I read a post today which discussed heroes giving noble speeches to hearten people, and whether that’s effective today. When I commented, I cited King Théoden’s speech in The Return of the King, little knowing how much I would need that speech five minutes later. While I thought of the stirring speech from the 2003 movie directed by Peter Jackson, what’s below is from the book by J. R. R. Tolkien.

Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden!
Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter!
spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,
a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!
Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!

220PX-~1Bernard Hill as Théoden. Photo from Wikipedia.

I always loved that speech, because Théoden and his army rode toward a battle none was sure he would survive. But they went anyway.

I think about that speech now, as I contemplate an emailed rejection I just received. I wasn’t going to post today. I was going to huddle in a ball in the corner. Yet I felt that I need to write this while the feelings are fresh and raw, not just for myself, but for anyone who has been rejected and now wanders lost in the fog of confusion and “what next?”

Some days writing seems like a battle I’m not sure I’ll win. Maybe like me, you start to second-guess yourself, thinking, Am I a total loser? If that’s you today, look at Théoden’s speech. I don’t know exactly why I get totally pumped when I read those words or hear them in the movie. This is an example of persuasion, spoken by a man who wasn’t content to hang about his halls while his army swept into battle. He went with them.

People tell you that rejection is par for the course. Yeah, it is. It hurts, because you’re left reeling. Others tell you to get up and try again, but you feel like a newborn foal standing on shaky legs. That’s how I feel right now.

Is that you today? I don’t have words of wisdom. I just have that speech—those gorgeous words of Tolkien. And I take heart. And I cry. And I scream:

Fell deeds awake . . . a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!

And I go into battle once more.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Return of the King. New York: Ballantine Books, 1955, 1965. Copyright renewed 1983 by Christopher R. Tolkien, Michael H. R. Tolkien, John F. R. Tolkien and Priscilla M. A. R. Tolkien. Print. 123.

42 thoughts on “Arise!

  1. I absolutely understand where you’re coming from L. Marie and I think it’s courageous of you to share that with us. None of us deal well with rejection – I’ve felt the same about jobs I’ve gone for and didn’t get – but ultimately they make us stronger. Chin up and keep trying! 🙂

    • Thanks, Elaine. Yeah, I’ve had rejections for those too lately. Life sometimes feels like I’ve slipped on a banana peel, only there is no laugh track in the background. But thanks for your kind words.

  2. Great post. The professor has been there (and will be again) more times than he can guess! I’ll be standing with you!

    (I always liked Theoden. And that charge never fails to make this professor proud–for some strange reason!)

  3. I especially loved the line you repeated: “Fell deeds awake.” Though I’m not sure I’m understanding it correctly, it feels to me like he’s saying the deeds of the past are behind us. We can neither rest on our laurels nor give in to past failures because now is the time to face the deed before us. And that’s what you and I need to do — to face the road before us, not allow ourselves to become tripped up on what has already happened. That rejection is now in your past, just as mine is part of my past. Time to move forward (with armor, of course!)

  4. First of all: *hugs*

    Next, thank you for posting this. As much as we all know in our minds that rejections are to be expected, it still hurts, and most of us aren’t willing to open ourselves up and talk about it. This is a brave post. I can only assume that Theoden would be pleased.

    As to the feelings and what you’re experiencing… I also don’t have words of wisdom to offer that will make it all better. Wouldn’t that be an AMAZING super power? I know how much it hurts; rejection in any form is one of my big fears. Yes, I’ve chosen the wrong line of work. It might just take time and perspective to move through what you’re feeling now. Don’t let anyone tell you not to feel your feels, OK? But don’t let the disappointment and sadness keep you from riding into battle again, either. Remember that you believe in what you’re doing, and other people believe in you, too.

    If there’s anything I can do, you know where to find me.

    • Thank you, Kate, for your encouragement here and your emails. I usually hide my failures under a veneer of “Everything is okay.” But I didn’t want to do that today. And I can’t–not with that speech in my head!

      And yes, it would be an amazing super power. I’m trying to picture a graphic novel with a hero who had that power. Okay, maybe it wouldn’t sell as many copies of one with Rogue or Wolverine. But it could work!

  5. My favorite hero speech is the one King Arthur (Richard Harris) gives in Camelot when he realizes the bond between Guinevere and Lancelot and chooses the higher moral path. Re rejection slips, I finally learned to celebrate them as an indication that I had been brave enough to send my words out into the world. Each one then became a triumph instead of a rejection.

    • Thank you, Pat. And I appreciated your post today and your “I wonder” questions. Days like this cause me to wonder. But I love the idea of rejection as a triumph.

  6. No pithy comments or profound statements of wisdom here. Just this: I feel you. I believe in you. And I know that your time is coming. Hang on to that sword, Linda. You’ve still got work to do.

  7. … and I just came over for inspiration while I stare at my word processor’s blank page. One could even call your blog, besides inspiring, a careful distraction, wonderfully disguised as a good reason for procrastination … 🙂 May I suggest reading some of your past posts — you might be surprised by your own words! 🙂

  8. I think as writers we need to develop a different mindset. Instead of sending our manuscripts off hoping they’ll be selected for publication, and therefore success, we should perhaps recognise that we’re writers because we write. That in itself is a victory. We therefore, will carry on, no matter what. Whether anyone ever selects us from the pile or not. Even if we should die without ever seeing our words in print… because we have made up our minds and dedicated ourselves to the task at hand. No other ‘reward’ will be needed. If it comes, we can accept it humbly, and carry on regardless.

    Also, have you ever met the people who ‘choose?’ Without using too broad a brushstroke… most of them wouldn’t know a good story if it popped into their own minds and kept them awake for eternity, let alone seeing it momentarily flutter by on your gossamer pages.

    I use these words from a buddhist sage to keep me going, in life generally as well as with my work –

    “To be praised by fools is the greatest of all shames.”

    It may seem a tad arrogant, because not all of them are fools, but it reminds us that our own judgements and choices are what really matter… and of course, that we are often surrounded by a lot of idiots. 🙂

    Keep fighting.

  9. Thanks for this post. You are our Theoden, urging us on with honor and strength to face yet another challenge, be it a blank white screen crying out for something worthy to be written on it or to face another round of querying and putting our hopes on the line yet again. So glad you’ve shared this with us. Now, on to victory!

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