As I told several friends and family members just a couple weeks ago, I needed a Christmas miracle to finish my fifth manuscript. With final exams for my students upon me, three sick children, and planning for upcoming family visits over the Holidays, I didn't see where the time would come from to get the book finished. This was all exacerbated by the fact that with a new baby in the house, my already limited writing time over the fall had shrunk to virtually non-existent, leading me into Christmas break with just under 200 pages complete in the manuscript... My manuscripts usually clock in at around 385 pages in rough draft form. I was having virtual panic attacks trying to think about how, HOW, I was going to finish that book! Well, final exams came and went, my children got better, and family came in from all over the country. We celebrated Christmas (I don't remember much of it), and I picked away at the manuscript, a couple pages here, a couple pages there... fall asleep at laptop, wake up, rinse, repeat... Essentially I ended up in a situation where by the time everything calmed down after Christmas, I faced 5 days until my manuscript was due, and still around 175 (actually turned out to be more like 195) pages left to write. My manuscript was due on January 2nd. To make a long story short (ba dum ching!) I inverted my sleep schedule so I could catch snatches of sleep during the day while my kids were napping, and I stayed up all night, every night, writing. At about 3:30 on the afternoon of January 2nd, I finished! 410 pages, done! I almost cried . . . but I was sitting in Panera, so that would have been awkward. (A special thanks goes out to Maggie Rapier for HOURS of free babysitting!) Now, I could have turned it in then and been on time-as I tend to be a late person and I desperately wanted to be on time-but I just couldn't present it to my editing team full of typos, so I took the next twelve hours, from 3:30pm-3:30am to do a full proofread of the manuscript. So, technically, I finished on January 3rd. The rough draft of The Scroll is complete!
By way of reward that night, I went to see The Hobbit. With all the illness and busyness, it was something I had had to put off, which just killed me! You see, the book The Hobbit has a very special place in my life and heart. It is one of the first books that I can remember independently reading as a child, and one of the first I remember reading over and over again. I've become something of a collector of copies over the years, and that leads into kind of a fun story in and of itself. You see, fantasy literature has always been important to me, and in particular the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, so when I first met my future husband, Adam, in college, I knew that would have to be a love that we shared. Adam and I had just started getting to know each other, and there was undeniable mutual attraction, but he admitted to me early on that he had never really read a book "just for fun." He grew up on a farm, and the only books he'd ever read were those assigned for school. Well, that simply wasn't acceptable, so I thought a test was in order. The first Lord of the Rings movie had just hit theaters (and of course I'd already seen it), but I invited him to go and see it with me (an unofficial date, as we were still in the early friend stage). He agreed, and when the movie was starting, I remember thinking, "If he likes this movie, we're good to go. If he doesn't, I don't think I can consider dating him." Movie viewed, end credits rolled, and I turned to him and said, "So what did you think?" I can still remember the look on his face when he turned back to me and said, "I LOVED it!" Score! And then he said those sweet words, "I think I need to read that book now." *sigh* It was practically love then and there. But here's the thing, you can't read The Lord of The Rings without first reading The Hobbit, and I told him so. He could have walked away then and there thinking I was a total crazy person, but instead he said, "Okay," and he did it! And then he read The Lord of the Rings! By this time we were dating, of course, and we spent many a long car ride with me reading it aloud to him. Nine months later, he took me out to a WWII France-themed restaurant and gave me a collector's edition of The Hobbit as a gift. Written inside the front cover was a proposal of marriage. I said yes, and it's been a match made in literary heaven ever since. So as a first read, The Hobbit was important to both of us, and also important in starting our lives together. The sad part of this story is that we did NOT get to see The Hobbit together in theaters. Adam went with my brother-in-law and father over break while I was writing, but I fully intend not to let us miss out on going together to either of the next two installments. I may not have gotten to see it on opening night, or with my husband, but I did go with my sister, and it was on January 3rd-Tolkien's birthday. To say that I loved it would be an understatement. I'm one of those people who can appreciate that certain things have to be changed to make a book into a more successful movie, so adding scenes or tweaking things, as long as they don't mess with the essence of Tolkien's material, doesn't bother me in the slightest, especially when it's things we get passing mentions of in the books and never really get to see (such as the Necromancer, or Radagast the Brown). But I digress too much; if I'm not careful I'll write a complete movie review. It was the perfect reward for hours of hard writing, and for years of waiting. And I know it may have been the extreme sleep deprivation acting on me, but I spent most of the movie grinning like an idiot and restraining myself from cheering. *sigh* I love being a nerd.
All in all, I just felt that January 3rd was a good day to finish book 5. I achieved a significant literary accomplishment on Tolkien's birthday, then proceeded to go and see a movie based on a beloved book by same said author, and the movie struck to the core of everything I love about the story. All the day really needed was a pint at the Green Dragon at the end of the night and a few of Gandalf's fireworks.