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What did JK Rowling tell two aspiring authors on Twitter?

JK Rowling's Twitter feed has been a source of positivity for the marginalized, and she continues this trend by giving advice to discouraged writers-to-be.

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File photograph shows British writer JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series of books, posing during the launch of the website Pottermore in London June 23, 2011. Ms. Rowling offered words of encouragement to two future authors who reached out to her via Twitter on Saturday.

Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters/file

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JK Rowling can’t tell you how to become a wizard, but she can tell you how to become a writer.

Though Harry Potter and his friends have probably never heard of Twitter, their creator relies on the platform to communicate with her more than 5 million followers. Ms. Rowling is known for using Twitter to stand up for equal rights and empowerment, and on Saturday she lent encouragement to two aspiring authors.

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Both Twitter users turned to Rowling for advice on how to overcome pressure from others to abandon their literary dreams. One said his or her parents denied that writing was “a worthy profession.” The other said that in Egypt, where she lives, “girls can’t do anything as freely as boys.”

Rowling offered the first a glimpse into her personal rise to writer-hood: she said she wrote “on the sly” while pretending to be interested in another career. The second, she advised to “turn [their laughter] into fuel.”

The feminist vein reflected in Rowling’s second tweet seems to run in the Harry Potter family: Rowling’s encouragement to break the shackles of gender-based oppression echo a similar piece of advice given by Harry Potter actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson. Earlier this year, Ms. Watson gave a somewhat pithier response to a female Twitter user whose father told her she could not be an engineer because it was a “men’s profession.”

Watson’s reply: “Become an engineer.”

But Rowling doesn’t only use Twitter to stand up for women. Gay rights advocacy has been a common theme on her social media feed. Her revelation, in a talk at Carnegie Hall in 2007, that her character Albus Dumbledore was gay has brought Rowling into the heart of the movement. When one user tweeted in March, “I wonder why you said that Dumbledore is a gay because I can’t see him in that way," Rowling responded, “Maybe because gay people just look like... people?”

She also celebrated the legalization of same sex marriage in Ireland in May, and last December she shared an image that lent depth to Harry’s childhood bedroom, the cupboard under the stairs:

Her outspokenness on the issue is deliberate: in condemnation of anti-gay rhetoric from the Westboro Baptist Church, Rowling tweeted in May, “I think it's important that scared gay kids who aren't out yet see hate speech challenged.”

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Though the final installment in the Harry Potter series was released eight years ago, Rowling has continued bringing the fantasy world to life through supplemental materials like the interactive website Pottermore. The movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which takes its title from one of Harry’s textbooks, will explore the wizarding world from a different perspective and is set for release in theaters in November 2016.


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