Monday, March 28, 2011

Having Faith

J.K. Rowling is one of my all-time heroes. Not only do I LOVE the Harry Potter books and think they are timeless, brilliant masterpieces but I also find her extremely compelling as a person. To me, she represents so many things I hold dear: perseverance, determination, grace under pressure, and generosity to name just a few.

I've had the immense privilege of seeing her in-person twice. The second time is probably the most exciting (and I will go into that in a different post) but I wanted to write about the first time, well, first.

It was 2006. I had been out of college for three years and was working a pretty intense office job. I'd been struggling to finish writing a novel that, by that point, I had pretty much given up on since there just wasn't enough creative juice left in me by the end of my work days. I heard about a benefit at Radio City Music Hall that involved three writers: Stephen King, John Irving and J.K. Rowling. Of course, I decided that I must go.

I very much wanted to go with my best friend, Katie (also a huge Jo fan), but she wasn't able to at the time. So I went alone. Because I was getting a single ticket, I got a pretty nice aisle seat in the front orchestra.

The benefit was extraordinarily set up. Each author had their own "set" that reflected their style. Each read a chapter from one of their books and answered some pre-selected questions. Both John Irving and Stephen King were entertaining and delightful.

J.K. Rowling was the last one out. Her "set" involved a gold and red velvet throne-like chair. She wore gold heels that had glittering snakes for straps. She read a chapter from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (the one where we see young Tom Riddle in the orphanage). And--you know what--she seemed just a tad nervous and even a little shy. In other words, she was human and she was just lovely.

Seeing those three writers at that point in my life was vastly important to me. When I got home, this is what I wrote on the back of my ticket:

In case you can't read my prescription pad handwriting, that says: I am a writer. I will never not be one. I just need to keep on having faith.

Within a year, I had quit my intense office job for another less-intense one and I had started working on the novel I'm about to get published. Once I realized that I couldn't stop myself from writing down stories, no matter whether anyone ever read them or not; and once I realized how much those stories made me fulfilled and happy, making sure I kept writing them became one of my top priorities.

Three authors that kept me going as a writer, when I wasn't sure I would be able to, and now there are actually four authors among us.


  1. I went to that benefit too, right after I'd started working for Bloomsbury. I also never forgot Jo Rowling's gold snake shoes! I do remember thinking she seemed a bit nervous; maybe because they set her up as the "headliner" after two amazingly accomplished authors. Sort of humbling, no? :)

  2. Stacy, I can't believe you were there too! I think you're right about her being nervous because she was "headlining" with opening acts Stephen King and John Irving. That is a LOT of pressure.

  3. Thanks for sharing this story. What a great event, and how amazing that you wrote and kept that note to yourself. (Have you read Stephen King's memoir / how-to, "On Writing"? If not, I highly recommend.)

  4. I just wanted to say that I hate you for having met Jo not once but TWICE!! And I feel what you feel about authors giving faith in you and your future and everything (although I don't want to be an author).
    Jo's books have so many life lessons that everyone should meditate on, about love and friends and family and hate and racism and courage and... it goes on and on.