“Minas Tirith. City of kings.” And here is the model of the White City so wonderfully portrayed in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings — especially the final book of the greater book, The Return of the King — and also shown in the Lord of the Rings film series.
Actually, this isn’t the work of the New Zealand effects house Weta Workshop at all. Instead it’s a replica model assembled by artist Patrick Acton. He took three years putting this together, using (as his website says) 24,000 small wooden blocks to form Mount Mindolluin, and to comprise the White City itself, about 420,000 matchsticks.
And one of his previous projects: a replica of none other than Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series — upon which this design, for the film series, was based.
Acton’s matchstick version of Hogwarts has been sold to an attraction in Spain called “The HOUSE OF KATMANDU”. By the time the final building (the Clock Tower buidling) was finished it had taken Acton nearly three years to build, and it contains over a 602,000 matchsticks held together with 15 gallons of carpenter’s wood glue. Hogwarts is Acton’s largest matchstick model to date.
Whew. Just whew.
Of course now that these models are complete, they look fantastic. But imagine the constant, repetitious, plodding labor required to design the thing, cut the matchsticks to size, apply glue, lay them in place, make sure it stays, make sure it looks right, then repeat hundreds of thousands of times. Though the construction process is just as much Art as seeing the finished product, surely the process often doesn’t feel like it.
Authors can empathize. A finished novel, especially if it’s published and seen by many, lends greater credibility and worth to the entire plodding process.
But in the middle of the process, especially if the novel isn’t guaranteed fame or publication — isn’t it difficult to see the point?
Might all this writing and world-building often seem only like wasting time? As if doing mere busywork? Cleaning the same closet day after day? Practicing the same song on a musical instrument? Using tweezers to move a dirt pile? Re-writing the same sentence/paragraph/chapter/book over and over? Debunking the same wrong ideas on the internet, over and over and over?
Last month I’ve felt that way several times. And I’m wondering if others — really, how others — may empathize.