January 3rd has long held a special place in my heart. While some people find it weird that I celebrate a handful of beloved famous people’s birthdays, it’s a long running tradition started by my mom. (I’ve spent my entire life eating shortbread for Robert Burns’ birthday.)
Today, though, is perhaps my favorite of these acknowledged birthdays. It’s JRR Tolkien’s.
While I’ve been a fan since I was first acquainted with The Hobbit in eighth grade (and, as a much younger child, I liked the story when I watched that animated version from the 70’s), Tolkien soon made a deeper influence on my life.
My first novel had already been born several years earlier. But after reading The Fellowship of the Ring in ninth grade, it had its own unexpected party. Suddenly, I was aware for the first time of the great deal of history and cartography and planning that had gone into Middle-earth. It was a far more complex world than I had realized. And I wanted to achieve something like that.
That began a dramatic transformation of my novel, the world it exists in, and my writing. Not only did I become a Tolkien nerd who can explain the difference between Sindarin and Quenya, but I tried to think of my novel and its world like Tolkien might, always trying to “discover” more about it, always wondering how one small event could shape the fortunes of all.
Is there a writer who’s had a profound impact on your writing?