and took up spear fishing. Instead, she kept going. If you truly love doing something, you don’t stop and rest on your laurels. You keep pushing and digging and excavating every crevice of your creative soul until someone points a wand at you and yells, “Avada Kedavra.” And not one. Second. Sooner.
Also, news flash, Ms. Shepherd; people don’t just read just one book and then turn on the television. They read several. I’m reading 4 at the moment myself. You know that thing at the end of every book (especially on Kindles and Nooks) where it says, “Did you enjoy this book? Then you might enjoy these 9 other books by authors who aren’t the author of the book you just read.” See? You telling Ms. Rowling to stop writing will have the opposite effect of what you intend.
But back to my point; indeed, it is a competitive marketplace and only so many spaces on the shelves, but Ms. Rowling got people reading again. Please tattoo this on your arm; competition is a great thing that enhances the market and encourages others to try the same. You clearly don’t understand economics and how a free market actually functions to the benefit of all. You don’t get that when the story of the boy who lived became a huge hit, agents, publishers and yes, Hollywood, scrambled to find the next Harry Potter. To Rick Riordan, Christopher Paolini, and yes, Stephanie Meyer, Mr. Potter says, “You’re welcome!”
The market will decide. REPEAT: the free market will decide. Ms. Rowling will continue to sell books as long as they are good. If she gets a big head (it appears that she hasn’t thus far) and stops listening to editors and reader feedback, then her books will become bloated uninspired pieces of garbage and people will move on to other books. Maybe yours, Ms. Shepherd!
You also forget that Ms. Rowling was once a single mother on welfare who had an idea for a book. In spite of everything, she went to work, and it took her over five years to get the manuscript done, during which she struggled with clinical depression and thoughts of suicide. She wrote her way out of a bad situation and into a great one with success, earned satisfaction and a fortune bigger than the queen. She earned it.
Here is a sad, sad truth: Any time someone creates something successful, it is inevitably followed by envious rants and cries of despair badly disguised as accusations of plagiarism. Ms. Rowling certainly had those charges thrown at her like stupid water balloons full of cow piss. When that doesn’t work (Art Buchwald notwithstanding) the Haterade addicts typically then form a chorus line and start belting out the usual one-hit-wonder, “YOU DIDN’T BUILD THAT!” We can thank our misguided Commander-in-Chief for that dilly of a pickle.
Wake up, Ms. Shepherd (you too, Mr. President). Everyone, everyone, EVERYONE uses the same roads, breathes the same air, and in the case of Ms. Rowling, you and myself, it’s likely that we’re all using Microsoft Word. But only one of us had an idea for a boy going to wizarding school and, this is key, executed it the way she did, but it wasn’t me, nor you.
The worst thing about this open letter, in the end, is your complete, utter envy. Jealousy is the worst human emotion that we have been burdened with. Seeing someone succeed when you haven’t hurts. I know, I’ve been there. And when someone asks me what I do, I reply, “Writer,” and that is inevitably followed up with, “Anything published yet?” I cringe every, single, time, when I respond with, “Working on it.”
But working on it, I am, and will be, and I’m never giving up. You haven’t, why should I? And, I might add, you have been published by Random House, and I have not.
Writers like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and Steven Pressfield warm my heart, inspire my hands on the keyboard and push me to keep going. Writers like you make my skin crawl. Pressfield considers writing to be, “A War of Art” and unfortunately, you appear to be the human personification of what he calls, “Resistance.” By the way, buy his book about writing. Now.
Frankly I don’t think Harry Potter’s creator really cares, to be honest with you. Hopefully she will not dignify what you wrote with a response and let the avalanche of negative feedback be enough. If anyone close to her thinks of mentioning this to her, I hope they don’t. She’s probably hard at work on her next book in her huge mansion in Scotland.
So, from now on, I have some advice for you, Ms. Shepherd; please seek a therapist, or a priest if that’s your thing. Either way, keep writing your books and I wish you all the success in the world. The internet just took a big crap on you and I will consider you a goddess amongst women if you get back up, dust yourself off and never give up. Just don’t ever write an open letter like that every again. It’s okay, we all screw up.
PS: To the rest of you reading this “open letter,” when you see someone succeed where you have failed, instead of saying, “Screw them, I hope they fail,” instead say to yourself, “That’s awesome, good for them. How might I do the same?”