Image: ©2012. Warner Brothers Pictures. The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey. All Rights Reserved.
The battle for legitimacy has begun. I was about to go to bed tonight after an exhausting day out with my father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. In the year since I began The Kingdom of the Woodland Realm Trilogy, there are days when I think he’s fine and others when I feel I am speaking to a child–a child that raised me. A once brilliant scientific mind is slipping away.
So I wrote to complete something not knowing when I would lose him forever. But tonight, I had a tweet from someone who said “I am not the only person with an unhealthy obsession with elves…there are others.” They also said, “mmmm…we have a problem..I’m exactly the same. 😭 Rivals, eh!!!!😸”
First, I would like the world to know that I am a serious writer. I am not, nor ever will be in any way competing with anyone. I do not think for a moment that this person said such things to be unfriendly–on the contrary, this person was very nice. What worries me is how other people think about what is said. I get into my work, but I am hardly obsessed with anything more than writing a good story.
I do not write in a vacuum. I do not write anything thinking about what others do within the same genre. In fact, for as much as my story has captured the world (especially in the Land of Tolkien), I have fewer followers anywhere than any other person writing fan fiction about Thranduil. I never expected that one book could reach 500 followers (nearly 50-100 in two weeks in the month of February).
I am not one of those writers that obsesses over the number of followers I have or the number of words in a story. I worry about page numbers because 296 almost broke my printer so I have to know the number of pages at all times so when I have to print my book again, I can stagger printing sufficiently enough to not have another paper jam.
Authors tell me all the time “agents look for this and that”. They won’t read more than “X” number of pages. Personally, I think if editors can only read “X” of pages, then they are not serious about publishing for serious readers. Stories, like life, need to breathe and putting a cap on what people read–or what they THINK people can read is underestimating an audience. Few publishers are looking for what I am writing. Editors don’t want to edit two versions of Book II: The Saga of Thranduil because all together, right now it is over 770 pages. When I complete Book II, Book I will begin and probably Book III. So if a publisher can’t handle what will be at least 500 pages for the original version, they are probably not the publish I am looking for. I’m writing an original story that happens to be based on Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. It is not meant for everyone because it takes place in Tolkien’s universe. It was meant to feel like it is something that could happen in Tolkien’s universe and not something based on the films.
Really, people need to stop assuming every “fan fiction” is about graphic sex, gratuitous violence and is a carbon copy of the films that are far less about the book and more about box office receipts. People need to realize some writer working on such things actually have read a Tolkien book in their lives and understand the nuances of telling a story that is serious
I spent four hours telling a reader that I will not put anything in my story that historically should be there. I am not going to change it into anything less than something believable and could actually happen in Middle-Earth. I am not influenced by trends or popularity. I would rather write realistically or not at all and I am by no means going to write something I feel Tolkien wouldn’t read himself. I don’t care what publishers want. They should want good rather than word counts. They should want substance rather than trends.
If that is what they want, do not expect me at anytime to care because I did not write this book for them or even my fans. I wrote it for my father before he dies. I wrote it close to Tolkien because it had to be an original story that would be seen as belonging in Middle-Earth. I am not trying to fill a societal need for what’s trendy. I’m not writing to kill myself over publishers would aren’t going to read it. I already have more readers than most for a story that is told from the point of view of Thranduil and his role in his world which is Middle-Earth. For me, I’d rather get it right than published. If I am so fortunate as to get there, fine. If not, the world will not end and I will continue writing other things already planned.
I have to fight for legitimacy as a writer and as a woman. I have to convince the world that this is not bull—t. This is not based on the films. It is based on research I do every single day–pouring over my own personal library of Tolkien to make sure I don’t put anything in the story that would not sound “authentic”. I don’t write to collect followers or to be popular or trendy. To me, this is work. It is hard work. I am not in competition with anyone because frankly, my story is so complex, even I need to have notes to keep it straight. It would be as hard to duplicate The Kingdom of the Woodland Realm Trilogy as it would be The Silmarillion.
I didn’t learn Tolkien languages (not film versions), study volumes of Middle-Earth History and re-read his books to write anything less than what Middle-Earth deserves. Don’t get me wrong, I love my fans. I love people want my book on a bookshelf next to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I’ve had people read over 400 pages online more than once. I have heard die-hard Tolkien fans ask me the tough questions and I like that. They keep me honest. They are more than likely better than any publisher or editor in the world because they know what I am doing and want to see it done right. They take me seriously when the rest of the world seems to think this is a hobby.
No human being writes 770 pages, learns Tolkien’s languages, reads the geographical layout of Middle-Earth and read thousands of pages of Tolkien’s work as a hobby. I did it as a writer. I did it as a historian (I have a M.A in History). I did it because people saw a need for it and thought I could do it. I didn’t want to do it at first. The thought of writing something about Thranduil seemed sacrilegious to me. I told myself, it I did it, it would not be based on a film. It had to measure up to the standard of Tolkien’s high fantasy world. This is not your typical fan fiction. I will stake my life on that fact. Anyone who thinks otherwise should read something that is X-rated with little plot or story. This is not “50 Shades of Middle-Earth”. This is The Kingdom of the Woodland Realm Trilogy. It is about elves telling their story. They have families. They have to deal with situations as mundane as talking about a butterfly or something as detailed as making battle plans.
It is not for someone looking for a thrill. It is not for people wanting specific number of words and pages. It is an epic tale that readers (publishers and editors) have to know something and want something that is not the fan fiction they assume is like others. I didn’t write it that way and I’m not changing anything unless it’s in editing or I missed something. In fact, this book requires special attention when its finished and these days, 140 characters seems to be what most readers can handle and my 600,000+ characters would be of little interest to publishers who want quick and snappy or readers that want graphic violence and sex.
I may have to fight for my legitimacy as a writer, but I am not worried about popularity or trending. I am not competing with anyone. My work should speak for itself. If I have any obsession, it is to write this story and make sure it is done right. I don’t worry about rejections. I worry about corrections.–J.