All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you…

And so, based on that wonderful quote by Gandalf the Grey, as blossomed from the mind of one of my most beloved authors, J.R.R. Tolkien, I begin this blog.

In this blog post, being the first one I have ever written (if we completely disregard the wreck which was my last attempt at blogging), I will simply share a few things about myself, and why I have with the “time that is given” to me, decided to create a blog dedicated to all things Tolkien, and outline what some of those things may be.

So, starting at the beginning of the story. I always find that this is the best place to start…

Some people may know my real name already. Some people may not. And, although I have absolutely nothing against any of you, I’m not putting my real name on here (privacy, yardy yardy yar…). For the sake of this blog, I am SujiSuzy. At the time of this blog, I am 23 years old, and about to set out on one of the most pivotal years of my life thus far. I was born in London and moved to Kent when I was 10, and with the exception of four years of university, have lived here a most of my life and always refer to Kent as my hobbit hole. I hold a degree in BSc Geography with Japanese Language, as well as a PGCE Masters in Geography and Educational Theory. By profession, I was one of those mad (and slightly eccentric) people who have decided to venture into teaching at secondary level (11-18 year olds), and am about to begin my first full-time post as a teacher of Geography in Buckinghamshire. I’m about to fly the nest for good, and spread my wings under new and blue skies.

I have three great passions in life; Japanese language and culture, Scouting, and things which fall under the general umbrella of what I call ‘Tolkien Stuff’. Since the age of 14 I’ve been learning Japanese, and have been lucky enough to study in Japan twice- once at a language school, and once at a university in northern Japan. Both the language and culture fascinate me, and I am always venturing to learn more. I can’t wait until next summer when I will be going back to Japan for 3 weeks for the first time in 5 years- it’s going to be epic! As a child I was in Rainbows and Brownies before becoming a Girl Guide, which I despised for the lack of adventure (and of course, I mean no offence to Guiding by this, it is simply a reflection on what Girl Guiding was at the time, particularly in my District), and so I switched to Scouts instead… and after 13 years I am still Scouting, although now as a leader opposed to one of the kids (although, I sometimes think I’m more kid than leader!). I am forever grateful for all the opportunities which Scouting has given me, both in term of new skills and in the role it played in forging the person I have become today.

And finally, the third passion in my life- Tolkien. The one you’re all here for.

Growing up, my Dad was an avid reader and endeavored (successfully), to get me into reading. One of my fondest memories with my Dad is him bringing this new and highly raved about new book home called “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” when I was about 7 years old, and reading it together at bed time. As I grew older and more able to read on my own, more books came out, and dad and myself would race to finish them first. Through sneakily reading under the duvet at night, I am proud to say the last 4 books are my trophy! Although I can’t remember precisely when it happened, I do remember my Dad trying to read The Hobbit to me. I can’t have been much more than about 6 or 7, as past that point I really read on my own. The Hobbit and Great Expectations are the only books my dad ever failed at in trying to get me to read them. Great Expectations I still haven’t read… I have bad recollections of studying Hard Times at A Level, but give me time, and I will re-read both of them. And in fact, I didn’t read The Hobbit until about 5 years ago. I think the main problem at the time was that I was in the typical young girl phase- I loved pink, and books about ponies and princes rescuing damsels in distress. The Hobbit just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Fast forward 5 years or so and The Fellowship of The Ring came out at cinemas. I was about 11 and still not overly interested in that sort of thing, but my Dad took my younger brother to see it at the cinema, and both loved it. In that sense, my brother had a far earlier encounter with Middle-Earth than I did. My Dad bought it on video (yes, you read correctly, video, I am of that era), and although I saw bits of it now and then when my brother watched it, I still wasn’t interested, much to the male half of the family’s great annoyance, and my Mum’s great relief.

However, at that point in my life things were starting to change. I wasn’t as much into pink and ponies as I once was, and I was becoming far more interested in being outdoors and playing around in mud for hours as I started Scouting. I was also about to start secondary school, and my tastes in books were becoming far more diverse. Gone were the days of Shetland in the Shed and Tracy Beaker. A bright (or dark?) new world was opening it’s thin leaves before me- hello Sabriel, Eragon and The Gift. And there it was- fantasy and adventure were my new book loves.

Eventually, much to my Mum’s dismay, I sat and watched the Fellowship of The Ring. By this time, The Two Towers had also been released. I then immediately watched that as well. And suddenly, I was hooked. A world more rich than any other world I had ever seen was unfurling before me and embracing me in its fantastical goodness. Finally, my Dad had succeeded, I was into the fantasy genre. He did not though, as you would expect, then give me The Hobbit to read. Instead he gave me The Lord of the Rings… in it’s entirety, and said something along the lines of “I’ll give you one year.” I think it took me about 5 months- pretty impressive for an 11 year old- it certainly raised the eyebrows of a few teachers at school! But honestly, I was so blown away by it that I’ve never gone back. The depth of the world and beauty of the intertwining stories and themes keep me hooked- you can read The Lord of the Rings over and over and there will always be something new and exciting to find.

I was also very lucky at this point in time, starting secondary school, to find my Middle-Earth  soul mate in the same tutor group as me. I knew this girl in my tutor group, and she always sat on her own at lunch because  no one from her primary came to our secondary school, whereas I knew two people in the tutor group already from my primary days. For some reason (call it fate maybe) I decided to eat lunch with her one day, and found out that she loved The Lord of the Rings as much as I did, and from that moment on we were inseparable… to the point where (and trust me, I am in no way ashamed to say it), the teachers in the English Department at our school and closely followed by most of our year group, referred to us as Merry and Pippin. For anyone who is interested, I’m Merry. That friendship which was created through a shared love of the works by one author is the strongest I have, and did a lot for me to truly cement a love for Tolkein.

Since then, I’ve never looked back. Pip and myself saw The Return of the King together 3 times, saw the stage show in London, dressed up in blankets pretending to be Elves, and got into all sorts of mischief. The tradition continues as we have seen The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey and Desolation of Smaug together, and although I am imminently moving away, we will not see Battle of the Five Armies until I come back for Christmas. And the dressing up still continues, although now in the form of cosplay at various conventions around the UK. I have my Fili cosplay which has taken 6 months to finish, and am now working on Eowyn (reasons for doing these characters will become clear in a future blog).

Yes, of course, I have moved beyond Tolkien in a literary sense. Whilst “The Dwarves” series by Markus Heitz and especially “The King Killer Chronicles” by Patrick Rothfuss certainly give Tolkien a run for his money in terms of books I love, Tolkien will always be special for me, since it is what opened the world of fantasy novels to me, ignited my imagination in terms of art, poetry and story writing, and has allowed me to meet so so so many people who share a love for Tolkien.

Thus, in this blog I will be exploring all thing Tolkien- books, films, music, art, cosplay and anything else which crosses my path. I will be sharing my thoughts on the latest Tolkien related things I read/see, exploring my own ideas about the work of Tolkien, and maybe sharing some craft/cosplay ideas and tips. Essentially, I wish to create a community where everyone can contribute ideas and thoughts about Tolkien, in a place where everyone will be heard, appreciated, and above all accepted.

Heck, this turned into an extremely long post. I promise the next one won’t be so long. But at least now, you do at least have some idea about who I am and why I wish to do this. Now is the prime time for me to do this- my life is entering a new, exciting and challenging phase, and I feel now is the point in time to open myself up and explore Tolkien beyond the boundaries of my mind.

So, until next time;

“May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks.”

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