Online Diary NO.4 -My Invisible Monster

Sometimes you need to give yourself a break.  And sometimes that is incredibly hard to do.

This post is going to be brutally honest about my illness.   Or, as I’m now calling it, my invisible monster.

I have crohns disease.  If you have journeyed to my blog before you will see I have touched upon it’s effects.

I’m not touching on it now, I’m waging full out war.

Before Christmas I had a flare, it was bad.  I won’t bore you with the details, paramedics were called and they decided to switch me to a dandy little medication called Humira.

Four injections and within three days I could eat again, within a month my horrific stomach pains had all but melted away and my joint pain was no more.  I thought it was a miracle and yet something was… off.

I was anxious, teary and emotional, at first I put it down to the stress of being made redundant and wedding planning.

Then while on holiday with a friend in Budapest, I noticed it.  I was in the shower, getting ready for a night out in the city when I ran a hand through my hair and watched as strands of it pulled away.

I shrugged it off.  It was cold in Budapest and I thought maybe it had something to do with the weather.  I proceeded to ignore it.

A few days later we arrived home, tired from our trip, I bade goodbye to my friend and went home to my flat where my fiancé greeted me.  That night I got into the shower and watched in horror as not just strands of my hair fell out onto the shower room floor but actual clumps.    The water around my feet wasn’t going down the drain and eventually I realised it was because my hair had clogged it.

I hopped out the shower as quick as I could, running to my other half.

“I’m not imagining  this am I?”  I asked, pointing to the shower floor.  “This isn’t normal?”

Shane said nothing – he didn’t have to.

I let out a bark of laughter.  “My hair is falling out.  I’m actually losing my fucking hair.” 

Suddenly all I wanted to do was clean the shower, never before had I been so keen to bleach the fuck out of it. “I’ve got to get rid of it.” But Shane hugged me, held me tight and whispered.  “Rach, go sit down, I’ll do it.”

I sat on our bed and I waited as he cleaned the shower.   That night I cried and then I hated myself for it.  I had never thought of myself as particularly vain but the prospect of going bald, of adding yet just one more symptom to the long list of unattractive things I had to deal with felt almost too much.

Over the next few days brushing my hair became a nightmare, and all across the flat you would find my hair in the oddest of places.  It clung to our bed sheets and pillows and big balls of it would come out of the washing machine.

Then, I came out in full body rashes, raised and red and hot and itchy, all over my stomach, back, arm and legs.

Crohns was horrible, the Humira was almost as bad.

And so the invisible monster had trumped me again, I was frog-marched down to the consultants where I was promptly told that I was allergic to the drug and that I was being put back onto Azathioprine.  Infliximab was too risky what with my reaction to the humira being so quick.

“However, if you do end up in hospital, as a last resort which would you rather be put on, infliximab or vedolizumab?”

I looked at the doctor, trying to determine whether or not he was joking.  Trying to decide whether or not now was an appropriate time to scream.

“Which one am I less likely to have a reaction to?”  I asked, calmly.

“You’re likely to have better luck with the vedolizumab.” He said.

Was this even a question?  “Then that one.” I said.

He typed something on his computer, presumably recording my choice.  Yet another colonoscopy was scheduled and we left.

My hair is still falling out two months later, though I think it might be slowing down.  I’m beginning to lose weight again, not rapidly but just enough that I’ve noticed.  I’m still itchy, though I’ve been reassured that when the Humira completely leaves my system that will most likely stop.

In the meantime I’m taking my Azathioprine (and trying to keep an eye on any potential side effects that may eventually give me.)  And I’m taking my iron supplements, and my b12 tablets and my biotin and I’m still going for my weekly blood tests to make sure that my liver levels are good because, apparently, Azathioprine can damage you there.

I’m writing this post because I have just cleaned my shower again and I have just brushed my hair and I’ve watched as clumps of it has landed in the sink and I feel…done.

I’m tired of being constantly tired.  I’m tired of feeling ill and when I’m not feeling ill wondering when I will be- because undoubtedly it will happen.

I’m tired of the stomach pain, the joint pain, the nausea, the constant trips to the loo, the skin rashes, the mouth ulcers, the weight loss, the constant never ending anxiety.

I’m tired of taking drugs that harm me as much as they heal me.

I’m twenty-three and I’m losing my hair.  On valentines day just past I was in hospital, with a camera in my colon watching in a drug fuelled haze as the doctor took biopsies from inside my stomach – breathing in the happy gas which, truth be told, didn’t make me all that frickin happy.

I’m tired of always talking about my illness.

But more than anything I am terrified.   Almost two years of this illness and the road to recovery is slow and painful.  I’m scared of being deadweight on the people I love.   I panic that my soon to be husband has bitten off more than he can chew.   I am no longer the happy-go-lucky, healthy girl that he fell in love with, but this weak, blithering thing that is always monitoring herself, and constantly on the phone with the doctors.

I’m scared for the future, and what the invisible monster will bring.

When you’re young and envisioning your future, you don’t picture this.  You don’t imagine hospital gowns and injections and the man you love sitting in the waiting room with the boxing magazines you bought him.

You don’t imagine a scenario where your mum calls you every day to check on your symptoms.

I am surrounded by people who love and support me, yet in my lowest moments I feel completely alone, utterly frustrated and angry.

I don’t feel in control.  And that is terrifying.  The invisible monster is waging a battle inside my body and the little bastard is winning.

Sometimes we need a break.  I need a break from the battle, a little respite so that I can win the war.  I have spent the entire day in bed, watching Mr Selfridge and feeling pretty darn sorry for myself.  I’m not going to lie, I’ve been wallowing.  I’ve been wallowing for a while now.

Because there are times where the world is this shining, glimmering place, and I am all too aware of just how darn lucky I am.

And then there are times where it feels as though some almighty being is deliberately pulling at my strings just to see how long it will take me to snap.

I want to say I’m done feeling sorry for myself.  That I’m done being pathetic.  But like everyone I have my ups and downs and I make no promises to not have days where I commit myself to curling up in a duvet and turning the bedroom into a batcave.

I have a lot to look forward too and being scared is natural.  All I can do is fight the good fight.

Because although there is no cure for crohns (not yet anyway – fingers crossed) I do still believe that all monsters can be defeated.  Even invisible ones.

So today I’m going to lay in bed a little longer and wait for my partner to come home.  I’m going to curl up in bed next to the man who has seen me at my worst and yet still cleaned up my hair from the drain.

And tomorrow, I’m going to get up and brandish my sword because this war is not yet over.

To all my fellow fighters out there, don’t feel guilty about not always being strong.  We all need to let ourselves be weak sometimes.  Smiling is not always the best armour and making jokes may not be the best defence.  Let yourself feel what you feel and don’t be afraid to admit that you’re not okay.

Because one day, maybe not today or tomorrow, you will be.

Rachel

Online Diary No.3 – Fighting, Forgiving, Forgetting

 

I am an excellent fighter, I can even forgive sometimes, but I can’t forget.

And this is a problem.  Days after forgiving someone, I find myself still rolling the argument/situation around in my head.  Analysing it from every angle.  I can feel myself sinking into a spiral and yet I can’t seem to stop myself.

But if so and so knew this why would they do that?

Are they lying to me?

What’s wrong with me?

I should have said this, I should have done that.

What does it even  matter, I don’t care anyway.

Yes, I really, really do. 

Around and around it goes.

I go through periods in my life where anxiety overtakes me.  Weeks or even months go by where I feel as though something heavy is sitting on my chest and an invisible dark cloud is hovering above my head.

I find myself trapped inside my own mind.  I question my own actions, I question the people around me; their motives, their feelings.  I wake up and from the second I open my eyes to the moment I shut them the world, it feels, is against me.

Eventually something snaps me out of it, and I can go six/seven months (even a year) before the next relapse.

It’s easy to drown in the negatives and believe the worst in yourself and the people around you.

It’s easier to fight than it is to truly forgive and forget.

Yet this is a lesson I must learn for my own sake more that anyone else’s. Because holding onto anger and reliving the situation in your own mind only causes you pain.  And you’re the one who was hurt to begin with, so where is the sense in that?

Stop punishing yourself with your own thoughts.

I’m not saying don’t be angry and I’m not saying you can’t be upset when you have every right to be so.  What I’m saying is that it reaches a point where you have to draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough.  I have to move on from this now.  

Because people are messy and they make mistakes, and even those closest to us can hurt us.  Just as we, in turn, can hurt them.

So distract yourself, every time you feel your thoughts drifting to the subject that makes your heart beat too erratically, and summons that queasy feeling to your chest, listen to a song that makes you smile, read a favourite book, call someone you love.

Make a list of what it is that is upsetting you.  Then rip it into tiny pieces.

Make a list of all the things that makes you smile, and plaster it somewhere you can see it every morning.

Distractions.  Go out and try not to wallow.

Eventually my anxiety and anger will fade, day by day it will get a little easier until one day I’ll realize that it has gone completely.

Fighting is natural.  Forgiving is necessary.  Forgetting comes with time.

So for New Years my resolution is to try and open myself for forgiveness to those who deserve it.  My resolution is to love more and hate less.  Because sometimes people are stupid, and sometimes people are thoughtless and it hurts.

But I believe we can make it hurt less if we try.

Happy New Year people of the interweb,

Rachel xxx

The Last Stint

NaNoWriMo.  You cheeky little son of a bitch.

I am now 39,000 words in.

I was doing so well!  I was ahead of target and everything, then I got cocky and I slowed down and yesterday I didn’t write a thing.  Not one damned thing.

Now there are less than three days left of the month and I need to put 11,000 words down onto paper.

*Hyperventilates into a paper bag.*

I’m fine, really.

I’M FINE.

It’s incredible that I have written so much in the last month, I’m certain most of it will be scrapped on an edit, but it’s still there!   In black and white and saved on USB.

It’s even more incredible that it’s these last 11,000 words that seem destined to kill me.

I’ve only written one another book in full before, and I found myself doing the same thing then.  I saw I was close to the end and I rushed to type out everything as quickly as possible, yet the faster I typed the less seemed to find it’s way onto the page.

But I got there eventually.  And I am convinced that come Wednesday I will be able to type the words ‘THE END’ in bold beautiful letters onto my last page.

It’s painful and it’s frustrating but we have to remind ourselves why we do this.

We do this because there are stories living inside of us that need to be told.  Even if they are not necessarily heard.

We do this because sometimes when we find our story we discover something about ourselves as well.

We do this because we love it, even when we hate it.

So, take a deep breath, get those laptops a-humming and type your angsty little  hearts out.

50,000 words, here we fucking come.

 

Best Wishes,

Rachel

 

EARN THOSE BADGES DAMMIT.

It’s been a rough month for me.  And I don’t know whether this has reflected in my writing.

I have definitely been using NaNoWriMo as a distraction.   I am more determined than ever to complete this draft by the end of the month.

Come hell or high water… It. Will. Get. Done.

So when I hit that 25,000 mark yesterday and I saw that beautiful shining badge on my NaNo dashboard, I felt elated.

I can do this.

There is a power in being able to pour all of your emotions out onto the page, regardless of whether it is read by anyone else.  Simply seeing your own feelings laid out in front of you can somehow make you feel validated.

My project this NaNo is a YA novel, so even though my own feelings aren’t a part of the story, it feels as though I can channel these pent up emotions and stuff them into my characters.  It’s therapeutic, it’s satisfying and it makes for a better novel.  (Not to mention it probably lends the right level of teenage angst into the mix.)

Or at least I hope so.

So, it’s day 14 of NaNoWriMo, and I’m feeling confident that this year, I will reach the word target.  And, judging from twitter, I’m not alone.   Hundreds of NaNo-ers are hitting word goals all over the place.

Motivate yourself with badges, with chocolate and with caffeine.

Let’s get this shit done 🙂

Happy writings’ you crazy bunch!

Rachel xx

 

 

 

The Messy Stuff

Feelings are messy.

This is the simple and honest truth.   And when you love someone?  Well, that’s not just messy, that’s chaos.

I am very lucky.   I fell in love at sixteen, and darn it the man hasn’t been able to get rid of me since!  And I can honestly say that falling in love was the best thing to ever happen to me, it took my life down a completely unexpected path, made me open to my feelings and taught me how to be a kinder, less cynical person.

But boy does love hurt.  If anyone told you otherwise they were lying.

Love is an almost constant ache in your chest for the other person.  Love can consume you.   Love breaks you from the inside and remakes you.   It is so powerful, so fierce, that if you are not careful, your love for the other person can swallow you whole until you disappear into them.

Love means having to deal with other less savoury types of feelings like jealousy, fear and panic.   This past week has been a reminder to me that no matter how long you have been with a person, or how much you love each other,  these uglier emotions can still sometimes get the better of you.   Overriding your logic and sending you into a downward spiral where you have to hit rock bottom before you can start climbing your way out again.

Love is scary and it can hurt.

But to truly put yourself out there and dare to share your life with another person?   That’s nothing short of magic.   The kind of magic that comes from the little every day moments; like seeing your partner sleep, or laughing at their jokes, or even watching them cook.   The moments that make you stop mid-breath and remember just how damn lucky you are to have someone so genuine in your life.

I don’t believe in soul mates and I don’t believe in destiny.  But I believe in love and loyalty.  I believe the people who fall into our lives land there by pure chance, and then if they stick around?  Well, that’s because they chose to do so.   I think the choice is a far more powerful and romantic thing.

I guess what I’m saying is – love fully and love with everything you have.   But don’t forget to love yourself equally hard.

 

Best Wishes interweb,

Rachel xx

 

REVIEW – JANE EYRE, CHARLOTTE BRONTE

Wow.

This book…just…wow.

I asked my mum for a copy of it for last Christmas and she bought me this lovely, cloth-bound edition. Now, I know, a good reader should not “judge a book by it’s cover” but there are some books that take pride on my book shelf not just because of it’s content but also for what it is packaged in. Some books are just wonderful to hold.

Anyway, onto the review.

Charlotte Bronte, you wonderful, wonderful woman. I can’t help but wonder what she may have been like if she lived in the 21st century, she was so ahead of her time. I know some people say that Bronte wasn’t a feminist, but there is something definitely proto-feminist in her works;

“Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, to absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”

Jane Eyre is a fantastic character, quiet, unassuming and yet completely sure of herself. She also has some of the best character development that I have ever read, towards the end of the novel she gains such self-confidence that you feel proud of her, despite knowing that she is fictional.

I also love that this is not just a mere romance novel. Although that is one of the most captivating elements of it. It’s about finding yourself, and knowing for yourself what you can and can not do. Jane learns through hardship that she can forgive those who wronged her and she knows that she can’t be with Mr Rochester because of his still breathing, yet strark-raving mad wife.  Yet she can neither bring herself to marry St John.

Mr Rochester was also a complex character, I found myself hating him one page then swooning the next. The fantastic thing is that, while you sympathize with him, you can’t quite bring yourself to thinking him just in his actions.

The Gothic element of the novel is just icing on an already delicious cake. Aside from the slightly over-flowery descriptions at points, I can find barely a fault in this novel.

[ I know some people find it abhorrent that Rochester losing his sight was the only way for them to become “equal” but I don’t think that was where Bronte was coming from. I think she had a more religious analogy there. Samson Judges 13:19–24 is a powerful man granted with supernatural strength by God, who had two weaknesses. Distrustful women and vanity. After he tries to marry someone that his parents do not approve of he is blinded. Sound familiar? The only difference here is that Samson dies without his sight, here, however Rochester repents and is eventually rewarded by being able to – at least partially – see again. Or, it could be that Bronte wanted to exchange Rochester’s physical sight in order for him to more clearly see his sins and God, therefore gaining metaphorical sight and then, once achieving that, being awarded with physical sight once more. Either way, I enjoyed this vulnerability he now had, enabling him to speak as plainly with Jane as she did with him without him having to resort to jealousy tactics or dressing up as a gypsy. I thought it was touching.]

Overall, I really enjoyed the whole experience of reading Jane Eyre and am sure I will revisit it often. It will definitely be going on my favourite shelf!

Five stars!

“Jane, be still; don’t struggle so like a wild, frantic bird, that is rending its own plumage in its desperation.”
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being, with an independent will; which I now exert to leave you.”
.

The Before and After

For a while now I have struggled with whether or not to write this post.

I wondered whether or not it seemed attention-seeking or vaguely obnoxious.

But then I have nights like these and I think, fuck it.   What’s the worst that can happen?

In July 2015 of last year I started showing symptoms of Crohns.   At first I thought it was food poisoning, but then… I didn’t get better.

By January this year it was official.  I was diagnosed.

For those of you who don’t know what Crohns is, it’s an autoimmune disease of the most embarrassing variety.  But for the most part, aside from the weight loss and leg rashes, it’s invisible.

Which means I spend a lot of time telling people about my illness.  Because, on the outside, 9 times out of 10, I look fine.  I have to explain  why I’m unable to do certain things and that I’m not well because otherwise they simply don’t believe me.

But you’re young.   I can see them thinking.  You look fine to me.

They don’t get to see the hours I spend in the toilet (thank god.)  Or the sheer amount of pills I have to take at the beginning of each day.   Most people haven’t seen me at my lowest, crippled over and crying because the joint pain in my leg is just that bad and it’s simply not fair.

They don’t see the 38 cm of the inside of my stomach that is covered in ulcers and inflamed.

“Can’t you just change your diet?”  Some people will say.

Yeah, okay.  Because if it were that simple I wouldn’t have done it already?  It’s an autoimmune disease, it is my immune system attacking an infection that isn’t there.  I can change my diet and yeah it might help a little, but it won’t stop my jobs-worth of an immune system from working over time to cause me pain.

“Sorry, I didn’t realise you were a fucking doctor.”   I have to refrain myself from saying.

Because the reality is I’m not angry at them.  (Well, maybe a little bit.)   I’m angry at myself, at the body that I feel has betrayed me.

And then here we are, nights like this.  Where, I’m not in pain but I’m uncomfortable.  Where it feels like I have cotton wool stuffed inside my stomach and for the life of me I can’t sleep and I can’t decide if it’s because of the steroids I’m on or because of said uncomfortable feeling.

So I find myself scrolling through facebook and instagram pictures looking over photos and then I start to do this thing where I think to myself “Oh that was before the illness” or “Oh I was at my worst there…”

I separate things into before the illness and after.

And I never like the results.

Because the fact of the matter is this.   I will never be healthy like I was before again.  I am on the right treatment now, and I am already feeling a lot better than I did six months ago, but the simple, cold-hard truth of the matter is this.   Things will never be the same.   I will always be on immunosuppressant’s, heck my dose may even go up!  I will continue to have regular blood tests, and I’m positive that there will be a fair few more colonoscopies and MRI scans in my future.

And that’s okay.  As long as the treatment works (fingers crossed) and allows me to live my life as healthily as can reasonably be expected, I will not complain.

(That’s a lie, I might still complain a little but not nearly as much.)

What I don’t want to do is let my illness define me.  Yes, it’s a part of my life and I can’t change that.  But it’s not who I am.

I am first and foremost, a person.  A girl from Brighton; eccentric and weird with a love of tattoos and red hair dye, an obsession with my dog, a habit of reading too many books at once and of singing loudly in the shower and a thousand other things I haven’t even discovered yet.  Oh and a fierce passion for writing.

So that’s what I’ll do, I’ll write about it.  And maybe someone else who is going through something similar can take comfort in the fact that they are not alone.

It’s funny, we have no idea what we are capable of dealing with until we are forced to do jus that.   I had no idea the amount of pain I could stomach (haha, stomach, get it?  I’ll show myself out…) until there was no other choice but to push through it.

But push through it I did.  And now that I have seen myself at my worst, I know my own strength.  It’s not a beautiful strength, far from it.  It’s an ugly, wallowing, cynical thing – but it’s there and it’s mine and I’m grateful for it.

So, to anyone else out there who might be going through your first treatment of steroids, or preparing for your first colonoscopy.

It’s not pleasant.  It’s not fun.  And it certainly ain’t pretty.

But you will get through it and six months down the line you’ll have your first few really good days.  You’ll have a moment when you’ll realize it’s been a week since you last threw up a meal, or that it’s been THREE WHOLE DAYS since you had to go to bed at seven with your hot water bottle clutched to your stomach, or (my personal favourite) your first time sitting through a decent dinner and actually enjoying it.

It will be hard but it will be worth it.

Best wishes interweb,

Rachel xxxx

 

In Need of Matchsticks

2nd/3rd November

I am so very, very tired I have no idea how I have stayed up to write this.

Anyway, I have had a revelation.

Post-its are good, sleep is also good and coffee is magic.

All three of the above have helped me kick-start my first proper NaNoWriMo Day of 2016.   (I am already uncertain of how long this shall last.)

In other news, facebook is bad, Netflix is also bad, and getting up continuously to make coffee is time wasting, despite the fact that coffee is magic.

Anyway, where was I?  Ah yes.  My revelation.

The key to NaNoWriMo.

My new motto, if you will:

It doesn’t matter if what you’re writing is  shit, as long as you’re writing it.

I know it’s not that inspirational but, here’s the thing, I was so concerned that what I was writing was bad that it would take me an hour to write a measly three hundred words.   NaNoWriMo isn’t about perfection, it’s about getting shit done.

It’s about writing.  Simple as that.   You can go back and edit later, you can take sentences out, re-write them, move them, swap chapters, insert commas, fuck it you can even delete characters if you really want, but the point is you can do it later.  When you already have 50,000 plus words under your belt.  When you have room to play.

You have ideas, lots of them, and sometimes when you put pen to paper those ideas just don’t come out how you want them to.  So you delete it and put it off and re-write and delete and on and on it goes until you have nothing to show for it and only an idea still just floating around in your brain-space.

NaNoWriMo forces you to put it on paper (or laptop, whatever) regardless of how cringe-worthy, embarrassingly bad it may be.  It’s there, and wahey, oh look you have the beginnings of a novel draft.

And that’s an accomplishment.

So tomorrow/today is day three.  Aim for your word count.  Don’t even read through what you’re writing at this point.  At the end of November you will have your 50,000 words and you can read it then.

And then you can play.

Happy Writings you crazy NaNoWriMo-ers.

Rachel xx

NaNoWriMo2016

1st November

It’s here.

I am not ready.

Last year was my first NaNoWriMo, only last year I didn’t find out about it until the 10th of November, so naturally I was doomed from the beginning.

But this year, I have no such excuse.

For those of  you who are thinking “what is this NaNoWriMo?”  Or “Is this girl on crack?” The answers are as follows:

NaNoWriMo stands for NATIONAL NOVEMBER WRITING MONTH.  It started in America (but don’t worry we of the small island can also participate) and the goal is to write 50,000 words in, you guessed it, the month of November.

And the other answer is no, but I haven’t ruled it out yet.  I may need some to force myself awake and type those 50,000 words until my fingers turn bloody and my eyes resemble an extra’s from The Walking Dead.

THIS YEAR I SHALL BE DISCIPLINED.

I’m aiming for 1,500 words a day, that is my target.  However I feel myself falling asleep even as I type this so the last 400 will have to wait until tomorrow.

It’s the 1st of November.  1,111 words down, only 48,889 words to go.

Let me know your thoughts on NaNoWriMo in the comments below, your word targets, genres and overall thoughts.

Happy writing!

Rachel xx

 

Art: Intent vs. Interpretation

23rd October

Some vague thoughts on art and writing and what it means to create things.

To what extent is it important to know what the artist/author intended?

When does art stop belonging to the artist and instead belong to the public?

When I left my uni lecture on Saturday these were the questions that stuck out the most in my mind.  We were discussing Doctor Faustus and Marlowe’s message behind the play.  Is Doctor Faustus a morale teaching, similar to that of the story of Icarus who’s pride takes him too close to the sun?  Are we supposed to finish the play and consider ourselves warned not to blaspheme/sin against God?  Or is it actually a critique of God and the Christian religion itself?  Highlighting that when Faustus calls upon God only Devils answer…

As we went over these questions it became clear that regardless of Marlowe’s intent, it is the impression that the work leaves upon the viewer that is truly important.   Two people of two different backgrounds could view the same piece of work and take two completely different messages from it, rendering the artist’s original intentions inconsequential.

Of course, this leads to a whole host of other questions.  As soon as a play is written does that mean that the author’s original intent no longer matters at all?  As soon as a book is published does it no longer belong to the author but instead to the person who buys it?

Put in modern context, fanfiction is an excellent example of where the lines become blurred.  Harry Potter, (yes I’m going there) was directly influential on fanfiction,  spawning hundreds of thousands of stories set in the world of Harry Potter and it’s characters.  Yet it’s new art in on itself but completely separate to JK Rowling’s original work.  Does Harry Potter still belong to JK Rowling, or does it belong to the avid fans that have interpreted it in their own ways and taken it to different places?

Like Doctor Faustus, Harry Potter has religious themes (although far less obvious.)  Harry conquers Death and rises again, much like Jesus.  You could make arguments for Harry Potter being a Christian allegory, you could equally argue that it’s simply a fantastical book about a boy wizard and a magical school.

So what is more important, interpretation or intent?

I would argue both.  The intent of the author normally adds weight to the story/poem/song/piece of art.  Particularly if you take the piece in context of when it was made and the social/political issues of the time.  However, ultimately, your own biases and views will colour your view of the work and leave you with whatever message fits best to your own mind.

Does art ever stop belonging to the artist and instead belong to the public?

This is, in my opinion, a complex topic.  I own many books and would consider each of them mine.  I can draw fan art based around these works and in some cases write my own pieces of work for them, but it does not make them mine any more than taking a photo of someone allows me to own that person.  However an artist cannot control what we think or what we take from their work, so maybe this is a question without any real answers?

I would love to hear your thoughts, so by all means please comment below 🙂

Oh and, if this topic mildly interested you, below is a link to an article that Neil Gaiman wrote.  It takes the idea of art ownership a step forward to artist ownership and the sense of entitlement that we may feel as consumers.

http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/05/entitlement-issues.html

Enjoy.

Best wishes,

Rachel x