At that point, her Harry Potter books had been a substantial part of my life for eight years. They'd seen me through some truly awful, dark and terrible moments.
Yesterday I read a few quotes from Sia on body image and the passionate words reminded me of JKR's blog on the very topic. I remember being instantly annoyed by the same piece of writing because JKR titled it "For Girls Only, Probably". There was no probably about it. It was everything I needed to read at that time. There she was talking so furiously about something that mean a lot to me. So much so, I decided that it was time to say 'thank you'.
I've often wondered how 'weird' that might have been, especially when you know some people look at you like you've got two heads for having bothered. I know plenty of people are touched by music, books, actors performances etc but how often do you get the chance to potentially scare them off with an essay about your life? I'm so glad I didn't keep a copy of my first letter because I don't think I could read it back now - the scared, vulnerable 16 year old me, who had never written down the deep, dark, scary thoughts before.
Taking the chance paid off though, and as I shared on Twitter, the reply couldn't have been more genuine or inspiring. The paragraph on body image remains one of my favourites - you can feel Jo's passion on the subject even then. No doubt her kids continue to grow up being everything she hoped for with such fine example.
Ten years ago, @jk_rowling wrote this 👌🏽💯🔥 "rant" on weight / body image. At that moment it was all I needed to read pic.twitter.com/d7grdasR05— Ryan Love (@RyanJL) May 25, 2016
Kindly @jk_rowling did reply - this paragraph is my ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE and it's made even more sense as I get older. pic.twitter.com/4YAdqgsnks— Ryan Love (@RyanJL) May 25, 2016
But on the subject of 'writing to celebrities', I was wondering how often people do take the chance to really just say how something made them feel or help them? Nowadays, Twitter feels to have made people feel closer. You can tweet JK a message and hopefully you might get that 140 character reply. I know that means a lot as well to the person getting a reply (someone has still taken time to acknowledge you exist!), but I don't think I'd ever substitute being able to go back my letters, some handwritten, that are there to actually hold a decade later. I still go back to them when I need to remind myself to buck up or to keep going. They've travelled with me as I moved to London, around London and back to Ireland.
People can be very dismissive of the whole exchange with celebrities; why should their words mean so much to you!? But when that person gives you something that you know in your heart has helped you, what's the harm in sharing that, what's the harm in telling them? None whatsoever. I'd still tell anyone to go write a letter to someone like that. People often say things like, 'Never meet your heroes!' and for a long time I believed that. However, I then did have the opportunities to meet people who had unknowingly helped or inspired me - and it's lovely when you can (in a non terrifying way) explain why that may be the case. Through work, I was also lucky enough to see people meet their idols, chat them and hand over letters that were no doubt as personal as my own had been - I just hope they each got the feeling a reply can bring.
Still, these days I can just shout Mom or Queen at JK and hope she'll know how grateful I am.