I came across this quote from Professor Tolkien, who was writing a letter to W.H. Auden and he described his discovery of characters and places in Middle-earth.
A fascinating look at his creative process as a writer…
This is only a short quote I came across on Good Reads, where Tolkien is writing about his amazement at discovering certain characters, who literally fell onto the page through the act of writing.
I am in the process of attempting to write my own novel (who isn’t these days?), so this quote was of particular interest to me, as I have seen this myself when writing. Here is the quote from Tolkien…
“I met a lot of things on the way that astonished me. Tom Bombadil I knew already; but I had never been to Bree. Strider sitting in the corner at the inn was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than had Frodo. The Mines of Moria had been a mere name; and of Lothlorien no word had reached my mortal ears till I came there. Far away I knew there were the Horselords on the confines of an ancient Kingdom of Men, but Fangorn Forest was an unforeseen adventure. I had never heard of the House of Eorl nor of the Stewards of Gondor. Most disquieting of all, Saruman had never been revealed to me, and I was as mystified as Frodo at Gandalf’s failure to appear on September 22.”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, in a letter to W.H. Auden, June 7, 1955
Where do ideas come from? Why do you suddenly have a creative spark, that seems to open a window into a new world of thought? It’s hard to understand at times, but it is encouraging to know that Professor Tolkien faced the same challenges that all writers face when trying to bring something to life on the page. One thing I do know, and Tolkien’s words seem to bear this out. You can only think about a story so much, eventually you need to write it down with all its flaws and mistakes. It is only through the act of writing that this second form of inspiration can come, the discovery of an unexpected character or moment, which opens the door to an entirely new turn of events rather than the one you might have been expecting.