I’ve been a fan of Discworld for several years running, but I only recently discovered Terry Pratchett’s non-fiction. His book A Slip of the Keyboard offers a wonderful glimpse inside one of the biggest, most imaginative brains to ever grace Elfland. One of my favorite bits is where he describes his first encounter with The Lord of the Rings. I believe Tolkien would smile if he were around to read it.
I can’t remember where I was when JFK was shot, but I can remember exactly where and when I was when I first read J.R.R. Tolkien. It was New Year’s Eve, 1961. I was babysitting for friends of my parents while they all went out to a party. I didn’t mind. I’d got this three-volume yacht-anchor of a book from the library that day. Boys at school had told me about it. It had maps in it, they said. This struck me at the time as a pretty good indicator of quality.
I’d waited a long time for this moment. I was that kind of kid, even then. What can I remember? I can remember the vision of beech woods in the Shire; I was a country boy, and the hobbits were walking through a landscape which, give or take the odd housing development, was pretty much the one I’d grown up in. I remember it like a movie.
There I was, sitting on this rather chilly sixties-style couch in this rather bare room; but at the edges of the carpet, the forest began. I remember the light as green, coming through the trees. I have never since then so truly had the experience of being inside the story. I can remember the click of the central heating going off and the room growing colder, but these things were happening on the horizon of my senses and weren’t relevant.
I can’t remember going home with my parents, but I do remember sitting up in bed until three a.m., still reading. I don’t recall going to sleep. I do remember waking up with the book on my chest, and finding my place, and going on reading. It took me, oh, about twenty-three hours to get to the end. (pp. 57-58)
My extended absence notwithstanding, the blog lives. It’s been a full month, so writing took a back seat (a seat even further back than the one it was already sitting in). It was time to take a new step in life, and that step involved moving to another state to begin an internship and eventually, Lord willing, a career. It’s been rough and it’s been beautiful and life is good because God is good; onward we go, heeding the advice of Uncle Bilbo:
It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.
And this is why I brought cleats. Big cleats.
So yes, I’m back. Life continues and so will the posts, though perhaps less frequently. The voices in my head need a way out. Gotta write or bust – and Option #2 sounds painful.
“But it does not seem that I can trust anyone,” said Frodo.
Sam looked at him unhappily.
“It all depends on what you want,” put in Merry. “You can trust us to stick with you through thick and thin – to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours – closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo.”
― Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Ina hol n d ground der livD a hbbt. nt a nsty, drty, wet hol, filD W d ends of wrms n an oozy smel, nor yt a dry, bare, sndy hol W Ø n it 2 sit dwn on or 2 e@: twas a hbbt-hol, n dat means cmfrt.
What’s that? You say you’ve absolutely no idea what I just wrote? Dash it, man! Don’t you recognize the opening paragraph of The Hobbit? What were you raised on, the Hardy Boys? People these days…
What’s that? You say that what I wrote is most emphatically not the first paragraph of Tolkien’s famous work? Well of course it is, you antediluvian clod! I just translated it into texting lingo!
What’s that? You say you want me to write in plain, honest-to-goodness English? Golly, how old-fashioned you are! But I suppose if I must…
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
Satisfied, you traditionalist primate? Now my fingers are aching because I had to type out all those extra vowels! Thnx a lot!