Joanne’s life was falling apart. Her beloved mother had recently passed away. To compound that emotional injury, her father moved in with his work secretary soon after the funeral—much too soon in Joanne’s opinion. Her marriage was on the rocks. Too bad, since she thought she had everything going for her. Decent background with tons of advantages. Good if not spectacular education (degree in French). A daughter from the marriage—about the only good thing to come from it, in fact.
A story began forming in her mind, but she knew that it would not be a seller. During a train trip, she thought about the characters and the plot and decided to write. No, this writing for her would be cathartic, dealing with death and loss and the prospect of a life filled with promise but on stormy seas. The future? Dark with glimmers of hope.
Who would want to read a story like that? Well, again, she had decided to write for herself, to get all her pent up frustrations and emotions on paper.
Meanwhile, bills had to be paid. She got a job teaching some, but that didn’t allow much time for writing and a social life once she graded papers, prepared her lessons, took care of the daughter… Yet, the words came, and so, she wrote.
She reluctantly took on government assistance—not much—to help her with a few bills. Also, about this time, a deep depression set in. Dark thoughts crept in. Suicide was an option Joanne contemplated. Luckily, she sought help, but still, she felt she was a failure less than a decade after her university degree. What did her life have to show for success except the daughter? That kept her going sometimes. A friend loaned her some money for a better apartment.
She still continued to write as therapy.
Joanne described this time for her economically as the lowest a person could be in the UK without actually being homeless. Something had to happen.
On the other hand, she had managed to finish her manuscript. She submitted it to publishers because, well, why not? Twelve publishing houses rejected it. One, a children’s literary house, took a chance when a reader saw his 8-year-old daughter eagerly devour the first chapter and impatiently ask for chapter two.
And, like magic, the rest is history.
And if you don’t believe in magic, well, you could ask J.K. Rowling what she thinks.