JRR Tolkien

An Exploration Into The Interconnectedness Between My Absentmindedness and J.R.R. Tolkien

December 4th, 2015 Posted by A Writer's Life 5 comments

It ‘s my opinion that a natural consequence of being a writer by trade is a condition that looks and feels like absentmindedness, but isn’t. It’s something for which I don’t have a name, is much more insidious, and comes from living so aggressively within my own headspace that the outside world fades into the incidental. This morning, alone, I’d already forgotten why I’d wandered into the kitchen by the time I got there.

I found myself blinking stupidly, while trying to get my bearings. Whatever had sent me there must have been important, but I’ll be damned if I could sort it out; that is, until I noticed the oatmeal boiling over on the stove.

Oh yeah, breakfast. I’d started making it when an idea for a blog—this blog—sent me scurrying for my laptop.

I’d take the time to be properly embarrassed by such shenanigans, but what’s the point? It’s not like it doesn’t happen all the time.

Happily, I have a husband who takes it all in stride, though he watches me like a hawk, won’t let me near sharp objects, has forbidden me from mowing the lawn (my mowing pattern tends to mimic my thoughts), is constantly checking to see if I’ve closed the garage door, or is following me around the house to turn off the lights in the rooms I’ve just vacated. Regarding the latter, and to be fair, he’s a little over the top when it comes to saving money, and would rather submit to frostbite or heatstroke before turning on the central air conditioning system for which we paid a fortune to have installed, yet have never used. We all have our cross to bear, it seems.

A perfect example of this condition that lacks a name happened only last week. I’d been walking to the gym, thinking about my latest manuscript as usual, when I’d made a quick call to ask my friend Ian a research-related question. Whatever I asked had stumped even him, and his suggestion that I do a Google search got me to frantically patting my pockets before yelling into the receiver, “Ian! I lost my phone!”

I’m never going to live that one down, but it’s nice to know that I provided him a belly laugh. We can all use one of those now and then.

And even now, as I’m typing this, I can’t remember whether or not I’d taken my pills. They’re kind of important. Normally, I’d ask Mike, but I’m in San Marcos, TX visiting my parents, and they’ve both vacated the premises—mom to art class, and dad to his little office casita nestled in the corner of their property.

But back to this thing that looks and feels like absentmindedness, but is more closely related to preoccupation. When I was preparing for my first book tour back in July, I’d written a passel of guest blogs, one of which seems to have fallen through the cracks. Whether I’d forgotten to send it, or the administrator of the site had determined it irredeemable, I don’t know, but the truth of the matter is that it was my favorite of the entire lot.

I’d been asked to write a literary love letter to my favorite author, and as is typical of me, had wandered down a crooked path. (Perhaps that is why it was never posted.)

So in the spirit of my husband’s frugality, and in deference to my own absentmindedness, I present my literary love letter without further ado.

(Please read it with a British accent.)

Dear Mr. Tolkien,

Now that the dust has settled with my book deal, and you’re safely (and simultaneously) in the ground and my heart, I think it’s high time I told you something.

Ms. Austen is the bomb. The… bomb.

Are the two of you acquainted, by chance? I think she’s on LinkedIn. Sort of a Tina Fey type, only with a take-no-prisoners attitude and dialogue to die for. If you’re Googling, and I suspect you are, ignore the links that suggest she’s fodder for the pithy and shallow. The only thing uglier than jealousy is ignorance-with-an-opinion, I always say. (And from the looks of reviews my novel has been getting, the latter is reaching epidemic proportions.)

And while it’s true that she inspired every little particular in my protagonist—Annabelle Aster—from her sartorial eccentricity to her flowery prose, you, YOU, my dear sir, are the reason I even put words to paper in the first place. Your trilogy turned me into a book-a-day nerd by the age of fourteen, fuelling the very outside-the-lines imagination that landed me this featured article.

My mom blames you for my socially maladaptive ways, of course, and that’s fair enough. I suppose some might consider it unnatural for a man of tender years to pitch a tent in the sci fi-fantasy aisle at the B. Dalton Bookseller in the local mall, but I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drummer. That being said, she, likewise, credits you with inoculating me against the eighties. I mean, just look at my brother. How he made it through that decade without asphyxiating on all that hair spray, I’ll never know.

So take a word of advice from an old trooper, and look Ms. Austen up. A collaboration would be epic. I mean, imagine the literary traction you’d gain with Ms. Bennet in Middle Earth.




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Leslie C. says:

Love it, Scott. My parents once had to stop half way through a road trip to restock my book supply!

Scott Wilbanks says:

Lord help me, but I’m only now seeing your comment! Remind me to tell you about the call I received from mom some years back proudly informing me that she’d cleaned out the storage unit, getting rid of all those boxes full of old books for me. I nearly had apoplexy. That was my entire collection of sci fi/fantasy. Some were even first editions. Ouch!

Oh my god, Scott, I LOVE this post. And laughed my butt off considering the discussion we had a few days ago about this very topic.

btw, totally agree … a Tolkien-Austen collaboration would be amazing. I think we should start a Twitter campaign. Tolkien for president!

Scott Wilbanks says:

Lord help me, hon. I’m so glad a real person commented on my blog. I’m getting eaten alive by SPAM! Let’s talk this week!

Scott Wilbanks says:

Oh! And I’m glad you like! LOL

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