a deal of telling

“Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

The Misty Mountains (Yosemite), Winter 2012

A couple months ago, I binge read The Hobbit and came across the above quote. I started thinking about how when one’s writing tends to carry a somber mood, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that it’s unjustified and in need of explanation. I know this because as a generally hopeful person I think sometimes I am misrepresenting myself by writing in a way that, at face value, seems to speak less to hope than it does to despair.

If there’s a reason why my writing, along with many others, ends up on that path it could be that it’s the side of a personality that requires, as Tolkien said, “a deal of telling” in order to come to terms with. We’re always more interested in the things we don’t understand. It’s not about indulging in a selfish melancholy and it’s not a sign of weakness; it’s about being human, finding the self, and garnering a type of strength that can’t be shown off to anyone but is valuable to more than just the individual who possesses it.

8 thoughts on “a deal of telling

  1. I’ve read this again and again since you first shared it with us…and multiple times since posting it here…. I still find that the words resonate deeply, James, touching that part of me that needs a voice sometimes, even if/when the words are dark or come from a sad place, a region that we all have and share…and one that existed before we knew we would even have words.

    I admire that you could see and understand when you happened to find Tolkien’s words…and I am glad that Time came to its proper moment so that you could share them again. Thank you….

    1. Scott, don’t really know what to say to a comment like this. Really, I’m honored and humbled. The voice “that existed before we knew we would even have words” is a very powerful concept, and I think you filled in some blanks in my thoughts process by saying that. Thank you for reading, and for engaging in the writing in a way that is very special and rewarding..

      1. You’re most welcome, James…and it’s a privilege to participate here…something that I don’t take lightly. Thank you, again, for sharing as you do….

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