Bree, Blogging, Community and Thanks (Day 35)

Camera: Mamiya C3 Film: Kodak Ektachrome 64x; expired 10/96; x-pro

Camera: Mamiya C3
Film: Kodak Ektachrome 64x; expired 10/96; x-pro

Finally! Our hobbits and Strider make it through the Chetwood.

Thoughts on the Passage – Book I, Chapter 11 (p182, 50th Anniv. Ed.)
Because the book has entered into an incredibly long walking montage, there’s isn’t much to talk about that specifically pertains to the passage. So I’ll turn to matters more modern.

I’ve been thinking about Bree and the community that they had within the village walls. Tolkien doesn’t really go into that much, but it’s very clear that there’s no central system of government – not even a mayor. The people, even Bill Ferny, seem to get along well enough. The Prancing Pony is the social hub, which, makes me think of the social aspects of blogging (you know, because this is a blog).

This year actually marks my 10th year writing a blog, which is sort of mind blowing. While I have a photography blog and used to have a few personal blogs, these days, I mostly write and research about the Civil War. It’s a blog that has over 1,000 hits each day and over 2,000 followers on Facebook. I guess I’m a success in a way. But since I’ve started the Sweating to Mordor project, I’ve discovered that my Civil War success isn’t really success at all. I’ve failed to build any sort of community. And to me, that’s a huge failure.

While 1,000 people read that blog each day, almost nobody leaves comments. There’s close to zero interaction. That is partially due to the “encyclopedic” nature of the writing (something desperately trying to avoid here), but it’s also just weird. And when I do get comments, they’re more than sometimes racist. The last one I received (few days ago) was about how much better America would be if they would have colonized black people after the Civil War. Most of them never get through and the ones that do are deleted.

This blog has an incredibly small fraction of the readers that my other blog has. But I get so many more comments. There’s some wonderful discussion and a true feel of community. And as a bonus, there’s no creepy racist guys praying for the South to rise again!

Many of the fellow Tolkien bloggers here grew up reading about Middle-earth and being completely enthralled in it. I didn’t pick up Tolkien until a few years ago. For me, the Civil War was that youthful enthrallment. I’d spend weekend upon weekend tramping the fields of Gettysburg or Antietam. I lived and breathed it. And so the Civil War blog seemed natural. But after four years of doing it, I’m getting burned out and needed a diversion. That’s where this blog came in.

So thank you for making my first month here a fun one. Thank you for commenting on my blog and engaging my own comments on your blogs. I’m going to try to do even more to get some conversations going. Comments are ridiculously encouraged – it’s really the best way for me to learn about Middle-earth. I love talking about the legendarium and don’t really get a chance to in (most of my) real life. So thank you. Thank you very much.

Tomorrow, I’ll see what I can do to get back to the book itself. But in the meantime, drop me a hello or something. Sure, I’m the one sweating to Mordor, but I’m also the one dragging you along.

About the Photo
I took this photo fully thinking that it wouldn’t turn out. The shutter speed was at 1/4 of a second and I didn’t have a tripod. Apparently I have a steady hand. This isn’t my desk or where I write. It’s actually in an abandoned building in a ghost town in northern central Washington.

Thoughts on the Exercising
Five more miles. I did it today on a full stomach, but I took it slow, so barfing wasn’t involved. Nevertheless, I don’t think I’ll do that again. Icky.


  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 165
  • 49 miles to Weathertop
  • 295 miles to Rivendell
  • 1,614 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s stopping place: Just leaving the Chetwood, thanks. (map)

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