Today a request popped in my inbox asking if I had any suggestions or tips for how to begin blogging. I love getting these, and rather than keep the answer private, I thought I’d go ahead and share it here, too, in the event it might be useful to anyone else.
It’s all my take, all my thoughts,…
Some great tips here! I would also add:
1. As with any project, think about what you like to read. If your favorite book blogs are snarky and gif-filled, then trying to write a super positive wall of text is probably not the best idea. Personally, I like thoughtful, critical blogs that aren’t overly negative, and that’s what I try to emulate in my own way.
2. Don’t worry too much about what you’re doing. I didn’t even admit I was writing a book blog until I’d been doing exactly that for several years. Give yourself the time and leeway to find out where your heart actually lies.
I am terrible at taking pictures, but I put together a little tour of my bookshelves. This is the bookshelf with children’s classics and some adult fiction and non-fiction. You can check out the rest here.
My mother once told me that trauma is like Lord of the Rings. You go through this crazy, life-altering thing that almost kills you (like say having to drop the one ring into Mount Doom), and that thing by definition cannot possibly be understood by someone who hasn’t gone through it. They can sympathize sure, but they’ll never really know, and more than likely they’ll expect you to move on from the thing fairly quickly. And they can’t be blamed, people are just like that, but that’s not how it works.
Some lucky people are like Sam. They can go straight home, get married, have a whole bunch of curly headed Hobbit babies and pick up their gardening right where they left off, content to forget the whole thing and live out their days in peace. Lots of people however, are like Frodo, and they don’t come home the same person they were when they left, and everything is more horrible and more hard then it ever was before. The old wounds sting and the ghost of the weight of the one ring still weighs heavy on their minds, and they don’t fit in at home anymore, so they get on boats go sailing away to the Undying West to look for the sort of peace that can only come from within. Frodos can’t cope, and most of us are Frodos when we start out.
But if we move past the urge to hide or lash out, my mother always told me, we can become Pippin and Merry. They never ignored what had happened to them, but they were malleable and receptive to change. They became civic leaders and great storytellers; they we able to turn all that fear and anger and grief into narratives that others could delight in and learn from, and they used the skills they had learned in battle to protect their homeland. They were fortified by what had happened to them, they wore it like armor and used it to their advantage.
It is our trauma that turns us into guardians, my mother told me, it is suffering that strengthens our skin and softens our hearts, and if we learn to live with the ghosts of what had been done to us, we just may be able to save others from the same fate.
I’m not convinced that LotR was meant as an analogy (Tolkien was pretty clear about not liking allegories, although of course his experiences in WWI are part of the leaf-mould that LotR came out of), but this is a pretty cool insight.
I spent the part of the day where I wasn’t exploring a giant mansion or learning about vikings via creepily realistic animatronics re-reading/reflecting on passages from code name verity because apparently i have a problem and it is this book
just… let me give an example so maybe someone will…
I am always happy to talk about Code Name Verity, since I think about it more than is perhaps entirely normal.
Days before Britain declared war on Germany, Maddie flew by herself to the other side of England, skimming the tops of the Pennines and avoiding the barrage balloons like silver ramparts protecting the sky around Newcastle. She followed the coast north to Bamburgh and Holy Island…The Northumbrian coast is the most beautiful length of the whole trip. The sun still sets quite late in the north of England in August, and Maddie on fabric wings flew low over the long sands of Holy Island and saw seals gathered there. She flew over the great castle crags of Lindisfarne and Bamburgh to the north and sough, and over the ruins of the twelfth century priory, and over all the fields stretching yellow and green toward the low Cheviot Hills of Scotland. Maddie flew back following the 70-mile 2,000-year-old dragon’s back of Hadrian’s Wall, to Carlisle and then south through the Lakeland fells, along Lake Windermere. The soaring mountains rose around her, and the poets’ waters glittered beneath her in the valleys of memory—hosts of golden daffodils, Swallows and Amazons, Peter Rabbit. She came home by way of Blackstone Edge above the old Roman road to avoid the smoke haze over Manchester, and landed back at Oakway, sobbing with anguish and love; love, for her island home that she’d seen whole and fragile from the air in the space of an afternoon, from coast to coast, holding its breath in a glass lens of summer and sunlight. All about to be swallowed in nights of flame and blackout. Maddie landed at Oakway before sunset and shut down the engine, then sat in the cockpit weeping.
More than anything else, I think Maddie went to war on behalf of the Holy Island seals.
They have taken the bridge, and the Second Hall. We have barred the gates, but cannot hold them for long. The ground shakes. Drums. Drums… In the deep. We cannot get out. A shadow moves in the dark. We cannot get out…
They are coming!
This part always gave me chills as a kid. But now it’s worse. Thanks to the Hobbit, we KNOW the person who wrote this. And he’s dead. :(
I started crying during the Hobbit, because all I could think of every time I saw Balin was: “Balin, son of Fundin, lord of Moria.” :(