Tag Archives: LOTR

The Weekly Re-Motivator: Rings of Power

I lost my wedding ring a few weeks ago, and in the process of replacing it I found something I should have found a long time ago: a replica of the One Ring.

You know, the one forged in the heart of Mordor, found by a hobbit, and carried back to Mordor to be destroyed in only the most epic, totally-not-gay-at-all story of a cadre of talented, powerful, sweaty men working together to overcome obstacles and discovering an undying respect for one another despite their racial and cultural differences in the process.

There are two reasons I love owning a replica of this ring. First and foremost, the LOTR series is for all intents and purposes my bible. It’s an enormous book, introduced to me by my father, that I wasted great swathes of my life reading and re-reading and eventually basing my life decisions on (try it sometime: ask yourself, What Would Legolas Do?). Second, having it there on my finger is a great though subtle way to let my geek flag fly basically all the time. Weird, maybe, but I find it brings joy to my life bearing this little symbol, entertaining the foolish hope that somebody will spot it, recognize it, and nod subtly to me from across the room.

As I mentioned before, my dad introduced me to the books, and I discovered the ring just around Father’s Day, so I got him one, too. This past week, we went on vacation, and he lost it.

He lost it in the ocean: he had parked himself on the sand to spend some time watching and playing with my daughter, and stuck his hand into the muddy, flowing surf. When he drew his hand out a moment later, the ring was gone.

We searched frantically for it: digging into the thick sand, filtering it through our fingers. I walked a ways down the beach, hoping to catch it tumbling along in the surf, glinting in the sun. But no avail: the ring was gone.

Dad and I both agreed that losing the ring was sad, but kind of awesome. We pictured another LOTR fan walking along the beach, stumbling upon the ring, and having a quiet conniption as he realized what he held in his hand. (If you’ve seen the movies or read the books, you know that this is how the ring works — it’s sentient, by the way — it presents itself to somebody, uses that person for a while, then leaves that person and finds its way to another bearer on its way back to its Master.)

And this is where I connect this little anecdote back to writing: because that’s how inspiration works, innit? It seizes upon us, lends us its magic for a while, and then it leaves us. Maybe we carry it for a year, maybe for a day, but if we listen, we can feel its power and influence, and we can accomplish great things with it. But one thing you can count on: it won’t last forever. Eventually, it runs its course with us and it goes off to serve another master.

Just as keenly as we feel the creative surge of inspiration’s influence, perhaps we feel even more keenly the gaping wound of its absence when it does move on. On days that inspiration carries you, the road you walk feels smooth and clear, and the wind itself bears you along. On days without, the road is a jagged, barely-there footpath up the side of a wind-blasted mountain. An ever-lengthening expanse of sun-baked desert, all cracked earth and tumbling weeds.

The fortunate thing is that, unlike the One Ring, which serves only one master and cannot be commanded, inspiration is plentiful in the world. There are many rings of power. And just as inspiration can abandon us without warning, it can just as easily and just as quickly fling itself into our path again.

The road to writing, then, is one you have to learn to walk whether you’re carrying the Ring or not. It’s all too easy to say, I only write when the Muse strikes, or I haven’t written lately because I don’t have any good ideas, or I gave up on writing because I just wasn’t inspired, but that’s nonsense. When Frodo and Sam left with the ring, the rest of the Fellowship kept on working toward the goal. They found other things they could do to help in the quest. So must writers keep fighting the good fight, keep putting words on the page, even if they are not feeling the “magic” that inspiration brings.

Blaming inspiration, blaming the muse for lost productivity is tempting, because it’s an excuse that everybody recognizes and accepts. But it’s a lie. Frodo always had it in him to make the great journey, to become a hero; the ring just revealed that potential and set him on the path. The sooner we can realize that the same potential is in us — inspired or not — the sooner we can get on with our own quests, without worrying about being shackled to such a silly thing as “inspiration”.

the lord of the rings animated GIF

This weekly Re-Motivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every Saturday, I use LindaGHill‘s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results.

Smoke Rings

Chuck’s challenge this week: “Who the F*** is my D&D character?” The challenge links to a character generator that rolls up ludicrous characters with a mouthful of abuse. Good fun. I lucked into “a halfling wizard from a company of sellswords who doesn’t believe in magic, EVER.” (Profanity redacted.)

As I was writing this, my wife pointed out how rather much like fan fiction this topic was. I argued at first, but ultimately I can’t help but agree. Fantasy is not really my schtick, but I’ve always loved the Lord of the Rings and I felt compelled to press on with this topic anyway. For a first challenge of the year, it was good fun. It ran a little long, but I just couldn’t bring myself to cut any more.

Here, then, is “Smoke Rings.”


Smoke Rings

“Did I ever tell you about the time your uncle, Glorfindel, and I fought off the goblin hordes?” Klobo puffed absently at a pipe, then blew out a fantastic ring of cloying purplish smoke.

Kludu coughed but didn’t wave the smoke away. Klobo had told the story many times, but Kludu loved to hear his granddad spin a yarn. “Tell me again?”

“Your uncle and I were coming back from a grand old adventure. Elves and orcs and all that. Treasure in hand, we were making our way back through the Mirthless Marshes of Misander –”

“I thought it was the forest out back of the Vale,” Kludu broke in. And indeed it had been, at the last telling.

“No, it was the Marshes, I remember it distinctly.” Puff, puff. “The rest of our company had gone their separate ways the night before, of course, so it was just old Glorf and me, toting our haul down the Marsh path.”

“Don’t you mean …”

“Don’t tell me what I mean, thank you. Now, it’s unusual to see goblins that far south, but we were holed up in an abandoned guard tower, and we saw them coming out of the woods.”

“Last time, they came from the Marshes.”

“For pity’s sake, Kludu. We were in the Marshes, the goblins came from the woods. I was there, after all.”

It was getting to the good bit, so Kludu left it alone.

“There were fifty of them, if there were five. Have you ever seen a goblin up close, my boy?”

Kludu bit his lip and shook his head, his shaggy hair flopping furiously.

“Of course not. No reason to, at your age. See to it that you avoid them, if you can. Horrible creatures. Tiny daggers for teeth. Greenish grey skin, like the fog off the hills at twilight. Breath like rotten pumpkins.” Klobo shuddered, but his eye twinkled and he winked. “We were in the tower, your uncle and I. Nowhere to go. And Glorf — fool of a Pikelander as he was — sneezes. Can you imagine? Sneezes! Goblins can hear a mouse break wind at a hundred yards, you know, so of course they knew exactly where we were.”

“What did you do?”

“Well!” Here Klobo leapt to his hairy feet and gave a horrific halfling battle-snarl, brandishing an invisible axe. “There was nothing for it, was there? They climbed the tower, one by one, and one by one, we started lopping off their heads. Whop, whop, whop!” He swung and chopped with his imaginary axe. “But even such exceptional and fearless hobbits as your uncle and I can’t fight forever, and those goblins — a hundred of them! — kept swarming over the walls like ants on one of your grandmother’s sandwiches.”

The goblins had gone from fifty to a hundred in the space of a few minutes, but Kludu was rapt; nobody told a story like his granddad.

“We thought we were finished. They had us surrounded, back to back, just your uncle and I and our bags of dragon-gold.” This was patently ridiculous; Klobo had never faced a dragon. Everybody in town knew it, but there was no stopping him now.

“That was when your uncle bumped into the powder keg. Quick as a flash, I struck a spark off the stones, the powder caught, and … BOOM!” Klobo was ninety, but as spry as any halfling in the Vale. He leapt two feet in the air and spread his hands, and despite having heard the tale dozens of times, Kludu still flinched. “They said it was raining goblin arms and legs for weeks in the Vale after that.”

The Marshes were nowhere near the Vale; the story was ludicrous. But Kludu had just turned thirty-three, and he was feeling adventurous. He didn’t argue about the Marshes (even though the tower in his granddad’s story had been located, without question — blasted top and all — in the forest). He wanted to ask the question all his friends and relations had told him never to bother asking.


Klobo, a little winded from the telling, was sitting back in his rocker and puffing again at his pipe. “Yes, my boy?”

“There was no powder keg.”

“Don’t be absurd. Of course there was.”

“Glorf says there wasn’t. And if it happened thirty years ago –”

“It did.”

“Well, there was no powder in these parts back then. Not until the Martinsons took over in Parth and started importing it from the East.”

Klobo huffed out a puff of smoke through his nostrils. “I suppose, then, you’d like to tell me what a barrel of powder was doing on the guard tower in the middle of the forest?”

Again, Kludu let it pass. “Uncle says there never was any powder. That’s why you and he didn’t get blasted to hell along with the goblins. Uncle says you’re a …” He stopped. Klobo’s temper was well documented.

Through a fiery eye, Klobo stared at Kludu. He seemed to be smoking, no longer from his pipe, but rather from the top of his head. “A what?”

“A wizard.” Kludu braced himself, picking up grandmom’s basket of knitting and holding it in front of him as if that might protect him.

Klobo fumed. His breathing intensified and his eyes took on a fierce shade of red. Smoke was very definitely now curling up from his head, and also his fingertips. He seemed to grow a few inches as he crept toward Kludu. “Wizards don’t exist,” he whispered. “Magic is the stuff of children’s stories. It’s not real!” With that, a crackling fire leapt up in the fireplace, and there was a howling from the wind outside. Thunder shook the walls and Kludu dove for cover beneath the armchair, his tiny hairy hands folded over his head.

A moment passed in silence. Feeling rather silly indeed, Kludu crawled out to face his granddad, who seemed to be his normal size again. He wasn’t a wizard. Couldn’t possibly be. There had never been a halfling wizard and there never would be.

“I know there are lots and lots of stories about your old granddad, but don’t believe them.” Klobo was patting his pockets; his pipe had gone out. Kludu leaned his head to the side, stared at the pipe. The leaf within had been ablaze not a moment ago. It seemed such a silly and small thing to…

“OUCH!” Kludu yelped and pressed a hand to his forehead. There had been a great heat there for an instant, almost as if his brain had caught fire.

“Goodness, my boy, what’s wrong?”

“Sorry, I…” but Kludu found it very hard to focus on anything except the suddenly blazing embers of his granddad’s pipe.

The Potioneer’s Ploy

Chuck’s challenge this week:  Pick Five Characters.
I used random choice to get me down to eight and went with the five that I felt best fit together.  Here’s what I came up with.
The Dexterous, funny hermit

The Agile heir
The Unpredictable hunter, worst in his profession
The Unhealthy jailer
The Unheroic impostor
I wasn’t able to get an entirely self-contained story here, but I think it worked out well enough.  As a result, while I feel the arc of this particular moment is completed, it certainly leaves more to tell.
But, for a change, it’s NOT dark and weird!  Here, then, are 1494 words of fun in a sort-of LOTR, sort-of GoT world:

The Potioneer’s Ploy

As usual, Danver had no idea what on earth he was doing.

He poked his pointy nose around each corner of the cell, examining every last crumb of moldy bread and every crack in the wall for some sign, any sign, that might give an indication of where the princess had escaped to.  None was forthcoming.  Only one thing to do: stall.

“I’ll need to see the grounds outside her window,” Danver said, with as much authority as he could muster.

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