All the things I’ve written here about the subjectivity of opinions and the importance of believing in yourself are being reinforced by the recent events revolving around J. K. Rowling. When it first came out that she’d written a crime novel under a male pseudonym, I didn’t think much about it. I thought it was an intriguing thing for her to do. It’s certainly understandable that she would want to move out from under the imposing shadow of Harry Potter.

Then I read this article and it made me give it more thought. It really bothers me that sales of The Cuckoo’s Calling were unimpressive one moment, and then it zoomed to the top of Amazon UK Bestsellers. An already written and published novel couldn’t have suddenly gotten better. It didn’t have to. All it needed were those magic letters and word that make up one of the most famous literary names of modern times.

So. Is Harry Potter’s author a better writer than The Cuckoo’s Calling’s? Of course not. J. K. Rowling possesses a rich and varied talent that I seriously doubt she could suppress that successfully, even if she wanted to. Then why the gaping chasm between pre and post secretbusting?

I can’t quite wrap my head around an answer that satisfies my desire to know, but I think I’ve just about settled on an explanation that works.  For me, anyway.

I think it’s such a unique situation that it can’t be easily explained away…except by the fact that J. K. Rowling’s light shines so brightly that it outshines logic. One of the most famous, wealthy, and beloved people on the planet can’t try to hide that light under any bushel of obscurity. No real world attempt at a cloaking spell is going to allow obscurity to last long. And once the temptation to out the secret was too much for someone to resist…well, the spell was uncast.

Once the secret was known people reading the crime novel saw it through different eyes. I’m sure people read it now because of who its author is, while
before they may not have paid as much attention. The article says publishers who rejected it are embarrassed. I’m sure. But even that would have to be attributed to the matter of subjective taste. If they didn’t like it any more than other novels written by unknowns, then they were right to reject it. The more I think about it the more reassuring it is for the many authors struggling to get novels published. It may even serve as a carrot on a stick to drive obscure authors onward.

I mean, what better way to look at it than that even the mind that gave so many readers so much pleasure hit the unyielding brick wall of rejection…before and after the fame and adulation brought to her by Harry Potter? What better spotlight shining onto the Tilt-a-Whirl that is subjective opinion? And what better incentive to believe in ourselves? Knowing that even J. K. Rowling’s writing can face the same daunting gauntlet as the rest of us, and in some ways face disappointment as disappointing, makes it a little easier to remember and believe the other side of the coin as well. That all manner of wonderful possibilities are possible as well. Whatever an author’s name may or may not be.