TheSilmarillionWriters'Guild

Newsletter: May 2016

Table of Contents


SWG News

SPAM ATTACKS! (Again)

As most of our members are aware, the SWG suffered another spammer attack this month. In order to prevent further waves of spam from hitting our site again, we have introduced changes to the process of account registration. In the past, new members were able to sign up for an account and immediately begin posting stories and comments to the site. From now on, new accounts will have to be approved by a moderator before the new member can begin using their account.

Further information can be found at LiveJournal or in our FAQ.

If you already have an account with us, your use of the site will not be affected. New members will unfortunately be inconvenienced by having to wait a short while before they can begin posting and commenting, but we hope the lack of regular spam attacks on our authors will mitigate this inconvenience.

We appreciate everyone's understanding and patience as we've worked to stop these attacks on our site. As always, questions and comments are welcome at moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org.

Welcome to Our New Members!

This month we welcome RVW, JT Thomas, Ginger, and Zdenka as new members of the Silmarillion Writers' Guild.

We hope you're enjoying reading the stories, poems and reference material, and listening to the podcasts you can find in our site. If you are a writer, we look forward to you sharing your stories soon. If you prefer reading, why not leave a review to let other writers know you enjoyed their work?

What brought you to the Silmarillion fandom, and to the SWG? If you would like to share your Tolkien-related interests, or tell us a bit more about your fandom persona, go ahead and update your bio.

Our Frequently Asked Questions provide a lot of useful information about the archive, like challenges, reviews, ratings, our definition of "Silmfic", and much more, but if you can't find what you are after, do not hesitate to contact the SWG mods at moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org.


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New at the Archive

Completed Works

A Ghost Of Memory by Tyelca [Teens ] (1835 words)
Summary: Madness can be transmitted; or at least, the memory of madness can. When Nerdanel finds herself alone, she finds that the line between memory and madness is much more easily crossed than she ever thought was possible.

Diplomatic Relations (Apr 1, 2013) by Uvatha the Horseman [Teens] (1884 words)
Summary: 50 years before the War of the Ring, the Mouth of Sauron is pranked by the Nazgul on his first day as Chief Ambassador for Mordor

Foe and Friend by Zdenka [Teens] (1972 words)
Summary: In Ar-Pharazôn's palace on Númenor, Isildur's wife encounters peril, temptation, and unlooked-for help. (Written in 2011.)

Howl by heget [General] (1309 words)
Summary: On the autumn equinox the first men to arrive in Beleriand dance and sing to remember how and why they fled over the mountains. On the night of masks, a young Beren is dragged before the throne. Companion piece to The Brides of Death.

In the Last Hour by Zdenka [Teens] (2152 words)
Summary: What the Queen does and leaves undone, the day before the Downfall of Númenor. The Armada sets sail, and Míriel waits for the shape of their doom to reveal itself.

Little Father by Harnatano [General] (1089 words)
Summary: Curufin meets his son for the first time, and he isn't prepared. Or so he thinks.

Sofa City (Apr 1, 2014) by Uvatha the Horseman [Teens] (3560 words)
Summary: After losing Isengard, Saruman has to sleep on a relative's couch.

The cost of crossing by Ariana [General] (1455 words)
Summary: Helcaraxe spares no one.

The Exiles by Silver Trails [Teens] (5954 words)
Summary: The Elves are coming back to Middle-earth. Their road must be prepared.

The West Wind Quartet by Himring [Teens] (16871 words)
Summary: Emlinn, a Sinda, becomes Maglor's student and experiences the end of the Siege of Angband and the Battle of Sudden Flame. Now added: Bonus chapter: Like a Friendly Touch Among the Crowd (ft. Elrond).

Works in Progress

At the sign of the drunken goose by Chiara Cadrich [Teens]
Summary: The Landlord of the Drunken Goose welcomes you in his common hall to hear horror tales gleaned along the greenway, or gentle saucy rhymes from the Shire.
Chapters added this month: The little prince of the bakehouse, The little princess of the lectern and The isle of the golden king.

Bringing Trouble to Barad-dur by Aiwen [Teens]
Summary: In the Halls of Mandos, Celebrimbor and Gil-galad receive a unique assignment: go as ghosts to Barad-dur and distract Sauron from his war against the free peoples of Middle-earth. MEFA 2010 Humor Incomplete 3rd place winner.
Chapters added this month: Back to the Main Mission and Mishaps and Mayhem.

Drabbles: The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales by Zdenka [Teens]
Summary: Drabbles set during the First and Second Ages of Middle-earth. (Exactly 100 words as counted by MS Word.) Please see table of contents for individual summaries and warnings.
Chapters added this month: By Light of Moon and Ray of Star, Lure of Darkness, Like Pools of Shadow, Division, Forget Not This, Evasion and Warmth.

Findis: On a Rock, Praying by Himring [Author Chooses Not to Rate]
Summary: Two pieces featuring Findis, eldest daughter of Finwe, and her choices after the Darkening. I. A Season on Taniquetil (Findis, Fingon; quadrabble) II. The Hermit (Findis, Finarfin)
Chapters added this month: A Season on Taniquetil and The Hermit .

Her Black Prince Vorandil Aglamir by JT Tomas [General]
Summary: Kyron Tramell is a black high school student waking up everyday in a caged life of cocaine fumes, gunshots and abuse at the hands of thugs and a drug addicted stepfather. Then one day he opens his eyes to a magical reality. Kyron's a changeling, the son of a Noldorin Prince will his heritage & romance save him from the vengeance his heart craves for past bullies?
Chapters added this month: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4 and Chapter 5.

Of Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax by The Wavesinger [General]
Summary: (Also cabbages, and kings.) Ficlets which are, even by my standards, too short to stand alone (and aren't part of a series).
Chapter added this month: The Nature of Mortality.

One Star in the Sky by VCalien2015 [Teens]
Summary: The Dagor Dagorath approaches, and nearly all of those slain in the wars of the past Ages have been reborn to prepare themselves for the Last Battle. Among them is Curufinwë Fëanáro, last to leave the Halls of Mandos and tasked with earning his redemption. Fëanáro and his kin begin together the days which will lead them to the End, the guilt of the past mingling with joy long-lost, recalling at last what it is to truly live.
Chapter added this month: Alqualondë - Part I.

Taking Readings by Himring [Author Chooses Not to Rate]
Summary: Very short pieces set in Beleriand or Valinor, some of which are slightly experimental.
Chapters added this month: The Foresaken, Grey Ship's Cargo, Voronwe Decides To Dwell at the Havens, Changing of the Guard, Without Forethought She Sang and A Commission for Nerdanel.

The Hardest Part by Ginger [Teens]
Summary: The night before Fëanor and his sons leave for Formenos, nerdanel remembers her life with her husband and ponders the choice she made not to follow him in exile and how it'll change all their lives. She tries to find hope and courage in the midst of resenment, distress and determination. Inspired by October 2013 challenge "Turning Point."
Chapter added this month: Chapter 1 .

The Golodhrim by Silver Trails [Teens]
Summary: The first days in Caranthir's new realm
Chapter added this month: Chapter 6.

The Last Maker by Ecthelion [Teens]
Summary: In the end, the master of lies made the mistake of underestimating him.
Chapters added this month: Prologue by Ecthelion, The Doom: Part One, The Doom: Part Two, The Decision: Part One and The Decision: Part Two.

Unbroken by Olthaen [Teens]
Summary: Beleriand stands upon the edge of strife. After his home was razed, an elf finds himself entrusted with a secret that could destroy his family. Far away, another elf-maiden awoke after a massacre, challenged to overcome her fear and find herself. Set across the years of the First Age, the tale entwines the threads of courage, friendship and love.
Chapters added this month: Chapter 40, Chapter 42, Chapter 43, Chapter 44 and Chapter 45: The 3rd Interlude.

Short Works

Killed With Kindness by Zdenka [Teens] (100 words)
Summary: A notorious future queen advances her plans. (Drabble. Written in 2012.)

Look, It's Spring by StarSpray [General] (694 words)
Summary: She had died in bloodstained Menegroth and woke again in flowering Lórien, and now she did not know what to do.

On the Wings of Storm by Zdenka [General] (895 words)
Summary: A woman of Númenor on the sea, in doubt and hope: Isildur's wife after the Downfall. (Written in 2011.)

There Will Your Heart Be Also by Zdenka [General] (305 words)
Summary: In Númenor before the Downfall, Isildur watches over his treasure. (Written in 2011.)


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Character of the Month Biography

Nienna

Oshun


Nienna, one of the Queens of the Valar, is the sister of Námo and Irmo (often respectively called Mandos and Lórien after their dwelling places and collectively referred to as the Fëanturi or the "Masters of Spirits").1 Among the Queens of Valar (the Valier2) she is outranked only by Varda and Yavanna.3

In The Silmarillion, Nienna's special place is identified as "mightier than Estë."4 She is said to dwell alone in halls which

are west of West, upon the borders of the world; and she comes seldom to the city of Valimar where all is glad. She goes rather to the halls of Mandos, which are near to her own; and all those who wait in Mandos cry to her, for she brings strength to the spirit and turns sorrow to wisdom. The windows of her house look outward from the walls of the world.5

She is also said to mourn "every wound that Arda has suffered in the marring of Melkor. So great was her sorrow, as the Music unfolded, that her song turned to lamentation long before its end, and the sound of mourning was woven into the themes of the World before it began."6 She is, however, distinguished not only by incessant weeping (what reader could tolerate that without the mitigation of other characteristics?) but embodies the attributes of empathy, understanding, and pity. Unlike her brother Námo, her duty is not to judge but to extend compassion: "But she does not weep for herself; and those who hearken to her learn pity, and endurance in hope."7

Nienna the Weeper extends her generous hand to those who pass through the halls of Mandos, treating them with a unique capacity for compassion, which is generally interpreted as a feminine virtue. Literary critic Debbie Sly notes in an article in the anthology J.R.R. Tolkien and His Literary Resonances that the "Valier represent, not a femaleness necessary to a creativity based on the model of sexuality, but femininity associated with particular spheres of influence, most notably in the case of Varda."8 Perhaps even more so than Varda, Nienna echoes desirable traits that might be traditionally considered to be related to the female. She visits the halls of Mandos in order to support and console all those who are detained there and cry out to her "for she brings strength to the spirit and turns sorrow to wisdom."9

Nienna also shared her tutelage with the wisest of the Maiar Olórin (Gandalf): "He too dwelt in Lórien, but his ways took him often to the house of Nienna, and of her he learned pity and patience."10 In the pages of The Silmarillion, she makes quite an effort to extend her pity and forgiveness to even the worst malefactors. When Melkor abases himself at the feet of Manwë and sues for his future freedom and a pardon for past wrongdoing, he vows "that if he might be made only the least of the free people of Valinor he would aid the Valar in all their works, and most of all in the healing of the many hurts that he had done to the world. And Nienna aided his prayer . . . "11

Interestingly enough, her empathy is not limitless. Although Nienna encouraged Manwë to extend pardon and mercy to Melkor, she does not offer the same support to Fëanor. Perhaps Melkor's dishonesty in requesting and receiving the clemency of his brethren strained the quality of even Nienna's compassion. After Melkor destroyed the Trees and Fëanor refused the request of the Valar to turn over his Silmarils, Nienna wept but did not speak on behalf of his position. Instead, "Nienna arose and went up onto Ezellohar, and cast back her grey hood, and with her tears washed away the defilements of Ungoliant; and she sang in mourning for the bitterness of the world and the Marring of Arda."12

Myths and Legends of Weeping Women or Goddesses

Extending across time, geography, and cultures, one encounters numerous stories of weeping women or goddesses. When I first read the description of Nienna the Weeper in The Silmarillion, it instantly brought to my mind the name and the figure of La Llorona (Spanish for Weeping Woman or the Weeper). This particular weeping woman may have been originally linked to "powerful Aztec goddesses"13 and over centuries transformed into an entirely different entity in modern Mexican folklore.

There are a multitude of accounts of La Llorona's story ranging from those found within her pre-Columbian roots to the still-evolving role she plays in popular culture from Mexico to the southwestern United States. Among the oldest La Llorona tales is one of a Cassandra-like figure who is characterized by tears and prophecies. La Llorona is said to have been heard crying for her children in the months leading up to Cortes' arrival. For many this apparition signaled "the destruction of Mexica14 culture, through conquest and subjugation of the Indigenous people of Mexico."15

Other "weepers" throughout history include Niobe of Classical Greek mythology. She was the "daughter of Tantalus, proud Queen of Thebes, whose seven sons and seven daughters were killed by Apollo and Diana . . . and Niobe wept until she was turned to stone."16 Unlike Nienna she was acted upon rather than a character of action. Mythic mourning women are also known for their willingness to shoulder the sorrows of their peoples and to weep, like Nienna, not for themselves but with empathy for the suffering of others.

Devotion to the Virgin Mary in the aspect of Our Lady of Sorrows or the Mater Dolorosa (the grieving mother) dates back to at least the 14th century, if not earlier.17 She is represented in art with an anguished expression and as often as not with flowing tears. As a devout and practicing Roman Catholic, Tolkien would have been familiar with this imagery, which resembles in its physical aspect the description of the hooded, weeping Nienna. Practitioners pray to the Sorrowful Mother, begging her to intercede for them before their god. Like Nienna, the Virgin Mary is believed to be forgiving and compassionate and willing to guide, comfort, and instruct.

John Arnot MacCulloch, a clergyman who wrote extensively in the first half of the 20th century about mythology and folklore, explains that Norse mythology features Freya as a weeping goddess as well:

With reference to her weeping, one of the goddess's [Freya's] titles is gratfagra god, "goddess beautiful in tears," and gold is called "tears of Freyja." In folk-tales the gift of weeping tears which become pearls is a well-known incident, and tears of gold are wept by a maiden in an Icelandic story.18

John Lindow, who specializes in folklore and Scandinavian medieval studies at the University of California, Berkeley, explains how in the Gylfaginning section of Snorri Sturluson's Edda, Freyja is married to Ód, who leaves her alone for extensive periods of time. In her loneliness she weeps for him and her tears are red-gold in color.19 Freya's similarities with Nienna extend far beyond a propensity to weep. She also shares the skill of foresight and an interest in the heroic dead. (These elements will be discussed in detail below in the section related to earlier versions of Nienna's role in the texts.)

Anthropologist Curtiss Hoffman also notes that Nienna, like Cassandra, possesses the gift of prognostication,20 although apparently not infallibility. But she does foresee the doom that awaits the Two Trees and waters the soil beneath them with her tears. Like other weeping women of legend, Nienna intercedes for others: "[W]hen Morgoth is first constrained by the Valar at the time when the Elves awaken, it is Nienna who intercedes for pardon on his behalf 'because of her kinship.'"21 Hoffman further calls attention to the fact that the name Nienna is "formed from the same root as Niënor,"22 sister of Turin, as is the epessë23 of Níniel given to her by her brother.24 David Salo's Gateway to Sindarin gives the root of Niënor as the Quenya word for "mourning" and states that Níniel can be translated as "maiden of tears."25 But Niënor is a tragic figure ensnared by the curse placed upon her family by Melkor, while Nienna, despite her womanly virtue of empathy combined with compassion, is one of the strongest among the Ainur.

Earlier Versions of Nienna in the Legendarium

For an elucidation of the related earliest accounts of both Nienna and Námo that are found in The Book of Lost Tales see Dawn Felagund's character biography of Námo.26 Námo's basic characteristics and persona change very little from his first appearance in The Book of Lost Tales to the final edit by Christopher Tolkien as published in The Silmarillion. Nienna, however, undergoes a sea change from her initial description in The Book of Lost Tales and her final incarnation in The Silmarillion.

Nienna is given a series of alternate names used throughout the pages of The Book of Lost Tales. The spelling Nyenna is recorded in the Appendix of names.27 Others include Fui (Quenya for "night"), Heskil (Qenya for "Winter One"), Núri (Qenya for "Sighing One"), and the creepy, Gothic-sounding Qalmë-Tári (Qenya for "Mistress of Death").28 It is not difficult to discern that the majority of these alternate names are intended for interpretations of the character of Nienna that are markedly different from the ones we read of in the latest version of the Valaquenta.

In The Book of Lost Tales, Tolkien's earliest draft of his epic, Mandos and Nienna divide responsibility for the spirits of the dead between them, with Mandos administering to the Elves while Nienna gathers the Mortals to her.29 This version of Mandos and Nienna is remarkably similar to the story of Odin and Freya entering each battlefield and dividing among them the heroic dead. (I did not, however, find the basis upon which Odin and Freya made their choices.) British historian Hélène Adeline Guerber states that "Freya transported her chosen slain to Folkvang, where they were duly entertained, and where she also welcomed all pure maidens and faithful wives, that they might enjoy the company of their lovers and husbands even after death."30

Dawn Felagund notes in her Mandos biography, that the Nienna of The Lost Tales plays a harsher role than she does in the final edit of The Silmarillion: "Nienna passes judgment on mortal humans, sending them either to torment in Angband, to a blissful life in Valinor, or--for the majority--a rather nondescript existence on the plains of Arvalin."31 The very mention of Angband makes one shiver and is not at all reminiscent of the Nienna of The Silmarillion, who comforts and counsels spirits housed in the halls of Mandos.

The summary by Dawn of the differences between Lost Tales Nienna and Silmarillion Nienna clearly outlines the evolution and dramatic changes in this character from the initial drafts:

Some would argue that the Lost Tales are too distant from the published work to provide reliable evidence of how to interpret the published texts. Nienna certainly illustrates why: From a cold, sinister character associated with death in the Lost Tales, she evolves in the published Silmarillion to the most empathetic of the Valar and the teacher of Olórin, who exerts a massive positive influence on the events of the Third Age as Gandalf, in part, because of his ability to pity characters like Gollum.32

Summary

Nienna stands out as one of Tolkien's most stalwart female characters. She is unflinching before the marring of Arda, which she understands as well or better than any others among the Valar. The Silmarillion really does not stand alone. There is no happy ending to this book. It is the beginning and not the end of a tale. The Silmarillion is an introduction to and the pre-history of an epic story. Nienna concerns herself with the dyscatastrophe side of this epic. The Silmarillion never progresses beyond tragedy to that sudden joyous turn (or eucatastrophe) which Tolkien defines in "On Fairy-Stories." Dyscatastrophe introduces the conflicts rather than resolves them:

The consolation of fairy-stories, the joy of the happy ending: or more correctly of the good catastrophe, the sudden joyous "turn" (for there is no true end to any fairy-tale). . . . [I]t is a sudden and miraculous grace: never to be counted on to recur. It does not deny the existence of dyscatastrophe, of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance; it denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.33

We do not encounter this hoped for eucatastrophe until the end of The Lord of the Rings. Nonetheless, despite her unnumbered tears, Nienna maintains, all too uncommonly among the Valar, the sense of hope and redemption within the pages of The Silmarillion by manifesting "humanistic and idealistic concerns,"34 which combine to make folk and fairy tales satisfying. Nienna, however, is no Cassandra or Antigone, who weep and suffer only to meet with a tragic end. The sole relief granted their audiences is provided in a cathartic response engendered by a horrifying conclusion. Nienna instead, with her facet of a healer of wounded spirits and her capacity for sympathy, compassion, pity, and forgiveness, provides the hope of the eventual restoration of a "Joy beyond the walls of the world."35




Works Cited

  1. The Silmarillion, "Index of Names," entry for "Nienna."
  2. Ibid.
  3. The Silmarillion, Valaquenta, "Of the Valar."
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Sly, Debbie. "Weaving Nets of Gloom: 'Darkness Profound' in Tolkien and Milton." J.R.R. Tolkien and His Literary Resonances: Views of Middle-Earth. Ed. George Clark and Daniel Timmons. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000, p. 115.
  9. The Silmarillion, Valaquenta, "Of the Valar."
  10. The Silmarillion, Valaquenta, "Of the Maiar."
  11. The Silmarillion, "Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor."
  12. The Silmarillion, "Of the Flight of the Noldor."
  13. Perez, Domino Renee. There Was a Woman: La Llorona from Folklore to Popular Culture. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2008, p. 17.
  14. From the Nahuatl word Mēxihcah; used above to describe the culture of the indigenous people of the Valley of Mexico. Wood, Stephanie. Online Nahuatl Dictionary. 1 May 2016. .
  15. Perez, Domino Renee. There Was a Woman: La Llorona from Folklore to Popular Culture, p. 17.
  16. Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch's Mythology: The Age of Fable. Revised Edition. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1913, p. 900.
  17. Henry, Hugh. "Stabat Mater." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 1 May 2016 .
  18. MacCulloch, John Arnot, The Mythology of All Races, Volume II: Eddic. New York: Cooper Square Publishers, Inc., 1964, p. 126. 1 May 2016. .
  19. Lindow, John. Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 246.
  20. Hoffman, Curtiss. The Seven Story Tower: A Mythic Journey through Space and Time. New York: Insight Books, 1999, p. 216.
  21. Ibid.
  22. Ibid.
  23. The Peoples of Middle-earth, The Shibboleth of Fëanor, "The names of Finwë's descendants."
  24. Hoffman, Curtiss. The Seven Story Tower: A Mythic Journey through Space and Time, p. 216.
  25. Salo, David. A Gateway to Sindarin: A Grammar of an Elvish Language from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2004, p. 256.
  26. Dawn Felagund. Character Biography: Námo Mandos. Silmarillion Writers Guild. 1 May 2016. .
  27. The Book of Lost Tales Part 1, "Appendix: Names."
  28. The Book of Lost Tales Part 1, The Coming of the Valar and the Building of Valinor.
  29. Ibid.
  30. Guerber, H. A. Myths of the Northern Lands. New York: American Book, 1895, p. 125. 1 May 2016. .
  31. Dawn Felagund. Character Biography: Námo Mandos. Silmarillion Writers Guild. 1 May 2016. .
  32. Ibid.
  33. The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays, "On Fairy-Stories."
  34. Zipes, Jack. Breaking the Magic Spell: Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales. Revised Edition. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2002, p. 160.
  35. The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays, "On Fairy Stories."



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Current Challenge

Proverbs

"To know a people's popular proverbs ... is to begin to know that people."
~Morton W. Bloomfield and Charles Dunn, The Role of the Poet in Early Society

Many of the cultures that Tolkien studied as an academic are known for their gnomic writings and especially their use of proverbs. Not surprisingly, his own writings are filled with sayings often interpreted as proverbs. Your task for this challenge is to do what scholars Bloomfield and Dunn suggest: Begin with a proverb and then write about what it shows about the people who preserved it. If you need some ideas, you can find thousands of proverbs from Tolkien's books on @TolkienProverbs!

Any story inspired by a possible proverb from Tolkien's books is acceptable for this challenge. You might show how proverbial wisdom inspires a young person to make a particular choice. Perhaps you'd rather explore the origins of the proverb: the person or event that inspired it. You might show a culture at a moment where they decide to continue following the wisdom of a particular proverb or to abandon it. Many are the proverbs and approaches that could offer inspiration for this challenge!

Challenges Revisited: To Be Free

Freedom means many things to different people. It has been the cause of wars and underlies dreams of peace. Many of the greatest works of literature discuss freedom in one way or another.

J.R.R. Tolkien's books are no exception. Freedom is a theme throughout his works and is often a primary motive for his characters. For this challenge, we ask you to show a character working to achieve freedom. While the actions of major characters like Fëanor and Lúthien might come first to mind, your story need not focus on epic quests for liberty but may also focus on small, everyday attempts to win freedom.

Quote of the Month

As life becomes harder and more threatening, it also becomes richer, because the fewer expectations we have, the more good things of life become unexpected gifts that we accept with gratitude.
~ Etty van Hillesum

― Langston Hughes

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 moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org and we'll try to include your challenge in our next newsletter!


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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 moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.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 Story of Kullervo Published in the US

After the publication of Tolkien's reworking of part of the Finnish national epic Kalevala in the United States in early April, The Boston Globe, John Garth and NPR Book Review shed light on Tolkien's relationship to the text and its role in shaping the story of its literary descendant, The Children of Húrin.

A Secret Vice Published, and other Tolkienian Philological News

The publication of A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages has brought a new focus to the integral part languages played in the creation of Middle-earth. While initially part of the Tolkien essay collection The Monsters and the Critics, a new and critical edition of Tolkien's 1931 lecture on language creation is now available, including an Essay on Phonetic Symbolism and additional material that was previously unpublished. Read more on the Tolkien Society's website. In keeping with the theme of Tolkienian philology and related conlang endeavours, Dimitra Fimi published an article on How to Invent a Tolkien-style Language, John Garth at the New Statesman petitions to Teach Yourself Dwarvish, Andrew Higgins explores Glossopoeia and Worldbuilding, Philoloblog has an entire series on various linguistic Tolkien topic (particularly noteworthy are Tolkien and the Aesthetics of Philology and Sources of Tolkien's Language-Making). Fiinally LotR Plaza sheds light on the Etymology of Eärendil and Certh explores Diminutive Name Forms in Arda.

Tolkien's Tinúviel: The Nightingale in Tolkien's Writings

Tolkienist and wildlife guide Michael Flowers explores the natural history of the nightingale, the poetic heritage, and its iconic role and frequent occurences in Tolkien's work, from Melian and Lúthien to more obscure texts of the Legendarium. His postscript includes a list of possible nightingale habitats in Arda.

What Were the Silmarils Made Of?

A fascinating new discovery of diamond nanoparticles in candle flames has led promin-blog on tumblr to speculate on the nature and creation of Fëanor's Silmarils. It certainly offers an interesting spin on the idea that sufficiently advanced science is indistinguishable from magic.

The Problem With True Canon

An article by The Atlantic tackles the question of canon and canonicity in fictional universes and their impact on the fannish sphere. Dawn Felagund shares some thoughts and discusses the matter on her tumblr (make sure to give the reblogs a look for an extended discussion, too).

Talks with Tolkien Artists: Qitian

In her series of Tolkien artist interviews on deviantArt, MirachRavaia lately interviewed SWG member, writer and artist Qitian aka Lyra about her approach to all things Tolkien and related fandom matters.

"None Of This Is New: An Oral History Of Fanfiction" by Jordan West

Jordan West writes of fandom that, from the outside, "I imagine it looks more like a bunch of weirdos stealing shit and playing in abandoned buildings." This isn't all that different from what Tolkien did, of course, and this is West's larger thesis: that far from being a new phenomenon, fan fiction is as old as storytelling, and much of classic literature started from a process very similar to that used by fanfic writers today.

Transformative Works and Cultures: The Classical Canon as/and Transformative Work

The new issue of the Journal of Transformative Works and Cultures considers Classical Canon in the light of contemporary transformative work. While overtly concerned with Graeco-Roman mythopoeia, it may also offer interesting approaches to transformative works with respect to Tolkien's own mythology, both on a story-internal level and fanworks pertaining to Middle-earth.

Announcements

NY Tolkien Conference 2016

The 2016 NY Tolkien Conference on Saturday July 16 is now open for registration. This year's theme is 'The Inklings and Science'. Please refer to their website for programming and registration information, as well as a Call for Programming dedicated to the intersections of the works of the Inklings with science. The deadline for abstracts is June 1.

Mythcon 47

The theme of the 47th annual Mythopoeic Conference is inspired by the 60th anniversary of C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces and The Last Battle; this year we focus on the mythology that has shaped and “given faces” to so many of our beloved characters, ranging from the myths of the Ancient Greeks to the legends of the Middle Ages and even to the modern mythology of the American Southwest. Similarly, this mythological influence is also evident in the works of many of our favorite mythopoeic authors, from J.R.R. Tolkien to J.K. Rowling, from Ursula K. Le Guin to Alan Garner, and many, many more. Mythcon takes place from August 5-8 in San Antonio, Texas. Their Call for Papers ends on May 15.

Mythgard Institute/Signum University Summer 2016 Course Registration Open

Mythgard's summer course catalog is open for registration, with courses like The Inklings & Science Fiction and Beowulf in Old English that will interest many Tolkien scholars, as well as Mythologies of Love and Sex and Elementary Latin II. Courses may be taken for MA credit or audited. Classes begin the first week of May, so there is not a lot of time left to register.

Tolkien Events at 2016 Kalamazoo Medieval Congress

John D. Rateliff has helpfully compiled a list of Tolkien-related events with a medievalist bent. The Medieval Congress takes place at Western Michigan University from May 12-15. Find their website here; on-site registration is required and begins on May 11.

Every Woman Fanfic and Fanart Exchange: Nominations are Open

The Every Woman Exchange, a fanfic and fanart exchange for works involving women, is starting into its second year. It's intended as a low-pressure event with 500 words/nice sketch minimums, and nominations are open until May 8, with signups opening on May 12. Read the rules and head on to the tag set to nominate your favourite Tolkien (and other fandom) ladies!

Femme Remix Fic Exchange: Nominations Are Open

In more female-themed exchange news, FemmeRemix is for writers who enjoy stories about female-identified characters and remixing stories by other authors. Nominations/Prompts are open until May 8, and signups begin on May 13. Rules and tag set are available.

Legendarium Ladies April Wrap-Up and Amnesty Week

Prompt posting at Legendarium Ladies April has concluded, and Amnesty Week to submit any remaining fanworks is running from May 1-8. The event has received over 100 entries so far that you can peruse through the #legendarium ladies april tag on tumblr, and for any interested participants, the full set of this year's prompt is available on the schedule page.

Rare Ship Swap and Smut Swap Fanwork Reveals

Stories and art for the final round of the Rare Ship Swap and Smut Swap events have been revealed, with several Tolkien-based submissions among them. Find the stories at Ship Swap and Smut Swap; please be aware latter fest is NSFW in nature.

"Merry is Maytime" NSFW Prompt Meme

A time-honoured fannish tradition states that May is the Merry Month of Masturbation, and it was only a matter of time until the Tolkien fandom got its very own prompt meme to fit the theme. A quick overview should point you in the right direction; the collection opens on May 1.




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