Celebrate Tolkien’s Birthday: Indulge in Your Mad Hobby


I love this Tolkien quote. In one sentence he offers both comfort and hope.

I get comfort from the fact that like me, he sometimes struggled to let himself do the things he enjoyed. I also suffer from creative anorexia, holding back from things I know I will enjoy because they seem frivolous. My “mad” hobbies include writing, quilting, drawing, painting, book-binding, spinning, and knitting. I love them all, but often wonder if it’s wise to spend my time on seemingly pointless activities when there are so many things that need doing.

I also find hope in Tolkien’s story. Why pursue your mad hobbies? Because there’s no way to know where they might lead. In Tolkien’s case, the languages he created were the basis of his books, and led to a fantasy world so rich and vivid that they live on today, loved by a multitude of devoted fans, even though their creator is gone.

Tolkien was born 122 years ago today. I am grateful that he took time for his mad hobby, that he let himself waste time on things he loved, because it means I get to read the wonderful books that evolved from his play time.

And I’m glad to find out that for some at least, frivolous pursuits can have magnificent results. It gives me hope that my pointless loves may prove valuable in the end, if only to me.


Published by

Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

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