On Mathoms: a Manifesto (Almost)

I should get rid of my old CDs.  There is no real reason to keep them.  Maybe a few of the local bands who never made it big that signed copies would be an exception, but I have kept them all, along with every program from every play that I have ever seen.  There is no real sense to this. I have seen a lot of plays.  I have to make a concerted effort to not save stubs from movie tickets, although I do find them piling up in places.

Long ago I wrote (luckily I don’t save everything that I have ever written, but I did save this):

I first encountered the word ‘mathom’ twenty-one years ago when I was reading The Lord of the Rings. Hobbits, like both Dragons and New Yorkers, are natural hoarders. And, when a healthy amount of material possessions becomes burdensome, some of the more interesting things are sent to a museum run by the Mayor: “The Mathom-house it was called; for anything that Hobbits had no immediate use for, but were unwilling to throw away, they called a mathom. Their dwellings were apt to become rather crowded with mathoms….” I later found out that ‘mathom’ meant ‘treasure’ in Old English. And, indeed in Beowulf, the dragon’s hoard is filled with many a mþum.

It was an introduction to an old blog. I thought at the time that the mathoms I kept were only in my mind, but, it turns out that when I moved a few months later I had more than I realized in boxes.

I make no pretense that the mathoms I put here will be worthy for a dragon’s hoard, merely that they will be worthy of your consideration. I only hope, that by writing them down, I can be done with these pesky notions so that they stop cluttering my mind and clutter yours instead.

I didn’t mean it at the time but I think that this notion sums up all writing, or at least all of the writing that I do.  The ideas need to be let out one way or another, and they have to be let out properly.

I told an idea to a friend years ago for a story I wanted to write and he told me it was cliché, and there was no more damning word to me then than ‘cliché.’  I would even have preferred ‘bad.’ I can’t recall exactly what the idea was but I doubt it was cliché, or even bad.  I do know that I went about it in the wrong manner.  Nobody wants to hear story ideas, although a few may want to read them once they are finished.

I can’t speak for anyone else but for me the ideas have to come out or they become distracting.

Tags: The Mathom-House at Michel Delving,

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The Proof Is in the Proofs

My book, Priceless Treasures and Ghastly,  is almost ready to print.  On three occasions I have assured my editor that I was ready to go to press, and then rewritten something.  It probably isn’t something that I should do — the more changes that I make the more likely it is that I will introduce typos that will  be uncaught, or delete things by accident.  But I owe you, my public, the best that I can manage and I will deliver it.

As a child I remember being appalled that Tolkien made so many changes to The Hobbit while it was being printed that the printers had to break the plates and do it all over again.  This, by the way, was the first edition of 1937, not the revised 1951 version that we read.

I do think that what I have now is as good as it can be, but I think that I put off pressing ‘send’ a few more hours and look it over one last time.