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20 Years of Magic
On June 26, 2017, the world celebrated the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. For many, including myself, this was the time to reflect on what the series had given them and to celebrate the magical world once again.

For me, the Harry Potter series was crucial to my development as a reader and a writer. I began my journey with the magical series in 2001 when I was 9 years old. I didn't come across the books on my own; I went to Catholic school so they weren't openly discussed. Instead, my mom's friend suggested that I read them. I remember that it took me a while to decide that I liked the first book, but once it finally got going I was hooked. In that same year, the first movie came out on my birthday and I begged my dad to take me. I remember trying to finish reading the book before we left to see it, but I was unsuccessful, so my dad let me stay up unusually late when we got home so I could finish reading it to make sure the movie got it right. For the most part, it did.

I moved more quickly through the next two books; Harry Potter and The Prizoner of Azkaban quickly became my favorite. It introduced two of my favorite characters, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, neither of which survived the series 1. Around this same time, I discovered fanfiction. As someone who had been writing and telling stories from a young age, this sounded like a great opportunity to expand my writing skills. I didn't have to build a world around what I was writing, I just had to work with what already existed. Writing fanfiction really solidified my desire to be a writer, and I remember that the feedback that I got was generally helpful. It also gave me a safe space to work through some of my adolescent emotions 2, since I didn't always feel that I could off of the page.

My love of the series and of writing also helped me be more social. I have always been an introverted person, so I enjoyed spending much of my time reading and mentally existing in this magical world. In my early teens I made a friend that also enjoyed the series and writing as well. Together we co-wrote page after page of fanfiction that ended up being close to novel length. Even though we are no longer friends and I no longer have the pages of writing, I am still thankful for the friendship that we had and the opportunity to share my love of writing with someone else.

As time progressed, I was finally caught up with the publication schedule for the remaining books. When Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was released, my family and I were on vacation, and my mom picked up the first copy she found for me. I read the book in two days. When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows was released, I managed to get my dad to take me to the bookstore at midnight, pleading that it was the last time that I would get that experience3. Once again, he left me on the couch when we got home so I could read as much as I wanted. Like the sixth book, it only took me two days to finish it. At that point, I had a complete sense of closure, both for the series and for writing fanfiction. I was able to take my love of the fantasy genre and writing to other things.

There are many other lessons I learned throughout the series, but those did not stick with me as strongly. Instead, I wish to thank J.K. Rowling for providing me a safe space to grow as a reader, an individual, and as a writer. Without the inspiration she provided, I do not think my path as a writer would have been as linear. In the next 20 years, I hope the series will continue to inspire new generations of readers and give them a safe space to explore their identities and interests.

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1 This still makes me very sad.
2 Yes, there was some fangirling going on there.
3 And my mom had already bought me the copy in advance. My parents were really supportive of my nerdiness and I am extremely thankful for that.

Ruby Re is a member of RCM's Summer Writing program. Have a question or want to say hello? Feel free to leave comments in the thread or tweet her @RubyRe_92.
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