Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.

7/19/2005

The Write Stuff

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Here’s a little inspiration from The Writer’s Almanac.
Of course, most of us have heard about the release of the newest Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and the fact that J. K. Rowling made a huge amount of money the first day the book started selling. But, today that, in 1954, the first part of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy came out, The Fellowship of the Ring. It was the sequel to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, which came out in 1937. Tolkien had written The Hobbit for his own amusement and didn’t expect it to sell well. But, the Hobbit sold well, partly because C.S. Lewis gave it a big review when it came out. And so Tolkien’s publisher asked for a sequel.
Tolkien spent the next 17 years working on The Lord of the Rings. And, since he was a professor at Oxford, he had to write in his spare time, usually at night. His book became increasingly more complicated and, with the outbreak of World War II, he began to write in parallels to current events of the day. Middle-Earth’s enemies were in the East, just like England’s enemies during the War. Eventually, he complicated charts to keep track of everything and his son, Christopher, drew a very detailed map of Middle-Earth.
Finally, in the fall of 1949, he finished his manuscript. He typed the final copy himself sitting on a bed in his attic, typewriter on his lap, tapping it out with two fingers. It turned out to be more than a half million words long, and the publisher agreed to bring it out in three volumes. The first came out on this day in 1954. The publisher printed just 3,500 copies, but it turned out to be incredibly popular. It went into a second printing in just six weeks. Today more than 30 million copies have been sold around the world.
And, according to legend, it all started with stories to flesh out a people and history for some of the languages that Tolkien was developing. Rowling may be the latest “hot ticket”, but Tolkien’s been around for a long enough to withstand the test of time. She may or may not, only time will tell, but, either way, I thought the parallel success stories were interesting. I hope it provides inspiration to young writers out there debating about making the attempt. Not everyone succeeds the way these two authors did, but, if you work hard enough and dedicate yourself enough to your craft, you might just be next.

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