My Musings

This is my archive for all my written works.

Before you read any of my work, you should know where I'm coming from. Everything from this point on is talking about fiction, as non-fiction has its own set of rules.

I am greatly against analyzing a text by thinking of the author. What I mean by this is that I am a firm believer in Roland Barthes's The Death of the Author (found here).

There is a lot out there about how art comes from the subconscious, and not just from psychology (here and here) - writers say their characters speak to them, that an idea just comes to them, that they didn't know about that twist until they have written it, etc. When asked a question, the response almost always starts with 'I think', instead of a statement.

Writers are people. They are just as flawed as everyone else. They have their own biases, prejudices, experiences, fears, etc. They do not have all the secrets to the universe. If we say only the author's thoughts and interpretation is correct, then we close the door on truly learning and reflecting. We cannot have a realization about ourselves and the world if we're focused on having the 'right' interpretation - for we are not truly listening to ourselves or the universe at all. We're trying to be and think like another person, to blindly accept their opinions as 'right' without reflection. Conformity is the greatest killer of creativity; independent thought must come from an open door.

The 'truth' should be able to be found in the text; to 'clarify' the 'truth' is to go back and meddle with that text. Said text has by then has been disconnected from it's 'author', having gone out to the world and taken on a life of it's own. As Barthes says, “the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author.”

Author George MacDonald speaks very eloquently about this in his essay The Fantastic Imagination, so I'm going to give you my favorite quotes:
"You write as if a fairytale were a thing of importance: must it have a meaning?" 
It cannot help having some meaning; if it have proportion and harmony it has vitality, and vitality is truth. The beauty may be plainer in it than the truth, but without the truth the beauty could not be, and the fairytale would give no delight. Everyone, however, who feels the story, will read its meaning after his own nature and development: one man will read one meaning in it, another will read another. 
"If so, how am I to assure myself that I am not reading my own meaning into it, but yours out of it?" 
Why should you be so assured? It may be better that you should read your meaning into it. That may be a higher operation of your intellect than the mere reading of mine out of it: your meaning may be superior to mine. 
"Suppose my child ask me what the fairytale means, what am I to say?" 
If you do not know what it means, what is easier than to say so? If you do see a meaning in it, there it is for you to give him. A genuine work of art must mean many things; the truer its art, the more things it will mean. If my drawing, on the other hand, is so far from being a work of art that it needs THIS IS A HORSE written under it, what can it matter that neither you nor your child should know what it means? It is there not so much to convey a meaning as to wake a meaning. If it do not even wake an interest, throw it aside. A meaning may be there, but it is not for you. If, again, you do not know a horse when you see it, the name written under it will not serve you much. At all events, the business of the painter is not to teach zoology. 
But indeed your children are not likely to trouble you about the meaning. They find what they are capable of finding, and more would be too much. For my part, I do not write for children, but for the childlike, whether of five, or fifty, or seventy-five.
Does any aspect of Nature wake but one thought? Does she ever suggest only one definite thing? Does she make any two men in the same place at the same moment think the same thing? Is she therefore a failure, because she is not definite? Is it nothing that she rouses the something deeper than the understanding--the power that underlies thoughts? Does she not set feeling, and so thinking at work? Would it be better that she did this after one fashion and not after many fashions? Nature is mood-engendering, thought-provoking: such ought the sonata, such ought the fairytale to be. 
"But a man may then imagine in your work what he pleases, what you never meant!" 
Not what he pleases, but what he can. If he be not a true man, he will draw evil out of the best; we need not mind how he treats any work of art! If he be a true man, he will imagine true things: what matter whether I meant them or not? They are there none the less that I cannot claim putting them there! One difference between God's work and man's is, that, while God's work cannot mean more than he meant, man's must mean more than he meant. For in everything that God has made, there is layer upon layer of ascending significance; also he expresses the same thought in higher and higher kinds of that thought: it is God's things, his embodied thoughts, which alone a man has to use, modified and adapted to his own purposes, for the expression of his thoughts; therefore he cannot help his words and figures falling into such combinations in the mind of another as he had himself not foreseen, so many are the thoughts allied to every other thought, so many are the relations involved in every figure, so many the facts hinted in every symbol. A man may well himself discover truth in what he wrote; for he was dealing all the time with things that came from thoughts beyond his own. 
"But surely you would explain your idea to one who asked you?" 
I say again, if I cannot draw a horse, I will not write THIS IS A HORSE under what I foolishly meant for one. Any key to a work of imagination would be nearly, if not quite, as absurd. The tale is there, not to hide, but to show: if it show nothing at your window, do not open your door to it; leave it out in the cold. To ask me to explain, is to say, "Roses! Boil them, or we won't have them!" My tales may not be roses, but I will not boil them. (link)
Also, while there are no “official rules” in writing, there are general rules used by the majority of professionals for 'good' writing. One of which is don't contradict yourself. What you published before is set in stone:
One thing that beginner film makers learn is that you must stick to the rules of your fictional universe. Sure you make those rules up, but once it’s done it’s done. After you’ve established that some people are born with the ability to control the ‘Force’ you can’t turn it all around an start claiming that it’s really a bunch of microscopic organisms in your bloodstream. (link)
Be consistent. Remember all of your characters, including the minor characters, because when you use them again in your sequel you’ll have to depend on those characteristics to figure out how they’ll tie into your new plot! GP Ching, author of The Soulkeepers Series says, “Take notes and write a synopsis even if you hate them. I keep a notebook with details on character eye and hair color, traits, history, family, etc. My only caveat is that characters can and do change. In The Soulkeepers Series, Malini changes significantly in book two. I had to make sure that change followed her into book three and became even more pronounced because of her increased experience level.” (link)
The whole point of this was to tell you to always disregard the author in analysis, so I will close with this: studying people and their minds is a completely valid field. We can learn a lot about someone by listening to what they say.

That, however, is completely disconnected from analyzing a text. I write this only to forestall the inevitable questions about my process.

* As for non-fiction, most of my work is non-fiction analyzing fiction. I have edited some of my essays over the years. I have come across new research that reshapes my understanding of certain things. I will freely admit I'm not perfect. Personally, however, I see a big difference in publishing a novel and later tampering with it, compared to writing a non-fiction analysis of something.




All About Feminism and (American) Society

Feminism Terminology


The Definitions of Abuse

Relationship Do's

Clarification of MBTI Functions Masterpost


Being a firm believer in 'the Death of the Author' concept, I don't take Tolkien's opinion as canon – nor many of his changes. My Tolkien Canon Policy is that anything that does not contradict the text(s) above it is considered canon. Lord of the Rings is the first tier; The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, and The Children of Húrin are the second tier (as all – in some way – were not fully complete like LotR; however they are all individual books in their own right); and all other works and notes are in the third tier.

DoA mainly applies to The Silmarillion. We will never know Tolkien's final version, because it was never written. We will never be able to say, 'this is Tolkien's intended version.'

I disagree greatly with those who decide everything around Tolkien's intent. His intent changed too many times to count throughout his life. The fact that he died before he could change his mind again does not give that last version more weight.

Christopher Tolkien did his best to edit a consistent Silmarillion. On the whole, it works. That is the version I personally consider canon.

To be more specific, lets talk Gil Galad's parentage. CT's decision of Fingon being his father works in relation to the overall narrative. Tolkien's later idea of Orodreth being his father, on the other hand, calls for considerable revision of the Quenta Silmarillion as a whole.

The established whole of the narrative is what emerges out of all of Tolkien's revisions. It is what CT published. That narrative is centered firmly in the legendarium and its internal structures. It all comes together, like pieces of a puzzle. I personally do not question the universe in it's puzzle-making. It knows what it is doing.

Tolkien and Gender Series:


Éowyn of Rohan

Tauriel of the Woodland Realm

Thranduil, Legolas, and Queer Coding

Arwen Undómiel

Fili and Kili


Aragorn's Timeline Issue

Aragorn and Elrond's Relationship

Elves and the Unseen Plane

For the Love of the Lord of the White Tree: Legolas and Aragorn's Friendship

Legolas's Family History

Supplemental Woodland Realm Essay

The Relationships Between Elves and Dwarves Throughout the Ages

Elladan and Elrohir Die

Height Differences in The Hobbit

Arwen is an INFP

Tauriel is an ENTJ

Thranduil is an ENTJ

Legolas is an INFP

Kili is an ENFP

Fili is an ISFJ

Éowyn is an ISTP

Bagginshield Meta Masterpost

Appendix: Fair

Appendix: Action Elves Are Canon

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