What Your Hogwarts House Says About How and Why You Write
Apologies, y'all. This is a bit of a frivolous post for today as I am under deadline for book 2 and therefore do not have the mindspace for anything more significant or useful. Anyway! The other week, I was out to dinner with Roshani Chokshi and a friend of hers, who was also an aspiring writer. We got to talking about our Hogwarts Houses and the reasons for why we write, so I thought I'd write a little bit about our conclusions.
[box type="note"]To preface this, I am going off of my Hogwarts House Matrix in terms of alignments and core values, not necessarily what J. K. Rowling says via Pottermore![/box]
In my Hogwarts House Matrix, I defined the core value of Gryffindor as Justice. I think that at their best, Gryffindors give voice to the voiceless through their writing. Of all the Houses, I think Gryffindors tend to be the most passionate about championing causes in literature: diversity, literacy, accessibility, etc. They're generally the ones at the forefront of hard but necessary conversations, and their books are often filled with characters overthrowing oppressive governments or fighting against prejudice. (Like...all of Harry Potter.)
One of the pitfalls of being Gryffindor is that, in your zeal to bring attention to your pet cause, you risk trampling over others. Giving voice to the voiceless is admirable...when you remember to hand the microphone over.
As the core value of Hufflepuff is Fairness, I tend to think of writers in this House as the craftsmen of the writing world. They're the ones who are forever striving to better their craft, to listen and take in everyone's feedback. I think Hufflepuffs are the most conscientious readers and writers of the four Houses—the ones most likely to hire sensitivity readers, and also the ones most likely to evaluate what they read based on objective execution, not personal enjoyment.
One of the pitfalls of Hufflepuff is working so much on your craft that you fail to take the next step, believing your work needs to reach an objective idea of "good" before it can be published. There is a difference between Good Writing and Good Storytelling, and in publishing, it is the latter that matters more. (But both are ideal, obviously.)
It seems natural that Ravenclaws, whose core value is Knowledge, would probably gravitate towards nonfiction, but there are plenty of Ravenclaws (like myself) who more or less write fiction exclusively. I can't speak for all other members of my House, of course, but personally, I write to better know myself. Nearly everything I've written has involved me trying to work through something—a theme, an idea, etc. Often I figure out what it is I'm trying to work through in hindsight ("Oh, I was trying to examine how colonialism affects feminism!") because the subconscious brings things to the table that the conscious may not necessarily notice straightaway because it's too busy trying to resolve plot logistics. Similarly, every book I've written has been an amalgamation of things that interest me: German typography, Underworld narratives, goth tropes, etc.
One of the pitfalls of Ravenclaw is getting so caught up in research, you never move forward with actual writing. (Guilty as charged.) Ravenclaws can also get lost in the forest because they can't see it for the trees. Little details matter less than big picture narrative arcs.
Slytherins love Success. How they choose to define said success is incredibly individualistic; some believe success means a lot of money. Others believe it is critical acclaim. Still others believe success means they get better with each book. However Slytherins choose to define success is their raison d'être for writing. Now, I'm not one who subscribes to the hybrid House idea, but I think the writing world is weirdly full of Slytherpuffs. Well, maybe not so weird, as I think a lot of writers hunger for success, but also want things to be fair. I think what determines whether or not you are Slytherin or Hufflepuff comes down to how you answer this one question: Would you keep writing even if it meant you never get published?
Really think about this for a minute. If you've been writing and writing and writing and writing for years and keep getting close, but no cigar, do you think Maybe someday or What can I change to finally get there? There is no right or wrong answer, only your own subjective response. It comes down to a matter of validation, whether or not you wait for the world to change to meet your writing goals, or whether you change your writing goals to meet the world. The former is Hufflepuff, the latter is Slytherin.
One of the pitfalls of Slytherin is that you can end up betraying your personal aesthetic or voice if you think it would help you achieve however you've defined Success. Instead of changing your work, maybe changing your definition of Success would better serve you in the long run.
That's it! Let us know in the comments what House you are, and whether or not you think I'm way off base with my analysis.