What I learned from JKR

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In 2007, when J K Rowling announced that Dumbledore was gay, I was a bit…. confused. What does Dumbledore being gay has anything to do with the story?

I am pro-LGBT and sure, I want to live in an ideal world with equal rights for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation but I just don’t get it why the multi-millionaire author had to reveal that information AFTER the entire series was completed. It’s not like it was going to make any positive impact anywhere, either in Harry’s fictional universe or in the real world.

I have one more gripe – in the above link, it is reported that when JKR made the announcement, the audience broke into applause and later her comment was “if she’d known that would be the response, she’d have revealed her thoughts on Dumbledore earlier.” Really? So an author, even a bestselling one, is under the compulsion to draw a character based on  readers’ approval??!!

hp

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In my opinion, that declaration was clearly given as an afterthought, just so that the book become politically correct. A very cynical part of me even wonders if it is a clever PR move saying, oh look, we are not ostriches, the Harry Potter books DO have a gay character!  Of what use is post-published trivia?

And (I assume) most of us loved the pairing of Ron and Hermione. It’s a classic case of opposites attract and it also conveyed (young) people around the world that you don’t have to be super-duper yourself to win the love of a super-duper girl (and vice versa of course 😉 ). Underdogs rule! But now, sigh, she has to go and wreck it too.

So what is this? Creator’s remorse? An idea for writers keen on alternate universe fiction? Or a simple marketing ploy to generate some buzz now and then?

hindsight

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Obviously, there’s a lesson in this. Hindsight. A powerful and alas, often absent trait in most mortals. The other day I had to submit my story thrice to my critique group – yes, THREE documents of the same story on the same day – because I did not check the version properly. If I had done this to an editor, my manuscript would have stayed in the slush pile forever.

There are SO many things that we do in haste and repent in leisure. Wavering between two climaxesSending a query with mistakes. Sending a manuscript without several revisions or without getting it beta-tested. I’ll never forget misreading the deadline of a contest and spend close US$125 on Blue Dart charges, only to have an email telling me that they cannot accept my submission as the deadline had already passed. A costly and bitter experience to impart a simple lesson.

So, next time you write a story, please check if you have done everything you as the author should do, and then submit it. Or at least, after you became a successful author, refrain from alarming your readers with alternate endings!

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