As the author of an internationally-beloved and critically-acclaimed book series and a noted philanthropist, J.K. Rowling helped stoke a passion for reading in a new generation. She's also a pretty cool, powerful lady, with a lot to teach us.
1. Paying taxes is a good thing.
When Rowling started making her millions, she didn't take off for some tax haven like a lotta rich folks, but instead felt compelled to give back to the welfare system which supported her while she wrote the books which made her rich in the first place.
"I am indebted to the British welfare state; the very one that Mr Cameron would like to replace with charity handouts. When my life hit rock bottom, that safety net, threadbare though it had become under John Major's Government, was there to break the fall. I cannot help feeling, therefore, that it would have been contemptible to scarper for the West Indies at the first sniff of a seven-figure royalty cheque. This, if you like, is my notion of patriotism."
2. Don't be greedy.
From the Guardian:
"I just hate meetings. Though it's true that once you've made a lot of money people around you might be full of ideas about ways to make lots more money and might be disappointed that you don't want to seize every opportunity to do so."
3. Hold on to your dreams
Between an allegedly abusive spouse, a divorce, a death in the family, and courting the poverty line while attempting to provide for an infant child, Rowling continued to write Harry Potter in the early 90s. She never gave up.
4. Be modest.
Rowling was the first author to win the Nestle Smarties Book Prize for three books in a row. She withdrew the fourth Harry Potter book from contention to give others a fair chance.
5. It's okay to get a little dark.
After the release of her follow-up to Harry Potter, The Casual Vacancy, she told The Guardian:
"Death obsesses me, yes it does. I can't really understand why it doesn't obsess everyone - I think it does really, I'm just a little more out about it."
6. Being an adult is way better than being a teen.
In the same Guardian interview, she said:
"In fact, you couldn't give me anything to make me go back to being a teenager. Never. No, I hated it."
7. Sometimes you've just gotta finish stuff
After Goblet of Fire it took JK Rowling three years to finish the next book. It was the longest gap between books since the series began. Finally, when Order of the Phoenix was done, Rowling said it was a chore to write and she'd run out of energy trying to finish it.
8. Books, obviously, are amazing.
She once told the New York Times:
"With all of their benefits, and there are many, one of the things I regret about e-books is that they have taken away the necessity of trawling foreign bookshops or the shelves of holiday houses to find something to read. I've come across gems and stinkers that way, and both can be fun."
9. Standing up to your friends when they're wrong is commendable.
Wise words from Dumbledore when Neville attempts to stand up to that little s*** Harry Potter and his troublemaking gang:
"It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends."
10. Be kind to those beneath you
From Goblet of Fire:
"If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."
11. There's no use worrying about the future.
Also from Goblet of Fire:
"What's coming will come and we'll just have to meet it when it does."
12. Never be ashamed!
There's someone who'll hold it against you, but they're not worth bothering with.
13. Charity is important.
Rowling donates substantial amounts of money to charity, once saying:
"I think you have a moral responsibility, when you've been given far more than you need, to do wise things with it and give intelligently."
14. No matter how smart you are, sometimes the universe will come along and wreck you.
In 2008, she told the Harvard Alumni Association:
"Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the fates."
15. You can't please everyone, no matter for how long you try.
This is something Dumbledore told Hagrid in Goblet of Fire, but it might as well apply to authors or artists or anyone who puts something out in public for review.
"If you're holding out for universal popularity, I'm afraid you will be in this cabin a very long time."
- The Vine