With seven novels written in 10 years and nearly 50 million copies sold, J.K. Rowling has acquired quite the following. Rarely has a book series inspired such devotion, nerdiness and obsession as Harry Potter.
However, in a recent interview, Rowling confessed she made a mistake in her best-selling books: She should have paired Hermione Granger with Harry, not Ron Weasley. Rowling said it wasn’t a “credible” relationship.
Some fans, who have probably written Harry and Hermione fan fiction for the past five years, felt vindicated. They always knew this was true, but it felt nice for Rowling to admit it in public.
Other fans had never felt so completely betrayed in their entire lives. Ron had always lived in Harry’s shadow, why take away the love of his life, too?
Whether elated or betrayed, fans should agree on one thing – it was irresponsible for Rowling to make this confession.
Yes, Rowling created the story. Yes, she owns full creative rights to it. But she also has a responsibility to her readers that she disregarded when she announced the story was incorrect.
A book doesn’t end once the author publishes it. It’s given to the readers who make the story their own. They apply their individual lives to the story. They imagine lives for the characters outside of the book. It belongs in part to them, now.
What would happen if we found a letter from William Shakespeare confessing it made more sense for Romeo and Juliet to live happily ever after? We would reject the revelation because of how assimilated this story has become in our lives. We feel as though we have become owners of it.
If most authors made a confession such as Rowling’s, no one would care. What J.K. Rowling said is newsworthy because the cultural phenomenon she created has become so large that people actually care about what comes out of her mouth, even after the fact. But, arguably, this means she has a larger responsibility to her fans to respect what the story means to them.
In all honesty, what author or painter or musician wouldn’t go back and change something about her work? But an important part of being successful is learning when to let go.
Yes, the Harry Potter series is Rowling’s baby, but there’s a reason overbearing mothers make us feel very uncomfortable, especially when the children grows up and enter the real world, like college. There’s something admirable and courageous about letting a work stand as it is, allowing it to have a life of it’s own.
So, to J.K. Rowling, enough is enough. It’s time to let go and let the readers have Harry Potter.
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