Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Song of Violetta, Our Song - A Lenten Meditation From the Opera

Some time ago, I was having a sleepover with my best friend - it was pretty fun, and we did a lot. But the one thing that stuck in my mind was the opera we watched: the Gheorghiu/Lopardo production of La Traviata (The Fallen Woman). And within that, one part in particular, here.
It's a very famous part in the opera, but it didn't strike me for its fame - it struck me for its familiarity. The woman - Violetta Valery - and her song were all too familiar. The words are now almost painful to hear, knowing them. Violetta sings as though she hasn't a care in the world, doesn't she? And even the two words she always repeats are so carefree and pleasured; "Sempre Libera!," or "Ever Free!," she sings. And yet, there is a tone of pain. Who could guess that just before this, she was singing a different tune? A sad, drawn, and pained one, with a melody quite heartrending. And within that, she was singing of something else entirely.
In Sempre Libera, Violetta sings "Libera" (free), "Gioia!" (joy), "Follie!" (folly), and "Piacere" (to pleasure). So it seems she has forgotten her anxiety of before. But then suddenly a voice drifts in from the outside... a voice Violetta knows. The voice of Alfredo, Violetta's only faithful admirer, drifts in. She - being the fallen woman that she is - scorned him for being faithful, laughing at him. But that didn't change Alfredo. It did change Violetta, though. The melody Alfredo sings in the distance recalls when he first revealed his faithfulness to her, and it haunts Violetta, but she nonetheless tries to regard it as "Follie!" and enjoy herself. The words describe love, but in a different way from the love Violetta knows - "Mysterious, high, both cross and pleasure..." Violetta does not know of anything like this, and is disturbed.
The sad song of before, Ah, Forse Lui (Ah, Perhaps He...), spoke not of death, or pain, or really anything like that... and yet, it terrified Violetta and brought out mourning from her. It spoke of Alfredo, oddly enough, and Violetta considered to herself whether to actually stop and have love, serious, true love. She has never even thought about this before - Violetta is a prostitute, you see, originally from very poor beginnings - and faithful love is a strange idea to her. And a terrifying idea. Violetta's carefree joy seems to come from her later thoughts, that she must be free and enjoy herself, and love and party as she pleases, and only anxiety comes from thinking about faithful love and giving things up. How familiar.
The words remind me firstly of our culture - how many times have we heard nowadays from our public that we need to be free, be ourselves, enjoy life to its fullest? And they, unfortunately, suggest doing so in the same way as Violetta. They tell us that loving as we please and withholding from ourselves nothing we really want is the way to enjoy ourselves, the only way to be free and empowered. They tell us that it's all about us, and not about love really. And so we enjoy ourselves. We gallivant and break hearts and go about being 'ever free,' a stranger to anything other kind of love. And then, when faced with true love, we are confused. Maybe even pained. 'Why do we have to give other loves up for one?,' 'Why should we be faithful?,' 'Why must we have love in a certain manner?,' 'Why can't we just love anyone we want?,' We complain, and we think we are bound and shackled by these limitations.
Poor, poor Violettas. A lot of them. They agree so much with Violetta in the beginning, but they ignore what happens later. Even she caves in, and finally gives herself up to the true love of Alfredo. But it is still about her for a while. She lives with him and loves, but then one day, something happens. Alfredo's father comes to Violetta, requesting a simple thing. He speaks of Alfredo's sister, unwed, weak. She will never wed or be cared for properly if Alfredo and Violetta's relationship does not stop, because her reputation will be tarnished by it. So Alfredo's father, Signor Germont, asks Violetta to end it, pleading with her for the sake of love. But Violetta refuses. It is her love! Alfredo is hers now - what business has anyone to end this joy? But then, thinking once more of the words about love Alfredo once sang to her long ago, Violetta finally agrees. Now she fully acts in love, though she knows it will be hard. Because she can see Alfredo, her love, in the weak, unknown girl so much in need of care. And so Violetta gives herself up.
Now that Lent has started, I think ever more of this story. Because it's even more familiar than how I pointed it out above. Not just our culture is reflected in poor Violetta's story. What does the love of Violetta recall more than the Church, Christ's imperfect Bride? We are Violetta in a way. We do as we please, considering nothing but "Gioia" and being free. And yet, when faced with the alternative, we are scared. Faithful love terrifies us, because it shows us what we don't do. It shows us something radically different from being ever free or taking joy and pleasure above all else. Christ loves us more than anything, and far more faithfully even than the metaphorical Alfredo. And yet we remain Violetta in her Sempre Libera - we will have our freedom! And when we really think about giving ourselves up, the thoughts are pained and sad, and we only can think of how hard a path it would be. But perhaps He has real love for us. Perhaps we will give ourselves up. There's no better time than Lent. What are you giving up for faithful Love?

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Interview of Alagna Arleine

Alagna's bio can be found here. The introduction to her story can be found here. The questions were given at this post here. I hope you enjoy it! :)
Me. *enters interview room and turns to Alagna* Alagna, can I ask you some questions today?

Alagna. *raises brow in question* Ask me questions?

Me. *nods* For an interview.

Alagna. *frowns slightly* Yes. But please keep it quick, there are things I would like to do.

Me. *dryly* Like sneaking around ballrooms, spying on people, and other general nosiness and

Alagna. *blushes slightly, but ignores it* No. Like finding that man in the mask.

Me. Yes, so exactly what I said.

Alagna. No, this is -

Me. How's about we get on with the questions, Alagna? These first ones are from Mary Katherine.
Firstly, what is your favorite dessert?

Alagna. I don't know. Something rich and chocolate. Something elegant or difficult.

Me. So... maybe red velvet cake...?

Alagna. *nods slightly in approval* Yes.

Me. Now, if you lived in current times, what movie or musical would you enjoy? Hmm. Actually, I may have to answer this one, as you have no idea what I'm even talking about.

Alagna. What are you talking about..?

Me. Never you mind. They're a form of music or entertainment we enjoy nowadays... sort-of. But I think you would probably enjoy ones with more rich, classical entrenchment. Probably would enjoy The Phantom of the Opera as far as musicals go... at least until you heard the plot. As for movies, you'd probably like Gone With The Wind... again, excepting the plot. Basically just things that are particularly rich in culture. I think your favorite movies, though, would probably be mystery movies, oddly enough. You like figuring things out and being nosy so much, you'd probably love them. You'd probably like Miss Marple.

Alagna. *lightly* I still have no notion of what those are.

Me. *shakes head* Ask Amy and Alejandro sometime, they're always bringing movies with them in here. Anyways, though, what's your favorite color?

Alagna. To wear or at all?

Me. Um, both, I guess.

Alagna. To wear, gold. At all, claret red. *frowns slightly* I would wear it as much as gold, but... *glances disapprovingly at her hair*

Me. Well, I'm not changing it, if that's what you're implying. Come on, you're my only even relatively red-headed heroine. Definitely not changing it.

Alagna. *smooths skirts nonchalantly* I wasn't asking it. But you may go on with the questions.

Me. Alright, do you have any hobbies?

Alagna. *inclines head* I do.  I play the harpsichord, lyre, harp, organ, and I sing.

Me. So mostly music.

Alagna. Yes. Mostly music, but I also read a bit.

Me. Alright, these are from Blue. What's your earliest childhood memory?

Alagna. *cocks head* I think when I went to the palace as a little girl, for a party my parents were going to. I was, I don't know, perhaps four years of age? But I spoke with Blakely and his brothers there, and I remember it distinctly because Francis was following their mother around, wanting to hold baby Edmond. *smiles* I don't think those two have ever tolerated being parted. *laughs* Even my earliest memories are of balls and grandeur, it seems! I'm afraid I know very little of any other world.

Me. Well... you will... *clears throat* Anyways, what is your most prized possession?

Alagna. Easily spoken. A book of songs and old ballads that Blakely gifted to me for my last birthday. It is old, but I love the old songs. They are so - I don't know - they just have a beauty, and a mystery to them like nothing else I know... *laughs a little* But they're old enough that I can scarcely read the music to sing them!

Me. Do you have any unusual talents?

Alagna. *raises eyebrow and cocks head* Unusual, I'm not sure. I play, and sing, but as do most ladies of the court. I read, but as do most of the intelligent ladies of the court. Well, I like keeping house, which is something most ladies of any court would scoff at. *straightens* But I scoff at them for not acting like women. I would like to think I'm good at housekeeping, but my servants always seem to somehow do it far better than I whenever they do it.

Me. *rolls eyes* I can think of one. How about nosing into other people's business? You're an expert at that...

Alagna. *blushes again ever-so-slightly* Well, I try not to be - but, well, *indignantly* the masked man was important! In the library, he had -

Me. Yes, I know what he had.  *sighs exasperatedly* You are a terrible busybody. But, if you weren't, then a lot of people would probably be dead, so whatever. *shakes head* Now, what is your deepest fear?

Alagna. *looks away* I... I don't think I have one.

Me. *nods sarcastically* Of course not. If you don't answer on your own, you know I can make you, so you might as well.

Alagna. *bites lip* Well, I really don't know... I have a sinking feeling inside of me sometimes, and... I don't know what it means, I really don't... I don't know what I'm afraid of.

Me. *plainly* I do. Love perhaps...?

Alagna. *sweeps hands out* Of course not - I have suitors, and I have never shied from any of them. And I see men in court all the time, and I never shy from deflecting them from me if I don't want their attentions. I'm not afraid of men. Or love. *nods decisively, as though to assure herself*

Me. *shakes head* Alagna, Alagna... Now, what is your deepest desire?

Alagna. I don't really know that either... *puts hands up frustratedly, biting lip* I suppose I'm not much help answering these - but maybe people should ask simpler questions! And mind their own business, for Heaven's sake.

Me. You are such a hypocrite, Alagna! And I think I know what this one is too... in fact, I think it's the same answer.

Alagna. *straightens* It is not. I have never desired any affections, though get them I may. I never even think about it.

Me. Ugh, Alagna! You don't have to think about something to be afraid of it, or to want it. In fact, your not thinking about it, I think makes it all the more unexpected and unfamiliar.

Alagna. *waves hand flippantly* Next question, perhaps?

Me. Would you sacrifice that desire to prevent that fear?

Alagna. *gasps frustratedly* According to you, they're one and the same! Which makes it a logical impossibility, doesn't it? Next question, please.

Me. Fine, fine. Here's the last of Blue's questions. Would you be the type to throw a cream pie in someone's face?

Alagna. *expression lightens to a coy smile* This question I can answer easily - certainly! I must say it's an odd idea to throw a pie in someone's face, but it sounds like something Francis and Edmond though up... which makes it rather delightful to think of! *laughs* I can just imagine doing it, too...

Me. *laughs* Yeah - strangely enough, so can I. Alright, now these questions are from Catherine Hawthorn. Who or what is your greatest enemy?

Alagna. *frowns slightly* I don't really have any enemies. I don't think there's really anyone I know that comes to mind that I can't at least mostly tolerate, and can't at least mostly tolerate me. But the masked man... if he is truly as dangerous as he bodes to be, then I and the whole country may have an enemy in him.

Me. What is your greatest talent?

Alagna. Playing or singing. Not sure which. Perhaps playing my harpsichord.

Me. What is your favorite flower?

Alagna. A white camellia. It's the most elegant flower I can think of, and I like wearing it in my gowns and hair at balls.

Me. Alright, what's your favorite gown or other piece of clothing?

Alagna. *frowns disapprovingly* That is a rather indelicate question.

Me. Come on, Alagna. In your times it might be, but not in mine, and not in your interviewers'. Please answer.

Alagna. *nods slightly* Then my gold gown, the one -

Me. *nods* Yep. I know the one. The one you're wearing when the story begins - big, billowing skirt, sparkling spectacle, low enough neckline for you to have your bit of jewelry and your hair trailing down your neck. Your preferred genre of ball gown, yes?

Alagna. *smiles reminiscently* Yes, most surely.

Me. Alright, these questions are from Hope. How would you describe yourself?

Alagna. *cocks head coquettishly* 'Spoiled', perhaps - 'elegant'? I think, actually, 'charmed' would be the word. A spoiled girl who loves elegance and has a charmed life that she's rather attached to.

Me. *nods* That sounds about right. Now, what do you like to do that most people would think was odd?

Alagna. Well, like I said before, keeping house. I pleasure in doing it, unlike most nobles. And most women of court would think me odd - if they didn't already for my leaving home before being married.

Me. Which you did exactly for that purpose.

Alagna. *sweeps hands lightly* I didn't do it because I wanted to prove a point - I did it because it sounded nice. I cannot really keep house for my parents - what an odd notion - and I cannot really have my own estates while living in someone else's.

Me. *shakes head* Alagna... Anyways, if you could be any animal, which would it be?
Alagna. *cocks head* A fox, I think. I like them, and they are rather intriguing creatures.

Me. *rolls eyes* Intriguing creatures that just happen to be like you in animal form? Red-colored fur, slender and sleek, nosy, and always sticking themselves in business that doesn't belong to them. Really, Alagna?

Alagna. I never really thought about it that way, I just always liked them!

Me. *shakes head again* Whatever. What is your deepest, darkest secret?

Alagna. *smooths skirts rather irritatedly* I think these people are getting a bit too prying.

Me. Just answer the question, Alagna, eesh.

Alagna. I don't know. Perhaps... perhaps that I really actually do care what other people think, and do care for simplicity, and really wouldn't mind a simpler life. But I doubt that anyone else shall ever know it.

Me. I don't think that's it, but fine. Close enough. The next questions are from Megan - you remember her, right? She was the one that interviewed Edmond a while back... I think...

Alagna. Yes, I think I remember that time.
Patrizio Buanne of the very, very blue eyes. :)
Me. Yeah. Well, anyways, her first question is what do you find more handsome, brown eyes or blue eyes?

Alagna. *frowns* This is another attempt to try and - ! *throws up hands irritatedly* Ugh. Brown, if she must have an answer!

Me. *raises brow sternly* Alagna...

Alagna. *gasps frustratedly* Fine! Blue, then.

Me. *nods, satisfied* I know. Now, are you practical, or a dreamer?

Alagna. Probably a bit of both. Perhaps slightly more on the practical side - I'm perfectly content where I am, so no need for dreams. However, that could also be because every dream of mine that comes to mind I already have.

Me. So you think... Alright, last question. Would you rather live a long and unremarkable life, or a short one filled with glory?

Alagna. *cocks head thoughtfully* I think the former suits me. I am rather unremarkable in my present state, and would be content to live forever in it, so that logically points out the answer for me. Is that all?

Me. *nods* Thanks for your, uh, attempt at cooperation.

Alagna. *flicks hand up dismissively* I wasn't even attempting. Farewell.

Me. *shakes head* Farewell, Alagna.

End Interview.
What did you think? Did you like Alagna? Is she difficult or what...? Ugh... some characters... Anyways, though, the candidates for the next interview are these:
Prince Blakely, Alagna's best friend
Lady Felicia Elmonte, Alagna's cousin
 Prince Francis and/or (depending on common vote of joint or separate interviewing for them) Prince Edmonde, Alagna's close friend(s), and Blakely's younger brother(s).
Vote in the comments, and I'll post a bio for whoever gets the most votes in a little while. :)

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Pain of a Memory - Part VII

The previous parts are below:
Please enjoy!

Lan gazed bitterly down the hill. He needed to find something... The first thing his eyes alighted upon, though, was a peaceful village below. This was where he might find out what he wished to know.

To any other eyes, perhaps, it was a beauteous and quaint little circle of houses, but it wasn't to Lan's. He had been here before, so long ago... It had changed a little. Now a fountain stood on the outskirts where once an small inn had been. A small inn, where much had happened. Yes, that was long ago, in the village's earlier days, when Lan had last seen it... Almost eleven years before...

Lan bit his lip. Was he really ready to do this? To put aside everything and tell Elaeus' family what had happened? He wasn't quite sure. Lan's heart beat wildly as he walked down the hill into the village. He had to do this. He was going to tell Elaeus' family and Rita that Elaeus was dead. Alas, why did he have to be the bearer of such black news?! He would have to be the one to tell Elaeus' mother she was without her firstborn. He would be the one to tell Elaeus' small siblings that they were now brotherless. He would be the one to make Rita a widow.

Alone... he had to do it alone because there was no Elaeus to guide him. Not anymore. Ariff was tending the wounded back at camp, and Lan had no one to accompany him in this terrible task.

Lan reached the village. A small inn stood near the outskirts. Here Elaeus' family had traveled together, just to be able to see Elaeus. A terrible thing it was that their travel should have been in vain.

An involuntary sigh escaped Lan's lips. He dreaded entering that inn, but he had to tell them. He couldn't run from it forever. Lan stopped in front of the inn door. He took a breath and entered.

Lan nervously looked down at the sword hanging in his belt. It was Elaeus' own. It had been found on the ground, no doubt dropped in the chaos of combat and lost from its owner. It now belonged to Elaeus' family. It was unfortunately the only token that Lan had to give them.

Still hesitating in his course, Lan looked around at the almost empty first room of the inn. It was full of mostly abandoned tables, and lit only by  a couple of glowing torches. Only one corner of the room had any occupants. Elaeus' mother sat at one of the tables with the twins on either side of her. Rita sat with them, her face joyfully lit by torchlight and a smile. No doubt they made merry while in wait for Elaeus... Elaeus who would never come. The twins looked sleepy but happy. One of the twins, a small black-haired girl, tugged at her mother's skirt.

"Mama?", she spoke, a tinge of impatience in her gentle voice. "When's Elaeus coming?"

At this, the other twin, an untidy little brown-haired boy, turned also to his mother. "Yes, Mama!", he piped up. "When much longer?"

Their mother smiled. "How much longer, Erry, darling. You'd think your education would do something for you..." She shook her head and then turned to them both. "Don't you worry, Elie. He'll be here soon enough, and once he does get here it's off to bed with both of you"

"But, Mama   ", both Erry and Elie began to protest.

"I told you that you could stay out here until your brother came   no longer, dears"

"Don't worry", Rita then addressed them, smiling. "Since we came here, we'll be able to see him as long as his band is here. You'll get to see him again"

Lan couldn't bear listening to their talk. They would never get to see Elaeus again, because he was never coming back. And it was all Lan's fault. It should have been him    not Elaeus. Lan was an orphan, and had no one to mourn his being gone but Elaeus... Elaeus had a family to support. Now that family would be alone in a foreign country. And Lan couldn't even help them in recompense because his military band moved out tomorrow. Lan clenched his fist. It should have been him hacked to pieces and trampled in the dust... Why Elaeus?

Lan stepped slowly out of the doorway and into the room where Elaeus' family was. He cleared his throat, trying to ready himself. Rita turned about, and her eyes alighted upon Lan. She stood up and smiled at him brightly.

"Lan!", she greeted him, stepping forward. "Lan, I'm so glad to see you    is Elaeus far behind?"

Lan looked away a moment and bit his lip. He looked back to Rita hesitantly.

Rita turned to face the twins and their mother. "Shouldn't be too long a time, should it, Elie and Erry? And now Lan is here to wait and laugh with us!"

The twins both smiled gleefully and made as though to run to Lan. He put his hand up to stay them. He couldn't bear this any longer. Erry looked up to him questioningly for this sudden gesture. It seemed to Lan that he saw Elaeus' face in Erry. The same brown hair, the same warm, determined grey eyes. Even that same expression. Lan looked forcibly away from Erry and back to Rita. Her look also seemed to question Lan's action.

"Lan, what    ?", she began but stopped suddenly. A flicker of fear flashed through her eyes. "Lan, where is my husband?"

Lan looked down. He pulled Elaeus' sword out of its sheath. He walked to the table and laid the sword down upon it. Then he walked silently back to Rita.

"I    that's Elaeus' sword...", Rita stammered. "Lan, where is he? When is he coming back?"

Lan hesitated a moment. He couldn't bear having to do it. "Elaeus    he won't come back, Rita. He's gone" Lan choked a lump out of his throat. He swallowed and waited for Rita's reaction dreadingly.

 Rita looked down blankly. She stumbled backwards and leaned against the table as though in need of a support.

"Lan?" Suddenly the voice of Erry came from next to Lan as someone tugged Lan's cloak. Lan looked down, only to see the twins at his side. "Lan, why isn't Elaeus coming back tonight?", asked Erry innocently.

"Yes, Lan, where did he go?", queried Elie concernedly.

"I think, young ones, Lan means that you brother did not go anywhere", their mother's voice spoke up, with a cracked, empty tone to it. "Your brother... is dead"
Elie looked to Lan as though she didn't believe that was what he'd meant. Erry looked down almost angrily, like he was refusing to believe it.

"Is that what you meant, Lan?", Erry asked. His voice had hurt and disbelief in it.

Lan looked down. He couldn't find in himself to answer.

"Lan? Is that what you mean? Is my son dead?", Elaeus' mother asked him sadly.

Lan nodded but did not look up. He clenched his fists in grief. "I'm sorry", he said finally, looking up after a moment.

"No! He isn't! He's coming back!", cried Erry in an upset tone.

Rita fell back. "He's gone", she said breathlessly, and she collapsed. Elaeus' mother caught her and sat with her.

"Oh, Erry, even Rita says he's gone! Erry!" Elie turned to Erry distressedly, sobbing in between words with tiny chokes.

Erry didn't say anything. He just looked down with the same blankness that surrounded the scene.

Elaeus' mother was crying and trying to revive Rita. Elie was sitting and sobbing, her sleek hair hanging over her face. Lan had brought this upon them. He looked away, hating himself for bringing all of this to them. He had to leave.

So Lan departed, not daring to look back. He had to make up for all this. Elaeus was dead and it was his fault. Elaeus' family was in mourning and it was his fault.

Suddenly the slight sound of rustling, and footsteps upon the grass came to Lan's ears. He looked back quickly.

Little Erry stood there, an asking look on his face. "Lan, please don't leave. We need you to stay, Lan", he pleaded. "You need to be here. I need you to be my brother now. We need you"

Lan bit his lip. "Erry, I can't. I have to make up for this. I can't be anything I'm not, and I'm not your brother    Elaeus was. It was my fault Elaeus died, and I can't take his place. Now, I need to end this war, so nobody else dies"

Erry looked down disappointedly. "Then end it, Lan... But, if you ever come back again, will you be my brother?"

Lan smiled sadly. "Maybe    if I ever come back. But now, just remember, even if I never come back, know that I'm sorry", and with that, Lan just ran, not even glancing back. Once he got out of the village and up the hill, he walked back to camp, looking back only once to see that Erry didn't follow.

When Lan got back, he went straight to Ariff. Ariff was sitting and binding his own battle wounds up when Lan found him.

"Ariff" Lan sat down with him.

Ariff looked up. "Lan, what is it? Elaeus' family...?"

"It went worse than I imagined. It's all my fault this had to happen..."

Ariff sighed and continued tying up his bandage. "No, it isn't"

Lan ignored the reply and continued. "I have to make up for this, Ariff. I have to make sure no one else dies. So there are no more widows and orphans wandering the streets, lamenting their husbands and fathers. I can't bring the twins back their brother, but I can make sure nobody else loses theirs"

"How?" Ariff stood up, raising a brow in question.

Lan stood straight and faced Ariff determinedly. "I will end this war for good. The Nistrians will crumble and fall until their white flag is the only thing left. I will avenge Elaeus"

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Tidbits and Miscellany

I wasn't really sure what to post today, but I had a variety of things that needed said (as it often is), and so here I am, jamming them all into one not-too-neat little post, but there you are. Such are the ways of Belle when she's in a scatter-brainedly ecstatic mood (don't ask me why I am in such a state exactly, I don't believe I could answer you properly... if at all). Maybe it's the fact that I had a plate of cheese and crackers (which I adore). Maybe it's because I've gotten all of my schoolwork done and it's not even two o' clock. Maybe it's because of the prospect of the beautiful sunshine outside that is pretty enough to enjoy but too cold to be pushed out into. I don't know. But. Anyways. I have a few random things to tell you of. First of all,
What has Belle been up to?
A question... I do not usually answer on this blog as a principle. But, as this is labeled 'Tidbits and Miscellany' I think a little unorthodoxy is in order. I have been watching a movie I seem to be fated never to finish (the movies in question being Gunga Din, with Cary Grant). I have started the Oresteian play, Agamemnon, and am enjoying it greatly and even contemplating making it into and opera because would that not be just splendid??? What else. I have embarked upon the brainstorming stage of a new novel, coauthored with a friend (if she is alright with it, late on I may introduce it on here). I have also reached new heights in the word counts of The Pain of a Memory, Alomina, and The Ever-Three (The Second Brother's sequel). I think that's about everything exciting. Oh, yes, actually, I guess I also discovered an amazing new artist (been listening to him non-stop ever since) called Patrizio Buanne. If you like pop, check out his Solo Tu, if you like jazz, check out his Crazy, if you like swing, check out his L'Italiano, and if you like hilarious parodies, check out Home to Mamma. He's really got everything. And with that, anything of interest I had to say, I believe, is said. :) Now, the next thing.
Questions for Alagna? Please...?
So, I'm not really sure what else to do. When I posted the last character bio (of Alagna Arleine, from Alagna), for the purpose of character interviews, nobody asked her any questions. Which is completely understandable, just kinda awkward in my situation. Because with no questions... no interview, unfortunately. Maybe somebody could scrape together a few so that the interviews don't get stopped? I would be very grateful. :) Thanks!
The Second Brother
I have not written even one more word in The Second Brother, but have written immense amounts in the sequel. Why? Who knows? I really, really want to share the beginning of it, but I don't think I will just yet. However, there is something else of it that I will share - a surprise at the bottom of the post. *mysterious smile* ;)
What's Ahead?
Within the next several posts, here's what you can expect if you want spoilers:
  • Character interview (if Alagna gets enough questions)
  • The next part of The Pain of a Memory
  • Possible another Meet the Books! feature
  • Tags, tags, tags
  • Snippets of a story
Just for those who were curious to desperation, haha. ;)
The Surprise
You probably skipped ahead to this, didn't ya? Oh well. I wouldn't really mind even if anyone did, because I'm very eager to show this off. :)
Tell me who you got and if you liked it! :D
Any questions for Alagna? Any questions about what posts are coming up? Any questions concerning the quiz? Any suggestions for movies after I finally finish Gunga Din? ;) 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Far, Far Away - A Song

This is my first time ever posting one of my songs. They aren't what most people would like, so I've never really been brave enough to do anything but talk about posting them before. But I'm still not. I would like to take this moment, before I post the song lyrics, to give the source of this. Another blogger - someone whose blog title could've told me that she was a fellow out there somewhere - started a while back posting her own songs. She wrote them, and yet still let them out, and to her I am very grateful. Thank you, Lilah, the Singing Writer, for paving the way! And thank you for all the beautiful songs you wrote - I've loved the ones I've read, and I hope that a stranger like me won't embarrass you in saying thank you so very distantly. And this song is also in thank you to everyone who has ever helped me out with my music - my friend in VA, my aunt, and my wonderful music teacher who has taught me so much. And also, if he is listening, which I doubt, a bright-haired, brown-eyed little rascally boy who has so reluctantly inspired many an idea for me. :)
Verse 1

When I close my eyes, I see it clear as day,
And when the sunlight dies, the dream is there to stay -
I only know
Somehow, it's there,
I only know
It's waiting for me somewhere.


Far, Far Away,
Beyond what I can see,
I know my home
Is waiting there for me -
Someday I'll go back,
Chasing the running day,
But for a little while,
I'm far, far away.

Verse 2

I see the golden smile
That now lights a known face,
And after this small while,
That smile my hand will trace-
I only know
I love the sight so well,
I only long
For it more than I can tell.
-To Refrain-

I promise you, never
Will my thoughts be severed
From my love so far away,
But promise me too, home,
That you'll stay my true home
Until this earth's last day.

Far, far away,
Beyond what I can see,
I know my home
Is waiting there for me -
Someday I'll be back,
Though my heart always did stay -
And then I'll never leave
To far, so far away.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Waiting - A Poem

A poem for all those who are waiting.
Perhaps does someone wait for me,
Beyond the blue and breaking sea?

Perhaps in some far distant land,
Does someone wish to hold my hand?

Looking over silver shores,
Does anybody God implore

To keep me safe, to keep me whole,
As they gaze o'er the waves that roll?

Staring from the shore-cliff's peak,

Would someone my ship on the waters seek?
Would the ground be wettened with the tears
Of someone who for my sake fears?

Perhaps would someone wait for me

To come back from my long journey,
To stand at the shores of my home,
'Til I come back, no more to roam?

This does somebody do out there,
Beyond the misted seaborne air?
Does someone watch the early dawn,
As I once did in time bygone?

Perhaps they watch this scarlet rise

As teardrops fall down from their eyes,
Thinking of I - their love away -
Who may watch the same newborn day.

Perhaps someone play-strokes my hair,
Though where they are, I am not there;
Perhaps someone dreams of my eyes,
And may for them the dream not die.

And if such a someone waits for me,

Beyond this boundless, lonely sea,
Then I would take the greatest care
To survive Danger's burning flare,

And my Maker then I would implore
To let me live a moment more:
"Someone waits!", I'd gladly say,
"So, please, now let me wait for they!"
What did you think? Have you written any poetry? Feel free to share it or any thoughts in the comments! Did I get better aesthetics this time? ;) And is anybody else frustrated with how this blog always formats poetry wrong...?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Suffer Your Characters To Suffer

What would you say your favorite story is? If you're like me, you probably can't pin down just one, but a list. And what do the stories on this list have in common? I can guess at least one thing - for my favorites all have it in common as well. Suffering. The characters and suffering.
It makes a better book out of a bad one
Physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual, all good books have suffering. Does this make a good book? Not necessarily, but it will make a better book. Even if your plot is as holey as Swiss cheese and your setting as overused as the word cliché and your characters as bland as angel food cake without frosting, suffering can at least help. Making your characters suffer will bring more attachment to them from the reader, at least out of empathy, and making high, difficult situations makes a plot more intense and a more enthralling read. Making your characters suffer can even help a boring setting, because it invokes urgency in the reader's mind, making them think that this is a dangerous or very undesirable place and situation (and all of us, the odd creatures we are, enjoy reading about other people being in trouble). Making your characters suffer will add interest in their wellbeing, because any sympathetic human being will at least be mildly interested in their solution to this suffering.
It polishes an already good book
Even if you have a nice, creative setting, good characters, and an intricate plot, you should still incorporate difficulties and strife. If your amazing characters are uncomfortable, it will have twice the empathetic effect as characters who are not amazing. If the reader loves your characters, their heart will ache all the more seeing them suffer, and be all the more invested in it. If your plot is already good, this  - even if it doesn't increase the stakes themselves - makes the stakes seem higher for losing it all. Same with the setting - suffering increases the human element in a story's setting because it is an essential part of humanity and earthly life.
It will increase your creativity
Thinking of new ways to make trouble for your characters that nobody else has used is one of the best exercises an author can do for creativity. A bajillion authors let somebody get shot in the shoulder with an arrow. What about in the middle of Central Park? A bajillion authors let people die in the last stretch of the book. What about early on? Even if the idea isn't necessarily a good one to actually use, your span of new ability for ideas is broadened by having it.
It develops your characters more
What makes each of your characters suffer? In trying to figure out even just this tiny question, you are delving right into your ink-and-paper person's heart. A tiny bit of heartache for a character can mean pages worth of development on them.
But isn't it a bit psychotic?
I've heard a few authors concerned before that making characters suffer can decrease the author's empathy, or make an author become rather obsessed with, or even a bit psychotic and inhuman in their normal life. However, let me dispel these fears. Actually, at least in my case, making my characters suffer has made me far more empathetic. Submerging myself in the darks and lights of other fictional people allowed me to see into the different viewpoints of other real people. In fact, I believe writing has done wonders for my relationships with my siblings and close friends especially, because I can imagine things from their point of view. And even random people, I start to analyze their viewpoints in my mind - it helps to know them better and to respect their actions more. As for being inhuman, many authors tend to give off that vibe, but most of the time it's not because they're authors. It's because a lot of authors are introverts, who also seem to give off that vibe, but in truth are merely people in their own little world. If authors don't pay attention to other people, or seem too quiet, it's merely because they think more about what those other people are saying or doing, not less. And being obsessed with making your characters suffer is a problem I have never come across in all my days of being an author or meeting other authors. A few may celebrate it, but that few are the people who like to pretend they're psychopaths anyways, and so writing was just one of many ways they found to channel that usually comically-meant persona. As far as I've observed, none of us are really, truly obsessed with seeing other people suffer.
Why do we write suffering?
Yes, you may agree with my arguments at this point, but there is the creeping question that I haven't answered yet. Why? Why do we as readers love books with suffering? Why do we as writers tend to write suffering? Why? I think the first reason has to do with what I've mentioned above - suffering is such an integral part of humanity, that it gives us a revelation of our own lives and world to see suffering. We realize how much it reflects our humanity and it plays upon our hearts' attachment to our fellows. To see another suffer reflects our own suffering, and we wish for both to end, but we are interested because it tells us what we bear in this life.
Another reason is the reason for real-life suffering - it is a cross we must bear, but it touches us. In suffering, we grow within ourselves, and in sticking with others through their suffering, the same effect is accomplished through our human empathy. We are perhaps sobered by the fact of suffering, but we also take joy in the fact that it is not all there is to existence. So reading it makes us feel the presence of both joy and sorrow, so deeply written in our being.
The final reason is perhaps the most profound. We, as humans, imitate what we love or admire. In our real suffering we imitate Christ on the cross. In writing suffering, we wish our characters to imitate that same scene. We love to see them as sacrificial, and beautiful, and a profound insight into the greatest things of life. In writing their suffering, we are expressing our desire to be like Christ even in our works. And in having our works imitate Him, we give him glory - and is that not the ultimate goal of any art?
 If you are writing a book, let your characters suffer. There is nothing better you can do for your book - and it can even be spiritually aiding for you in addition. And, perhaps, it can lead your reader also to an image of what they most want to be - a true human, who suffers with us all.
So there's my light writing-tip post turned all meditational and profound. This happens every time I write posts without pre-decided guidelines... :P But, despite the inconsistent change of mood mid-post, what did you think? Do you agree? Do you have anything to add? Are there any of the aforementioned mock-psychopath writers in my audience? And is anyone else frustrated with how incongruous the aesthetic of this post is???