J.K. Rowling’s Zero-to-Hero Story

J.K. Rowling (Photo: Daniel Ogren)

Almost everybody heard about the Harry Potter books series, but almost no one heard the incredible zero to hero story of the author, J.K. Rowling.

I personally haven't finished any of the books and actually fell asleep in the middle of the movie, but found the story behind the story more compelling and inspiring. I highly recommend you read the fascinating account of her life and watch the video below.

J.K. Rowling's story

Much like the main character in her Harry Potter fantasy series of books, J.K. Rowling took a steep pathway to success. Within five years, she quickly became one of the richest women in Great Britain. Her self-made fortune amassing to nine figures combined with her influence as a writer made her one of the most powerful celebrities by Forbes. Time magazine also ranked her as a runner-up in the magazine's search for 2007 Person of the Year.

More than her fortune, Rowling's influence transcends beyond her rich stature as she impacts the moral and social dimensions of her huge following. Leading magazine editors in UK later named her as the most influential woman in Britain.

Below Zero Status - How She Started It All

Rowling's humble beginnings can be traced back seven years after graduating from university. This is the time when she saw herself as a failure. She had a failed marriage, she had no permanent work, and she had a young daughter to take care of.

After her divorce she moved from Portugal to Edinburgh, Scotland near her sister. The failed marriage with Portugal TV journalist Jorge Arantes caused her so much misery that she suffered clinical depression and she went as far as to contemplate suicide.

Trying to survive in Scotland, she tried her luck in a career in teaching English as a foreign language. However, in order to get the post, she needed further postgraduate certification, which required her to study full-time for one year. She matriculated herself into this course upon finishing her first novel while having to rely on benefits through the state welfare support.

The Hero's Journey & The Subsequent Success of Her Writing Career

The seemingly hopeless situation was the same source of inspiration that propelled Rowling into becoming a huge success. A short anecdote on how Rowling finished the first novel was also popular among her fans.

She wrote the work in different cafes, especially in Nicolson's Cafe, which also became a local place of interest. Only when Jessica falls asleep can Rowling began writing the novel. She had to tire Jessica by walking to different cafes and only then she can resume writing, which proved to be very tough being a single mother.

The first book, entitled Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was originally a manuscript written on an old manual typewriter brought to completion in 1995.

Bryony Evens, who reviewed the book's first three chapters, responded enthusiastically so that the personnel from the Christopher Little Literary Agents decided to represent Rowling in searching for publishers. However, twelve publishing houses initially rejected the manuscript.

Fortunately, a small publishing house owner Barry Cunningham agreed to publish the book owing through her eight-year-old daughter who loved reading the first few pages immediately requesting the follow-up texts.

Since then, Rowling received several grants, one of these from the Scottish Arts Council. From then on, she became a highly sought for writer and subsequent installments were successfully released with the series growing more and more in popularity.

Rowling's Rise to Fame

The Harry Potter fantasy series won several book awards. It won the Smarties Prize a record three times in a row, but with a naturally charitable spirit, Rowling withdrew the novel from the contest to give chance to other books to gain recognition.

In 2000, the fourth installment entitled Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which was released in the UK and the US, broke the sales record of the two countries. Comparatively, the Prisoner of Azkaban sold some 300,000 copies in a year, while the fourth book sold 300,000 copies in just a day.

Her books were later adapted to film in the equally famous Harry Potter film series. The huge fortune she earned was later shared to charitable institutions.

She then established in 2000 the Volant Charitable Trust which helps in alleviating social inequality and poverty. To quote Rowling, "I think you have a moral responsibility when you've been given far more than you need, to do wise things with it and give intelligently."

Learning from Her Story

Hopefully this zero to hero story of J.K. Rowling will encourage and push you to never give up on your biggest dreams.

Doing what you really like is one of the most important first steps towards realizing your goals. Whether it be on writing or in any other fields, keeping the passion alive provides enough fuel to continue the drive.

Live your dreams!

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