Recently, I've been rereading the first Harry Potter book, something I haven't done since I was a child. Even in the era of my life where I read and re-read Harry Potter books constantly, Sorcerer's Stone was never one that I consistently returned to.
There's a new podcast, however, that inspired me to revisit Harry Potter from the beginning. Harry Potter and the Sacred Text is a weekly podcast that asks, "What if we read the books we love as if they were sacred texts?" Instead of treating Harry Potter as just a series of novels, co-hosts Vanessa Zoltan and Casper ter Kuile read them as "instructive and inspirational texts that will teach us about our own lives."
This mindset doesn't affect the conversation in the way that you might think. It's a subtle shift, one that I've noticed is much more sympathetic to characters, and more willing to accept the story at face value, than other contemporary culture criticism. If you've ever been to Bible Study or Hebrew School, you might recognize the tone.
Re-reading the first entry in what was to become an unparalleled cultural sensation, I'm struck by how humble it is. It is very much a children's book, and I don't mean that in a derogatory way. The chapters are short, and action-packed, and full of Rowling's rich detail without being too dense. Coming off the heels of the disappointing "eighth" entry in the series, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, re-reading Sorcerer's Stone is a refreshing reminder of why so many people fell in love with the series in the first place.
As artists, we aim to make a lasting impression. Even artists who work with the ephemeral, who create pieces that will only be seen once by a maximum of a dozen people, want all of those people to walk away feeling changed.
Few of us will ever create something that leaves as deep a mark on the world as Harry Potter. But it's important to remember that Rowling did not start off that way; that she, too, was a struggling artist once. It's important to remember that something that you create could have such an effect on someone, could leave them irrevocably changed.
The two year anniversary of Things Created By People was last week. Over the last two years, we have been privileged to publish some amazing writing, and showcase new work by musicians and visual artists and filmmakers, that have left me irrevocably changed as a person. I know, based on what I hear from our readers, that I am not the only one who feels this way.
Thank you, to all of our writers, our collaborators, our interview subjects, and our readers. Without your support, Things Created By People would not be what it is today, and would not have the opportunity to continue to grow into the institution we want it to be. I can only hope that someday, all of our collaborator's work will touch millions of people, and have podcasts dedicated to it, and have their latest writing described as overhyped fan fiction by critics everywhere.