This is the continuation of a series of posts that highlight some key facts about the careers of those fantasy writers ‘who’ve made it.’ My intention with this is inherently contradictory. I want to both calm the fears and exacerbate those of aspiring authors. I want you to realize how inherently silly a lot of your fears are, and allow you to superstitiously worry that what I’ll write below actually means something regarding the likelihood of your own future success. Why? Because that’s the game. We love to compare ourselves to other writers for peace of mind and we love to compare ourselves to drive ourselves crazy.
Last week I looked at the career of the author I called the “Granddaddy of all Fantasy Writers. Papa Bear: J.R.R. Tolkien.” A follower on Twitter asked, if Tolkien is Papa Bear then who is Mama Bear? Some might say Ursula Le Guin, or Marion Zimmer Bradley, maybe Madline L’Engle. But there’s no doubt that, whatever your opinion of Harry Potter, the female fantasy author who will cast the largest shadow on the future of fantasy and will inspire new fantasy writers as Tolkien did is J.K. Rowling.
Rowling’s (Mama Bear’s) story has become a bit of legend, and you can follow it below to compare how you stack up.
Mama Bear was born in 1965.
In 1990 she got the idea for Harry Potter while riding a train. She began writing. She was 25.
Readers will remember that this was the same age Papa Bear (Tolkien) was when he began creating Middle Earth.
So, we can further confirm, that if you are younger than 25 you have some time to get your big idea. If you are older than 25 and don’t have it yet, you’d better get cracking.
From 1991-1994, Mama Bear wrote Harry Potter, became an English teacher in Portugal, married, gave birth to a daughter, divorced her husband, moved back to Scotland alone with her daughter, and completed Harry Potter.
If you do not believe you can juggle multiple life pursuits while writing, you can.
In 1995, Mama Bear hired a literary agent. Her book was rejected 12 times.
If you fear rejection and give up after the eleventh try, you may have kissed away a couple billion dollars.
In 1996, Bloomsbury bought the book and published it the following year.
She was just over thirty years old.
Unlike Papa Bear, who held a steady career while writing on the side, Mama Bear exemplifies the starving artist ideal. This is rags to riches par excellence. So dust off those rags, if rags be your current mode of dress–riches could be right around the corner. Like Papa Bear, however, it seems as though planning, executing, and selling your first major world-creating fantasy novel may be a five plus year endeavor. Buckle your seat belt.
How does that make you feel? Better, worse? What are your anxieties this week? Discuss below.