Or more accurately, what DID J.K Rowling do?
So in honour of Harry Potter’s 20th anniversary, here’s a reminder that failure doesn’t mean the end of everything. In fact, it can be the start of something great.
Rewind 20 years ago and the 51 year old was an unemployed, single mum struggling to make ends meet.
"I had an old typewriter and a big idea. I had failed on an epic scale. I was jobless, a lone parent and as poor as it is possible to be in Modern Britain without being homeless," she's said.
"Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life."
The story goes that the idea for the novel that started it all, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, came to Rowling during a four-hour delayed train ride while she was working at the Chamber of Commerce in Manchester. She begun writing the stories on her typewriter before moving to Portugal to become an English teacher.
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There, she met, fell in love with and married Portugese television journalist Jorge Aranted with whom she had a daughter Jessica, now 23. Four months later, the couple separated and in December 1993, Rowling moved to Edinburgh, Scotland to be near her sister.
During this period, Rowling said she regarded herself as a failure. She was also diagnosed with clinical depression, a feeling which went on to inspire the soul-sucking dementors of her novels.
"I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me," she said in a 2008 address to Harvard University.