Tuesday, July 19, 2005

But, baby, it ain't over 'til it's over.

It began late last night, the longish wait for HP7.

It is these endless intervals between books that make JK Rowling's world interesting/ intelligent/ worthwhile. These days of conversation, and speculation. These moments of utter conviction that she's McDonalded The Lord of the Rings into some cheesy Happy Meal accompaniment. These hours of wondering how anyone -- anyone! -- could sell ten million hardcover copies of a book within twenty-four hours of release.

There's stuff to learn from all of this, I'm convinced. (This is me, life-long believer that you can learn something from anything.) Single mom writing book in coffee shop can become a household name the world over. A generation of TV- and computer-addicted children can learn basic Latin like 'Lumos', meaning 'light', and 'Patronus', meaning 'protector'. People who never buy hardbound books will stack their Harry Potter volumes alongside their dictionaries.

And the debates will rage on, on subjects as far-ranging as Rowling's writing ability, Dumbledore's striking resemblance to Gandalf the Grey, the course of true love in the battle between good and evil, Horcruxes, and the ink-and-paper-twin dedication of HP6.

For all our sakes, I hope she's begun the final book. Impatience has always been my strong suit.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Words don't come easily.

Maybe they do for some. Maybe it's as simple as firing up the computer, opening a new page, and letting it rip. Maybe the transfer of thought from mind to written word is smooth and seamless and somehow less... terrifying.

Take JK Rowling, for instance. Seems like yesterday that I succumbed to popular advice and opened a (violet? blue?) book with a somewhat tackily-illustrated cover called Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. And here I am, four (five?) years later, 514 pages into The Half-Blood Prince (or HP6 as Constant Readers will have it), and it's all I can do to complete this post and return to Dumbledore telling Harry to get his Invisibility Cloak and meet him in the Entrance Hall.

Not the most stunning user of the English langage, Ms. Rowling, but blessed with vision and a sense of scale and progression and simplicity. What makes her special, though -- to me, at least -- is her almost-tangible comfort with the written word.

I've certainly read better writing. But the best writers I've read would strain for the ease with which she writes. Maybe it comes from the fact that the story is more important than the way in which it is told. Maybe each of us is genetically programmed to respond to the conflict between good and evil. Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Harry Potter and He Who Must Not Be Named.

Maybe. Or maybe there's magic in natural, unselfconscious, uncrafted writing.
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