Tag Archives: literature

Tolkien for the thirty-third time

I was introduced to the writing of J.R.R. Tolkien by my 5th grade reading teacher, Mrs. Rougemont. We read The Hobbit aloud, painfully enduring others who pronounced the w in sword and committed other acts of disinterested, semi-literate mediocrity.

That was the 1970s. A love of words had already been discovered. The craft, you see, provided a place to go. When one is a child, and his father is gone, and one lives ten miles from the middle of nowhere surrounded by people incapable of projecting value or love, having a place to go was vital. It was, at the time, part of what I did to survive long winters.

I still have those original mass-market paperbacks. They are tattered, broken, since-retired remnants of the fresh copies a young man bought with allowance money. The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, and of course the three volumes of The Lord of the Rings were read many times. Enough times, in fact, as it takes for such a copy to totter on the verge of disintegration.

The Perimeter would be incomplete without its library, even pared down as it is through many moves. Tolkien’s classics remain, now in hardcover, as the Editress is also a fan. She actually had not encountered the stories until the release of Peter Jackson’s movies, and furthermore exercised enough discipline to not outrun the films as they released, though she read up to the point as soon as possible afterward.

Tolkien, as he discussed in the forward of the Houghton Mifflin edition I have recently finished again, never intended to present allegory. His fantasy, the man insisted, had no bearing on the real world. Were that true, I suspect the work would not have endured to the extent it did. The Professor in actuality had quite a lot to say about our state of affairs. All writers do, in their own idiom.

Middle Earth, populated by elves, trolls, orcs, dwarves, Men, Hobbits and others, was born to a purpose in the mind of a genius. I believe, after a short lifetime of reflection, it to be a message and a simple one, unseen if unsought as so many are. Perhaps it was even unconscious as the man wrote. Character and faith are inseparable and vital attributes of a righteous mind.

It’s another law in a universe of actualities. Things are as they are. That which is true has always been true, and will ever remain. The Fourth Age of Middle Earth arrived, and Tolkien’s world sometime after merged with our own. Much that was in his world never was, yet is still. We yet have the challenges posed by evil and our options in acting where we find ourselves, right now, today. The choices remain to serve ourselves entirely, or trust, as Tolkien wrote, that Powers work in the world besides the will of the enemy.

We’ve no elves, but there are others just as fair and perilous if not possessed of the wisdom of the Eldar. No goblins, though in cases it can be argued certain communities are close enough to an orc-hold for comparisons to be drawn. Mordor no longer exists, but we have resurgent Marxism and its child plague of liberal elitism; each of those possesses an enduring diabolic ambition to subject all mankind to its own Darkness.

The race of Men maintains its weakness in the face of mortality. We’re told to have faith and given a limited lifespan to choose our loyalties, set our goals, and discern our purpose in the context of a much larger story. We can, after our own fashion, look west as did Faramir to Numenor that was, Elvenhome that is, and Undying Lands and remember.

We instead look up, and apply Tolkien’s unspoken premise to a faith wonderfully real. The long ages God has wrought in His relationship with children on Earth go on. We have, as my character Jon Anthony presented it, a choice between love and hate, with only indifference as a temporary hiding place before our circumstance forces one or the other. We’ve the long history and testimony of those many who’ve encountered Him, whose accounts are preserved by Providence every bit as well as were records in the archives of Minas Tirith. All allow a reasoned faith to conclude there are, beyond the gray curtain of this world, white shores and a far green country under a swift sunrise.

To discover character and faith, vital and inseparable, is the primary purpose of a living soul. To Realize one’s need sparks the tinder which inflames Exploration for truth. To Accept God’s gift of forgiveness and afterward Live what one believes makes one R.E.A.L. That is a good place to be before things “Get Real.”

These days, as they were through the ages of Middle Earth, are here to bless us or build us, but not to break us. We are made of God Stuff and will not be undone, to our eternal joy or peril. It’s time to choose whom we serve, and ever has been.

Choose to Love, -DA


OLSJ_225x337DSIn production news, Boone Hildebrandt’s third, One Last Scent of Jasmine, stands 43% complete in primary editing. Her contest with elements of our own government remains on schedule to appear this winter, God willing, likewise to be followed by the next volume in Sean’s File, King of a Lesser Hill.


Today begins the seventh month of my year dedicated to writing. Starting with character and plot development and proceeding through writing and refinement, the first six produced editable drafts of three novels.

The first was the back-story of everyone’s favorite Air Force officer from The Anvil of the Craftsman entitled Operation Naji, followed by Boone Hildebrandt’s first and second titles Absinthe and Chocolate and The Bonus Pool. Together, these total a bit over 245,000 words, as each exceeds my personal goal of an 80,000-word piece. Writing the manuscript, however, is not the only step in publishing. It will be at least a year and a half until these three novels are edited to a standard of perfection, formatted and ready for sale.

An occupation which entails working a 40-hour week encompasses 2,080 hours over the 52 weeks of a year. Thus far during my Anno Scrittura I have put over 1,266 hours into Single Candle Press. This, for me at least, seems to be as much as is humanly possible.

The desire to write was always there from the time I understood the concept of fiction. The chance to write as a primary occupation was a long-held dream, one that I first articulated more than fourteen years ago. Career goals, financial realities and survival needs being what they are, it took that long to reach a point in life where this year at a keyboard was possible.

What do I do? That’s a simple enough question.

Fifty to sixty hours a week, I labor under the weight of the assumption that it matters if I live deliberately, love intensely, and suffer immensely. I meet people as I travel without moving, some of whom share my sentiments and others who do not. All of those I see come into this world for the very first time.

They are strong and weak, faithful and faithless, smart and stupid. They are capable of gut-wrenching decisions, either tragic and destructive, or selfless and noble. They have both broken my heart and inspired my soul beyond expression in words.

I send the results of many hundred of hours of work out onto a flood plain of maddeningly obscuring literary crap. It is populated by a clientele seemingly of the opinion that I should work for a year and a half on 80,000 word novels that they may either download for free or purchase for 99 cents. I do all this in the hope that someone, somewhere will find my message in a bottle. For those few, my words might become an edifying component of this peculiar experience that we call a life. Once in a while, my writing seems to do exactly that. The intermittently reinforcing nature of working in hope proves itself often enough to keep me going.

Along the way, I have been blessed to discover that I am far from alone, and there are others just like me. Perhaps the commonality of our experience is another subtle sign that something, some day, will indeed come of all this.

In all likelihood, however, my Year in the Chair will come to an end never to be repeated. If only a few people read what I have written, and the experience moves forward with them through their days to bear eternal dividends, then that will be enough. The work of God takes place in infinitesimally small increments, and every beach has a finite number of grains of sand. From such faith grows concepts such as Mission and Testimony, and from trials are produced souls who embrace Virtue.

Six months remain. We will do what we can with them.

Choose to Love, -DA