potterhead july & growing up with harry
potterhead july has kicked off as of yesterday! (or, tomorrow, if we're considering when i'm writing this post.) this festival is intended to bring together fans of harry potter and get us talking about various things related to the series, whether it's about how we came to be fans, the fandom, the characters, etc. i have a billion things i could say about harry potter, but i'd really like to talk about how tied into my childhood this series became.
my mom never particularly enjoyed reading, but i remember seeing her reading the harry potter books when i was very young. she tried convincing me to read them too, multiple times, actually, but somehow, i'd gotten it into my head that the series was scary. probably because of the original order of the phoenix cover, now that i think about it. it is kind of ghosty-looking. i refused to read them, because i've always been a giant weenie, scared of ghosts and monsters and whatever else. but somehow, she convinced me to anyway, and she handed me the sorcerer's stone.
and then i was caught up to her on the order of the phoenix. i liked reading growing up, but it was the harry potter series that made me love reading. whenever i got caught up and ready to read ootp, she was still in the process of reading it. (i think i actually read the first four that fast.) to make me shut up, she bought me my own copy of the book, and i devoured that immediately. those were all the books that were out at the moment.
so, somewhere between age 5 and age 7, i read all of the books that were out in the series and waited patiently for the next book. i watched the movies to pass the time, and i remember seeing the prisoner of azkaban in theaters with my mom. i was 6 when that came out, and whenever lupin shapeshifted, i hid my face behind my mom's arm. i was still a weenie about scary things.
i don't remember much excitement surrounding me with the release of the half blood prince.
for my ninth birthday, my aunt and uncle preordered the deathly hallows for me. they printed out the confirmation for the preorder and stuck that in the envelope with my birthday card. i brought that paper confirming the preorder to show and tell in third grade. i was that excited. and then it was there, and i got it, and i tried reading it and i hated it.
i still hate the first chapter of the deathly hallows, with all the talk of the ministry of magic. i didn't care about the politics of the wizarding world then and i don't care now. sometime later, i was grounded for misbehaving, and all i had was my bookshelf to entertain me. i'd read literally every book there except for the deathly hallows, and so that's when i picked it up. i only managed to read it because i skipped the first chapter, and i missed a lot of the big key plot points and reveals because i didn't totally understand all of that heavy stuff at age 10 or 11 or whatever.
in 2010, at 12 years old, i signed up for fanfiction.net. i liked the harry potter fanfiction i found there, and i had a real craving for more material in the hp universe. even though none of it was canon, it was still satisfying, and i made an account to be able to comment and subscribe to stories. then, i started writing stories of my own.
everything i remember from then just zooms by; i started posting and replying to people on a harry potter fanfiction forum i found on ff.net, and from there i made friends. really good friends. they convinced me to make a tumblr account with them, and so i did. that's really where i became so invested in the internet and made so many friends. i'm sad to say that i don't speak to any of them anymore, just because somehow, we all got lost and separated from one another, but i remember a few of their names, and the different countries we were from. i remember late nights on a desktop computer, typing away on a word processor to write just one more chapter before bed.
i can contribute a lot of my writing skills to harry potter fanfiction. this used to embarrass me so much, and it still does, a bit, but it's also helped me grow. somewhere around age 13, i realized i liked to write stories a lot. around age 15, i realized i showed extraordinary talent in writing.
whenever people ask authors, "do you have any tips for aspiring writers?", the authors always say. "read. read everything you can get your hands on." what i could get my hands on was harry potter, then harry potter fanfiction, and it's amazing to me how much that changed my writing. (i haven't had any more shocking revelations since age 15, by the way. i'm still waiting on the ability to write an entire novel without my enthusiasm dying out after 40k words.)
it's weird to think that harry potter branches off into so many different aspects to my life and contributes to them. i made friends and i discovered a hobby, a talent and potential career path. a lot of people who have grown up with harry potter might say that it taught them about friendship, and the true value of love, and i can't say it did those things for me. it showed me what it meant to tell a story, really tell a story, and how to tell it well.
don't forget to check out the other potterhead july posts with the hashtag #potterheadjuly.