January 3
Today is the birthday of J.R.R. Tolkien born 1892. One day, while grading exams, he discovered that a student had left one whole page in his examination booklet blank. Tolkien, for reasons unknown even to him, wrote on the page, "In a hole ...in the ground there lived a hobbit." This single line turned into a bedtime story that he told his children, and from there, a book: The Hobbit (1937). The original cover is shown here.

I remember discovering The Hobbit when I was around 16.   I can't remember how I got the book. I was a voracious reader andI devoured it, my mouth agape, having never read anything quite like it before. When I finished, I read it again.  Hungry for more, I read Lord of the Rings.  People often talked about how great LOTR was, but I always preferred Bilbo Baggins's adventures in The Hobbit. I haven't seen Peter Jackson's film on The Hobbit yet, but I will.  I thrilled to the Ring trilogy.  Peter Jackson clearly is passionate about the book and all its vivid imagry.  I think ol' Tolkein would have approved of Jackson's fiilms.

Interesting that both the author, Tolkein, and the filmmaker who brought the story to life on screen, Jackson, were transfixed by their vision of the story. Yet both approached the story with very different backgrounds. Tolkein studied classics, language, and literature at Oxford. When Jackson was 16 years old, he left school and began working full-time as a photo-engraver for the local newspaper. For the 7 years he worked there, Jackson lived at home with his parents so he could save as much money as possible to spend on film equipment.

Makes one wonder if genius comes as a spark in life from some outer source, or if one is simply born with it? Do we need formal training to develop ideas, or do we need instead to be disciplined enough to allow the creativity to flow out?


  1. Hi Mary Alice,
    Because my book club is going to read The Butterfly's Daughter, I googled the book...and you. While I have read other books of yours and enjoyed them enormously, I find it intriguing to read an author's bio. That led me to your blog. I used to have one...but haven't dusted it off for years (dottynana.blogspot.com). Now, still hunkered down in the Santa Monica Mountains, I hastily throw together a few words for my charity, The Topanga Women's Circle, in a little blog that tries its best to acknowledge all the great women I work with (http://topangawomenscircle.blogspot.com) through my charity.

    And finally, from a fan, I hope your creativity never falters because there are so many of us who treasure each word.

    Thank you for all the pleasurable quiet moments you have brought me.

    Linda Ilsley

  2. Hello,I want to read The Hobbit, it sounds really good, also your book The Beach House Memories, my mom(Kathy Love)and I love books,and the beach!!

  3. Hello, I' m Turkısh girl. I love you, books :)
    The butterfly' s Daughter book (Kelebeğin Kızı) is very very beautiful, interesting and absorbing :)
    But, only two of your books published in Turkey. I hope the others are published. Good Evening Ladies

  4. I hope it's not too late to post a comment on this subject...but here goes. I, also, am a big fan of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I read the Hobbit numerous times growing up, but LOTR only twice. It's length was a little daunting. Tolkien clearly inspired many writers and filmmakers with his tales. I believe history will view Jackson's films as the definitive film interpretation of the books...I just see how anyone could do a better job. As for your questions on creative genius, I must hope that it can be honed and shaped through time and discipline, not unlike a muscle. I realize I'm not a genius, but I think I have enough in me to entertain a few folks with my tales. I hope the following is true: “Hard work and perseverance trumps talent most of the time. Talent plus hard work? Virtually unstoppable.”
    Take care,


Thanks for visiting my blog and sharing your thoughts. Learn more about my books on Facebook and my website www.maryalicemonroe.com.

All the best,
Mary Alice