At 29, Joanne Rowling felt like a failure. Her marriage had recently ended in divorce, her money was running out, she had a young baby to take care of, and she was clinically depressed. Her mother had died a few years earlier. Suicidal thoughts were constantly on her mind.
Nearly everything had been taken from her.
And for some reason she was haunted by the idea of a young wizard named Harry that came to her one day while on a train. He and a whole world had arrived fully formed in her head.
She had to write a book about it.
So she soldiered on. Welfare paid her rent and heating bills, while cafes proved to be the best place to both get her daughter to fall asleep, and for her to focus on her manuscript.
Of this time Rowling said in an incredibly inspirational Harvard commencement address,
…failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
Regular readers will know that this phase of her life coincided with her Saturn Return, an interval of time when Saturn returns to the same position it was in when one was born. This planetary progression invariably heralds a period of significant transformation. It is a time when one learns major lessons about life’s purpose, fears are faced, and if the person is willing to put the work in, ambitions are fulfilled.
Joanne became J.K. and all of the pain, loss, and death she had experienced was poured into her writing. Just as she had lost a parent, Harry loses both of his. Her depression and suicidal feelings ultimately led to the creation of the soul-sucking phantoms known as the dementors. Previous work she had done on behalf of immigrants led to issues of racial purity being broached.
In fact, everything in her life was ultimately leading up to writing Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone. But as she succinctly states, she had to hit bottom before being able to ascend to pinnacles of success. And Saturn was there to help her fully realize these dreams.