Last night I experienced the IMAX 3-D visual feast of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. So in celebration, I looked up an old J.R.R. Tolkien New York Times interview from 1967. Of course, it was chock-full of news we can use here at The Elbow…
1. Get Bored. It was another boring day grading papers for Professor Tolkien. As he slogged through the stack, he came across a particularly dull essay. Instead of sobbing, gnashing his teeth, or banging his head against his desk, he simply scrawled the word “Hobbit” across the page. Then he set out on a personal quest to determine what the heck it meant.
2. Get Messy. Yes, we've talked about this before — Cleanliness may be next to Godliness, but it’s at least a Roman mile from creativity. Want proof?
"My stories seem to germinate like a snowflake around a piece of dust."
Obviously, a lot of dust is a good thing.
3. Persist. Persist. Persist. Tolkien typed The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy using only 2 fingers. Yep, just two fingers and 14 YEARS… I’d say they were 14 years well-spent.
4. Get Inspired… By Chickens? Perhaps 14 years of the hunt and peck typing method went to his head. When asked about how he spends his
8:30 AM to 2:00 AM “days” he laughed:
"Working like hell. A pen is to me as a beak is to a hen!"
By the way, if you tend to be hard on yourself and tear down the writing you've done, you’re in good company. In this particular interview, Tolkien had this to say:
“The Hobbit was written in what I now regard as bad style, as if one were talking to children. There's nothing my children loathed more!”
Well, here’s a newsflash, J-Double R —
It’s been in print for nearly 77 years.
And that’s the kind of “style” that could even get an Orc to smile.
PROMPT: Make up a word and scrawl it across a page. Then pack your bags for a 14-year quest. Oh, what an adventure it will be!