To say that J.R.R. Tolkien had an impact on my life would be the understatement of the year; and we’ve only just begun 2018. Without him… I can’t even begin to imagine the person I would be today. Sounds over the top; but it’s true. In truth, I also owe my 4th grade teacher, who, much to my dismay, their name evades my memory. You see, in the 4th grade, my teacher read The Hobbit to the class over the coarse of several weeks. By the time we reached the end of the book, I was so utterly enthralled, it was like I had been hypnotized.
I recall the colorful cover of The Hobbit, that the teacher had read to the class. When I went to the school library, they didn’t have that version to check out – but I was just thankful that they had a copy of The Hobbit. It’s the first book I ever read – on my own. Not because a teacher asked me to, and not because my parents told me to. I read it because I was enchanted by the book. I recall my father being impressed that I was reading The Hobbit, that he took me out to an old book store he used to go to, called The Book Rack in San Diego. They had new and used books there; and sure enough, they had The Hobbit. There was a gently used copy that my father purchased for me.
However, by the time I got my hands on it for awhile; it no longer looked gently used. I read that book from front to back, back to front, certain pages over and over, and even went as far as taking certain chapters, and copying what Tolkien had written. Then rewriting them in my own words; all in some twisted effort to channel the magic that Tolkien created in this book. I still have my copy of The Hobbit that my father bought for me over 30 years ago; and it’s barely hanging on. It’s held together by tape; the spine is broken in so many places; the pages are yellow with age and use, it has my name written in it (in horrible, 4th grade writing), it has my address in it (back then) just in case, somehow this magical book and I parted ways, it could be brought back to me. In terms of monetary value, it’s worthless; but this book is everything to me. It’s the first book I bought. It’s the book I bought with my father, who is no longer on this world. It’s the first book that opened my mind to the world of fantasy, by the master of it all, Tolkien.
The Hobbit opened the door for me. In the 6th grade, my teacher, seeing I was still reading The Hobbit after months, asked if I had a problem reading. I explained that it had been probably the 50th time I’d read the book. Then he asked me if I had read any of the Lord of the Rings books, also by Tolkien, which continues the story of The Hobbit. My mind was blown. Even though the cover had mentioned it was a prelude to Lord of the Rings, I guess I never pieced together there were other books. I immediately begged my father to take me back to the Book Rack, where I found copies of The Fellowship of the Ring (also in great shape, until I repeatedly read it), The Two Towers and Return of the King.
It also was the gateway, to allow me to explore my own writing; my own creative fires that burn inside of me. I played Dungeons & Dragons, because of my desire to create worlds like Tolkien, in the 5th grade. Tolkien influences many of my games, and without the fire his writing ignited in me, there would be no Neverending Nights, which would make me very sad. While it’s nothing like Tolkien’s writing, of course; none the less, I fell in love with the world I created with Neverending Nights. I fell in love with the characters. And I fell in love with those of you, who walked with me, and found it in your hearts to laugh and love with me along the way.
With endless amounts of love, forevermore,