It was five years ago today, that my Aunt Barbara passed away after a long, hard fought battle with ovarian cancer.
She’d managed to hold on until after Christmas, thankfully, for her grandchildren’s sake, but sadly she didn’t have the strength to last until after New Year’s. I was very close with my Aunt. She was my Godmother. My Mom would say that certain things I did were ‘her fault’ as a joke. Aunt Barbara was the one who got me hooked on Harry Potter. Considering I was in my late 30s, that was quite a feat. When the new films would come out, we’d spend chunks of her visiting time with my Mom & grandmother, talking about the casting and what not. She was so looking forward to the last book. I felt it was so unfair she didn’t get to read it and I wouldn’t be able to talk to her about it. I picked up her copy I’d pre-ordered anyway & gave it to my cousin.
But more than anything else, Aunt Barbara was responsible for my Tolkien-mania. As many of you know, I watched the Rankin-Bass animated adaptation of THE HOBBIT, Thanksgiving weekend, 1977 & was amazed by it. It was my Aunt Barbara who lent me her copy of the book of The Hobbit and that drew me into Middle Earth more. That Christmas, I got a special, extra gift from Aunt Barbara – my own copy of The Hobbit AND The Lord of the Rings. Yep. I was hooked.
As I’ve written before, it was through that love of LOTR that I made some lifelong friends who introduced me to DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS. That’s AD&D FIRST Edition, for you young gamers. Through D&D & working in Comic shops, I made other friends who introduced me to LARPING, which led me to create my own ‘Kingdom’ which thrived for eight years. The setting for this Kingdom was a world that I’d created for an AD&D campaign back in 1982-83. Also, as previously written, it was during my viewing the Extended Edition of FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, that I heard Peter Jackson say that he doubted anyone else could ever write a book with the years’ worth of depth of background that Prof. Tolkien had written. I realized I’d had that kind of data and stories and a world to put it in. It sounded like a challenge that I couldn’t help but try to answer.
But as the physical incarnation of the Kingdom took over my time, the book(s) took a back seat. I started to slowly create and re-create my gazetteer, or world-bible, to set up my framework of the world – my mythologies, my races, my pantheons of Gods & Heroes, my Realms, my cultures – over those eight years. It was during the last three years of its existence that Aunt Barbara had passed, so though she got to see me create something, she had no idea about my so-called progress on my writing. About two years ago, I began again and wrote up a brief outline of the flow of the books. I had my characters and I started writing. I got through the first two chapters and the beginning of the third when I became stuck, or uninspired it seemed. I promised myself on New Year’s Eve 2010 that I’d finish Book One by the following New Year’s Eve, which is tomorrow night. I haven’t met that goal. That’s ok, though. About a week ago, as I finally realized that I no longer was feeling ‘encumbered’ by the story limitations incurred by a physical incarnation of the Kingdom, I quelled the deep self-disappointment and self-resentment at the failure of meeting my deadline. I knew that with the recent spate of attempted re-writes and re-creations to make it more like my ORIGINAL creation, I could live with setting a new goal once more. During this past week, I tried picking at it, but there was nothing there – no spark – no inspiration. I was beginning to feel bad again.
We now come to here and now. It is currently 5:01 AM on the morning of December 30, 2011. At approximately 1:00AM I suddenly found myself awash with inspiration.
I RE-DREW MY MAP.
I RE-NAMED my MAJOR Deities.
I created a NEW situation to flesh out the world-wide conflict even more. Names of characters, old and new and names of places, old and new, just came forth, unbidden, and I worked feverishly to take them to paper and keyboard. I couldn’t believe it. Where did this suddenly come from?
It was about 4AM that I realized the date that this feeling struck me. Aunt Barbara died on Dec 30, 2006. When I realized this, I started crying. My tears were a mingling, though, of grief and joy.
I once more have a drive that I have not felt in ages. The fire is re-lit. The sleeper is awakened. Insert cliche of your choice here.
I guess it is fitting in its own way. If it was not for her, who knows if I’d ever gotten into LOTR, let alone those things and experiences that followed. It was because of this initial inspiration, that after she’d died I decided that I’d immortalize her in my world. I created the Lady Barbella (a derivation of her first and last names), Goddess of Inspiration, Hope and Healing. Sure enough, she’s once again come through for me as an inspiration, so as I said, it’s fitting.
At any rate, I decided to write this missive while the feelings are still fresh, and so that I can share it with you.
If you’ll excuse me, I have a world to re-build. Aaand maybe some sleep to catch.
I love you Aunt Barbara. Thank you for everything.