In 2006, following the release of the third movie in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, a meme swept through the Tolkien fandom, encouraging fans to share Tolkien-related posts on their journals. Back to Middle-earth Month--affectionately known as B2MeM--was intended to keep enthusiasm high in a fandom that no longer had any new movies to look forward to.
One of the groups that participated in B2MeM that year was the Silmarillion Writers' Guild, a group devoted to Silmarillion-based writing, artwork, and research. As the years progressed, annual B2MeM events became increasingly elaborate and focused more on creating new Tolkien-based transformative works rather than nostalgic recollections of past fannish involvement. In 2009, the SWG was joined by the LotR GenFic Community, a group focused on challenges and discussions related to Tolkien-based genfic that also hosts the Many Paths to Tread archive. In 2012, the DeviantArt community Arda Inspired also became involved.
In 2012, the moderators of these groups decided to establish a B2MeM community separate from their respective groups--and that's where you are now! B2MeM has always been an event that welcomes all members of the Tolkien fandom, including other groups and websites that want to participate. We hope that an independent community will encourage wider involvement of individuals and groups interested in Tolkien-based transformative works.
B2MeM is an annual event held during the month of March, chosen in commemoration of Frodo's destruction of the One Ring. B2MeM events vary from year to year but always have as primary goals encouraging the creation of new Tolkien-based transformative works (fanfiction and fanart), fellowship between fandom members whose paths don't normally cross as part of their usual fannish experience, and celebration of Tolkien's world and the myriad forms of creativity inspired by it.
Anyone is welcome to participate in B2MeM. We try to design events so that there are few rules that would restrict participation. You do not have to be a member of any of the participating groups in order to join in the fun. You certainly don't need to have tried your hand at Tolkien-based fiction or art before! (Many of our participants' first involvement in the Tolkien fandom came from participating in B2MeM.)
We also welcome Tolkien-based groups and websites to become affiliates of B2MeM. We will share challenge materials with all affiliates ahead of time so that they can present the challenge independently on their group or website, if they wish. Affiliates also participate in planning each year's event. To become a B2MeM affiliate, please contact one of the maintainers below.
One of the major reasons we set up this community is so that B2MeM participants who weren't members of the SWG or MPTT would have a place to share their B2MeM projects with other participants. We encourage participants to post here on b2mem the stories, art, and other fruits of their B2MeM participation!
If you wish to share your work on the community,
B2MeM Challenge: identify the challenge the piece was created for, e.g., the "Maedhros and Fingon" prompt on the Sons of Fëanor BINGO card
Format: short story, drabble, photomanip, poem, sketch, et cetera
Genre: general, adventure, romance, horror, mystery, humor, et cetera
Rating: use either the G-NC17 or General, Teens, or Adult system
Warnings: include reasonable warnings for content readers might wish to avoid, e.g., violence, blood and gore, graphic sex, profane language, et cetera
Characters: a list of important characters featured in your piece
Pairings: a list of any important pairings in your piece
Summary: a brief synopsis of what the piece is about
Who decides if my work counts toward a B2MeM challenge?
You do! B2MeM events frequently involve challenges that require writers and artists to produce a creative work that fits a specific challenge. During some events, participants can receive prizes, such as customized banners, for completing challenges. However, we do not in any way arbitrate what does and does not "count" toward that challenge. We take our participants' word: If they say that they have completed a challenge, then we gladly award them credit for it.
Do I have to post my story, poem, or art somewhere online for it to count?
Absolutely not! We understand that not all creative pieces are ready to share right away ... or ever. As noted above, if you vouch that you have completed a challenge, that is good enough for us.
I can't participate every day. Is that okay?
We understand that few of us are lucky enough to be able to devote time each day to fannish activities. While many B2MeM events provide a daily challenge, we do our best to plan events that everyone can participate in, even those folks who may only be available a few times each month. Even if you can't join us every day, we welcome whatever level of participation you can offer!
Can I write one long story that incorporates multiple challenges and still receive credit for each of those challenges?
Absolutely! As noted above, you decide what counts as acceptable for a particular challenge. Writers who prefer to create longer works often write a longer piece that satisfies multiple challenges, and that is fine with us.
What about unfinished works? I started a vignette for one of my challenges but can see it easily turning into something longer. Can I still receive credit for it?
Yes. If you feel that you've completed enough of a piece to meet the challenge, then that's enough for us! As noted above, we recognize that challenge events like this can be more difficult for authors who prefer to write longer stories, so we try to do allow accommodations so these writers can participate.
I'm not a writer. I am an artist/craftsperson/musician/filmmaker/podficcer--am I allowed to participate?
Yes! We celebrate all forms of creativity inspired by Tolkien. Most of our participants are writers or artists working in traditional or digital media, but we absolutely welcome other forms of creativity.
Who comes up with the idea for the event each year?
Around December each year, we generally solicit feedback and ideas from B2MeM participants about what they'd like to do for the next year's challenge. We encourage everyone to share with us what past events they liked, didn't care for as much, and what they'd like to see us do in the future.
At the beginning of the year, the moderators from that year's participating groups discuss proposed ideas and design an event for that year. We consider member feedback as well as the amount of time the moderators expect they will have during February and March. (Some past B2MeM events have required several hours of volunteer time per day, so moderator availability is a big factor that we consider!) Finally, we consider the inclusiveness of various ideas: The Tolkien fandom is a huge, diverse fandom, and we want all members to feel like they are able to participate, if they wish to do so. We try to reveal the year's event by the middle of January so that all participants have a chance to familiarize themselves with the event and get on board.
We welcome feedback from participants at any time during the year. Please contact one of the community maintainers below to share your ideas and feedback.