June's Challenges

This month's challenges are inspired by the character of Pengolodh, who never appears as a character in the published Silmarillion but whose work as one of the fictional "authors" of Tolkien's mythology shaped the stories of Arda into what they are today.

Journey Bread

Lembas has always had a special place in Tolkien's mythology and in the stories written by fans of his world. Often, lembas is used as a detail to make a story sound more authentic, but looking at Pengolodh's short essay "Of Lembas," from The History of Middle-earth, Volume Twelve: The Peoples of Middle-earth, this item is also worthy of starring in its own story.

This month, we offer a challenge to write a story about how lembas is cultivated, made, or used. "Of Lembas" might be a good start, but the following passages might inspire those without access to the essay:

Parting's Sorrow

“Greater as is the skill of the Quendi to mould things to their will and delight, and to overcome the chances of Ea, yet they are not as the Valar, and with regard to the might of the World and its fate, they are but weak and small. Therefore to them also severance is severance, and friends and kin far away are far away."
-HoMe 12, "Dangweth Pengolod"

J.R.R. Tolkien largely invented Arda as a place to experiment with his invented languages, and therefore, the movement of different peoples often results in a change in the way that they speak. In "Dangweth Pengolod," Pengolodh explains to the Anglo-Saxon explorer Ælfwine how the sundering and change of the speech of the Eldar occured.

However, from the modes of linguistic change come some of Tolkien's most poignant stories of families and loved ones parted. This challenge asks authors to consider the separation of friends and families across the history of Arda, whether by canonical events, such as Elves lost on the Great Journey or separated by exile, or through the normal courses of life: marriage, estrangement, birth, and death.

Quote of the Month

"Immortal, within Eä, are the Eldar, but since even as Men they dwell in forms that come of Eä, they are no more changeless than the great trees, neither in the forms that they inhabit, nor in the things that they desire or achieve by means of those forms."
-Pengolodh to Ælfwine in The History of Middle-earth, Volume XII, "Dangweth Pengolod"

Character of the Month: Pengolodh

Pengolodh is never mentioned in the published Silmarillion, but his presence is undeniable: He is one of the "authors" who wrote or compiled much of the lore on which The Silmarillion is based. Many references in The History of Middle-earth series name his as the author or at least a contributor to the works that form the basis of The Silmarillion, including The Annals of Beleriand and the Lhammas or Account of Tongues. He is often said to work in conjunction with or improving upon the work of Rúmil, who plays a major role in Tolkien's earliest mythology and is named in the published Silmarillion as the artificer of the alphabet that preceded the Tengwar. In later works, Pengolodh begins to eclipse Rúmil a bit in importance.

Perhaps Pengolodh's most important role in the mythology, however, was as the transmitter of knowledge to Ælfwine, the English explorer who happened upon Tol Eressëa and translated what he learned there into English, thus making the myths available to us.

Pengolodh is very much a "behind the scenes" character, and while he is present as the author or as a contributor to many of the myths, we learn little about him. He was called "the wise of Gondolin," and the early story The Fall of Gondolin includes a lord called Penlod who was probably a predecessor to Pengolodh. Penlod was the lord of the people of the Pillar and the Tower of Snow, and he was killed during Morgoth's attack on Gondolin. Later, it became necessary for Pengolodh to exist as one of the survivors of the attack on Gondolin, and he returned to live in Tol Eressëa, where his knowledge of the early history of the Elves and Númenoreans was passed onto Ælfwine and into the books that we enjoy today.

Want more challenges? Check out our complete challenge listing for almost two years' worth of challenges to inspire your writing!

Have an idea for a challenge? Some of our most popular challenges have been created by you, the members of SWG! If you have a plotbunny gnawing at your ankle, a favorite quote, or a favorite character that you think might inspire others as well, please send an email to and we'll try to include your challenge in our next newsletter!

June's News

Archive Beta-Test Underway!

As some of you probably know by now, the story archive on our homepage has been completed, and we started beta-testing in May. Most of the kinks have been worked out of the system in the past week or so, and the archive should be publicly available beginning Wednesday, 6 June 2007. We will post announcements on our LiveJournal community and Yahoo! group when the archive is available for public use. We welcome all current SWG members to archive their writing there or to kick back to read and discover some new authors!

Moderation Change

As the group expands, we want to be sure that we have enough moderators to properly serve our different groups. As such, last month, we welcomed Tárion Anaróre as a new moderator. Tárion has been a member of SWG since the group's inception almost two years ago and will be primarily moderating the LiveJournal community, where she has volunteered as the Unofficial Entry-Tagging Guru for several months now. As usual, however, questions or concerns may be brought to any of our moderators at any time.

Currently, then, the SWG moderators are Dawn, Uli (ford_of_bruinen), Jenni (Digdigil), and Tárion.

Promoting Your Group on SWG

In the past, we've been a bit unclear and inconsistent about how other groups should promote themselves on SWG. On the one hand, we are part of a large and active community and wish to support groups outside of SWG in their endeavors, as they have supported us. At the same time, SWG is not an ad service, and we don't want our members to feel "spammed" by a constant influx of announcements that don't interest them.

As such, the moderators have clarified how we want to handle this in the future. This is our policy, as it stands now:

Any non-profit group may advertise on the Yahoo! group. You do not need permission to do so (however, you must be a member of the Yahoo! group in order to post a message to it). We ask only that announcements that do not have to do with Tolkien or writing in general be clearly marked "OT" (off-topic) and that non-SWG-related conversations that arise be taken to your private email accounts. Members should be reasonable with regard to the number of announcements that they post. Spamming the group is unacceptable.

Groups related to Tolkien and writing in general may post an announcement to the LiveJournal community silwritersguild. However, groups must get approval from a moderator before doing so. Please send us a copy of the announcement that you want to post to We will get back to you as soon as we can, which is usually within a day. Announcements posted without prior permission from a moderator will be removed.

On our homepage, we've started a new feature called Around the World and Web that will appear alongside the Site News on the sidebar. If you'd like to share Tolkien- or writing-related news and announcements here, please contact a moderator with a copy of your announcement, and we will put it up on the site for you. We do not support or endorse the groups that make announcements here. AtWaW is simply a way to connect to the larger Tolkien and writing communities, both of which SWG is a part.

All groups that post announcements to SWG must meet the following criteria:

Groups who don't meet these guidelines will have their announcements deleted and will not be welcome to post further announcements on SWG.

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