Another Man's Cage
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Tyelkormo
Chapter Two: Tyelkormo
There are stories that change lives. This is one such story.
I discovered The Silmarillion in early 2004, not long after the release of the last of the Lord of the Rings movies. The Lord of the Rings I adored and was gladly absorbed in it. The Silmarillion I hated. But it would not leave me alone. It tormented, cajoled, teased, and haunted me, in particular that fiery-eyed Noldo Fëanor, who kept whispering that his story had never been correctly told. I started telling myself stories about him and his family well before I knew of the existence of anything called "fan fiction." It seemed the only suitable answer to a story was another story, and my private fantasies relished for months in considering alternate versions of truth in Fëanor's story in The Silmarillion
Then I discovered that I was not alone. Other people told themselves the same kinds of stories, and they termed it "fan fiction." I didn't particularly care for the term, but I loved the results of it and busied myself for months with reading other people's fictional interpretations of Tolkien's stories. There was only one problem. Most authors tended to approach the stories the same or even worse than Tolkien did. The Fëanorians were, at best, victims of primarily their own flaws; at worst, they were irredeemably evil. Their was very little effort made to see their world through their eyes or to understand how external actors shaped them into the characters they would become. This grew increasingly irksome. Finally, one day, I read in a comment on a poem lambasting Maedhros that the poem proved what the commenter had always suspected: that Maedhros was indeed the true villain of The Silmarillion. By this point, I'd had enough. I shut down my Internet browser, opened up a fresh Microsoft Word document, and began writing this story.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I said at the outset that this is a life-changing story. The life it changed was mine. At that point, I had not written--really written--for some years. I was disillusioned and browbeaten into believing that what I wanted to write was beneath what my talents prescribed I was capable of writing. Fan fiction--as the horrid term itself tells--was so far beneath me that I hid what I was doing for months, even from my husband, from whom I keep almost no secrets. But it came, too, without pressure and expectation. It was solely for me because my pride would never allow me to show it to anyone else. I reveled in it. Another Man's Cage had no plot, it's sole purpose being a way for me to answer the accusations being made against the Fëanorians in other people's stories without turning into a cretin and flaming people with whom I did not agree. I also used it to work out some personal troubles that were bothering me. Neither its lack of plot or its atypical reason for existence were problematic because it was written only for me, so I had no reason to wonder what others would think of it, or of me for writing it.
After a while, I realized that it was starting to look like a story. Whether I intended it or not, plot and conflict had emerged from the daily lives and intrigues of my characters. And I began to wonder what other people would think of it. I considered sharing it. I considered this for months before--after a strong girding of the loins--actually did.
I don't know where I would be today without this story. I have a hard time believing that it would be a better place than where I am. I have met so many people--some of them now close friends without whom my life would be diminished--through this story. This story helped me to grow the Silmarillion Writers' Guild; I have no doubts about that. The SWG, in turn, has become known as a place receptive and friendly to fans, artists, and writers with a different outlook on the texts, something that I hungered for in my early days as a Tolkien fan, a desire I have since discovered that am not alone in. The SWG and the people I have met through this group have enriched my life more than I would have imagined possible. That started with this story.
This story gave me my voice back as a writer. I am back to writing original fiction, and I write what I want now, not what my writing professors of yesteryears would have approved of. I stooped the lowest that I could go--I wrote "fan fiction"--with this story and had the time of my life both in writing and sharing it. I figure I stand the best possible chance of replicating that by following where my heart, spirit, and intellect take me as a writer, not where I stand the best chance of earning laurels and money (as if!) for my writing. That, too, started with this story.
I started posting this story in 2005, almost (as of this writing) four years ago. It is not my best story or my best writing. It remains my favorite story, though, because it was the story that made all of the others possible.
This story—and all of my work—is dedicated to my husband Bobby, whose love and encouragement frees my heart and mind to wander in realms untouched by human footsteps and who has never uttered those damning words, “It’s just a story ...” Thank you, Bobby; all that is beautiful in my words has part of its source in you.