Process: The Hobbit, or How I Do What I Do

Today I’ll share a bit about the process of creating a page of the hobbit. The example I’m using is a bit unusual, as it is the Misty Mountain poem; for the prose of the hobbit everything is the same except the ROUGH DRAFT stage.

  • ELECTRONIC COPY: When I first started the project I was trying to copy directly out of the book. I soon found, however, that between holding the book open, writing with a quill and the constant re-dipping that is required with a quill, this method was rather too complicated. I have since written out the first chapter of the book into Word, and copy the story directly from the computer.
The Hobbit, as typed into my computer.

The Hobbit, as typed into my computer.

Detail

Detail

  • MAKING THE QUILL: Honestly this is probably the most tricky part, making a quill is rather finicky. I found this here when I first decided I wanted to use a quill, and have pretty much just followed its instructions. I do both soak the quill in water over-night and temper it in hot sand prior to cutting.
While I do not have a picture of me making a quill, I hope this will serve.

While I do not have a picture of me making a quill, I hope this will serve.

  • PAGE LAYOUT: I decided at the beginning of the project on the margins I would use throughout: 2.5mm on the left side (to leave room to bind the book when I’m done); then 2mm in from that 2.5mm mark, 2mm in from the right side of the page, the upper margin is 2mm as well, and I leave 4mm on the bottom.
Here I am marking out the top 2mm margin.

Here I am marking out the top 2mm margin.

And drawing a line between the dots.

And drawing a line between the dots.

And a scan of the finished margins for the front of the page

And a scan of the finished margins for the front of the page

Lines! To keep my lines straight. The blue stuff at the corners is some non damaging blue putty-sticky-stuff that keeps the lines from moving under the page.

Lines! To keep my lines straight. The blue stuff at the corners is some non damaging blue putty-sticky-stuff that keeps the lines from moving under the page.

  • ROUGH DRAFT: This step only happens when I am writing out poetry because I want the poem to be as centered on the page as I can make it. With the rough draft I can see how long each line of the poem is and can do a better job centering them on the final copy.
Here we go! Writing out the rough draft

Here we go! Writing out the rough draft, oops! do you see the “m”? Good thing this is a rough draft.

  • The rough draft of the Misty Mountain poem

    The rough draft of the Misty Mountain poem

    The rough draft of the Misty Mountain poem

    The rough draft of the Misty Mountain poem and some “w” practice

    FINAL DRAFT: Then, using my quill and looking up every now and again at the computer, I am able to write out The Hobbit.

    Writing out the final copy, using the rough draft as a template, to get the lines centered

    Writing out the final copy, using the rough draft as a template, to get the lines centered

And the Final version of the poem

And the Final version of the poem

  • And the Final version of the poem

    And the Final version of the poem

    THE OTHER SIDE: When I finish one side it’s time to put the margins on the other side! The margins are basically the same except that the 2.5mm “book-binding margin” is on the right instead of the left.

And a photo of the margins on the reverse side of the sheet (with a quarter for scale, and so the camera had something to focus on)

And a photo of the margins on the reverse side of the sheet (with a quarter for scale, and so the camera had something to focus on)

  • FINAL TOUCHES: When I finish writing both sides I erase the penciled margins (but I leave the 2.5 “book-binding margin”), and touch up any letters that need it.

    Erasing the Margins

    Erasing the Margins

  • PRESERVATION: When I’ve finished the page I scan it into the computer (so I can share it with you all [and also it’s another way to preserve a copy]). Then I put it into a plastic sleeve in my Hobbit Binder!
Cover page of my hobbit binder

Cover page of my hobbit binder

  • Inside the hobbit binder

    Inside the hobbit binder

  • NUMBERING: I do plan on numbering all the pages, but as I plan also on putting in Tolkien’s originally illustrations I am going to hold off on the numbering until I finish the book.

Well I think that pretty much covers it all. If you have any questions please let me know in the comments below!

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