Newsletter: May 2014
Table of Contents
- SWG News. Our ratings policy has changed, so authors should be sure to check out the new changes. The Silmarillion re-reading continues, and we remind B2MeM compilation participants that the due date approaches for inclusion in the ebook. Finally, we welcome our newest members!
- New at the Archive. Stories added, updated, and finished during the month of April.
- Character of the Month Biography: Anairë, by Oshun. Anairë, the wife of Fingolfin, is named only in the auxillary texts to The Silmarillion, yet this character offers fruitful possibilities for exploration.
- Current Challenges. May continues "The Living Land," which asks writers to choose a place on Arda and bring that location to life as a character, as Tolkien himself often did. We also revisit the "The Plot Thickens," in which writers consider what it means to plot something.
- Around the World and Web. Announcements, events, and interesting reads from beyond the SWG.
Change in Rating Policy: "Author Chooses Not to Rate/Warn" Is Now an Option
Effective immediately, authors on our archive now have an additional option when rating or including warnings on their stories. Authors who prefer not to use ratings and/or warnings can now select "Author Chooses Not to Rate" and/or "Author Chooses Not to Warn." We hope this change will better balance the needs of readers who wish to select or avoid certain types of content with the needs of authors to present their work as they feel is best.
Our Ratings Policy has full details on this change, but some key information about this change follows.
- Authors may use the "Author Chooses Not to Rate," "Author Chooses Not to Warn," or both. In other words, if you don't want to rate your story but wish to warn readers of certain content, you may do so. Likewise, if you want to rate your story but do not wish to reveal story content through warnings, you may select a rating and "Author Chooses Not to Warn."
- Stories rated Adult or Teen must continue to include a warning that explains why the author chose that rating or the author may select "Author Chooses Not to Warn." If a story is rated Adult or Teen and does not include any warnings, the moderators will add the "Author Chooses Not to Warn" label.
- For authors who prefer to use ratings, the ratings and warnings system remains the same. Authors continue to be required to accurately rate and warn their stories if they choose to use this system.
As always, if you have any questions about our ratings policy or need advice on how best to apply it to your story, feel free to contact us at email@example.com.
The Silmarillion (Re)read
The Jewels have been stolen, the Kinslaying committed, and the Helcaraxë crossed. Have you missed the discussions? You can find them at
New insights and contributions and, of course, recs to stories dealing with these chapters are always welcome. The schedule for May is as follows:
May 4: "Of the Sindar"
May 18: "Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor"
B2MeM 2014 Ebook
Authors and artists who particpated in the 2014 B2MeM compilation (meaning that you signed up for a prompt and completed it) are eligible to have their work included in the ebook of the 2014 compilation. All compilation participants should have received an informational email about the steps they need to complete in order to be included in the ebook. If you did not receive an email or need another copy, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you've sent in your information, you should have received a confirmation email from us; if you did not, please contact us at email@example.com. The due date to get your permission, summary, and bio sent to us is 15 May 2014.
Welcome to Our New Members!
Welcome to the new members of the Silmarillion Writers’ Guild who joined during the month of April: Lavinia0409, Baranduin, Pallando, Melenir, ReAnlashaq, Scarlett, Alcarin, tremontaine, and sithisit.
If you wish to share what awoke your interest in the Silmarillion, or brought you to our site, or any other facts about your fandom persona, why not update your bio? If you can’t find something in our archive or in other sections of the site, or if you need help, you can start by browsing our Frequently Asked Questions, but if you can’t find the answer, or if you need assistance at any time, email the SWG mods at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New at the Archive
A Good Man by Ilye [Teens] (5834 words)
Summary: Fingon's wife realises it can be difficult coming to terms with being the third wheel in a relationship, even when you knew what you were getting yourself into.
A Kindred Heart by oshun [General] (3808 words)
Summary: Indis meets Nerdanel and responds to her. References to: Noldorin society in Valinor during the Years of the Trees, sons, husbands, art, family dynamics and dysfunctionality, even a brief mention (non-graphic) of childbirth/labor. Started a while ago, but finished at this time in response to the legendarium ladies april event on Tumblr.
Bright and Terrible by zopyrus [Teens] (1050 words)
Summary: Not everyone at Losgar is thrilled about burning the fleet. The captain of one of Fëanor's ships questions her orders.
By the Margin of the Sea by StarSpray [General] (4003 words)
Summary: After a very long journey, Elwing comes to Alqualondë.
Emotions-- A series of vignettes by MisbehavingMaiar [Teens] (8065 words)
Summary: A study in sentiments over time; a collection of moments surrounding Melkor and Sauron, from the Spring of Arda to the fall of the Third Age.
First to Leave by Agelast [Adult] (3466 words)
Summary: Fingon/Maedhros, a political PWP.
Houses of Might by MisbehavingMaiar [General] (1548 words)
Summary: Melkor reflects upon his past dwelling places, and the lessons learned in failure.
If You Go into the Woods Today by oshun [Teens] (1308 words)
Summary: Coming-of-age ficlet about sexual experimentation, but more fundamentally about acceptance and friendship. A Finwean cousins' camping trip. Many thanks to Ignoble Bard for the quick Beta. For the Legendarium Ladies April challenge on Tumblr.
Lily of the Valley by Elleth [Adult] (3201 words)
Summary: Rían departs from Mithrim to seek Huor on the Hill of the Slain, but her journey is intercepted.
Of Morgoth and Men by Chilled in Hithlum [General](1406 words)
Summary: A short essay for the fun of it.
Red As Blood by The Wavesinger [Adult] (1750 words)
Summary: Maedhros never recovered; he just coped.
Spring in Imladris by Winterwitch [General] (3368 words)
Summary: At the evening before the Spring Festival Nost-na-Lothion, Erestor puts the twins to bed and tells them a bedtime story.
Strength by Independence1776 [General] (1462 words)
Summary: Nerdanel visits Celebrían after her arrival on Tol Eressëa.
The Anatomy of Orcs by MisbehavingMaiar [Teens] (1571 words)
Summary: An academic essay composed by an unnamed Numenorian naturalist; (an open-minded lady of the court of Ar-Adûnakhôr) concerning the biology and habits of Orcs. (Illustrated)
The Antithesis by Makalaure [Teens] (9623 words)
Summary: Maglor and a strange boy meet during a gelid winter. AU.
The Cruel by MisbehavingMaiar [Teens] (1554 words)
Summary: In the age before the sun, new creatures grow and hunt and are hunted in turn. A Maia who chose his own master now chooses a new, more suitable name. (Pictures Included!)
Time's Arrow by Russandol [Adult] ( 40930 words)
Summary: Two elves of the Greenwood, a troubled warrior and a prince, confront the shadows from their past in the less than perfect paradise of Valinor. There, a tradition that has been kept every four long-years since the ancient days of the Great Journey is about to take place once more.
To Freely Choose by StarSpray [General] (1870 words)
Summary:Eärendil and Elwing are summoned back to the Valar, and given a choice.
Yours Forever by Silver Trails [Adult] (10680 words)
Summary: Sauron meets Melkor again after the Dagor Dagorath.
Works in Progress
Aerin and Broddun by Himring [Teens]
Summary: The story of Aerin of the House of Hador and Broddun of the Easterlings, Brodda's sister. After the crushing defeat of the Edain in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, the Easterlings have occupied Dor-lomin. Brodda has taken Aerin to wife by force. Aerin and Broddun find ways of dealing with it and with each other. Their friendship grows and survives amid difficulties, but the end is bitter.
Chapter added this month: Part II.
Before the Great Music: An Account Before the Ainulindale by Alcarin [General]
Summary: Melkor, the greatest and most powerful of the Ainur, becomes the first of his divine kindred to depart from the Light –– and to embrace the Darkness, thereby becoming its first and greatest manifestation.
Chapters added this month: Chapter 1 The Lure of the Void, Chapter 2 Down Into the Void, Chapter 3 Melkor's Bait, Chapter 4 Varda's Choice and Chapter 5 Mairon's Liege.
Maudits silmarils, livre 1 by Dilly [Teens]
Summary: A Gondolin, Turgon déprime... Une parodie crack du Silmarillion façon Kaamelott.
Chapters added this month: La Caverne de la Fleur d'Or I, La Caverne de la Fleur d'Or II, Le retour, La fièvre and Les thermes.
The Lords that Fell by Taylor17387 †[Adult]
Summary: Tells the story of the rise and fall of the two dark lords, from the collapse of the fortress in Tol-in-Gaurhoth, to the collapse of Barad-dûr, and what came next. Mainly told from Melkor and Sauron's perspective. Continuation of my other fic: "The Burnt God", though it may be read separately. Occasional slash.
Chapter added this month: The Shadow before the Door of Night .
Frozen Heart by Kaylee Arafinwiel [General] (246 words)
Summary: On the first day of winter, young Eärendil announces its arrival to his parents very early in the morning, and the chill of memories pierces Idril to the core.
L'ocarina by Dilly [General] (332 words)
Summary: Bonus de Noël pour "Maudits Silmarils". L'écuyer d'Ecthelion de la Fontaine lui offre un cadeau...
Necessity is the Mother of Invention by MisbehavingMaiar [General] (269 words)
Summary: The First Music goes off without a hitch; Arda is unmarred, and the Theme goes on and on without one dissonant voice in the choir.
Nerdanel by Silver Trails [General] (762 words)
Summary: Nerdanel thinks of her lost family.
No Resemblance by Elisif [Teens] (637 words)
Summary: Nolofinwë struggles to recognise his nephew after his rescue from Angband.
Shadow Child by StarSpray [General] (485 words)
Summary: Featuring Lúthien, her power, and her choices.
Yavanna's Dream by MisbehavingMaiar [General] (959 words)
Summary: "I multiply. I diversify. I evade. I grow. And if you would subdue me, Gorthaur, you must catch me first." Yavanna has a nightmare about her sister, Vana, confronting Sauron and the (allegorical) rise of industry.
Giver of Freedom by MisbehavingMaiar [General] (34 words)
Summary: A short poem and a portrait of Melkor.
Character of the Month Biography
Among the unsung women of Tolkien's pre-Lord of the Rings history of Elves and Men, Anairë is fortunate in that she actually receives a name. She is simply one example of several women, barely mentioned, who must have had great influence in her world. She does not figure in the narrative of the story of the Noldor, despite her status among that people. She is the wife of Fingolfin, the second son of Finwë and High King of the Noldor in Middle-earth, and the mother of Fingon, Turgon, and Aredhel, all of whose stories are interwoven with the major events recounted in The Silmarillion. Christopher Tolkien also explains that "[t]he third son of Fingolfin, Arakáno (Argon), emerged in the course of the making of the genealogies."1
Anairë is not, however, named in Christopher Tolkien's edited version of these stories, which appears as the published Silmarillion. It is hard to fault the editor for that, however, because the only place where his father mentions Anairë is not even in any of the alternate drafts of the Quenta Silmarillion but in the section of The Shibboleth of Fëanor (mainly an etymological treatise) relating to the children and grandchildren of Finwë. Therein it is said that
Fingolfin's wife Anairë refused to leave Aman, largely because of her friendship with Eärwen wife of Arafinwë [Finarfin] (though she was a Noldo and not one of the Teleri). But all her children went with their father: Findekáno, Turukáno, Arakáno, and Irissë his daughter and third child; she was under the protection of Turukáno who loved her dearly, and of Elenwë his wife.2
One can imagine rich untold stories in this scanty reference. Under what circumstances did Anairë part with her children? Did grief or acrimony, or both, accompany such a leave-taking? In what way was Anairë and Fingolfin's separation or estrangement similar to or different from that of Nerdanel and Fëanor? How did Anairë develop such a close relationship with her sister-in-law that she chose to stay behind in Aman, leaving not only her husband but her three (or perhaps four) children to follow Fëanor into exile "largely"3 because of that friendship? Further, we know little to nothing about the period after the exodus of the vast majority of the Noldor to Middle-earth except that Finarfin assumes the kingship of the splinter of the Noldor remaining in Valinor.
The name Anairë is translated as "holiest" in Quenya, with airë meaning "holy"4 and an as a superlative prefix. This is the name of a woman of virtue and renown.
We know nothing of the duties and responsibilities of Anairë as the consort of Fingolfin, the acting king of Noldor at the time of the murder of Finwë and the Darkening of Valinor. Nor do we know what role she might have played, if any, in assisting Finarfin's assumption of the kingship of this contracted people. We do know that the challenges must have been great in the aftermath of the destruction of the Two Trees—an ecological disaster, even in a fantasy world, and certainly an event ushering in a period of hardship and great confusion. The reader is not told enough about the methods of governance of the Noldor in Aman to know what role Indis might have played before Anairë as Finwë's queen or what Anairë's place might have been, if she had one, in Fingolfin's regime.
It is clear that the wives of the princes of the Noldor who stayed behind—Anairë and Nerdanel—have, in Tolkien's view, taken the higher road, showed wisdom and humility before the Valar while their husbands each manifested pride and a rebellious nature. Among the women of the Noldor who received somewhat more page space and development in Tolkien's writings, Nerdanel is cited as being wise: "With her wisdom at first she restrained Fëanor when the fire of his heart burned too hot; but his later deeds grieved her and they became estranged."5 Professor Nancy Enright of Seton Hall University notes on the subject of power and women in Tolkien's work:
The fact that they are female (and thus among the less valued members of the society Tolkien is depicting) emphasizes a larger theme, as clarified by Jane Chance: "Humility in Tolkien is always ultimately successful," as we see in case after case of the triumph of a "marginalized protagonist," whether Hobbit, or female, or other member of a less dominant group (Chance 79 [Jane Chance, Lord of the Rings: The Mythology of Power. University Press of Kentucky, Sep 12, 2010.]). Is this kind of power only for females (and others perceived as weaker), somehow relegated to them? Definitely not.6
Enright gives the example of males in Middle-earth whose virtue or wisdom is written as being enhanced by their rejection of typical male power in Tolkien's world.
Aragorn, Gandalf, Faramir--to name just a few key male characters--all exhibit this renunciation and enjoy a greater power because of it (as contrasted with Denethor, Saruman, and Boromir, for instance).7
Galadriel, the most notable woman among the Noldor to go into exile, is not ultimately redeemed until she rejects pride and the desire for control by refusing the Ring.
Then she let her hand fall, and the light faded, and suddenly she laughed again, and lo! she was shrunken [emphasis added]: a slender elf-woman , clad in simple white, whose gentle voice was soft and sad.
'I pass the test,' she said. 'I will diminish [emphasis added], and go into the West, and remain Galadriel.'8
Note the terms of self-effacement (to shrink or to diminish) are used above to define Galadriel's triumph within the moral context of Tolkien's world, her passing of the final test of wisdom or virtue over pride.
It is arguable that most women reading Tolkien today, however enthralled by the depth and breadth of his created world, its peoples, and its languages, would nonetheless like to have seen more women portrayed with greater power and agency within this world and that women in positions of authority and respect within Tolkien's fictional societies had been developed further.
Author, editor, and artist Terri Windling, while acknowledging a profound debt to Tolkien, eloquently sums up what she felt lacking as a young woman first reading his work.
Darkness spread over Middle-earth, corrupting everything it touched, and yet our hero persevered with the aid of the greatest magics of all: the loyalty of his friends and the courage of a noble heart. I read Tolkien's great trilogy in one gulp and was profoundly changed . . . not, I have to add, because those books truly satisfied me. What they did was to reawaken my taste for magic, my old desire for dragons. But even then, in the years before I quite understood what feminism was, I saw that there was no place for me, a girl, on Frodo's quest.9
It is true that the women of The Silmarillion as a group, whether they be Elf, Valie, or Mortal, are more active, prominent, and more liberally sprinkled throughout the narrative than the women one encounters in The Lord of the Rings that Windling recalls reading as a girl. One may read the earliest texts, containing a far greater number of significant female characters, and notice that women of the likes of Anairë are considerably underreported and, when named, underdeveloped.
Lovers of Tolkien's legendarium and readers of The Silmarillion are attracted by the audacity of Fingon the Valiant and his heroism in the face of enormous odds. Many are intrigued, perhaps even awestruck, by Turgon's conception and creation of the wonder that was Gondolin. Still others are intrigued by the boldness of Aredhel, who tells her older brother and king when he tries to control her movements, "I am your sister and not your servant, and beyond your bounds I will go as seems good to me."10 Surely there are no small number among those readers would like to have known far more about Anairë, the woman who gave birth to these strong characters and reared them.
- The Peoples of Middle-earth, The Shibboleth of Fëanor.
- The Peoples of Middle-earth, The Shibboleth of Fëanor, footnote 45.
- Morgoth's Ring, Part 3, Section 2, "Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor."
- Nancy Enright, "Tolkien's Females and the Defining of Power," Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature, Winter 2007.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Mirror of Galadriel."
- Terri Windling, "On Tolkien and Fairy-Stories." Meditations on Middle-Earth. Ed. Karen Haber. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2001.
- The Silmarillion, "Of Maeglin."
The Living Land
"Most of the trees are just trees, of course; but many are half awake. Some are quite wide awake ..."
~Treebeard, The Two Towers
One of the most attractive aspects of Tolkien's Middle-earth is its realistic geography, with its descriptions that bring names on a map to vivid life for readers. Many of the memorable places in Middle-earth literally or figuratively come to life, becoming almost characters themselves. This challenge asks writers to choose a place in Middle-earth that is particularly evocative and write a story where that location itself acts as a character, interacting with and shaping the lives of the people who live in or pass through its boundaries.
Challenges Revisited: The Plot Thickens ...
There saw I how the secret felon wrought,
And treason labouring in the traitor’s thought,
And midwife Time the ripened plot to murder brought.
In shadows, in secret spaces, people lean close with their heads together and plot ...
Plot what? This challenge asks writers to consider characters in the act of plotting something. Plotting often calls first to mind conspiracy and overthrow, but characters could just as easily plot something good: a surprise for a loved one, a marriage proposal, a wondrous invention. Or, take the meta angle and consider the plotting of stories and epics by historians and writers.
Quote of the Month
"If it's drama that you sigh for, plant a garden and you'll get it. You will know the thrill of battle fighting foes that will beset it. If you long for entertainment and for pageantry most glowing, plant a garden and this summer spend your time with green things growing."
~Edward A. Guest, Plant a Garden
Want more challenges? Check out our complete challenge listing for more than three 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 email@example.com and we'll try to include your challenge in our next newsletter!
Around the World and Web
Articles of Interest
Each month, the SWG newsletter features links to articles that our members might find interesting. Do you have something you'd like to suggest? An interesting essay or discussion going on in your journal or blog? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll add your article, essay, or post to our next newsletter!
It should go without saying, but just in case it bears repeating, any opinions expressed in these links are not necessarily that of the SWG and its moderators.
The Textual Ghosts Project: A List of Tolkien’s Unnamed Women
Elleth, member of the Silmarillion Writers’ Guild, has compiled a list of all "Textual Ghosts": that is, all the women that are known to be unknown (unnamed) as mothers or wives of named characters in The Silmarillion. Find the "Textual Ghosts" compilation here.
9 Things You Didn’t Know about Tolkien’s Works
Did you know that there is an unauthorized Chinese Harry Potter sequel based on The Hobbit? Or that the mountains in Titan, the moon of Saturn, are named after places and characters from Tolkien’s works, like the "Angmar Montes" or the "Arwen Colles"? Read these and seven other little known facts in this article at the LOTR Project website.
The Death of Thingol and the Ambush of the Dwarven Army
How did Tolkien evolve his telling of the ambush of the Dwarf-host at Rath-loriel? In the Grey Annals he attributed the deed to Beren, who was replaced in the published Silmarillion by Celegorm and Curufin. How did this happen? Find more in these two Tumblr posts by Heget: The next time someone brings up Beren killing the Dwarven Army by the Ascar River and Regarding and revisiting the death of Thingol and the subsequent ambush of the dwarven army.
Galadriel and Aredhel: How Tolkien Treats Women Who Act Like Men
There is an abundance of examples in the Tolkien legendarium where female heirs were bypassed in favour of male relatives and a few examples where women desired to have the same rights or strive for the same goals as their male counterparts. Galadriel wanted freedom; Aredhel wanted freedom. Their ends were very different. Read more in the Tumblr post Galadriel and Aredhel: How Tolkien Treats Women Who Act Like Men.
Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World
2013 may be remembered by some people as the year when the mainstream engaged with fanfiction: Amazon introduced Kindle Worlds; filming commenced for Fifty Shades of Grey: The Movie, based on the books that started as Twilight fanfiction; and Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman were given a m/m scene of a fic to read aloud in public. Read an interview with the author of Fic by Anne Jamison, a book that explores the rising acceptability of fanfic in pop culture.
The Calendars of Middle-earth
Whether you need to calculate the equivalence of dates for a story you are writing, or just to understand how the calendars of Middle-earth are related to each other, and to those of our real world, several sites provide useful overviews on the different calendars and key dates in different cultures in Middle-earth: The Elvish Linguistic Fellowship, The Thain’s Book, and Wellinghall.
Tolkien’s Real Life Inspiration: A Photo Collection
Behind the Hobbits of the Shire and the horrors of Mordor, there is real life influence that can be glimpsed through this collection of pictures showing scenes that must have been familiar to Tolkien as a child growing up in the hamlet of Sarehole, near Birmingham, as well as pictures linked to his days as an officer during WWI.
Ardor in August Sign-Ups Are Open
From the Years of the Trees through the Fourth Age – it’s time once again to make your Tolkien slash and femmeslash fanfic dreams come true ...
Have you always wanted to read a certain pairing or scenario, but couldn’t write it yourself? Have it written for you – specifically and especially for your own sweet self! And share your own gift in exchange!
That’s right, it’s time for Ardor in August! The exchange focuses on the Elves, Men, Dwarves, Valar and Maiar of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. Maybe it’s Gildor and Glorfindel you love, or perhaps Boromir-on-Theodred strikes your fancy… or maybe Lúthien and Thuringwethil is your OTP? From the Years of the Trees to the Fourth Age, from sultry tales of the Silmarillion to romances in the Ring Wars – spread the word, recruit your friends and fellow authors, and have some fun!
Sign-up period: April 19th - May 4th
Assignments to be distributed *no later than* May 25th
Deadline for first-time participants: July 20th
Deadline for returning participants: July 27th
Archive opens: August 3rd, 2014
May 4th-10th Is Nolofinwëan Week!
The tumblr Silmarillion Appreciation Weeks is hosting an appreciation week in honor of the House of Fingolfin. Beginning on May 4, participants are encouraged to post fic, art, closet cosplay, headcanons and meta, photosets, and anything else to do with the featured character for each day. The schedule runs as follows:
May 4: Fingon
May 5: Turgon
May 6: Elenwë
May 7: Aredhel
May 8: Idril
May 9: Maeglin
May 10: Argon
Mythgard Institute Summer 2014 Courses
For its summer session, the Mythgard Institute is offering a course entitled The Lord of the Rings: A Cultural Studies and Audience Reception Approach. This class will investigate the extent to which this initially obscure, lengthy, and extremely complicated fictional work rooted in early medieval European mythology became so firmly entrenched in modern American and European cultures. We will consider how, from 1965, when the first American paperback edition appeared, to the present, The Lord of the Rings has been engaged in complex ways with the development and circulation of modern discourses such as romantic nationalism, fascism and individualism as well as how it has been differently received in the United States, Britain, Spain, Italy, Germany and Russia. The course begins the week of May 5. Mythgard is also offering summer courses on Harry Potter and Chaucer; see the the Mythgard Institute summer course listing for more information.
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