Several authors have written essays on this subject, here and on other websites. I found them all fascinating and well-written. Some have dealt with emotional issues, peer rejection, clever inventiveness and fantasy fulfillment. Hopefully, more contributions are pending. My own story, however, is somewhat mundane.
When I first registered on www.lotrfanfiction.com several years ago I hadn’t really thought about inventing a pen name, mainly because I wasn’t sure if I’d be posting anything in the near future. Arwen’s Journey was still a work in progress at that point, existing mostly in rough drafts and plot outlines. The first finished chapters I created were actually in the middle of, what would eventually become, a full-length novel.
My first objective was to read some of the stories on several websites to get an overview of what was actually being published. I was, after all, writing a story for adults and had to be sure that it was suitable for present audiences. During my investigation, it became apparent that Elvish and net-speak pen names were en vogue.
The name Karl means manliness or virility. The closest Elvish equivalent I could find at the time was Gwaith. That sounded rather clunky. Also, a couple of my friends expressed mild disappointment that I was contemplating not using my own first name. A girlfriend at that time had given me a gold ring containing a handsome bloodstone. I studied it while sitting at the keyboard one afternoon, when the thought struck me: “How about ‘Karlmir?’” It sounded Gondorian while still making use of my first name. That appealed to my practical sense, since I'd originally conceived Arwen’s Journey as an historical short story taking place in Minas Tirith.
As an older writer, it also seemed apt that I should also be using a surname. While perusing a recently acquired copy of Karen Fonstad’s Atlas of Middle-Earth, I ran across that land feature known as the Stonewain Valley. A stone wain is a strong cart or wagon designed to transport stones and rocks, usually on a farm. One of my hobbies for the past three decades has been the building of stone walls, a New England tradition. The surname Stonewain was, therefore, quite appropriate.
Shortly thereafter, two of my friends perused some of my manuscripts and were impressed with the pen name. One of them remarked that, “It sounds like the name of a Gondorian scholar or poet.”
Thus, Karlmir Stonewain made his appearance.
Thanks for reading. I welcome your comments.
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Stone Walls and a Gemstone by Karlmir Stonewain