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Friday, July 15, 2005


Ever since I started a separate journal on LiveJournal for my Harry Potter discussions hobby obsession, I haven't posted very much about it on this journal. This is more my personal forum for friends and family (and, I suppose, perfect strangers) to keep up with the goings on in my life.

However. This weekend is a very big weekend for me, and so I feel I would be remiss if I didn't include some of my feelings about it in this journal -- even though it is DISTINCTLY Harry Potter centric.

At 12:01 tomorrow morning, the newest book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince will be released. The only way you could possibly not know about this is if you have been living under a rock for the past several weeks, and if that is the case, what are you doing reading my blog? Get out and get some sunshine for God's sake!

This is a major event for Potter-heads like myself. In fanfiction terms, we call it "new canon" -- in other words, an addition to the cadre of Harry Potter events which are "true."

This is the first time one of these books has been released that I have been a part of the organized fandom. (I like to clarify by saying "organized" fandom, because I don't believe that one has to be a part of said fandom to be a fan.) In fact, the last time a Harry Potter book was released was the first time I made any kind of a fuss over it. Last time (about two years ago) Brandon and I were unemployed, so we went to the midnight release party and received our copy along with thousands of other screaming fans just after midnight -- and promptly went home and went to bed.

This time is a bit different. We aren't planning to go to one of the parties, but I have already researched which 24 hour groceries in our neighborhood plan to carry the book, just in case I can't sleep, or wake up at some ungodly hour of the morning and NEED to go out and get it.

It could happen.

In all honesty, this is a bit of a surreal experience for me. I have never been a part of a fandom the way I am now. I've never been one of the thronging masses waiting desperately for the next... whatever. I went to see the first new Star Wars movie the day it was released, but I didn't go at midnight, and I only went because a bunch of friends were going and they got me a ticket. I've never participated in discussion groups or chat groups about anything before. The closest I've ever gotten was to chat once with a group of Blake's Seven fans -- but only once. They scared me a little bit.

And I'm sure that the Harry Potter fandom would scare anyone looking at it from the outside. On LiveJournal, you only have to click on my "friends" page (to see entries of other people I've marked as friends) to feel the hysteria that's quietly bubbling under the surface. Many of my friends have voluntarily "signed off" of livejournal -- and thereby the fandom at large -- in order to remain spoiler free for the reading of the book.

That's right. The spoilers are apparently flying thick and fast if you know where to look. The only pseudo-spoiler I've succumbed to was to read the blurb on the back cover of the UK edition, a photo of which was released a few days ago. (I would have read the American version too -- except that the American hardbound copies don't have blurbs on the back. I have, however, seen pictures of the front and back of the American copy.)

Every other minute I see something on the news or in a newspaper or online about Harry. The DFW Star Telegram had a cute article about how Harry would read, written by other famous authors like Dickens or Shakespeare. How do I know that, you may ask, as I live in California? Why, I subscribe to The Daily Snitch on LiveJournal which linked me to an article about it at The Leaky Cauldron.

I realize that it's all a bit silly. I understand that we're all slightly manic and weird and obsessive. I realize that my children will probably laugh at me and tell me that the Harry Potter books are OK, but really not nearly as brilliant as whatever the latest thing for them is.

But, when it's all said and done, I feel like I am a part of something. It isn't the Berlin Wall coming down, or the end of a war, or the first moving picture show, but it's still history. Where were you when we landed on the moon? Where were you when Kennedy was shot? Where were you on 9/11?

Where were you when the Harry Potter books were released?

I know it's not the same. It's not earth shattering, certainly not life altering, but it is one of those moments. It's one of those pop culture events, one of those once in a lifetime -- once in anybody's lifetime -- moments that stick out amid a million other moments.

And more than that, it's a moment to be happy about. How many of those do we get collectively as a community, as a nation, as a world? How often do these marker events revolve around hate, war, sadness, or strife?

It seems to me as good a reason as any to go out and celebrate with the rest of the world that a book -- not a movie, not a video game, not a drug or a vice or a sin -- can bring us together.

I used to be a little bit embarrassed to tell people that I was a Harry Potter fan. I mean, it's a kid's book, right? It's a guilty little secret so big that the European presses have started printing "adult" copies of the book with less obvious covers so that adults won't be embarrassed to be seen reading it on the train.

Personally, I'm not embarrassed any more. I read Harry Potter books. I rediscovered my muse writing Harry Potter fan fiction. I participate in the fandom, and I've made friends from all over the world. Hell, I have even been interviewed by a perfect stranger in Bombay, India who read my fanfiction and was moved by it enough to want to write an article about it for his newspaper.

I'm proud of that. I'm proud that after a four year dry spell I've finally rediscovered my passion for writing.

And I'm proud to say that I will be one of the millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions of people, young and old, in dozens of languages, in every industrialized nation of the world, who will be eagerly awaiting the stroke of midnight tonight.

And I'll be proud to say, "I was there."

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