Today I get to do what I love–write. I always look forward to doing it. I even enjoy shopping lists. I have been that way since the day I picked up a pencil and wrote my first story at the age of three. I wrote, “Once upon a time”…it looked like a bunch of loopy loops on the pages of a steno pad. That’s when my mom decided I needed to learn how to read and write. I learned very quickly because I was fascinated by words. My first book I read was “The Story of My Life by Helen Keller.” I loved that book and I always walked around the house blindfolded with my ears covered trying to know how life was like for her.
Now, 40 years later, I turned that exercise into a book about an elf. I was originally working on a script about the life of Bob Marley and was getting migraines and was very unhappy because I was stressed out to the hilt. One night, I was crying and writing my thoughts on paper (I am never without a notebook or something with lines and a pen or pencil–ever. I feel naked without those two things all the time). I wrote something to the effect of “why do I do this?” I wanted to know what was the point of writing if no one reads anymore.
I got a very clear voice out of the silence of that moment say to me, “to see beyond all that lingers.” That was the weirdest thing I ever heard but it was so profound, I wrote it down and tried to figure out what it meant. That was when I wrote what most would call the “writing no-no” of three P.O.Vs that made up the first chapter of what became Book II: The Saga of Thranduil. I had no choice–the entire book is in first person but how can the main character describe himself without sounding narcissistic? It seemed to work because it went from third person to second person to first person rather interestingly (as told me by a unbiased reader and Tolkien fan).
In less than a year, ended up with 360 + pages that had to be put into three books instead of one. I enjoyed being with my characters again. I loved it–it was freedom. I broke my shackles and ran off on an adventure (like Bilbo) and didn’t look back until the first printing jammed my printer. It was then that I realized I wrote a lot more than I thought.
You want to know what writing a fan fiction written specifically to follow Tolkien canon looks like?
Every volume Tolkien every wrote, lots of toy soldiers and the Mythopoeic standard of Elvish (and other Tolkien Languages). This was before I got “The Fall of Arthur” and “Monsters and Critics”. But this crate is so heavy, it needs wheels.
I have enjoyed every moment and can’t wait to do more. Book II has gotten a lot of notice–so much so, I had to convince someone that my words were mine and not Tolkien (which meant they’ve never read Tolkien because though I am not writing the story in “hip-isms” of this age, I don’t sound anything like Tolkien (except in some prose)–and don’t want to. Tolkien is my muse. This is my story in his world. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Just writing the Battle of the Five Armies from the perspective of Thranduil took nearly a week of memorizing the Hobbit version and writing within it while writing around it–never changing the original.
I guess I understand what those words whispered to me a year ago meant–to see beyond all that lingers. The hard work is as fun as the writing. If I had to do it all over again, I would do it in a New York Minute.–J.