Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday Tea: A Response to Lynn Shepherd's Article Concerning J.K. Rowling

I read a hilarious article yesterday written by novelist Lynn Shepherd entitled "If J.K. Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It," and I have several responses to it.  If you haven't read it, I recommend that you read it first so as to form your own opinions before I deluge you with mine, but the article irked me so much that I really feel like I must make a few comments on it even though I am not usually the type of person to verbally take a stance against an online article.

Starting to read Shepherd's article, the first thing that bothered me was how Shepherd openly criticizes adults who have read Harry Potter because it is a children's book series even though she has never read them herself--such a profession in an article that openly defames J.K. Rowling was astonishing to me, and it immediately undermined her credibility as I continued to read her article.  What's more, demeaning adults for buying into the Potter hype is irresponsible on her part as a writer when we live in an electronic and Facebook feed dominated world where most people would rather lie on the couch for an entire afternoon binging  on Netflix than pick up a book and actually read for pleasure.

I understand Shepherd's viewpoint that it is nearly impossible for unknown writers to get their work read and published, but Rowling did not always have this apparent ease at having her novels published; she finished writing the first book in the Harry Potter series in 1995, and the book was initially rejected by every single publishing house that she submitted it to.  So asking Rowling to stop writing for adults because she outsells most authors is bitter and petty.  Really any other successful author's name could be substituted into this article.  Shepherd might as well have been telling us to not read C.S. Lewis' Narnia series because it's a "children's" story or to not read Stephen King because he has had far too much success as an author.  Being a "literary mystery" writer herself, I can only help but feel that Shepherd's outrage against Rowling's new adult mystery novels stems from envy of Rowling's success while her own books are overlooked.

I took a creative writing class last year that focused mostly on writing poems, and I received some invaluable advice: in order to be a successful poet, you must read all the poems you can get your hands on.  I think this advice applies to all genres of writing, not just poetry, so if Ms. Shepherd can stop munching on her "sour grapes," then maybe she can stop being prejudiced about Rowling's work long enough to actually read Harry Potter and get people to read her novels too.

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