The Magic Lives On! My reflections on the latest Harry Potter book.

At first, I wasn’t that excited about The Cursed Child. Maybe that’s because I thought it was a random spin-off (much like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), but when I picked it up in the bookstore, I was instantly transported back in time and felt the same feverish excitement that I felt as a kid!

There was no mistake about it: this was the latest Harry Potter book! Yes, it might well be a screenplay, but it is still a continuation of the original saga. When I held it in my hands and saw “The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later” written on the back cover, it gave me goosebumps! I don’t even  care if this was a marketing ploy because it bloody well worked! Shut up and take my money =P

Something reawakened within me on that day. I have not felt such frenzied excitement about a franchise for a long time and The Cursed Child seemed to open up that portal to my younger self. Where did the magic go, I wonder? Why do I no longer spend hours trawling fan sites or daydreaming about Hogwarts and hobbits? 

Granted, I am in the middle of writing a fantasy novel, so I do still use my imagination quite a lot. But I cannot help but notice that my soul lacks nourishment from other sources. And it is important, I think, for a writer to fuel themselves with inspiration, otherwise they go stale and lose their mojo. 

So what’s changed? Why is it that Pokemon Go only excited me for a week? Why is it that I didn’t get excited whatsoever with the build-up to The Cursed Child‘s release? Could it be that I no longer remember the way to Platform 9 3/4?

The sad truth is that life has got in the way, as it does with so many people. I also put too much pressure on myself to be productive, forgetting to play and nourish my soul with magic. Alas, for may people let their creative flame go out entirely, but I do everything in my power to keep it burning brightly. 

Every time I return to the likes of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, my soul is instantly nourished. Too often I have been distracted by mundane trifles, but I still believe in magic. My soul still soars when I hear the LOTR soundtrack or re-read Harry Potter, so revisiting the wizarding world and seeing what the characters were doing nineteen years later was absolutely marvellous! 

Some have said The Cursed Child feels a bit fan-fictiony, but the original magic was undeniably present  (and JK put her official stamp on it, which is good enough for me). I was surprised by the intense emotion it evoked, particularly in the scene where Harry has a heart-to-heart with Dumbledore’s painting. And that scene with the trolley lady.. kudos to the writers!

From now on, I will make a conscious effort to do more of what I love. The magic lives on within me and I refuse to let it lie dormant. Whether creating my own material or soaking up the goodness of others, I give myself to that which excites me.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and meet Minerva McGonagall in Hogsmeade. There was a dispute between our owls and she wants to patch things up. Fingers crossed we can because I’m applying to be the new Professor of Astronomy, so hopefully my silly owl hasn’t messed things up!

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Do You Hate Self-Promotion? Read This Amazing Book To Change That!

Before I read Show Your Work!, I used to think of self-promotion as something that was dirty and unwholesome. I was afraid of annoying people with too many updates and thought that I might come across as indulgent or arrogant if I posted too much about what I did.

But this guidebook was written for “people who hate the very idea of self-promotion”. Reading it has dramatically changed my perception and I now view self-promotion as simply sharing what you do – thinking of it in this way makes it seem less unsavoury somehow! In fact, sharing what you do – with regards to your work, thoughts and ideas – is really just being transparent about who you are as a person.

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While reading Show Your Work!, I made key notes that I will definitely refer back to in the future. If you are someone who struggles to self-promote or have trouble speaking about what you do, then I highly advise you to check out this book. It is packed full of practical advice and really does help to shift your perception. The main lessons I learned from it are as follows:

  1. Share something small every day, whether it be something that inspired you or an idea that you had. Anything from your creative process that might be insightful or interesting to others.
  2. Document everything that you do. Take photos, keep a work journal etc, so that you have a wellspring of material to draw upon when blogging or posting updates.
  3. Focus on your work and get good at what you do. Don’t waste your time and energy trying to gain followers or network. People will come to you if you are good at your craft.
  4. Don’t hoard your ideas. Post about what you’ve learned and help your fellow creatives, encouraging support and collaboration.
  5. How to deal with the dreaded question: “So what do you do?”
  6. Appreciate your guilty pleasures (i.e. that TV show that everyone else thinks is lame) because maybe it will lead to something that inspires/influences your work.
  7. The vampire test. If something drains your energy, cast it out of your life. Keep the things that boost your energy.

There are so many other things that I learned too. There was also a lot that I already knew deep down, but I just needed some reassurance and encouragement. It is precisely the book that I needed to read and I am enjoying incorporating its methods and techniques into my life. Thank you, Austin Kleon, for a fantastic guidebook!

If you wish to check it out further, then click here: http://austinkleon.com/show-your-work/