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Writing Bliss

"If they do not write the kind of books we want to read, we shall have to write them ourselves." -C.S. Lewis

Month

July 2014

The Art of Naming a Kid

Did you know at your local Barnes and Noble there is a section, under “Family/Childcare” dedicated exclusively to “Baby Names”?  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there is a place where you can go for endless inspiration on choices for what to name your newest family addition.  Apparently, the Internet wasn’t helpful enough.  I have had this conversation with several of my friends but I am finally writing down my “rules”, as it were, for naming children.  I am not a mother, but know several people who are.  Not only have some of my friends violated my rules, my own mother did as well!  This is not to say my rules are gospel, but I hope if I ever have children I can stick to them.  Remember a name lasts a lifetime.  A child can always choose a nickname or obtain pet names, but their legal name will last forever.  Sure, they could go through the courts to change it but let’s face it, how many people actually take this route?  My point is, a child’s name is one of the most important decisions a parent will ever make.  Therefore, make it count.

Rule #1- The first syllable of the first name and the first syllable of the middle name should be different.  This is a bendable rule, especially if the child’s last name does not begin the same way.  But if the poor kid’s three names all start with the same sound, how redundant is that?  I knew someone in school whose name was Robert Reginald Rimson (name changed for identity purposes).  RRR were their initials.  Let’s try and be a little more creative for our children, shall we?

Rule #2- Don’t let the first and middle names rhyme.  Is that supposed to be cute when you named little Timmy, Timothy Anthony, or Mary Carrie?  Poor kid.  Also attempt to not let the kid’s last name rhyme with the first name since that is how he or she will more likely be referred to.  I can’t say I know anyone personally who has had this experience, but I’m sure there are people out there who have done it.

Rule #3- Number of Syllables…this is an important one.  Please don’t give your a child a name that will take them an hour to sign.  Let’s keep it semi-simple.  Don’t let the total syllables between first and middle name exceed five syllables.  If both names are receiving three syllables each, it might be time to reconsider.  My two best friends are Stephanie and Elizabeth, but so help me if their names were combined.  Stephanie Elizabeth would be just as miserable signing her name as poor Alexandria Penelope and Damien Alexander.  I shan’t linger on this one because I feel it’s fairly obvious.

Rule #4- Spelling.  Do we really have to discover new ways to spell traditional and beloved names?  Bethany looks fine the way it is.  We don’t need to change it to Bethanee, Betheney, or Bethanie.  Brittany also looks fine, so keep the Brittneys and Brittanies somewhere else.  The more exotic names have a little more liberties attached because they are more modern, but how many ways do we honestly need to spell Kylie (besides Kyleigh and Kaili)? 

Rule #5- And probably the most important, mostly because my mother violated this rule, is do not let the last syllable of the first name be the same as the first syllable of the middle name.  My first name is Michelle.  My middle name is Lynn.  Michellynn quickly begins to sound like one name and for me it’s even worse; say my name out loud very fast.  Go ahead.  Yeah.  It begins to sound like the name of tire company after a while, doesn’t it.  My point is we want to celebrate your child’s individual names, not confuse them with one name or an entirely unrelated word.  Erica Lynn, Maisy Lynn, or Emily Lynn all sound better (hear that Mom?)

This was a fun piece to write but of no serious consequence.  I humbly apologize if I mentioned a specific name which pertains to you; as I mentioned earlier my own friends violate these rules but I love them and their kids anyway.  Names last a lifetime but the memories made with these kids are even more valuable.  Choose a name that celebrates their life and your blessing.  Hopefully the name comes from the heart, not a book.

Fire and the Lonely Mountain

It’s time to talk about songwriting.  And I’m not talking about mainstream hits on the radio.  Film scores transport viewers into the world of the movie they are viewing, right?  Then the song that rolls with the credits should be a summary of what we just watched.  Peter Jackson has taken great care in choosing the artists who perform his credit pieces.  For his latest Hobbit trilogy, he hit his mark dead on. 

The Song of the Lonely Mountain, written and performed by Neil Finn, was the song featured at the end of An Unexpected Journey.  The basic melody of the tune followed the a capella chant performed by the dwarves at the beginning of the film.  The simpler version led by Richard Armitage’s Thorin Oakenshield used lyrics directly from the book:

Far over the Misty Mountains cold,

to dungeons deep, and caverns old,

we must away, ere break of day,

to find our long forgotten gold.

The pines were roaring o’er the height,

the winds were moaning in the night

the fire was red, it flaming spread,

the trees like torches, blazed with light.

Neil Finn’s song (which can be found on Rolling Stone’s media player) sounds very similar and even the lyrics are alike:

Far over the Misty Mountains rise
Leave us standing upon the heights
What was before, we see once more
Our kingdom a distant light

Fiery mountain beneath the moon
The words unspoken, we’ll be there soon
For home a song that echoes on
And all who find us will know the tune

Some folk we never forget
Some kind we never forgive
Haven’t seen the back of us yet
We’ll fight as long as we live
All eyes on the hidden door
To the Lonely Mountain borne
We’ll ride in the gathering storm
Until we get our long-forgotten gold

We lay under the Misty Mountains cold
In slumbers deep and dreams of gold
We must awake, our lives to make
And in the darkness a torch we hold

From long ago when lanterns burned
Till this day our hearts have yearned
Her fate unknown the Arkenstone
What was stolen must be returned

We must awake and make the day
To find a song for heart and soul

Some folk we never forget
Some kind we never forgive
Haven’t seen the end of it yet
We’ll fight as long as we live
All eyes on the hidden door
To the Lonely Mountain borne
We’ll ride in the gathering storm
Until we get our long-forgotten gold
Far away from Misty Mountains cold.

 This song reflects on the dwarves journey to this point.  The tone of the song and the words set the tone for the introduction, which is what An Unexpected Journey was in a way.  The song has strong male vocals in the background and sound effects that almost sound reminiscent of the hammers in the deep during the days when the dwarves were at their mining peak.  I love the sound effects in the background of the iron work going on and the background vocals really pull you into the song.  Song of the Lonely Mountain is reflective of not only the singular quest at hand, but of the entire race of dwarves.

I See Fire, however, is much more personal:

Oh, misty eye of the mountain below
Keep careful watch of my brothers’ souls
And should the sky be filled with fire and smoke
Keep watching over Durin’s sons

If this is to end in fire
Then we should all burn together
Watch the flames climb high into the night

Calling out father
Stand by and we will
Watch the flames burn auburn on
The mountain side high

And if we should die tonight
Then we should all die together
Raise a glass

of wine for the last time

Calling out father
Prepare as we will
Watch the flames burn auburn on
The mountain side
Desolation comes upon the sky

Now I see fire
Inside the mountain
I see fire
Burning the trees
And I see fire
Hollowing souls
I see fire
Blood in the breeze
And I hope that you remember me

Oh, should my people fall
Then surely I’ll do the same
Confined in mountain halls
We got too close to the flame

Calling out father
Hold fast and we will
Watch the flames burn auburn on
The mountain side
Desolation comes upon the sky

Now I see fire
Inside the mountain
I see fire
Burning the trees
I see fire
Hollowing souls
I see fire
Blood in the breeze
And I hope that you remember me

And if the night is burning
I will cover my eyes
For if the dark returns
Then my brothers will die
And as the sky is falling down
It crashed into this lonely town
And with that shadow upon the ground
I hear my people screaming out

And I see fire
Inside the mountains
I see fire
Burning the trees
I see fire
Hollowing souls
I see fire
Blood in the breeze

I see fire (oh you know I saw a city burn)
And I see fire (feel the heat upon my skin)
And I see fire
And I see fire burn auburn on the mountain side

The song was written and performed by Ed Sheeran and while the lyrics do reflect the thirteen dwarves, the words are specific to Thorin, who was very much the center of the story once they entered the mountain.  We see his face when he sees that wind-lance in Lake-town and it is as if all his past memories have flooded back into his mind.  They all see fire in that mountain, but Thorin has not stopped seeing fire since that day almost two hundred years ago.  The line “I hope that you’ll remember me” in the song gives me chills because that’s all Thorin wants!  His greatest fear is to be lost to history or remembered as a crazy guy like his father and grandfather.  This quest is about his glory, and while that sounds selfish (and it is) it turns into something much greater.

The lyrics here also reflect the original song from the first movie when it talks about the burning trees and it is this consistency which ties the two films together.  I love that the songs bring words from the script to life in these songs and creates a deeper connection with the audience by doing so.  The songs have shifted from a collective, plural first person to a singular first person point of view and the tone is becoming increasingly dire.  There is also the fact that the last image burned into the audience’s mind from The Desolation of Smaug is that of Smaug flying toward Laketown.  “I see fire burn auburn on the mountain side” is very appropriately the last line we should hear.  

[The links provided in this post will take you to experience these great songs, first through Rolling Stone in audio, then through YouTube in video.]

 

A Break from Writing?

I apologize to my followers for not being active recently. I am in the process of moving my parents to North Carolina and let me tell you, moving 25 years of junk out of a house is insane! You never realize how much stuff you have until you’re forced to go through all of it. In the midst of packing, however, I have not lost my passion for writing, I have not taken a break, and I have been fortunate enough to have a surge of inspiration amidst the chaos.  I have started writing a new fantasy novel which has intrigued and captivated me. 

Back in April, I posted a topic (Visual Exercise #3) in which I used a series of images to create a short story, a fantasy version of the Little Red Riding Hood legend.  That story inspired me to go further and now, from a small blog post, I now have the first chapter written, and much more background documented on my characters and this new world.  These exquisite characters have revealed themselves to me in ways I did not think possible.  I created a map of my fantasy world of five kingdoms and the history of it surprises me every day.  I will have more updates as they come.

I am still seeking representation for my nonfiction work on Tolkien but this is the first time I have committed to writing a fantasy novel, on my own, beyond just a few ideas.  My characters and history are so real that I feel compelled to bring them to life (though they seem to be doing that just fine on their own), and share them with other people.

Point of this post?  Don’t give up!  Never use “I’m too busy” as an excuse.  I cannot let this move or other extracurricular activities stop me from pursuing this dream and neither should any of you.

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