Welcome back for another post from the Monday Inspirations series. Today’s post is by Kerry Kijewski. You can check out previous posts here.
I wasn’t the girl who always had her head buried in a book. I did not lap up Sweet Valley High or Babysitter’s Club as a teenager. I was a young teen just as the whole Harry Potter phenomenon exploded and I did not get swept up by it myself.
My early life was filled with color. I loved to draw and I did not let my visual impairment stop me. Brightly colored markers were my best friends.
Once I became a teenager my world grew suddenly darker, over a matter of a few months and years, and all the visual art I’d loved was taken away. This, I believe, is when words took on a whole new significance for me.
At sixteen, I was strictly into reading romances written by writers like Danielle Steel. I thought the fantasy genre was silly and that I couldn’t possibly relate to a fantastical world, populated by creatures and immortal beings. Magic was out of the question for me, strictly meant for children.
By January of 2007, the as-yet-to-me unfamiliar author J.K. Rowling was reportedly finishing up writing the final book in her Harry Potter series. I was on the other side of the Atlantic, watching another fantasy series, for the first time. It was Lord of the Rings and my brothers, finally after several years of convincing, got me to give the trilogy a shot. They knew me better than I knew myself.
Within a year, I had absorbed both Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, was a full-blown fan of these two fantasy stories, and I haven’t looked back since.
It’s more than that. I was able to open my mind to a world of make believe, of which I never could have dreamt as a teenager. I didn’t just learn to love a bunch of fantastical characters, but I got to know the authors behind them.
I’ve never been writing a lot of stories, from childhood, as Rowling did. I have only been writing since visual art became impossible, but I thrive on it now, like the air I breathe. I owe that to the influence Rowling has had on me.
I love to watch a British documentary about the year Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published. Rowling was interviewed about the writing process, about her life, and her thoughts on love, morality, adversity, and death. The reasons and experiences behind why a writer writes what they do are of huge importance to me now, as I study writing, writers, and literature for the bigger questions in life and to provide me with the inspiration to write myself.
I didn’t just learn to love a book about wizards and witches – something unheard of for me only a few years ago – but I’ve learned to open up, with that, as a person and as a writer. I was aimless after I lost all the sight I once had. I don’t know where I would be now if I hadn’t found the literature I so dearly love and the one writer to be responsible for that world. I was so afraid to open myself up, and I had no imagination in me, on entering into adulthood and after some of the things I had been through in my life. The world of Harry Potter gave that back to me.
Harry Potter and its author helped me see that there was more left to life and that I didn’t need to be so closed off and afraid to broaden my horizons. Both showed me that there is always something new to be experienced and that I did not have to lose all the color, light, and magic in my world.