A/N: I wrote this recently for a Letters About Literature contest–basically you were supposed to pick an author whose work has touched you in some way and then write a letter to the author. Obviously, I picked Tolkien.
Dear Mr. Tolkien,
You know I’m one of your big fans, right? I’m proud to say I read Lord of the Rings before the movies ever came out (heck, I even criticized Fellowship of the Ring for all the changes Peter Jackson made…before I ever watched it). Since then I’ve made it through the trilogy twice, plus The Hobbit and The Silmarillion, and I’ve even read through the first few books of The Histories of Middle-earth. (Those are fascinating, by the way–I love seeing inside your author’s imagination.) I’m trying to learn one of your beautiful languages, too. Are you amused, flattered, or just disturbed? …Don’t answer that.
Of course, I’m not writing so I can prove what a devoted fan (fanatic?) I’ve become. I’m writing because you deserve my thanks, and I want you to know why.
I deeply admire your enormous imagination and your perseverence. I doubt I will even come close to the world you so fully realized in your works, not if I work at it for the rest of my life–but the fact that you have done it, and done it so well, gives me the courage to keep on in my own writing. You set a precedent for every fantasy writer who followed in your footsteps, and not many authors can say that.
Even better, you made your world real. Sounds weird saying that to a fantasy author, doesn’t it? It’s true, though. Besides the amazing amount of detail you put into it, you also filled that world with messages and ideas that ring true for everyone: students, businessmen, hobbits, and warriors. You showed us the deep darkness in the world and then told us–again and again–never to lose hope. The darkness doesn’t last, and “there is light and high beauty forever beyond its reach”; and when I’m living in some darkness of my own, I remember Frodo and his indomitable determination to press on.
And I remember estel, too. Do you know, I would never have heard about it if not for my friends? I know you haven’t forgotten estel, but I need to repeat it for myself. In the Sindarin language, you invented two different words for “hope”: amdir, a faith in what’s known based on circumstances…and estel, a blind trust in the One no matter how dark things appear. I need estel. We all need estel. I have clung to it for almost two years now, learning to believe in the only One worthy of my trust.
You learned too, didn’t you?
I know you did. I’ll never forget your account of Creation…and the words you gave to the Creator:
And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.
You remind me that He has a plan and my job is to hold to the estel he gives. No other author could have done that so powerfully as you did.
So I thank you, Mr. Tolkien. May we meet at Ilúvatar’s side someday.