Finding comfort in Harry Potter

As you may have heard, Micheline and I are hosting Harry Potter month throughout the month of July – a celebration of all things Harry Potter! You can post about pretty much anything Harry Potter related, take part in the House Cup at any time throughout the month, and – new for this year – we have the Harry Potter readathon element!

I don’t tend to get personal on the blog, but I did want to give a little bit of an explanation as to why you may have noticed I haven’t been as active as usual throughout Harry Potter month.  Without going into too much detail, I’ve been having a tough few weeks and haven’t really felt like myself.  That’s meant a lot less reading, a lot less blogging, frankly, a lot less of doing-all-the-things-I-usually-get-excited-about.  In an effort to make myself feel better, I’m re-reading Harry Potter – and I’ll be spending some time with Harry Potter fanfics – because getting lost in the Harry Potter world always makes me feel better.  So this post is just a few thoughts on why really!

Escapism

The world in Harry Potter is huge.  From the first page you get absolutely sucked into the world that J.K. Rowling has created, and the real world – and whatever might be bothering you in it – just slips away.  While that’s true with any great book, somehow it’s more true with Harry Potter. I don’t know whether it’s because there are so many details in the books that you can find something new every time you read them, or because the world just continues to grow with time (through the films, fanfiction, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Studio Tour, the play, Fantastic Beasts…).  If re-reading the books isn’t enough to absorb you, you can get lost in the movies, or read fanfiction, or on Pottermore. There’s always more to find!

The characters feel like friends & Hogwarts feels like home

I think it’s safe to say that JKR has created a cast of characters we absolutely love.  From the Golden Trio to the Weasleys to Luna and Neville and the teachers, these characters feel like friends now.  Everytime I re-read the books, I fall in love with the characters even more, and I love getting to see them all grow so much between the first time we meet them and the end of the series.

Harry Potter has some amazing messages

From fighting for your friends even without a weapon to friends that stick together through everything to learning to find hope even when things look bleak, Harry Potter is full of inspiring moments.  When everything feels too sad or too tough in the real world, I can get lost in Harry Potter, and while the worst moments might leave me crying along with Harry and his friends, ultimately I know that things will work out, and I’ll feel better for seeing how the characters deal with everything life throws at them.

The Harry Potter fan community is awesome

Reading Harry Potter might be a pretty solitary activity, but there’s something comforting in knowing that somewhere in the world, someone else will be reading the books too.  There’s something awesome too, in knowing that while I’m reading alone, I’m earning House Points for Slytherin, and taking part in this event that you guys make awesome, every year, without fail.

The Hogwarts Tag

As you may have heard, Micheline and I are hosting Harry Potter month throughout the month of July – a celebration of all things Harry Potter! You can post about pretty much anything Harry Potter related, take part in the House Cup at any time throughout the month, and – new for this year – we have the Harry Potter readathon element!

I saw this on Micheline’s blog and of course couldn’t resist joining in.

Am I pure-blood, half-blood or muggle born?

Hmm not sure, but I guess I’d have to go with half-blood! I don’t have a particular preference but I’d have a harder time getting into my house as a muggle-born, and as I consistently get sorted there, I guess that rules that out!

Which wand chose me?

A reasonably supple 10 inch, hazel wand with a phoenix feather core.  Hazel is a “sensitive wand, [that] often reflects its owner’s emotional state, and works best for a master who understands and can manage their own feelings” – this could be good or terrible, because I can be a pretty emotional person!  I’m pretty pleased with my core – “Phoenix feathers are capable of the greatest range of magic”.  As for ‘reasonably supple’ I’d say that’s pretty accurate: I like to think I’m pretty adaptable but I don’t always love change so I definitely couldn’t have anything TOO flexible.  It’s reasonably short, but not excessively so so I’m ignoring the bit that says that “abnormally short wands usually select those in whose character something is lacking” – it’s still within the 9-14 inch range so I figure it’s okay, plus Minerva McGonagall’s wand is 9.5 inches 😉 Plus I am really short in real life so a very long wand would look silly.
Picture of wand

Did I take an owl, a cat, a rat or a toad?

An owl would be useful but I’d definitely end up picking a cat, because I’d want something I could sit with in the common room and stroke when I was feeling down about not being able to get a spell right!

Where did the sorting hat put me?

Slytherin, both times I’ve taken the test on Pottermore 🙂

What house did I want to be in?

Honestly, I love my house.  I always like the shades of grey characters, the damaged ones, the anti-heroes and anti-villains.  I’m seriously stubborn, and a surefire way to get me to do something is to tell me I can’t, because then I’ll absolutely have to prove you wrong.

What lessons are my favourite and least favourite?

I really like the idea of Potions; methodical, logical but also mysterious and intuitive. I’d also love Care of Magical Creatures and Defence Against The Dark Arts, but I think I’d be pretty terrible at Herbology.  I’d probably be okay at History of Magic because I’m good with dates and remembering facts, so it’d probably be an easy but boring good mark.  I don’t think I’d like Divination; too subjective and it seems to involve a lot more drama than I’d be able to deal with.

The form my patronus takes:

My Patronus is an osprey, which is pretty awesome although I don’t think I’d ever have chosen a bird for myself (I’m a bit scared of birds!).  But Ospreys are a bird of prey and seriously cool so I don’t mind 😉

What does a Boggart look like for me?

A giant wasp *shudders*.  Or something like seeing a family member dead 🙁

Do I partake in any magical hobbies or school sports?

I’d like to join in with Quidditch. I’m pretty terrible at sports in real life, but Quidditch seems closer to riding a horse than running so I’m all for giving it a go!  Like Micheline, I’d also love to join in with a Hogwarts Book Club!

Where would I find myself hanging in my free time?

I’m pretty sure the Room of Requirement would see a lot of us – a room that changes to fit our purposes? Count me in!  I admit though, I also love the idea of heading to the library to pick up a stack of books and then taking them back to the common room. The Slytherin common room would probably be pretty cold since it’s under the lake, but that just gives me an excuse to curl up under a lot blankets by the fire 😉

What would I most likely get detention for?

Probably something stupid like having a scruffy uniform!

What career do I want after leaving Hogwarts?

Oh this is such a tough one! I think probably something with magical creatures though, maybe working on a breeding programme for an endangered species.

Harry Potter MotW: Favourite Dean Moment

[This post is a response to Harry Potter Moment of the Week and part of Harry Potter Month!]

The theme of this week’s Harry Potter Moment of the Week isFavorite Dean Moment

So, confession, I love Dean but I think a lot of that comes from fanfiction (Dean/Seamus shipping anyone?!), because I struggled a little to come up with a favourite moment for Dean. Of course I did come up with one, it just took me a moment 😉

We’re fighting, aren’t we? The message said Harry was back, and we were going to fight! I’ll have to get a wand, though…

Offering to fight, against literally the most dangerous enemies possible, with no wand? I poke fun at Gryffindors for being reckless (comes with the Slytherin territory I guess) but this to me is just the absolute perfect expression of Gryffindor courage. I don’t think Dean volunteers to fight without a wand because he thinks it’ll be cool, or epic, or heroic, or anything like that, I think it just genuinely doesn’t occur to him that he’d let his friends fight without him.

Harry Potter Month readathon progress & goals

As you may have heard, Micheline and I are hosting Harry Potter month throughout the month of July – a celebration of all things Harry Potter! You can post about pretty much anything Harry Potter related, take part in the House Cup at any time throughout the month, and – new for this year – we have the Harry Potter readathon element!

The readathon is a brand new element for this year’s Harry Potter Month, and although I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like recently, of course I’m taking part! I didn’t plan out my July TBR particularly well for this – Clash of Kings at 750+ pages isn’t a great choice for binge-reading… – but I am hoping to join in with the 24 in 48 readathon so that should help, and I don’t mind taking half points for a couple of the graphic novels I’ve added to my TBR recently.

I’ve finished 8.5 books on average each month this year. If I managed that many this month, and they were all novels, I’d be looking at 160 or 180 points in total. Knowing I’ve got a few large books on my TBR though, and that I’m hoping to read a graphic novel or two, which are worth less points, I’m aiming for 150 points in total.

My possible TBR

[The logical thing to do would have been to pick books that fit the prompts…instead I’ve just picked the ones I’d already put on my July TBR and a few others I fancied, because I know that in all likelihood I’ll deviate from the list anyway, and I’m just hoping it’ll work out in the end…]

  1. Skin Game
  2. The Novice [20, 6th July]
  3. Black Panther: Who is the Black Panther? [10, 9th July]
  4. Hawkeye v1: My Life as a Weapon
  5. One Dark Throne
  6. A Clash of Kings
  7. The Last One [20, 8th July]
  8. Fierce Kingdom [20, 19th July]
  9. The Inquisition [20, 18th July]

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: Completed all tasks [25 bonus points]

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets:

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:

  • Read a book where someone is wrongfully accused or punished
  • Read a book where a person hides who they are or wears a disguise – Black Panther: Who is the Black Panther? (9th July) [10]
  • Read a book with time-travel

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:

  • Read a book with sports
  • Read a book with dragons
  • Read a book with a contest of some kind – The Last One (8th July) [20]

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:

  • Read a book with a character you hate
  • Read a book which features a rebellion
  • Read a book with a prophecy
  • Read a book of 800+ pages

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:

  • Read a book that you expect will make you cry  – Fierce Kingdom (July 19th) [I thought for sure there’d be a hard-hitting animal death, or a character you’d get attached to that didn’t make it so I expected to cry…but I didn’t] [20]
  • Read a book with an anti-villain (or someone who’s doing the wrong things for what they feel are the right reasons)
  • Read a book with a romance element

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:

  • Read a series finale
  • Read a book with an anti-hero
  • Read a book with unrequited love
  • Read a book of 600+ pages

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find them

  • Read a book with mythical or supernatural creatures (vampires, werewolves, dragons, magical animals all valid!)
  • Read a book that’s a spin off or prequel from something else
  • Read a book where the main character travels far from home

Current points total: 155

HP Month: Camp NaNoWriMo & Harry Potter

I think for me Harry Potter and writing will be inextricably linked forever.  Harry Potter wasn’t the first book series I got hooked on, the first fantasy series I loved or even the first series I got totally obsessed with, but it was the first series that truly sparked my imagination outside of the scenarios the author had created.  It’s the first – and still pretty much the only – series where I love imagining how the characters and the world would deal with other situations.  Waiting between books, I would throw myself into the world of Harry Potter fanfiction, reading about all my favourite Harry Potter fanon couples, or fun but totally AU plots.  I loved reading it so much I started writing it.  The first, and indeed the only, time I’ve ever won NaNoWriMo it was writing Harry Potter fanfiction, and that sparked a love of writing I might never have found otherwise.

It only makes sense then, that even though I’m tackling original fiction for Camp NaNoWriMo this year, Harry Potter will still be involved somehow.  I’ll be writing fantasy (of course), but Harry Potter will be – hopefully – guiding my writing process a bit more directly too.

Enter – The Harry Potter Word Crawls!

You have to log in to be able to see them on the NaNoWriMo forums, but basically a word crawl is a list of prompts, each associated with a word count or task, which you start at the beginning of and work through in order.  For example, these are the first few tasks in the Harry Potter Year One Word Crawl:

You receive your Hogwarts letter by owl and are completely ecstatic to head out for your first year at Hogwarts. Sprint to 100 words to let out your excitement and energy.

You arrive in Diagon Alley and your first stop is Gringotts, wizard bank. Write for ten minutes. The amount of words you write will determine how many Galleons are in your vault.
Muggleborns
Less than 100 words: 1 Galleon
100-200 words: 2 Galleons
More than 200 words: 3 Galleons
Halfbloods
Less than 150 words: 1 Galleon
150-250 words: 2 Galleons
More than 250 words: 3 Galleons
Purebloods
Less than 250 words: 1 Galleon
250-350 words: 2 Galleons
More than 350 words: 3 Galleons

You step into Ollivander’s wand shop. Roll a die and multiply your roll by 100. Sprint to that many words.

Finally, you’re done shopping! But before you leave, you decide that you want to purchase a pet. Write for 15 minutes as you search for the perfect animal for you. Pick one: owl, cat, or toad.

There are seven word crawls in total, one for each book.  As you work your way through to the Battle of Hogwarts and the end of Year Seven, the tasks get more difficult.  Hopefully by the end though, you have a lot more words than you otherwise might have done!

There’s one more way Harry Potter usually ties back in to my writing process: background noise!  I love the Slytherin Common Room ambient mix, which stops me writing in silence, but isn’t distracting – although sometimes I change the frequency of the door slam 😉  It works great on it’s own, or in combination with the Parchment & Moss playlist.

My goals for Camp NaNoWriMo

Well…. I’m reviving the project I started in NaNoWriMo 2016 (which I completed HP Word Crawl 1 and 2 during!).  Sadly, while I have a vague idea I basically just made it up as I went along during November’s NaNoWriMo…right up until the point I hit a wall where I realised my overall idea doesn’t actually have a plot! I’m still at that point, so I’ve no idea how Camp will go. On the one hand, I hope if I power through the wall it’ll be a big breakthrough and I’ll eventually finish the story.  On the other, I’m worried I have no clue how to fix it and I’ll be at the end of this month with either the same word count or an additional tiny number of unrelated words that don’t move the story along at all!

So with that in mind, I’m setting my goal at 15,000 words, and hoping to get through at least the first two Harry Potter word crawls.  And hey, if it doesn’t work out, then come November I’ll either be taking on a new novel idea or I’ll be throwing myself back into fanfiction 😉