In July 2007, J.K. Rowling published the final book in her Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It was a highly anticipated book that had people wondering what the hell the Horcruxes were, what a Deathly Hallow was, whether or not Snape was actually a decent guy, how Harry would defeat Voldemort, and if old J.K. would live up to the promises in her series. It was also, some of us naively thought, the signal that we could finally, finally move past Harry Potter and on with our lives. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
While I could get into the seventh book’s manifold problems and the numerous issues people had with it, what I really want to talk about is J.K.’s weird need to rewrite her own series and keep herself in the spotlight. She started doing this almost immediately upon the series’ conclusion, starting with her bombshell that Dumbledore was actually gay through her weird announcement that she wished she’d paired up Harry and Hermione to the most recent development that the Dursleys were abusive to Harry because James once teased Vernon. And don’t forget that she’s writing a new screenplay based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and that Pottermore, the online Harry Potter world simulation, is still chugging along.
I know that millions of people loved and still love Harry Potter, but J.K. really needs to stop. I cannot think of a single other modern author (or past author) who spends so much time publically revising her work – especially since it’s been published. It feels desperate and grasping and is doing very little to help the canon. Hardcore fans on Tumblr and FanFiction.net are wondering why she has to ruin the most solidly balanced relationship in the franchise, why she’s depicting Ron as a chubby loser, why she couldn’t include some of this information in her actual books, and why she just won’t let them enjoy her work. It’s starting to seem as though she resents the thousands of works of fanfiction out there and wants to be the only person who can talk about, write about, or theorize about her work. It seems selfish.
As a writer, we’re taught that at some point you have to let your work go. You have to stop tinkering with it because you’re eventually going to start messing it up. You have to sit back and let it speak for itself because if it can’t, it simply isn’t a good piece. For a decade, Harry Potter spoke for itself, and while the series may have developed more and more problems with each subsequent book, the world was still intact and still magical. J.K. needs to let it be magical. She needs to let the books speak more than she is. And if she’s not happy, why doesn’t she just write a new book? Fans would love that and it would re-cement her status as a writer and not someone constantly demanding attention. I know I’d appreciate it.