I may have mentioned this in a previous blog post. Three years ago, my dear friend Avlbane started a literature/creative writing group with me. We called it the Inklings--basing it upon the same group C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were a part of in Oxford.
Inklings started out as just the two of us meeting at a coffeehouse talking about our respective stories. It grew. Oh, how it grew. It is now a formalized club on campus. We have blossoming new writers every semester. It is an incredible experience.
Inklings is Avlbane's and my baby. We have a great deal of love and affection for this club and all who are a part of it and all who've helped publicize and really make it into something.
So when some condescending smart-ass professor insults both the club AND us AND one of our good friends, we get irritated.
Let me back up. One of our friends asked to do a really awesome project on Inklings. She interviewed us, recorded one of the meetings, took tons of pictures, and even did a bunch of professional shots of Avlbane and me. And let me tell you--they were good. They were REALLY good. I had a lot of people ask me why I'd gotten professional pictures taken--they were blown away when I told them a student took them. She worked really hard on this project.
She recently had a conference with this jackass who basically told her that her project was not very good (which in fact IT WAS.) and proceeded to tell her that Avlbane and I were silly, immature, full of ourselves, and thought we were equal to Tolkien and Lewis.
Let's clear up some things right now.
First off: The silly remark. Yes. Avlbane and I are silly. We like to laugh, we like to make jokes--most normal people do. I'm not sure how this is an insult. Is this somehow insinuating Tolkien and Lewis weren't silly? Let me tell you something. Here's what the original Oxford Inklings would do every Tuesday. They would go down to a pub, read from some of their stories, have literary arguments, and get drunk. I mean totally drunk. They would drink and drink and get louder and louder until they were all bellowing with laughter. Imagine a bunch of old, drunk, medievalist Oxford professors slurring their words and arguing about subtext in Beowulf in the original Icelandic. I'm not kidding. This is the EPITOME of silliness. Lewis devotes an entire section in "The Four Loves" to how laughter is a huge component in love.
And seriously. Lewis invented marshwiggles and Tolkien invented hobbits. The argument is now invalid.
Are we full of ourselves? There is a difference between being full of yourself and being proud of something you accomplished. Alex and I literally started this group with two people--just her and me. Around eight to fifteen people show up at every meeting nowadays. Are we proud of this? Yes. Does this mean we're arrogant and think we're better than everybody else? No. People start clubs at my college every day and I'm sure many of these clubs will go on to be way more successful than the Inklings will ever be. But you know what? Inklings is our baby and we're proud of it. Deal with it.
Do we think we're as great as Lewis and Tolkien?
Let's recap. C.S. Lewis is and was a renowned theologian. He's been dead since 1963 and people are STILL using his works to back up their research in apologetics. Nearly every recent publication dealing with modern Christianity cites Lewis at some point. Not only that, he held a chair of poetry at Cambridge and worked at Oxford for nearly thirty years. He published over fifty books--at the least--nearly all of which were raging successes. His lectures were among the most popular at Oxford. Not only was he an incredibly intelligent man, he was an incredibly kind man as well, helping fund over thirty students' educations, giving a significant portion of his earnings to charities, and overall being the kindest, humblest guy you could know. Tolkien was pretty much the most talented philologist you will ever meet, not only helping doing the research for the Oxford English Dictionary (no lie) as well as translating Gawain and the Green Knight and several other Middle English works. He studied Icelandic poetry. IN ICELANDIC. The very first recorded Inklings meetings focused mainly on this subject and yes, the meetings were in Icelandic. (Lewis came to one and didn't return till they started speaking English.) He earned a professorship at Oxford over Anglo-Saxon, with a fellowship in 1925. And you know what this mofo did for fun? He wrote the Lord of the Rings in his spare time. IN HIS SPARE TIME. Have you seen those books?! Not only that, being a badass philologist, he created the languages WITHIN Lord of the Rings.
No. Avlbane and I do not think we are anywhere NEAR these guys' level of greatness. Nor do we claim to be. All we can say is that C.S. Lewis is my favorite writer and J.R.R. Tolkien is Avlbane's. In no way do we ever claim to BE them. When I say, "Avlbane is the Tolkien to my Lewis," I am saying that my friendship with her is reminiscent of theirs. REMINISCENT. I am saying that Avlbane and my early arguments about Christianity vs. Atheism had a very similar ring to Lewis' and Tolkien's arguments about the same thing.
But I could ignore all of this. Writers have thick skins. But what really irritates me the most, is that my friend, who worked SO hard on this project, had to sit there and listen to this jackass professor talk down to her work and insult her friends. THAT is the final sting that makes me want to find this professor and verbally flay him.
Here's the summation of Inklings. Avlbane and I created it for ourselves and others who get the same enjoyment out or writing and reading as we do. We created it because we like to laugh, we like to learn, we like to share our stories and hear others'.
It was my understanding that's why Lewis and Tolkien were Inklings.