Monday, October 26, 2015

Potter It Forward, if you can

I have been struggling for the past two weeks with the writing of my next post for this blog. Why? Because I have been caught up in this whole "Potter It Forward" movement and decided that my next entry should be that message I would write if I ever decided to Potter It Forward and slip a message to new Harry Potter readers into new copies of the HP books at my local bookstores.

The problem is: the majesty of the idea has got me a little bit paralyzed.

What exactly could I write to express just how much of an impact these books have had on my life, how important I feel they are both as models for how children's and young adult novels should be written and as wonderful, exciting, intriguing stories in themselves, how significant they have been in bringing the excitement of reading to a whole new generation? How do I say all that without writing a message that actually turns out to be longer than the Harry Potter novel into which I slip it?

I don't know where to begin. And I certainly wouldn't know where to end.

I think the whole "Potter It Forward" idea to be quite remarkable. I have had to stop myself from going to Chapters just to go through all their copies of the Harry Potter books to collect any PIF messages I may find. I hope to goodness someone will (if they haven't already) create a website where we can post our messages and read other people's messages at our leisure.

The Harry Potter books have literally changed our world. They have infiltrated every aspect of our lives and they have created a common language that so many of us can speak, no matter where we live. They are a point of connection that helps us bridge the gaps between us in terms of age, gender identity, race, religion, cultural background, economic status, and any other aspect of our identity that you can imagine. And that might normally keep us apart.

If I wear my Gryffindor scarf, people smile at me on the street. People nod and point and smile and laugh and, sometimes even, tell me that they were sorted into Hufflepuff, or Ravenclaw or even Slytherin.

I have enjoyed Potter chats with strangers of many different races, of all ages, of every gender identity you can imagine. I'm an middle-aged white guy and yet I have been welcomed as a Harry Potter lover into so many situations by people from all kinds of backgrounds and identities.

How do you sum all that up in a single passage? And how do you deal with the fact that, even if you can sum all that up in a single passage, you've left out the quality of J.K.'s writing, the masterful way she constructs her stories, the living, breathing, incredible true characters she has created.

So, if you're wondering why I haven't posted in a while, that's why. Because there is simply too much to say.