Tolkien’s Words of Wisdom

I know I’ve been a terrible blogger these past couple of months. Between a nice long week at the beach and Dragon*Con a few weeks back, life has been super busy. Oh and Guild Wars 2. That has definitely been a black hole for my free time. Although I went to lots of fan panels at Dragon*Con, I also attended a couple of writer panels. They’re always inspiring, and I want to share what I learned with you all in a later post.

I finished up edits on “The Mysterious Disappearance of Charlene Kerringer” this weekend and will be sending that along to Zharmae for their upcoming compilation. The tough part is figuring out a 300 word biography to go along with it. Is it crazy that I stress over that ten times more than I do anything else I write? Reading over Charlene again made me excited to see it in print. It’s definitely one of my “out there” fantasy tales, and it definitely doesn’t go in the direction you expect.

For now, though, I’ve got writing tips from one of the masters: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Top Tips for Writers. Here are a few points that really inspired me.

He had to balance his day job with his desire to write epic stories set in Middle Earth. He found time. He made time. It took him 7 years to write The Hobbit. (117) The thing that he writes about most in this period is his struggle to get the work finished on his novels and to balance teaching and his many duties at Oxford College. Apparently he found a way.

Even Tolkien had a day job to contend with while he tried to get his writing goals accomplished. To think that it took him seven years to write a relatively short book, The Hobbit, and knowing how dense his Lord of the Rings series is, you really get a feel for how much love and work he poured into his books. If a master of words like Tolkien had to deal with the troubles of everyday work life, then I don’t feel so bad complaining.

Tolkien writes: “I now find The Lord of the Rings ‘good in parts”(349).  This is to say that upon reading his books years after writing them his writing experience informs him that he is a much better writer than when he published The Hobbit.

The sad part is I already feel like this regarding an early rough draft piece I’m still needing to go through the rest of the way. My editing pile is slowly creeping higher and higher unfortunately…

Tolkien also got a lot of inspiration from his dreams. The article talks in more detail about how his drowning dreams led to several motifs in his work, and it’s neat to see how dreams show up differently in stories. He related this helpless drowning feeling to the way Middle Earth was invaded by Mordor and on top of that you see many potential watery graves in the series. As a writer I can definitely agree with this. Many of my stories also get inspired from some detailed scene or bizarre event in a dream, though the more action-packed or terrifying ones tend to stick with me more. The work that spins out from it always feels more personal to me, like I’ve put a piece of myself into the story. Although scientifically I know that dreams are just seemingly random flashes of thoughts in the brain, I wonder how different our creative world would be without them. Sounds a bit terrible, doesn’t it?

Speaking of dreams, I got to brainstorming with my sister about my next book on Friday. One of the scenes I wanted to find a way to slip in was from a dream I had years ago. Think millions of vibrant colors over a vast, open skyline. She thought it sounded incredible and helped me figure out how to mesh together the two worlds I wanted to exist in the storyline. Saturday I felt inspired, so I sat down and mocked up a few character biographies for the main heroine and fleshed out some of her immediate family. I’m hoping to start on it this November for NaNoWriMo, but if I get too antsy to start I may do it early. Right now I’m working on edits for Ghosts of Pikes Peak, which will then be shipped off to my two favorite beta readers. One of them has been wanting to read it since I keep laughing about how amusing it is. I guess it’s good when your own characters make you laugh.

After that, I’m off to find an agent. Here’s hoping I can get the Agent of My Dreams like Tex. 🙂