A Late Start to 2023 — Looking back on my blog and our path forward
Hiya—Been a while, I’m not even sure if it’s still appropriate to say happy new year by now but, here we are!
As late as I am to 2023, I have at least caught the start of February just in the nick of time… in this timezone anyways.
I can warn you in advance: I don’t really have any content for you today.
Given my rough scheduling for a while now, I think it’s a good time to take a step back for me and have a little bit of a heart-to-heart on where we can go from here.
Before all else of course, I’d love to just thank everyone who has read a post of mine, dropped a like, left a follow, a comment, anything!
Everyone who’s interacted with me on this site so far, no matter how dew or indirect, have always had stories of their own to tell and a world of their mind to share, and coming off a history of rather negative online experiences, this has been a much-needed relief for me!
Whether you’re a longtime reader, a newcomer, or someone just dropping by for a very quick peek, I want to let you know that no matter what else happens, I will always appreciate you sharing me even a bit of your time.
It means so much to me for people to come by, and anything more than that can be a nice bonus by itself.
So whatever’s happening in your life, I sincerely wish for your hard times to pass and for better memories to come along—all of us deserve so much better, don’t we~?
A Juggling Act…
Now, I think it’s entirely fair to say that my content has never exactly been consistent (*_*)
I started off with very loose introductions, then went from there into writing, into music analysis, into more music analysis, then into some travel blogging, and every now and then something out of place.
If you ask me right now what I feel my specialties are, I’d still answer you the same way: I feel that, creatively speaking, my fiction writing and my music are what I’d love to share the most with you all, even if they’re not the best!
A lot of my earlier posts also had these lengthy, rambling musings on more philosophical or social topics—Bit pretentious, probably, but it’s one of those things I do love dabbling with if I can!
In more recent months, a lot of you may have read my Singapore posts—I’d 100% planned on finishing the 4 or 5 day series by the start of January, but as you can see, that hasn’t quite happened, to put it mildly (*^_^*)
And that really brings me to the core of what I feel I’ve failed at addressing time and time again:
Time’s Grand Disappearing Act
I no longer have a set schedule… I just can’t deny that, even if I wanted to.
When I started out, I cannot tell you what substance I was abusing or what god’s powers I stole—I filled up an entire month with daily posts on the weekdays, many 1000, some even 2000 words long.
That period in August was in a bit of a break period for me, personally-speaking, which motivated me to take up this hobby in the first place, but early September put an end to that, as life in general started rolling again ♪( ´▽｀)
And here’s the weird situation it’s put me in, though one probably relatable for some of you writing content too: I want to keep producing material here for both my sake and yours, and yet that motivation to do so feels very empty a lot of the time.
When vacation came about in December, I felt that spark reignite somewhere, which was why, for the first time in a while, I set up expectations and an implied promise with my Singapore posts.
I’m overall still really glad with the reactions I’ve been getting on part two of it all, but I can’t help but feel like I’m letting you and I down by not continuing further.
I don’t have to feel like this of course, and I certainly don’t wanna imply I’m blaming or feel obligated to anybody here, but an itch that lingers will persist all the same.
Even just writing this feels like a bit of a challenge for me.
In my past, I’ve had a history of coming in loud into some forum or game, losing interest slowly, and then just quietly disappearing, probably leaving person after person confused and maybe betrayed at how silent I become towards them.
So I want to change that here, not because I feel something is forcing me to, but because I feel like I’m letting down my very own interests, likes, and passions if I pack up and leave.
Because I feel that, in the long term, there’s more people and content waiting for me here that I will love and enjoy when they come about.
To the rest of 2023: Plans, Prospects, Promises
And thus we’ve reached the part that may or may not come back to haunt me as we go forward~
I’ve promised a lot over my six-ish months here, and yet I’ve failed to make good on so many of them from laziness, lack of motivation, lack of time, you know, the usual.
Now I don’t really like dealing with uncertainties either—I’m expecting some major life events later this year, so I can’t write down promises for that long, but I do want to outline some of what I wish to publish here in the near future!
So, let’s see~
- The Singapore Blogs – Still two more posts for me to finish here, possibly a third retrospective too, and make no mistake, this is at the top of my priorities right now!
- The Bataan Blogs – These have been very disjointed and scattered, but now that I’m finding some ideas as an occasional travel blogger, I want to go and write pieces specifically for these too!
- Home for Somebody Else & Algid Vale – My two latest songs at the moment, which I want to write dedicated pieces to when time allows.
- Blood Brothers – My fourth finished manuscript & only novella which I teased previously—In terms of the writing side of my content, I feel there’s a lot of good and bad in this book that others like me could learn from!
- Short Stories – Now how could I forget these? They may not be the most frequent, but I have lots of fun writing and sharing not just a piece itself, but also the inspiration for each one, and my own thoughts on what I’ve created!
- Heart-to-hearts – You know, just like this right now! Not just a place for me to dump my content and be patronising, but also a place for me to be human.
That’s the thought I wanna end this with I think: being human.
While there’s only so much I myself can realistically share, all of us are people and no matter what we hide behind, moments of vulnerability like this will pop up every now and then.
And for what’s it worth? I think I’m glad that I’m taking this chance to be honest for once.
To focus not on my experiences or my passions, but on me—that person behind them who finds themselves still stuck in a motivational drain, but pulling upwards nonetheless!
Whether you stick around or not, I just wanna thank you for spending even a bit of time here with me!
And if you will follow for when I finally make good on some promises, then I’d love to thank you too for giving this oaf a chance (*’▽’*)
‘Til then though, all the love to ‘ya, and a very, very late happy new years too~!
Revisiting Marina Bay 6 Years On — ~Day Two in Singapore~
As I write this, I’m now back home from Singapore, which is a shame—I do envy my longtime friend who lives there (*^_^*)—but it does mean I have time on my hands once more!
That trip itself already feels so distant as I just look back on it now, and that was just less than a week ago, so imagine then how I perceive my initial 2016 trip~
Honestly, if it weren’t for the photos I took back then, I get the feeling I would’ve forgotten far more than I have, but that camera reel did give me quite a mission for my second day back there.
From a rundown of the day’s activities to even some background surrounding this very blog, there’s a lot I’m excited to write about, so without further ado—
The Morning Markets
Now, our schedule for the second day was quite stacked, but all of it started in one place: Chinatown.
As someone who frequently visits our own Chinatown here in Binondo, Manila, I went in expecting something similar, but in place of highrises and decayed colonial homes was a landmark I’d made sure to stop by:
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple (新加坡佛牙寺龍華院) was a place I’d learned about almost last minute actually, but once we did, we made sure to ask our taxi driver to drop us off right at its doorstep!
Got a greenlight to take photos from a sign near the entrance since I don’t use flash anyways, and inside was an interesting mix of people: a good portion were there to pray, another half or so were tourists like us, and there was a small minority of devotee-tourists as well.
Didn’t realise until later that we’d entered from the back of the temple, but that meant that the main chamber was what we saw last:
And this… this is the kind of setpiece I wanted to find on my travels.
If you’ve been around for a while, you may know how I love writing my worlds with a strong sense of culture to them, and these kinds of places are often the best inspiration possible for crafting something wholly-original!
The actual story behind this Temple is that it contains one of Gautama Buddha’s tooth relics, and if you’re interested, you can read up on the significance and history of this in this Learn Religions article, because I myself am not really qualified to discuss it ♪(´ε｀ )
As it goes though, one such tooth relic is reportedly in the 4th storey of this temple, though because of time constraints, we were sadly not able to head further than the ground floor!
These are two more photos from inside the temple, one being a chamber around the back and the second being an artifact on display along the halls, but these aside, our visit largely boiled down to that main chamber, and that sense of scale is something I hope to translate better into writing someday!
The rest of Chinatown was an interesting experience—these images above are of street art we saw along alleys and roads in the area, and compared to the usual graffiti I’m familiar with, this was a visual relief, if anything!
We stayed mostly around the Chinese area—once again time constraints forced us off the other sectors, and this was largely down to… welp, how filled our schedule for the day was ٩( ‘ω’ )و
With a little more shopping for souvenirs, we soon called up a taxi and left the area, now aiming for our main destination for the day: Marina Bay.
And what better place to start than with Marina Bay Sands~?
Closing a Distance
In 2016, during our first visit, I took this photo of Marina Bay Sands from the Merlion Park, and for such a recognisable landmark, we sadly didn’t have the time to stop by it back then, so this was really my only memory of the place.
This time around, we were dropped off at The Shoppes just across / under the main hotel itself…
…what an absolute first impression to be met with!
In my current novel series is an affluent port city by the name of Tsuzugo in the country of Sarozanka, and a highlight of the town is the Koro-o Ferry Terminal, a multi-layered marvel of modern engineering that blends together a port, a subway station, and a mall all in one.
When I went into the mall and saw this, I just immediately knew in my mind that this was exactly what I imagined that ferry terminal to look like!
It’s hard to give a sense of the sense of verticality that just towers over you as you walk through this place, but in some wings it’s more noticeable:
This hall, for instance, was easily one of the most impactful for me—even if it didn’t have the mini river that that first one rocked, those windows really made me feel that the airport / seaport terminal vibe of the mall was intentional.
Nope, I don’t have the historical anything to back that up, but I promise you it’s how the whole place will come across!
We ate lunch that day at the food court—the rest of the mall was ungodly expensive—then set off for a nearby attraction: the Future World in the Art Science museum.
And I’m unsure how best to capture that experience here.
Lemme put it like this: art galleries are one thing, but imagine being in one that makes you half of the art.
In this installation for example, the moving drawings on the table are fully-interactive—what you’re seeing is me moving about some objects they left on the piece, and as you move them, the sketches respond appropriately!
As for the background sound, it’s from a nearby installation that let you create some music by pushing some buttons—it looked lovely to try, but kids were hogging it the whole visit- good to see they’re having fun though!
This exhibit, meanwhile, felt like the centrepiece of the whole experience—you could choose a template of some various aquatic animals, sketch in whatever you like, scan it, and your drawing would join the many you’re seeing on that screen!
Some of those drawings were signed, others simple sketches, others more intricate, and yet they all come together so mesmerisingly on this one wall.
It’s these kinds of experiences that defined this attraction for me: I was half of the art in that the art wouldn’t be complete without me nor the rest of the people there that day.
And if anything, it’s empowering, just not in a way I’d expected going in.
There was much more in this museum that I managed to document, but in the interest of space, I’ll skip them for now—feel free to tell me if you’re interested though, or if you’ve been here yourself- I’d love to hear more of that!
Side note too: thanks to the museum’s location, I was able to snap some very-close shots of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel itself, and we even passed along the lobby later on, so that’s another unresolved wish from 2016 checked off!
But as the early afternoon set in, there was one more major destination left for the day…
~Where it all began~
My camera reel from 2016 and before is depressing, in the sense that it’s just empty as hell.
It wasn’t because I didn’t have a camera, just more that photography of any kind never interested me, and after losing a lot of my early photographs around 2011, it felt a bit like there wasn’t much of a point to it.
But my December 2016 trip to Singapore changed all that.
I’d been to Hong Kong several times before, but my very first visit to Gardens by the Bay marked the first time in my life I felt that desire to immortalise my view and place in time.
I left that day with photos that have stayed with me six years later, and a casual hobby that’s only grown stronger and stronger as the times have changed, so when I returned to the Gardens last Tuesday, I set out with one goal: to find those same spots that captivated me so many years ago, and take an updated photo!
The photos below are my 2016 shots vs. my 2022 shots, and there were four areas in the Cloud Garden that I felt deserved this exhibition!
First off: the actual garden itself:
This original photo here was one of my all-time favourites from my camera reel, and the moment the Cloud Forest’s cool breeze and fog swept past me again, I found myself facing a crowd first.
I thought I’d have to wait to be able to recreate the shot, then I found a rather large empty space towards the back, and it hit me then: that was where I’d stood to take the shot 6 years ago-!
So I went for it—and took 15 photos actually—but this one above was the closest to the original that I could manage~
Now in this visit, the Cloud Garden was very different, because it was advertising none other than James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.
A lot was changed to accommodate this theme, but right here, at the very base of the garden, it all just felt so familiar.
I love seeing these two images side by side: not much has really changed, has it-?
A path drenched in fog wrapped around the side of the garden, its slight inclination indicating that the road to the very top began right here.
But as I went around the back of the garden, I snapped a few shots before continuing, and I didn’t realise until getting back to the hotel that…
These two were the same area!
You might be familiar with this original image—this edited version below is one I use as my home page’s background!
And yet, for a wall of orchids, I had never considered that they’d change such a location so much.
When I was going through my camera reel that night, I devoted some time to trying to find this area for a comparison shot, because I was so sure that I’d definitely revisited it.
It’s only thanks to the support bars from the walkway above that I even realised these were the same place—and that took quite a while to set in (^^)
I’m almost tempted to say that the original configuration was better, but know that if I’d seen this Avatar-influenced design first, then the orchids second, I’d be saying the same thing—it’s really just the nostalgia talking!
Even at the very top of the Garden, I chased after that nostalgia by dashing for the small pond that I’d always remembered had been up there, and sure enough:
I guess it’s a shame that it was so crowded this time around, but personally I’m fine with having gotten a close-to-the-original photo out of it all! I
n one of my few memories of the 2016 trip, I even remember my grandfather sitting to rest just a little out of frame in that first picture. He may not be here anymore, but reliving being there is a recollection enough for me (^-^)
And while nowhere near as marvellous, one last sight I remembered well from 2016 was a small movie theatre inside the mountain / garden—and what do you know, it’s still there!
Appropriately enough, it played a trailer for Avatar this time, compared to the climate change informational from before, and I recorded that but I’m not quite sure I’m allowed to put it up here~
From that theatre, some small-but-pretty views lined up across windows on our way out.
And I’m happy saying that I left that place a slightly-different person: not because of anything profound, but more thanks to my 6-year long hunger to return there being satiated at last.
The place where my photography addiction was born, where I’d made memories with family no longer around, where I’d snapped photos present me is still fond of…
All just so familiarly-wonderful ((o(^∇^)o))
My post about day one was honestly rushed given I wrote that after a whole day of walking, but now that I’ve got more time and energy, I fully intend to continue the remaining days as I go along~!
Because of how packed this second day was, there’s a lot I honestly glossed over, and some I haven’t talked about at all, but I did want to focus on what I felt left the biggest impact on me in the moment, and with that in mind, I want to leave one last gift here for now: photos from our afternoon walk along Marina Bay.
I’ll have another two or so posts up soon about my music instead—so more of my usual content—so if you want to see follow-ups to this tour, then stay tuned, I’ll deliver… eventually~
‘Til then, thank you very much for sticking around, and if you have any thoughts or questions, I’d like to hear ‘em!
All the love to ‘ya!
Where I Was & Where I Am – Day One in Singapore
Was writing papers, now in Singapore! If you only needed a quick answer, then there you have it~
If you want more updates though, feel free to read on if you please! I’ve definitely got a lot to catch up on (；ω；)
From when I announced something of a break in September up until now, I’ve been a bit preoccupied with academics, to say the least, which, combined with general mood swings, forced me to shift my focus away from a lot of my interests for a while (*_*)
I still have a few loose ends to tie up, but those aside, I’ve largely done what’s needed to be done, and if time allows, I do wish to come back here and write what I’ve grown to enjoy more over the months!
At the moment, I have quite a bit to catch up on: writing, music, the usual mix, and if any of you have been checking out my channel, you may have noticed a new song I released a few days ago, which I’m excited to talk about soon! If you’d like to give it a quick listen for now though:
From Joe Hisaishi (久石譲) to contemporary ambient music, I drew a lot of information and learned… some theory to being this piece together—so I hope you enjoy it for now!
Six Years On…
As I write this though, I am currently staying for a short bit in Singapore, a visit planned for quite sometime now, but only kicked off today.
Safe to say, four years of not traveling on aircrafts meant that today’s flight was… not pleasant, to say the least—I was fine by the end! But I dread the return flight just having gone through that, and that was barely three and a half hours （ ; ; ）
Regardless, I look forward to finding some new inspiration and catching a breath while I’m here—there are some sites I may visit soon I may write about too, so time will tell if that can happen!
Naturally, though, the Jewel Changi, attached right to the Changi Airport, was something of a first stop—when I was last here in 2016, none of this was open at all, and to come back to such a sight felt like stepping into a painting!
The Rain Vortex, as it’s known, is apparently the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, something the complex will proudly tell you about when it can, and by all means is it something to marvel at~
With tickets for the mosaic bridge, I was able to lounge back on the highest walkway overlooking this dome, which reminded me a lot of the Zhangjiajie (张家界) Glass Bridge in Hunan (湖南), China, for one main reason: the path’s floor was translucent.
From this video, I’m walking above around five-ish stories, though the glass is translucent enough that it didn’t make me nauseous or anything, more just fascinated by the opportunity.
Even just this dome aside, experiences around the complex remained varied and interesting, such as this one room that let me play some music by waving a brochure:
The Experience Studio, as they called it, was like this interactive museum, if I had to describe it: from history lessons to airport arcade games and that music room, all of it was powered by that brochure you see me holding, which activates the attraction’s events when placed around—clever technology, in short!
If anything, however, this whole experience at the Jewel reminded me of how much Singapore loves and prides itself on greenery, something I wish more countries could do ( ；∀；)
What I’m interested in seeing soon, though?
…is how much will have changed in the Gardens in the six years since I took this photo.
Hoping to share more when I can, and may I just say—it’s lovely to be back here, both in this country and on this website!
To anyone who’s been here before too, I’d like to hear whatever you have to say about the country, even if just to share a little of what we can love or not about this place!
Sending all the love to ‘ya, and looking forward to the next entry here! ♪(๑ᴖ◡ᴖ๑)♪
The Title of “Special” (~A Short Story~)
(For a PDF version—just click here and enjoy~!)
On a windowsill rests a purple lily, lounging in its pot beneath the only sun it has ever known. It’s rather marvellous how little such a flower can be content with, as if the same, still life day in day out is something less than desirable, for it is among the only things it knows to even exist.
A gentle gust from the ceiling fan sways one of its leaves, brushing up against the wooden window frame like a finger.
The flower just sits there, as if to let the fan have its way with itself.
If it had a voice, it could perhaps speak in displeasure, but as fate would have it, the lily would not be bestowed any such luxury.
Day by day, the street outside shifts from morn to eve, crowd to stillness, and should the Prince of Fortune have his way, a passerby may, perhaps, come here to catch a glimpse of a flower unlike many others.
The Lily is, simply put, a strobe of light in a smoky void, people of all avenues of life strolling on by and slipping a few seconds out of their day to pay it some attention, no matter how fleeting.
What a lovely life it must be, no?
To rest as a beacon of vibrance that will never fall victim to its own mind?
All around this room are other flowers: a row of blue and pink hydrangea, a hanging jar of orchids, an old vase of violets, and even one without a life to call its own: a mural of a chrysanthemum.
The sunlight that breathes life into these flowers further gleams across this room, though regions beyond the entrance door lay in darkness: a space without such a plant to shatter its veil.
On a day like every other, the Purple Lily receives another visitor: a lone street sweeper who ambles up to the window and stares at it.
“What a spectacle of a sight!” they think to themselves, basking in the presence of untainted life: but a single reminder of what once sprawled across this dense, concrete flood.
Daily life for this individual is simple: they patrol to clean the streets of the litter that emerges now and then, and yet this Lily is one they could never see themselves sweeping. A glance is more than enough to set it apart from rubbish, though would this plant have any concept of that? Any concept of the decay that may, someday, erode its little paradise in the future?
They tap the window, but there comes no response from the flower or anybody else in the house.
What a shame… What a shame that our species cannot communicate with something so full of life. What a shame that such a glimmer of peace cannot share with humans its secrets to happiness and contentment.
Dejected, the street sweeper departs, returning to their phone as they pace away.
The Lily just sits there, as if to let the street sweeper draw their own conclusions on the nature of its existence.
Another breeze from the fan flaps up a petal, almost like how one would wave an arm. Perhaps a mouth is unnecessary for this flower, for it knows no emotion other than an unseen, perpetual smile.
As a car treks down the road outside, another figure approaches, crossing the street with a folder in hand.
He puts on his glasses and adjusts his badge as he nears the window, pausing just like many, many others before him.
How intriguing… Life too lively for an amateur, home too homely for a veteran.
Who would waste so much time growing something so immobile? Who would place value in a child that cannot repay its family?
The man’s face coils, twisting but leaving an eye wide open and trained upon the still Lily.
This thing could not even choose to leave this room if it tried. Why bother allowing it the luxury of comfort so many of us are never entitled to?
He spares no moments longer glaring at the flower, returning to his commute as his silhouette, too, fades into a distant crowd.
The Lily just sits there, as if to allow this man and his energy to become someone else’s problem.
Though it may still face the same direction out this window, the flowers around it shift from the fan, like the Hydrangea, which turn ever, ever-so-slightly to greet the Lily.
It glances back with an invisible motion of joy, and soon the Orchids join, swaying in their little nook above the room.
“It’s nice to have a sun so bright, yeah?”
It does not possess a voice, but the Princess of Fauna has allowed her dominion to enjoy one other’s company.
“I do wonder why our master put me here and you up there,” the Lily replies. “Is sunlight not more important for you?”
“We share the same opening, you and I. Your light is my light.”
They pause, as if awaiting a response from the Chrysanthemum.
The Violets chime in, “Be still, our master is on its way here.”
Moments trickle by for the Lily before it can respond.
“To merely rain water on us again? Or perhaps to allow me new scenery?”
“I cannot understand-“
The paper door slides open in the room’s shade.
A silhouette remains there in the doorway, head scanning the room.
Eyes fall on the Hydrangea, then the Violets, then the Orchids, then finally, the Lily.
Ceiling fan twirling above, the figure enters the room, marching directly to the windowsill.
Pedestrians pass by, taking glances at the woman who grasps the pot.
Long, black hair doubles as a curtain, obscuring most of her face and leaving but half of it in the sunlight.
And though the Lily has no eyes, their gazes lock all the same.
“Oh, Michi, enjoying the sunlight, dear?”
The Lily can’t help but wonder:
Michi…? A human name, bestowed upon me?
Is that to mean a human and a flower can be equal?
“It’s the morning, so you can just wait here and get all the sunlight you’ll need for the day~”
Another day at this windowsill? I believe-
“Oh, hmm, is that bothering you, dear?”
This one can hear me?
“Mmm, no need to be shy, I always look after my plants first—I’ll sacrifice anything so long as you can be at peace with yourself!”
“Please, tell it to me straight: is this windowsill not spacious enough? Are the passersby bothering you? You look healthy, surely that’s not your concern, is it?”
The Lily would breathe for a little respite, if only they could.
But if their master could actually hear them, what does that mean for them both? That their master is a flower? That Michi is a human? That their master could speak with plants? That Michi could somehow communicate with people?
Did it even bear thinking about-?
“Can you actually hear me?”
There it is… a deep, smooth voice for a flower: one that had no physical presence, but resonated all the same as something Michi could hear.
“Ooh, yes! Yes, don’t be afraid, this is private conversation, just you and me. Your friends will not hear us, my family will not hear us.”
A chance to ask for something… something new, perhaps? Even if that barrier between a new desire and an unknown, repressed one was slim, they could ask for it all the same, right?
“Master… My roots lie here at this windowsill, and yet, I long to feel how normal flowers live: no pots nor vases to confine them.”
The woman cups her chin with her hands, then clutches the vase tightly.
“Oh, is that so? Could you tell me more?”
“Unlike humans, we are not meant to be mobile creatures, but do we not deserve our sun all the same? Do we not all deserve to experience our sunlight without this near-invisible wall between us?”
“Don’t worry Michi, I understand… Have you been speaking with the other flowers lately?”
“The Orchids yearn to be in my place, I sense. To experience as much of the sun’s warmth as they need without these human constructs obscuring that light. Hydrangeas and Violets are as odd as usual, your movement of them is enough, and they’re content, yet I’m unable to feel… like a natural flower.”
“Feel… like… D-Don’t worry, I get that again, since I’ve grown you here in this pot your whole life. You’ve never felt how the world outside of it is, have you?”
“For my leaves to brush up against this wood on your construct is an odd sensation. I’m used to nothing, if not your touch alone.”
“I get you… but if you can understand me, may I ask you something?”
“I see no harm.”
“How does a flower like you perceive freedom? You’re rooted your whole life, for someone like me, the thought’s inconceivable…”
“Incomprehensible for me, too, is the thought of growing branches I may move myself with. I only yearn to live in the open air, to root myself in the planet that created me, to experience what so many other flowers like me have, to experience the only life they know.”
With a nod, the woman lifts up the pot, her nails almost digging into the vase.
“Don’t worry, I understand you—let us make the best of this!”
Michi just sits there, as if to let their unseen gaze bid farewell to the only room they have ever known.
Pot in hand, their master paces out the room and through some of the house’s corridors: simple, wooden halls that are nothing but echoey spaces for Michi.
Yet, here they were, speaking with a human who had felt so close yet so distant up to this day.
A connection between flora and fauna established… a warm one at that.
To experience open skies, to sense fresh airs, to sit amongst a field of flowers rooted into the very planet—no more will Michi have to remain in this cramped pot, that barrier separating them from humans had finally cracked, hadn’t it?
Here it is, the moment of truth, a space where all these factors converge into one: a garden.
Walls enclose a yard dominated by but one sound: splashing, trickling from a fountain that empties itself into a short stream. Across both sides are beds of flowers and plots of trees, leaving plenty of room for even more shrubbery to thrive in what would otherwise be empty grass.
A gentle gust from the sky sways one of Michi’s leaves, but this time, there is no wood to brush up against.
“Here we are dear, my garden! A sanctuary for my plants who wish for this life the most.”
“I am included now amongst the garden plants, yes?”
“Oh, almost, just almost! Let me move you a bit further in here.”
Balancing the pot on one hand, the master crosses a little bridge over the stream and sits back on a stone, setting down Michi’s vase just in front of her by her feet.
“This is it: that open place you’ve asked me for. How does it feel?”
“Breeze is cool, natural, and the light is warm, like a tree’s shade on an arid day.”
A second of silence passes as another small puff of wind sways Michi, black-and-white doves flying above from tree to tree.
“In this place, I have no need for conversations or observations to be content… I feel loved in the environment.”
“Aww, good to hear! It’s all I’ve ever wanted to hear, really…”
“…I sense it, however, that I am still in the vase that confines me.”
“Would there not be a way to root me into the planet where I belong? To root me with other flora I can find contentment with?”
The woman draws a deep breath, rubbing a hand against that vase.
“B-But this vase— Ahem… Michi, trust me, transplanting you into this soil out here would harm you. Right now, right here, you have everything you need, don’t you?”
“In essence I am free, but in form, I am not with those I belong.”
“As in, you think you’re an outsider here?”
“If I am within this pot, then yes. I can sense and hear the flora here are calling for me to come near.”
“Then- don’t worry, we can do that!”
Standing, the master picks up Michi’s pot again, transferring it to a corner of the garden where other lilies grow from the grass.
“Here! Flowers just like you, is it better?”
“They are not confined by the roots as I am within this vase. It is all I yearn for: to experience what cycles I have left among those who cherish me.”
She stares at Michi as she caresses the vase.
“If you could only see yourself the way I see you… You’re perfect in this, it’s not as if you can move anyways, right? Not to mention the composition of this soil- It’s why you’ve grown so well, you know!? All of this I procured just for your growth.”
“I do not understand, but do you mean to bestow me the name of ‘special’?”
“As a description I suppose… You were the first Lily I grew well, but I sacrificed a lot to let you live so peacefully… this vase is both a memento of loss and a medal of triumph: it’s what makes you you, yeah?”
“You mean to bestow the label of ‘honour’ to this thing I am confined in?”
“Don’t worry Michi, it’s just how you see it. Don’t think of this vase as something that holds you back—rather, think of it as a blessing- a privilege! None of these flowers will ever live as comfortable as you, you wouldn’t want to lose that, would you?”
The breezes stop coming.
“I find it difficult to sense it that way, master. How many cycles do you believe remain before I, too, shall wilt away? Why must I be forbidden from living those with my brethren when the opportunity is already here?”
“Don’t worry, it’s not just about me, but think of the other flowers- they’ll know you as that one Lily that threw away such a luxurious gift in favour of being one with everyone else. You may not be human, yet I’ve heard of flora acting much like us… you wouldn’t want that.”
Before Michi can send a response, the woman stands, pacing a few steps away.
They tense up, echoing the loudest shriek they can at her.
“Wait! Please remain here!”
“All I ask is to be moved from this vase, so that I may live my remaining cycles with the other lilies. Is such a request too much when you have bestowed me the title of ‘special’?”
“Y-You are special, Michi, that’s why we can’t have you lose what makes you so.”
“Even if it were to come at the cost of my contentment?”
“…I suppose so. We have to draw the line somewhere, you know? You’re really special to me, so I want to keep it that way. I know you’ll understand.”
Like all those people outside the windows, Michi’s master, too, fades away, disappearing back into the mansion they had spent so much time in.
Michi just sits there, as if, by some inexplicability, this vase would shatter and grant them what their master would not.
This here is the scent, the feeling, the mood of what freedom can be for a flower… and yet, the height of that concept fleets away second by second.
Here is an open garden, yet one enclosed by human walls.
Here is a clean sky, yet one tainted by human development.
Here is a safe space, yet one denied by human intervention.
The ground here is but a little gust away: a simple breeze allows Michi’s leaves to stroke the grass and stones like the wood from the home.
But this is the only freedom they can hope to achieve: so close to life with its fellow flowers, so close to a peaceful end as what they were meant to be, and yet so far, parried, parted, and forced back by a human they thought was a friend.
Any minute now, that sun will set like every other day, and by then, Michi will have received more than enough warmth to last another cycle.
And yet, like any other day, they will soon find themselves under the exact same care of their master, perhaps the exact same routine too, from someone who claimed to be gifting them their ideal life.
Of course, here is that ideal life as promised. It’s right here, with all these lilies and shrubs that Michi knows they will soon daydream many lovely conversations with.
All it would take to join them in bliss would be for their master to return and move them out of this vase.
Michi just sits there, still saturated with naive hope that they will find true contentment before the time comes for them to wither away.
Reflections on Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray… and a lead-up to my fourth work!
A post I have long promised but been very slow to work with… hehe (；ω；)
In any case—Hiya!!
Responsibilities stack of course, but life lately has been calm—and that’s something I’m glad to take in the meantime ٩(๑❛ᴗ❛๑)۶
I want to try and take us all today back to the days just after I’d finished my third book, because for once, I can say that a different author came in to stock me up with some new ideas!
So let’s rewind to those first few months: just around April and May of 2020, when I’d just finished my third manuscript, and when my fascination with older English authors really began…
“The ugly and the stupid…”
Maybe it’s our temporal distance from them, maybe it’s just a difference in cultures, but there’s something oddly-fascinating about Victorian era authors, yeah?
Everything from the personal life of George Eliot to the death of Edgar Allan Poe have intrigued me every now and then—like peering into a stage where all the characters have taken on lives of their own.
For me, Oscar Wilde was no exception to this, but with him, I was introduced to his writing much earlier on thanks to some horror games I played that tied in with his works!
He wasn’t someone I remembered hearing in our English classes, since it was mostly the bigger names like Poe we discussed…
I remember Poe well actually- teachers and professors over the years often compared my works to his, and to top it off, we share a birthday~! ヾ(๑╹◡╹)ﾉ”
But as for Wilde?
Other than that video game tie-in, the only other thing I’d heard of him back then was… well
Finding out how he was treated over his sexuality was heartbreaking, even if it was expected for that time, but it also makes me appreciate how much us today can look back on his works and his life without any of the stigma he had to deal with (>_<)
As with most artists though, his most popular work ended up as my first experience with him: none other than The Picture of Dorian Gray.
“Everything whose beauty does not die…”
If you’ve yet to read The Picture of Dorian Gray for yourself, then it’s a novel I’d highly recommend you check out if you have time! (^з^)-☆
I’ll not be giving like a point-by-point summary, but I’ll be discussing quite a few of the twists and themes, so if you’re a fan of Victorian, Gothic, and philosophical works, I feel this is something you’ll quite love!
From here on out, we’ll basically be in unmarked spoiler territory, so you’ve been warned~
Now if I read this book correctly, the core of the plot is basically:
Dorian Gray, in an effort to preserve his youth and beauty, makes a supernatural deal to let a portrait of him age in his place, allowing him to preserve his appearance eternally even as his misdeeds add up and wither this picture over time.
Let’s look at that first: that desire to remain eternally-youthful.
It’s basically a fairytale villainess stereotype at this point, but I’m 100% guilty of feeling like this too ♪( ´▽｀)
I can be a bit vain in good moods, and overall a lot of it adds up to this sense of wanting to freeze my age in some way.
It’s unrealistic, of course, and meaningless too as anyone who has grown out of this phase will agree—so someday I can only hope to adjust to that mindset once my own delusions start to fade!
But about two and a half years ago?
Reading this book gave me my first experience of feeling… this kind of personal connection with the themes at hand.
No matter how different we were physically and mentally, I felt a lot of connection with Dorian Gray first through this, then through his slow arc of regret as he realises just what this dainty side of him has done.
Chapter 13 was the point where Oscar Wilde made it known to me how bad desperation could get, and how well a skilled author can weave emotion.
Seeing how withered his portrait has become, Dorian, knife in hand, stabs his friend Basil Hallward to death: the very man who’d painted that piece for him.
Wilde’s way of describing the murder was visceral and harrowing in a way I hadn’t seen before: everything from the way he paced the scene, to the emotions that flashed in both men, to the moodiness of the overall setting…
I feel that’s a good word to describe it: harrowing.
Up until then, I’d written a lot just describing events and letting a plot flow… but emotion?
I’d never been that good at slapping it into my works, and yet here was Wilde threading it in so carefully that I could never imagine this book without it.
To remove the emotion from this book would be like removing all the threads of a carpet.
From there to the end, I can describe Dorian’s descent and downfall in so many ways: tragic, karmic, euphoric, relatable, reflectable…
And all of it culminates in one scene that I still remember well for how much it jarred me.
Distraught and remorseful, the ever-youthful Dorian once again takes the same knife he’d used to murder Basil.
He heads up to where he’s kept the cursed portrait of him and, deciding he needs to redeem himself, he stabs it again and again, ultimately destroying it, but with a cost: his own life.
He’s found soon after dead and withered, to the point that he can only be recognised by the rings on his hand, and yet Basil’s portrait of him is once again pretty, clean, and handsome, exactly how it was when it was created.
There’s pretty much no more explanation I remember past this, yet I think that’s also why it’s so effective for me.
What actually happened behind this plot? Well- your imagination’s the limit!
I’m not religious myself, but I do love the theory that Lord Henry Wotton, a friend of Basil’s and Dorian’s who influences the latter’s downfall, is either a representation of, a follower of, or simply Satan himself, which would make sense given Dorian’s eventual epiphanies about repentance and his desire to be absolved of his misdeeds.
We have quite a lot of ways to look at and interpret this plot and what connection, if any, it has with Oscar Wilde, and this is one area that I’d love to leave to you too—!
For anyone else who’s read this book, what do you think about it~?
My love for it mainly did stem from the relatability of its themes, the graphicness of its highlights, and the grittiness of its characters—so what made you like / dislike this?
For me too, there’s one more reason I remember this book so well~
Prudence for every occasion…
As a non-native speaker of English, diving into literature from about 150 years ago was interesting, to put it plainly!
There was I understood and a lot I didn’t—so to make up for it, I kept a list of memorable words I found as I read: usually more uncommon words that I thought I could use myself someday!
By the time I was done reading, my list totalled 136 words… many of which were so rare or archaic that I actually didn’t bother using them much afterwards ／(^o^)＼
So among the ones that have just shifted into my vocabulary over the years:
…Not an exhaustive list by any means, but I’d estimate around 1/5 of the words I saved I’ve at least remembered in some way!
I’m actually kind of curious how common some of these words are over in the States or the UK, since here anyways, “brevity” is the only one of these words that I hear used, and even then that’s mainly in academic contexts (^-^)v
Vocabulary aside, there was one other impact this book made on my writing: characters and dialogue!
quick admission: I definitely went way overboard with the eloquence of my characters in my fourth book, especially since it was set in 2001 and not the 1890s!
But looking back, I do feel I managed to make them far more distinct and memorable compared to my previous works, something I’m still quite proud of!
“A falsehood shall only escort you so far…”
I’ll go over all the detail around this next work of mine on my next post, so if you’re interested for a plot and writing breakdown, then stay tuned! There’s a lot about it I wanna tear apart ( ＾∀＾)
So until then, here’s a little gift in that regard: a teaser, and profile cards for the main cast—complete with the usual AI-generated portraits (^_^*)
And yes, this is the same Griffin Landon I discussed here before—so if you want a bit more from me in the meantime, then here’s me just having fun punching him down a little (＾ｰ^)
I hope you’ll be around for when I delve into the mess I’ve created, and ‘til then, all the more love to ‘ya!
In a desperate time, a broke and unhinged socialite resorts to unthinkable measures for his own good. His plan is unexpectedly met with an interruption, and when the sordid truth begins to seep through the cracks, the situation within his inner circle gradually devolves, in an environment where trust is soon relegated to a distant memory.
Japanese folk theory, suspended chords, and straight ambience… An actual new song out now!
The more music I produce, the harder I have to think about… well, ensuring each track is as distinct as possible, especially I exhausted basically all the easy ideas early on!
One thing almost universal about those older tracks though, and most Western music in general, is that nearly every chord was built based on either a major or a minor third… so: what if I created a song that removed nearly all of these?
That led me right to suspended chords, which use major seconds and perfect fourths instead—and that was already a great start!
But in terms of scales, I ended up turning once more to some Japanese folk theory, this time with a specific scale I’ve never actually used before!
So first of all… what even is this song?
I’m happy to tell you here that this is another one of those songs with a pretty-long history!
It all started back in December 2021 to January 2022, when I was still producing Northbound Voyage—my list of song ideas totalled 14 by the end, and while I tried to turn all of them into something listenable, there were four I just couldn’t figure out:
- Glistering Gardens – A young student tours a colourful, lively garden perched atop a futuristic housing block.
- A Tale of Three Winds – Cold breezes blanket a barren tundra, with the snow trickling down upon the arriving hikers.
- Light the Way Home – Moonlight touches down from a clear, twilight sky, illuminating the trodden streets of an old village even as the lampposts go out.
- Pilgrims of Snowfall – A large congregation of robed people pass through a barren, snow-covered plain, venturing towards a long-forgotten sanctuary far, far ahead of them.
These are exactly what I wrote for these song ideas back in January, and I’ve linked the final versions of those first three in order of their release—so you can hear just how much they changed from my visions *\(^o^)/*
I’d wanted to finish all four of these songs for my follow-up album, A Tale of Three Winds, but alas, Pilgrims of Snowfall eluded me again, because I just couldn’t figure out how to make it work.
I thought it was a lost cause by that point… but today, I’ve proven past me wrong (((o(*ﾟ▽ﾟ*)o)))
Last time I’d attempted to make something out of this idea was June, so three months later, here we are, with a completely different take on the idea and a new title to spare!
So as I mentioned earlier, almost the whole song’s built off suspended chords—First with perfect fourths, but that changes to major seconds at around the three minute mark when the track modulates into B♭ Minor!
Now there isn’t too much melody to speak of because I wanted to lean into that ambience as much as I could—to that end, there are up to like 9 synths playing together to create that mood, but whether or not it’s effective is up to you to decide, yeah?
When it comes to the koto (事) part or the background motifs though, what you’re hearing is in two different Japanese scales: the usual Hirajōshi, then a different scale apparently known as the In scale; it’s apparently usually pentatonic, but I did a bit of research to pull up an octatonic variant ♪(๑ᴖ◡ᴖ๑)♪
From what I’ve read, the fact this scale has neither a minor or major third makes it very suitable for playing over songs without these, so once I’d found out all that out, I practiced it a bit and… well, got to work!
This song came together over a week and a half—probably shorter if I didn’t get distracted by live mixes—and given how much I have to finish nowadays, there were definitely better uses of my time…
But I don’t regret once again putting together everything I know of music so far, and even if that’s not much, we still have something here today, don’t we~?
I’d like to hear what you think of the track, but ‘til then, all the more love to ‘ya!
Some live mock-ups of my songs *\(^o^)/*
Fun fact: I have actually performed a song live once before!
Wasn’t any big venue, just a modest bar, and it was not my proudest moment… but hey, it’s one hell of an opportunity, yeah?
As of writing, I have nowhere near the skills needed to actually perform any of my own music, but as a joke I made to my friends in the past, I said I’d create live renditions of them anyways if I could—and today, that promise comes true!
So yeah, this is just a live mix, not an actual performance—if it was, you wouldn’t hear me over the all the booing! (*ﾟ▽ﾟ*)
But I arranged this in about four hours, and it’s more of an experiment than anything so it’s definitely rough…
so if you can listen, do let me know how it turns out!
If you’ve heard the originals, then you’ll definitely notice how much faster Glistering Gardens is here—I always thought the song’s climax would make a good danceable tune of sorts, so this was my opportunity to put that to the test!
As for Northbound Voyage, what I play here’s more of a truncated version of the first “act” in B Major; once again, slightly sped up, but overall, I imagine it as the true intro of sorts for the “show”!
I’m honestly interested in continuing this project now, but I have a lot more interesting things lined up, so I’ll just see where time takes me I guess ♪( ´θ｀)
See ‘ya soon, and all the love to you!
A Tree in Okagawa – A Short Story
Trigger warning: This story contains themes of suicide and terminal illness. If you’re uncomfortable with these, please don’t proceed!
But if that’s fine by you…
Then if you prefer, the PDF copy is attached here for much easier viewing
I have a lot to say about what inspired this story, what it reflects about me, and what message I want to send with it, but in the meantime… I hope you find this an interesting read.
Child of Light…
At the centre of the town of Okagawa is a banyan tree: one weathered enough to have known the locals’ ancestors, yet recent enough to have known but a week of life.
As the sun rises and adults trod out for daily commutes to the metro, children gather around the tree, whispering and calling out to it as if it were a friend.
“Do you wanna meet my parents?” asks a schoolboy, a wide grin plastered across his face.
The tree remains still and silent, yet he nods and hops as if it replied.
As Okagawa’s river courses just behind, the children dart between both, spending the Sunday morning and afternoon feeding the koi fish inhabiting the waters, then confessing secrets and gossip to the tree.
Smiles cross the town elders who stroll by, some picking up their grandchildren as the day goes on, yet their simple, flowing robes render them almost invisible in a village so dotted by nature. To stand out is to remind everyone in Okagawa of one’s status as a complete outsider.
Yet, there she is: a young woman in an outfit thick and formal, befitting not of a quaint hamlet like this, but more of the colleges in the metro.
Empty-handed, she leans back by a red wooden post, the paper lantern above highlighting her amidst the sunset, yet nobody pays her any mind: not the children by the tree, nor the elders walking free.
Wind glides from the horizon, through the tree’s leaves, then across the town, a single dried leaf flowing into the woman’s hands. She stumbles but catches it, leaving it on the ground as she balances herself, taking care to avoid dirt staining her skirt.
From all around, parents return from work, taking their children with them as Okagawa’s streets fall quieter and quieter.
The woman rushes to catch up with some of these children, trying to prod about how they’d spoken with the tree, but not one replies. None even so much as glance at her—not one look from a child, adult, or elder in this village.
With the sun sinking far too low to share any more light, evening settles over Okagawa, leaving two figures spotlighted by the nighttime gleam: the woman, and another person, donning the robes and sandals typical of the locals.
Hair obscuring their face, they rise from a rock by the river, marching to the tree with a bouquet of white flowers in their hand.
“Child of light…” they say, planting the bouquet on the grass as they kneel and tap the tree.
“I’m glad you’re happy. I’m glad we can still speak despite everything.”
From behind watches the woman, seated on the same rock the local was on. She raises a leg and rests her elbow on her knee as the local continues.
“The road to peace is one without end for the rest of us, but I’m glad you no longer have to follow that avenue. What have you been telling the children though?”
The tree appears silent.
“…Just how I remember it too, yes? Hopefully I can come back tomorrow… you’re still in our hearts, alright?”
With a bow and a minute of silence, the local ambles off into the village, leaving behind only the flowers they’d brought.
The woman smirks at the sight, and though still carrying nothing, she hops off the rock and approaches the tree much like how they did, but more casually, swaying and stretching as she knocks on its bark.
“Child of Light, can you hear me?”
For a while, the shrill wind is all that lingers, blowing her cardigan’s collar enough that she has to fold it again.
Then comes a voice: much like a deeper version of her own, yet emanating and echoing from within this very tree.
“Mitsuko? Since when have you sought me out?”
“I didn’t expect that to work—are you really that easy to contact now?”
“Communication between us two never ceases, have you realised that?”
“You can cut the cryptic stuff, I just want to talk tonight.”
“Has your mind been one with peace and rest, free from torment and life’s jest?”
She gazes down at her arms as she waves them.
“Well, freedom’s always a nice feeling, isn’t it? If that’s what you were asking from me…”
“The end of a battle for freedom; a triumph secured for us both.”
“I don’t know if I’d call it a triumph though… It’s more like- imagine this: your family arranges two men for you to marry, both terrible and problematic, so you choose to run away! You win, but everything you leave behind steals from that victory, doesn’t it?”
“Those left behind? Is our conference today in relation to that?”
Mitsuko leans back on the tree as the wind around Okagawa slows, then halts.
“How do you want me to call you by the way-?”
“Shiori, a name we chose together years ago, remember?”
“Not really… But I guess that fits you. More than mine fits me anyways.”
“After a lifetime of being forsaken by the light, how does it feel to be one leap beyond it?”
She tilts her head to her side to look at the tree, or rather, Shiori.
“You know, I don’t really get you again, but it’s nice to not feel so stuck inside my own body… and that’s putting it mildly.”
“When others stared at you, do you believe they saw a fish in its tank? A hapless animal unable to communicate how it yearns for the freedom it once knew?”
Despite the wind’s absence, a single, long branch above Mitsuko continues swaying, more limp and withered than the rest of the tree. Its end droops as all the fish in the river scuttle away, leaving behind only clean waters.
“Eh, less like a fish, more like flowers. Do you want this bouquet by the way?”
“There is a time for it to be positioned appropriately. That time is yet to come.”
“Anyways, as I was saying, it was more like I was these chrysanthemums. My family, friends, all of them still saw me on the outside the same way I was before I was 17. Of course, you don’t know what this flower is saying, right?”
“This one may only know what you too know.”
“Exactly- Wait no what did you just say?”
“This one may only know what you too know.”
Above the horizon, the moon ceases to move, frozen alongside all the stars.
“…I guess that makes sense, but I think you know more about me than I do myself—like you were the one by my side after Katsuro decided I was too much of a waste of his time and effort.”
“The mind will claim to forget what scars it the deepest, yet he was only the first of many, was he not?”
“Hikari and Takako stuck around—You think I was in any place to ask for more than them? Like everyone else gave up when they realised I was hopeless, and Hikari was always going on about looking after their family, so for them to still be here…”
“That is their house, is it not?”
Mitsuko turns to stare at one of the houses on the other side of the river, its arched, tiled roof providing its porch with shade even from the harshest sunlight.
There on a bench rests the local from earlier, their gaze still frozen at the tree, as if they had ceased moving along with the moon.
“Yeah it is, but it’s blurrier than I remember…”
In seconds, the house, alongside the entire street opposite the river, fade out, leaving only a clear, lush meadow where they stood.
“S-Shiori, is this some kind of habit of yours you’ve never told me about? Messing with this world?”
“Is your presence right now not proof enough of that?”
“Oh nonsense, I know this is still me—but what about those houses? Could you always just wave them away like that?”
“The bloodiest wounds require the greatest attention, but time for healing has become limitless, as you well know.”
“I mean, that’s very literal if you can pause time right now.”
“If you wish to witness that, then please, observe.”
Soon too do the remaining homes of Okagawa fizzle into air, transforming the area into the plains it had intertwined itself with.
The nighttime sky shifts from a cold hue of blue and black to a warmer one of purple.
Beneath Mitsuko, the ground sinks and morphs as an updraft lifts and strings her afloat, Shiori’s branches oscillating at first, then dissolving into a flurry of light, streaming upwards in a spiral and vanishing.
Waves of gold streak across the purple sky, and from them sail an array of orbs, assembling a bridge of light that finally lets Mitsuko down once more.
The path twirls ahead and upwards, converging upon a large, red sphere with a hole through it. Its hue is striking and bright, much like Mitsuko’s own bow tie.
She paces forward, her steps airy and silent.
In contrast, the orbs of light flowing in then out of the red sphere echo and whiz as they speed by, entering slowly, but emerging much, much faster.
As Mitsuko ascends the path to the sphere, Shiori’s voice returns, echoing through the sky as if the former was now inside the tree.
“The light in this realm is impermanent, as you would expect. They linger not within our sight, nor within the cranium.”
“You mean this red sphere thing?”
“Its name is irrelevant. It is already immobile. It will someday wither, alongside nearly none of the light it once enjoyed.”
Halting, Mitsuko trembles, waving her arms again as she gazes up at the sphere.
Another orb eases into it, then stays inside for a while, but as minutes tick by, it begins to emerge from the other end.
“The brightest lights leave behind the darkest spaces upon their loss. Do you feel that shadow takes too much from you?”
“I-I don’t really get that… just the first thing you said. Literally speaking, that’s what would happen if the sun went out, no?”
“Do you mean to say the sun in your life has vanished?”
“…I prefer ‘left’, but it’s not one sun. Just like these lights: there was a time that they kept coming, and now…”
Mitsuko glances up as the last two orbs traverse into the sphere, remaining inside even as the realm falls stagnant.
“They’ve stopped. You know, just like the people I knew. They stopped coming in a lot of ways.”
“Do you believe your life would have been better had these lights never entered it?”
“No…? I mean let me take you literally: living in ‘darkness’ forever would’ve been just as bad.”
“But the pain would have been nullified, would it not? Would it not have hurt you less to have lived eternally in darkness, never knowing there was a way to be rid of it?”
“No- again, no, I don’t think I could live like that… I just don’t.”
The floor of light encircles the sphere like a stage, allowing Mitsuko to come closer.
She rests a hand on the sphere’s surface, images flashing across her mind as she does so.
From a childhood of walking home with friends after school, to accepting honours at the very top of her class, to weeks drifting mentally on a cold bed, then to nothing: a void that continues to darken itself despite the absence of light.
She weeps for a moment, her smile unable to hold back her tears, even as Shiori remains ever-silent.
Glancing up, another two orbs of light enter and remain within the sphere, and as she wipes her cheeks, Mitsuko leans back, stumbling to the opposite side of the sphere.
Here it is: the other end of the hole, yet the four lights remain inside unmoving.
Though her mouth is still, her eyes scurry about, as if they wished to use the tears as a slide to leave this body.
As the same images flash through Mitsuko’s mind, the gleam of the realm goes out one by one, like a wave of darkness enveloping everything from the path of lights to the golden skies.
All that remains is the sphere, its hue paler, but the lights within it remaining as is.
And Mitsuko can’t help but laugh.
This sphere, or cranium, degrading second by second—is this a cruel joke from Shiori?
Is this Shiori letting her experience a death worse than her actual passing?
Oh, perhaps this too was beyond believability. To think, a talking tree that knows more about her than herself? But if she could be present and conscious here even after death, then why would she doubt that all of this could be happening?
Once Mitsuko’s scrubbed off her tears, she tries to reach for the sphere once more, but alas, it shrivels up, now rough, stiff, and colourless.
It rolls and drifts long into the void, Mitsuko unable to follow as a force holds her back.
“Cast out into the void, yet held in the scorching light to the very last second. Fate remains the same for it does not know what resilience is, only results.”
“I-I hate that… There’s a reason… I- They wouldn’t let me, they knew I was suffering, but no one was allowed to just- you know, let me rest? Give me some peace after six years? I don’t think I was asking for much!”
Before Shiori could respond, beige tiles emerge from where the sphere was, with a smoothness it would’ve envied.
Like the lights from earlier, blocks and panels fold and shift to transform this void into a hallway, one lit so harshly like it was the antithesis of human joy.
Doors fill in holes in the walls, and soon signs follow, labelling the facility as an Intensive Care Unit.
A single door creaks open, and a cart lined with empty trays rolls out, its wheels squeaking across the floor as a familiar voice returns.
“In your mind, this room is vivid, is it not?”
“No- it’s more like a blank, but I-I know what it is. I spent three weeks there remember?”
“What about the days before and after?”
“Before: also a blur. After: you already know that, don’t you?”
“…Come closer, a light from the cranium has remained.”
“A- Well, you mean in that room?”
“Light in this realm lingers only for the moment it is remembered. You will remember yourself forever, as with the light inside.”
“So if I go in there, you’ll stop weaving poems—got it.”
Indeed, Shiori falls silent once more, yet as Mitsuko nears the ICU Ward’s door, she quivers again, breathing slowing then thumping like a rough stream’s waters.
She hangs her arms in front of her and waves them about, using her elbow to nudge the door itself open.
On the other side however, all that stands is another hallway.
Hospital beds line both walls, with white, concrete walls and beige tiles nearly hiding the orb of light at the centre of the hall.
Mitsuko stretches, then paces forward, biting her lip and approaching the glow. The closer she steps, however, the further back the light slips, until it darts off left through a junction.
She fixes her shoe and bolts after it, but in the lustre’s path are no signs at all of its direction.
To her left and to her right are nothing but winding corridors lined with hospital beds: some with mannequins tucked in, others covered in leaves and soil.
Yet as Mitsuko traverses these corridors, so too do these beds transform, with chains and ropes tearing through the tiles to lock these furniture down.
She smirks at the beds as she ambles by, but her body trembles at the sight, especially as the restraints appear tighter and tighter further into the complex.
Every time she catches a glimpse of the light, it flees once more, and with each appearance, it seems to flash dimmer and dimmer.
With a turn to the left, a single leaf trickles down onto Mitsuko’s hair, stopping her where she stands. Her eyes shoot upwards and land upon another bed, dangling from more chains and ropes on the ceiling with leaves growing all over it.
A shrill scream clamours from somewhere behind and jolts Mitsuko, and as her breathing speeds up, she sprints through the hall of hanging beds.
The screams inch closer and closer. She doesn’t turn back, doesn’t check if something is even pursuing her, for wherever she is, she knows she is likely safe beyond death.
Shifting right, the labyrinth terminates, though the screeching continues to echo, now becoming more and more distant as Mitsuko inches towards the final room.
In the middle of the concrete chamber is another bound hospital bed, dead leaves sprinkling onto the ground from the ceiling. The orb of light, though faint, rests to the bed’s side, flickering like a wilting flower.
Mitsuko’s breath sinks, her eyes falling upon the bed, then on the light, and though she reaches out for it, it vanishes the moment her hand nears.
“You still remember yourself, as you have always wanted. Yet for one bequeathed the title of the Child of Light, your life has been one devoid of such gleam.”
“Well, I know that- I-I’m here right now for a reason… and that light disappeared for a reason too, didn’t it?”
“I only know what you too know. Perhaps you believe this light to be a memory slipping out of your reach? An undelivered, longing speech?”
“Neither of those maybe, but… ‘bequeathed’? Heh- my parents always said they named me this because they knew I would be a lucky child. See how wrong they were?”
“So the matter is about them? How you wish they would have left you alone so you could have escaped the pain sooner?”
“That’s a lie- no no, I appreciated how much they tried to keep me around. How much they wanted me to still be with them, how badly they regretted passing this down—it’s not their fault, it wasn’t mine, but karma had other plans, don’t you think? Please, their efforts did not bother me, I love them! I would-“
“You would let them die too if it meant finding eternal peace with them?”
“N-No! No… I just hope they haven’t been in too much pain.”
She pauses, and this time, Shiori does not respond.
“All I wanted was to live a normal life, and even that I couldn’t get. I just hope my parents… I hope they’ll find peace even without me—if they let it progress to the end stages as they wanted, they wouldn’t mourn losing me, they’d mourn my body’s cremation… I would’ve been gone long before that, yet there wouldn’t be a legal way to put me to rest then.”
“Peace. You chose death to find peace, yet now you want a different kind of peace, is that correct?”
“Kinda… I got peace for myself, I got that, but for everyone else?”
She waves her arms and paces around the chamber, her shoes crackling against the leaves.
“I came to Okagawa because I knew Hikari still lived here… so you can imagine my surprise when I found that banyan tree again.”
“Yeah, you’ve really chosen the most ironic way to make yourself known to me.”
“My emergence was not my choice. Whoever planted the tree, perhaps Hikari, brought me here; separated me from you for the first time.”
“Hmm… You know, that’s why I left them alone earlier. I know Katsuro never came to my funeral, so while Hikari calls me nothing more than a friend, it was them who left the most flowers… after my family.”
Mitsuko holds her neck for a moment.
“I just hope they don’t regret helping me with it all…”
“That I am unable to answer. I know only what you too know, but I can explain to you far more than you could explain yourself.”
“Well- then can’t we- or I mean, can’t I go talk with them?”
“Tomorrow. They return every day and speak with us once the children have left, so would you care to join me for the night?”
Like before, another gust of wind rises, lifting Mitsuko into the air.
First sinks the bed, submerging alongside its restraints as if the leaves concealed a bottomless sea.
As with the hospital’s emergence, the chamber’s walls fold once more, but rather than strand Mitsuko in another void, they instead fall apart to reveal a vast plain: the very meadow Okagawa rested on.
Here to her left is the river, and further ahead is the banyan tree, though the buildings of Okagawa remain absent.
Indeed, even the grass and sky appear darker and duller, with the only vibrant foliage leading towards the tree.
Mitsuko looks at her arms again as she paces towards it.
“Shiori?” she calls out.
Her voice echoes all around, yet this time, there is no response.
She tries again, but even as she nears the tree, Shiori is silent.
Then she glances down at its foot, scanning what laid just in front of her now: Grass and leaves, but in their usual, lush greens; rocks and soil, in their usual rich hues.
But just by its roots is something else: Mitsuko, or rather, her body.
She appears just like her, but with her hair looser, and her outfit more formal.
This other Mitsuko lies on her back with her hands on her chest, clutching onto a white chrysanthemum. Though lifeless, her face is clean and peaceful, a faint smile radiating as much as the flower she holds.
She gazes down at the body, rubbing her eyes for a moment as she too bears that same grin.
“So Shiori… this is what you meant when you asked me to join you? When I wake up, will we be the same once more, or will the afterlife find more surprises for us?”
Shiori doesn’t respond.
“So I’m the one weaving poems now, eh? That’s alright, I have all the time I’ve ever wanted.”
Sniffling, Mitsuko sits next to Shiori’s, or perhaps her own, body, brushing the hair with her hands as she continues.
“This is what I wore at my high school’s graduation… You know, when it first developed the year before, I thought my illness was just from my lack of sleep—I wish I retained that kind of innocence.”
She moves down to her hands, adjusting the fingers and moving the left hand over her right as she tries to keep the flower in place.
“I know you can hear me Shiori, but even if we’ll just become one and the same again, I love being able to talk to you like this… I don’t know if any of this is even real, but look at me: dead but still alive in a way. Maybe I should’ve listened to my parents’ rituals more, might’ve-“
One of the tree’s branches creaks, much louder than Mitsuko’s soft speech. It’s the same branch that earlier appeared withered and weighed, except this time, it dangles above Mitsuko and Shiori, a noose tied from it.
Mitsuko stands to gaze up at it, and after a few moments, returns a giggle, kneeling again and looking Shiori in her face.
“Did you put that up there? I’m kinda surprised you remember the exact branch, I just chose the nearest one to the bench… W-Well, no, Hikari helped choose it for us… and… Wait-“
She brushes her hand across Shiori’s neck, but it appears clean and unmarked.
“That’s odd, but maybe for the best… I remember clicking on images once of the people who hung themselves in the forests—they weren’t found for days, so their necks were… beyond deformed. I don’t remember checking during our funeral but whoever cleaned us up did a great job!”
As the rope sways above her, Mitsuko moves to her left, fixing Shiori’s skirt, then her socks, then shoes, next to which several more chrysanthemums lay. She picks them up and places them around the body, but keeps one for herself.
Standing again, Mitsuko grins, her eyes watery.
“You’re looking great, Shiori! After everything we went through, I’m glad we can have a moment this peaceful… even if it’s somewhere like this.”
Clenching the flower, Mitsuko takes a breath, wipes her face, then lies next to Shiori, assuming the same position and flashing the same smile.
With her eyes closed, she falls just as still as her double, the skies around the meadow shifting back into their familiar blue and black hue.
The river follows, its waters flowing northward once more, and as Okagawa’s buildings return, the noose on the tree fades away, though that one branch remains battered.
It’s another normal midnight in Okagawa: no Shiori, no Mitsuko, just the bouquet of flowers Hikari had left beneath the banyan tree, minus two flowers, which seem to have disappeared as well.
Some elders pass by, some adults come to the river to collect water, but in a time of slumber, tranquility dominates, with the hours ticking by, first to 2:00 AM, then 3:00 AM, then 4:00 AM…
By sunrise, household pets emerge and the children return. Though they surround the tree again, they take care not to disturb Hikari’s bouquet.
“Child of light,” each one of them calls in succession, but whether or not Mitsuko or anyone else responds, only they know.
As the sun trails higher, the kids leave, switching into their uniforms and scattering to attend school, but like yesterday, their departure opens an opportunity for someone else: Hikari.
Same plain robes as yesterday, they approach empty-handed this time, but their face and eyes flash redder than the sunlit horizon, at least when their hair shows it.
They kneel and repeat the same call the children used, checking the chrysanthemums they left. A faint smile crosses them when they count the remaining flowers, but their breathing roughens up, and they drop the bunch as they break down into a sob.
Then a hand taps their back.
Though their vision is clouded by tears, they turn around anyways, and there she stands: Mitsuko, with her black hair, cardigan, skirt. She appears corporeal despite her death the previous week.
“Hello—it’s alright, I’m still here!”
“Y-You- You- M-“
“It’s alright, it’s alright, please—has it been bothering you? You know, our last day at the park?”
“Kind of- I-I’m just—You’re here! You’re actually here- please please- It’s been one week, my family thinks I’m being ridiculous, but in our class, our school, your town- it was always you on top of everyone and everything—Do you know how empty it’s been since you’ve left!”
Mitsuko grins, shifting her own eyes away as she rubs one.
“Do you wanna have a seat? Just here, by the tree?”
“Sure sure… C-Can we just catch up for a while? Whatever you’ve been up to, how you’re feeling- you know!”
Mitsuko and Hikari settle side by side beneath the tree, much like how she had slept next to Shiori the night before.
“I want to know first… You planted this tree, right?”
“Yeah- just didn’t think it’d grow so fast… and I took that as the sign you hadn’t forgotten us… especially because of that branch!”
“Heh, is it bad I think it’s reassuring nowadays?”
“It was either I cut my life there… or I lose myself eventually, then die bedridden, stripped of movement and memories. Think about it like this: if I wilted away in a hospital, I don’t think I’d remember you or my family anymore.”
Hikari reaches for Mitsuko’s shoulder and manages to touch it.
“So… You actually exist in some kind of physical form or- or am I going- a-are you just in my head…?”
“I show up a week after I died and you think I’m a hallucination? It’s fine though, I’m still not sure what I am right now… but I stopped that disease before the worst came. You know what that means?”
“I’m still myself! I died as myself, and I get to move on just like this.”
“M-Move… Please- please don’t move on from all of us—your family, Takako, me, our class- I don’t know how they’d react if they saw you like this, but I can promise you it would give them so much peace!”
“Don’t worry, I have all the time I’ll ever need to think about peace now… and it starts with you, you know?”
Laughing, Mitsuko rests her head on Hikari’s shoulder.
“Even if we’ll never have another game of shogi, or another shot of sake, or another cherry-picking afternoon… Here we are anyways, like I’ve shamed the universe into giving me a second, indefinite chance to remind everyone I’ve been better off now.”
~Another ‘art’ showcase! Plus an announcement~
Gonna be honest- I originally wanted to talk about a certain book today, but after some thought, I’ve decided to hold off for now for… welp, a few reasons.
Firstly—real life commitments, plus some manuscripts I’ve been kindly asked to beta read that I want to find the time for!
Top our cake off with some issues I’ve had lately…
I feel it’s best for me to step back for a bit and use the time to prepare us all some better content, yeah-?
I can’t tell you how long I’ll pause on writing, but at earliest, I hope I can return sometime late next week: maybe with what I originally wanted to talk about today, or perhaps something else—time will tell I guess!
So! In the meantime, feel free to have a look at this page on my site, where I choose my personal favourite post or two per week, and compile them for any of us to either like or completely hate! ( ＾∀＾)
Posts I’ve put on that page include my usual writing discussions, a few music analyses, and some personal travel stories and thoughts, so if those interest you, then the Weekly Features page is hopefully a good place for you~!
And like last week, I’ll share some more AI generated-art of my likeness—hopefully organised more than before!
I hope to see you again when I come back, but if you have any comments to leave here or on my previous posts, feel free-! I’ll still be reading from time to time as I usually do~
Look after yourself, and all the love to ‘ya!
Gardens Outside Time
Abyss to Light
At a Standstill
Disassociation & Depersonalisation: Two ways I write internal thoughts and conflict~
Like with most of my ahem “advice”, I wanna preface this by saying that these are just tricks I personally use!
There’s a good chance someone out there’s already given this tip before, or that you’ll interpret my writing differently from how I do—and sorry about that in advance-! (^з^)-☆
But as our title says, subtly showing character emotions is something a lot of us struggle with, no?
Personally, I still do a good bit of the time—It’s this cycle of toning down emotions to avoid melodrama, then tuning it up again when I realise it’s now too unrealistic, so on…
So—I’d love to show you today two subtle things I do to make this easier for me! *\(^o^)/*
Specifically, I think these tricks work best on stuff like reluctance, contempt, or discomfort, so if you’re looking to portray these, then I hope I can help just a little-!!
So… yep that’s one heck of a title to start with but- I couldn’t think of anything better!
I wanna try demonstrating some of these through an extended look into my writing process, so let’s start here!
Let’s picture this scene: we’re in this quiet restaurant of sorts, and a woman is here meeting an acquaintance she doesn’t fully-trust.
He asks her to look for her wallet inside her purse, and if I was writing this scene from- well, either a first or third person view, here’s my most obvious option for starting it:
She opens her purse, taking out her wallet and showing it as asked.
But… This is a bit too bland of a sentence, yeah?
That and something about the tone is off anyways—Writing it like this, for me, gives our protagonist this helpless vibe and makes them look willing to go along with this situation without any real reason…
So- let’s make a quick change!
She opens her purse, taking out her wallet and showing it as she keeps a tight gaze on the man’s gestures.
For me, this rewrite fixes our previous problem: she’s still doing what was asked, but now with an apparent alertness that takes away our helpless portrayal of her earlier!
That and, without even saying it, we’re conveying another fact here: that our protagonist does not trust this acquaintance, which wasn’t ever stated, but her weariness here, for me anyways, is one way of implying that!
But we could add more to this, yeah~?
What if we could imply some hesitation in addition to her caution?
Her hands open her purse, taking out her wallet and showing it as she keeps a tight gaze on the man’s gestures.
Yep—seems like a minor change, but personally, I feel that shifting from mentioning her to just a part of her says something.
Something I’ve noticed across social media both here and in the west is this disapproval of referring to people with the words “female” or “male”, unless in a biological context of course, and this is a matter I personally agree with.
Because it can be a bit pretentious or dehumanising to say something like “a female walked into the bar”, can’t it?
Not to mention the binary nature of those terms when describing people socially, which, living in a conservative nation, is something I unfortunately have to explain to people a lot… to usually-limited success. (-_-;)
But for me, describing only our protagonist’s hands‘ movement has this same clinical, detached tone.
I genuinely don’t have a good term for this other than disassociation, but that might be a bit too unwieldy…
But this is one way I like to write these scenes where a character’s actions don’t reflect how they actually feel, either through coercion, inattention, or just general discomfort—
This isn’t something the character is doing, it’s either something their body is unconsciously doing, or something they’re reluctantly doing!
Here’s another quick example, trying to apply both this disassociation and emotion, I’ll challenge myself to not provide any context to what’s going on~
Chengmin waves for his mother, staring at her as he paces backwards.
Chengmin’s arm waves for his mother, his eyes darting towards her as his legs, trembling, pace backwards.
Without saying it, our changes to the first sentence suddenly add a lot more context, didn’t it?
So now, we can infer that our protagonist is uncomfortable about something—likely related to his mother, that’s what we can guess so far, but that’s already more than what we were given in the first sentence, yeah?
And that dissociation trick comes back here, which not only shows that not all of Chengmin’s gestures are conscious, but also emphasises his body’s movements more as opposed to him as a person! For me anyways, that only adds more to the tension of this scene~
There’s one more change I made there that’s unrelated to dissociation or adding emotion, which is me changing the word “staring” into “darting towards”—and this is really just weak verb substitution, which I’m confident we all know about!
Now this isn’t possible for our example sentence here, but there’s one more way I like to write this kind of subtlety: by distancing pronouns.
From someone to something…
To put it as simply and as inoffensively as I can: what if you replaced all the personal pronouns in a sentence with “it” or “the”?
One of my favourite examples of this being done is~surprise surprise~in Osamu Dazai’s (太宰治) No Longer Human, one of the most fascinating books I’ve personally read, and one I’ve briefly talked about before!
Today though, I want to point us to one of the earlier pages in the English translation of the book, as written by Donald Keene:
Of note here is that our protagonist in this chapter is not Yōzō, but someone else who’s never really named—While difficult to capture in English, it’s more obvious on a surface-level in the original Japanese text, where this person uses the pronoun “私”, whilst Yōzō mainly uses “自分”, whose usage rules I honestly can’t explain well… *\(^o^)/*
That aside, notice how this character’s pronoun usage in the passage gradually shifts from personal “he” and “him”, to inanimate and distant “it”, sometimes just going with the article “the”.
For me, de-personifying pronouns like this is an interesting way of showing contempt, disgust, or otherwise fear, like how this person exhibits these first two emotions quite plainly!
In Japanese and other languages with complex honourifics, this is easier as slight changes in words or affixes can make a sentence far more rude, but in English?
Well… this is one way of doing something similar with the same minimal changes, yeah?
For a comparison, let’s try this passage:
Hifumi’s eyes shifted to the man seated in a row across from her. What met her were cold, blurred pupils, his face twisted and bent in manners he likely could not help.
So let’s try and change this a bit with depersonalised words and pronouns in mind:
Hifumi’s eyes shifted to the male seated in a row across from her. What met her were cold, blurred pupils, the face twisted and bent in manners it likely could not help.
That’s three words I changed—but doesn’t it sound so much more clinical now?
You could argue the tone in the first passage was still somewhat neutral, but this time, there’s this underlying sense of disgust that paints Hifumi’s perspective in a new light!
(Fun fact: the kanji for the name Hifumi is literally 一二三, or “one, two, three”, and I’ve never known any meaning for it other than this, so I’ve always found it funny—sorry to anyone named that-!)
Side note: if you’re someone who uses “the” or “it” as pronouns, then I apologise here if this came across as insulting! I’m really just going by the linguistic consensus for the usage of these two right now, so as that changes, so will I!
So, not to be overbearing or condescending, but I wanna challenge myself to try and rewrite an entire passage using my two main ideas today:
- Mind-Body Disassociation
- Word / Pronoun Depersonalisation
And to make sure I don’t accidentally insult anyone, I’ll be correcting the work of an objectively-flawed writer: 2020 me!
So… here’s a ridiculously-long and unedited section from my third manuscript, which I talked about previously here and here~!
(Feel free to skip past this if you wanna save time—this is stupidly-long and disgustingly-bad HAHAHAHAHAHAHA)
My next stop was the three international restaurants by the recreational hall. Admittedly, Alfred never sent any of us to patrol this domain, and I nearly forgot it existed in the first place. The Persian restaurant caught my attention in particular. A good portion of the chairs and tables inside had been flipped over or otherwise defaced. The moment I stepped foot on the glazed, ceramic tiles, I discerned shuffling coming from behind the counter. I stood and waited for minutes, and eventually a man peeked out. For once, I was able to set aside my doubts and within seconds, I had my rifle raised and aimed. As the man stood frozen, I fired about six shots and he snuffed it without a skirmish. Once he had fallen, I tramped behind the counter and found a cowering trio. They just turned away, not even a plea uttered in the moment. Of course, a little over a dozen bullets hastily sent all three into the skies with the first man. It was then that cries started resonating from the kitchen, but these were no ordinary cries. I took a glance through the kitchen counter, and sure enough, inside was a woman, holding back tears and clutching the grizzling infant. The mother didn’t look like she was past her thirties, and the infant was certainly below two years of age at best. They both still had long lives to live, and with the absence of any father with them, it immediately dawned on me that one of the four men I had just slaughtered could have been the missing progenitor. If that was truly the case, would putting both the mother and the child out of their misery serve them any better? I ruminated on the idea, just shooting the two and marching away “victorious”, but what would I even achieve at this point? I took aim and placed a digit on the trigger, but alas, all I could do was turn away and leave them be. I may have just shot a father to death. It didn’t seem sensible to eradicate the rest of the family. Perhaps one day, that child I spared would grow up, somehow recall this very moment, then build a career off of it. I would never live to see that day, but the prospect was unequivocally feasible.
For context, this happens during the climax from the perspective of one of the shooters: someone so resigned to his cause that he’s willing to do this for effectively nothing—the perfect type of person to apply my ideas today on!
So, can 2022 me rewrite this better~?
My next stop were the three international restaurants by the recreational hall. All across this Persian restaurant, most of the chairs and tables laid toppled, scattered, and defaced, yet as I stepped onto the glazed, ceramic tiles, some shuffling creaked from behind the counter.
I stood and waited for minutes, and eventually, a male peeked out, my hands raising the rifle at him. As his legs stood frozen, my fingers fired six shots, the body tumbling over like a rock rolling off a hill.
Behind where he was laid a cowering trio: huddled together, completely silent, as if the mouths clamped themselves shut at my arrival. My hands on my rifle’s trigger, none of these three breathe much longer, yet then echoed cries from within the kitchen.
It’s here that some lone female clutched onto a grizzling infant, her face only holding back the tears slightly-better. Neither human looked particularly aged: both still had long lives to live, and with the absence of any other person with them, it seemed either fate already handed them a twist, or somebody chose well in detaching themselves from these two.
A digit hovered over the trigger, but my legs shifted, and so did my arms—My hands couldn’t pull it, though that urge to still coursed through me… so I left them be, before they would end up too as statistics. The human toll we exacted today is more-than-sufficient, so there would be little purpose in adding to that a parent and its offspring.
…I did not enjoy writing that.
My mindset and interests are so different nowadays that this kind of edgy bastard is just not someone I find entertaining in any way anymore, and if I someday rewrite this, then for our sake I hope I can deal with the tastelessness a lot better…
…but my disgust at my own writing aside—what do you think-?
Is our perspective character’s tone and mindset clearer in the first or the second passage? And do you think my “tips” today helped with that~?
As I’m still honing this craft everyday, I’d love to hear from anyone who has any such tricks in writing! No matter how useless you think it may be, I promise you, nearly all advice I hear remains in my mind until the moment I’ll need it!
See ‘ya tomorrow for whatever comes to mind, and sending all the love once more, because past-me definitely had very little to give! ((o(^∇^)o))
The story I wanted to tell with Another Breeze… plus a new format for these posts! (Last Night at the Fjord; Lo, a Ripple; Relic; The Ballroom)
Hiya!! I was originally writing this piece like my previous music reviews, but I wanted to take a different approach today.
I want to change my format a bit to present my music in a more narrative-manner, since Another Breeze was an album I created with this kind of story in mind!
I’ll probably compile a full ranking in the future, but for now, I’ll just go about these songs in a way we can enjoy better: in full context and in sequence!
almost… Heh—You’ll see what I mean soon~!
Anyways, to start off today’s ramblings-!
A lot of my earliest works, in both writing and music, have this amateurish charm to them that I think’s down to my lack of awareness on conventions!
My first two books, for me anyways, were bad in terms of story and characters and pacing and… everything, but in my head, a lot of it still plays like a Michael Bay-type movie: most of the time, you’re only really there for the visuals, yeah?
Same goes for my early songs—I didn’t think much of stuff like chords or meter or mixing, I just wanted to take ideas and make things out of them!
Since we’re doing four songs anyways, I’ll try to go in the order that I feel makes the most sense~!
One’s own faults…
One of my favourite genres of video games or movies are East / Southeast Asian Horror, and personally, I think developers and producers from these regions do these so much better than elsewhere!
I have a few reasons, but what I think makes the biggest difference is their emphasis on trauma and psychology—if there is a supernatural ghost, then there’s probably an explanation related to these instead of just like demons or what not.
I want to write a full tribute to these media in the future honestly~ but in terms of this song, I only really took surface-level inspiration from them!
An 18-year-old-ish student enters an old ballroom alone: a space cloaked in darkness and frozen in time from years of disuse.
Old chairs sit stacked atop each other and beside ageing tables, a stage plants itself empty and dusty with its curtains sprawled on the floor, tall windows lie boarded up and shattered…
Yet in the middle of it all is a single chair, facing the stage as it rests at peace with the neglect around it.
Our student settles in this seat, gazing ahead and locking their eyes upon where orchestras, ensembles, and troupes once performed.
Behind them, a silhouette begins to fade into view: a shape somewhere between human and beastlike, yet with a demeanour mirroring neither.
White eyes emerge and stare at the student, yet the ballroom remains as still as it always has, as the shade wonders whether it needs to make a move or not.
“What is this human doing?” the figure thinks, as baffled by this student’s presence as they would be of it, if they turned around anyways.
But soon enough, it chooses to stop and remain still.
It remains observing our student as they too remain idle, as if neither figure is willing to tread on the barrier between the rational and the irrational.
And perhaps the world is best left at that.
If that sounds interesting to you, then I beg you not to listen to this~!
or perhaps you could if you wanted to—but I think this is another good example of me squandering an otherwise-good concept (〃ω〃)
I recorded The Ballroom in one sitting that took around 2 hours I believe-?
It was actually the first time I tried playing something without autoplay, so those first and second “verses” I played myself on GarageBand’s virtual piano!
Those “flashback” sections though—the slow middle one and the faster, climactic one—are 100% autoplayed, except I adjusted the speeds to match the moods I wanted.
I guess among my works, The Ballroom is definitely pretty unique, just not too coherent or polished… like you can hear how I basically kept looping and speeding up the same melody just before the climax, and how I glossed over smoothening that (*´-`)
It doesn’t tie in much with the narrative either, which is why I wanted to go over it first here…
but funnily enough—this song was actually one of my first “hits”, and still one of my few to have surpassed 100 views!
Suuuure, a bunch of those are from people I know, but given my usual average of like 30-60, it’s still interesting… even if I wish those views went to my newer tracks 草草草草草
As they would soon come to know…
And now—for a song that continues Another Breeze’s narrative!
So for context, preceding this song is none other than Floe, which I discussed here before~!
But to summarise, in that song, my vision was to depict some glacier slowly melting due to rising temperatures, and here in Last Night at the Fjord, that very plot continues!
Like with a lot of my songs, we have again a lonely person as our star, and this time, they stand just by our titular fjord.
In normal days, they would glance down and watch as tour boats pass by, cool breezes patting them down as trees provide decent shade from the cold, distant sun.
But today, thanks to glaciers melting all around them, something catches their eye: how much higher the waters are.
And despite that, most of Last Night at the Fjord is still pretty-upbeat, which is down to… well, partly inexperience again （＾ν＾）
But also, this time, some of it’s down to how I perceived our protagonist!
They’re someone who’s never seen nor lived through something this catastrophic before, so even as a looming disaster stares them right in their face, they still find it hard to comprehend how bad the situation will be.
They may not know it, but this likely is their last night at this fjord—if not because of rising sea levels, then probably because they would’ve been forced to evacuate the area in due time…
Musically, Last Night at the Fjord’s pretty interesting for me—it doesn’t really stay anywhere, since it just goes from an opening synth line, to a clarinet, then a bassoon, then some strings with drums, then back to the clarinet, then the synths again…
But around this point of Another Breeze, I began to use synths to represent something new: danger.
At the very end of this song, it’s kinda soft but—you can hear this synth playing a very specific chord progression: C – Am – B♭ – F, which is what I like to call the nature motif!
I play this progression throughout basically all of the song Another Breeze, and after that, I reuse it as a sort of status check for nature, getting more and more distorted and windy as the album goes on.
So hearing it as just a faint background noise in this song means…
Nothing lasts forever.
My description for Relic is just these three words.
That description continues directly from Last Night at the Fjord’s, but this is a song that basically takes place in the past.
By this point, that Fjord is long a relic of the past, just like many other once-beautiful landscapes, and that’s why I open with another synth line—like a way for us to access some digital memory of what we’ve lost.
From there, an Erhu (二胡)—also known as a Chinese violin—takes over, playing a really-long solo that is 100% autoplayed again, but honestly?
I still love it-!
Fun fact: I actually own an Erhu myself, though I’m terrible playing it—I honestly got one more for my love of instruments from my native regions than anything else!
And I can’t play anything close to what I made using GarageBand for Relic, so it’s still pretty-memorable in my repertoire as one of only three songs to use this instrument so far!
A lot of people here, and probably in the west too, associate this instrument’s sound with old Chinese settings, so I thought it was perfect for capturing that image of a bygone era （＾ν＾）
And as Relic goes on, the synths start to return, until they take over at the end as the Erhu fades out, with the song closing on this two-note electric piano motif that alternates between mid and high C.
I personally call this motif the “doom signal”, and I use it one more time in a different song, but that’s for next time~
As Relic closes, there aren’t any more glaciers or fjords, and all we have left are memories and shelters… for those who can afford them.
But what about those who are willing to adapt to something else?
It will be alright.
There’s one more pocket of humanity that’s desperate to cling on, and as temperatures go up, these people have gone down into caves.
Yep—I took that title from the same Robert Frost poem I talked about before: For Once, then Something, but this time, it’s a lot more literal of a meaning…
Taking place in-between Last Night at the Fjord and Relic, Lo, a Ripple’s main setpiece revolves around an underground lake, with vibrant moss growing all around it.
In a way, it’s what I imagine these last pockets of humanity could be like: just this untouched paradise hidden so deep that only desperation could bring anyone there.
And musically, this song also marked a first for me!
Here you can hear my first attempt at a song entirely without Autoplay, with me playing the entire lead piano in a C Mixolydian mode—I also played the drums, but that… honestly went way off beat.
I took a lot of inspiration from JRPG music for Lo, a Ripple, and honestly, my original melody for the last section was straight-up ripped from Final Fantasy 6 before I caught and changed it (*´∇｀*)
And sandwiched between the adventurous songs of Last Night at the Fjord and Relic, this one’s really a break of sorts, both in terms of music and the narrative!
To top it all off, Lo, a Ripple was basically an afterthought!
Just before producing the album’s closing song, I wondered if I’d already composed enough for the plot at large, and when I answered that with a “no”, I came back to record something really-different to fill that gap…
and as flawed as it can be… Lo, a Ripple is the song here I’m most fond of!! *\(^o^)/*
~I’m glad I really tried to force myself to do something different~
Even if I didn’t know it back then, my “performance” here basically proved to myself that I could solo entire melodies; I just needed a good prompt and idea!
With the middle of Another Breeze finished now, we still have three songs in this album left: Another Breeze, Blombrück, and Eastward, and tomorrow, I hope to tell you all about what’s left of our story here!
Even if my tone in this project’s pretty-pessimistic… well, it kinda shows exactly what was on my mind at the time, doesn’t it?
Like I talked about with my stories, a lot of my music also stem from personal anxieties and fears, and though my outlook’s shifted since, I don’t really harbour much hatred or anything for this phase of me.
More just understanding… if only because I know how right I was to be scared, but my thoughts on this are best saved for when I talk about the end of Another Breeze!
‘Til then, all the more love to ‘ya! (๑>◡<๑)
Didn’t think I’d hear it so soon…
I’d heard of the news of Queen’s Elizabeth II’s health since around 8:00 PM in my local time, and it’s gonna take time getting used to picturing a UK and Commonwealth without her…
Given some of my tendencies, I honestly thought she’d outlive me for a while, but it’s such a weird feeling to live through history, especially when I saw the news around 30 seconds after it first broke…
This kind of post is unusual for me, but I’d like to offer my respects to Her Majesty, her surviving family, and the Commonwealth at large.
Despite all her controversies and all the negative press around her here, she lived one hell of a life and led for seven decades of our world’s history.
Wherever we live, and whatever our opinions on Queen Elizabeth II or the monarchy are, I really hope we can find it in ourselves to show some basic courtesy during this time.
Personally, I’ll be postponing my original write-up for today to next week—There’s a lot we can say about sensitivity, and I’d rather not mess that up for any of us right now…
Even living here on the opposite side of the world, I can’t name anyone I know who hasn’t heard of the Queen… and it’s hard for me to imagine anyone else in our century who’ll ever have this level of recognition, adoration, or admiration.
Sending all the love to everyone affected by this loss, and if you’re among them, I hope all the best for your coming weekend! These last years have been way too gruelling for our world…
And it’s kind of a harrowing thought that, for one reason or another, this may be the last many of us will see a Queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Realms in our lifetimes…
A personal loss, the birth of “Dear Prospects”, and where a tragedy has left me…
So if you haven’t seen it yet, I’d love to link you to a short story of mine, “Dear Prospects”, which I uploaded here yesterday~!
Whether you’ve seen it or not though, I wanted to use today as an opportunity to look back on my writing here and what exactly inspired it…
But, as a forewarning, my blog for you today’s much more personal than anything I’ve previously posted… If that’s fine by you though, then I hope you’ll read to the end! It’s something I’ve wanted to get off my chest for a while… (^_^*)
“Trees should blend their roots and shade…”
As an avid RPG player, side quests are basically ubiquitous to me—I’ve played a lot of amazing ones, a lot of boring ones, and a lot of others too meh to really remember!
And as much ire as Genshin Impact gets from a vocal minority of gaming elitists, I want to say: this game is, in terms of narrative, gameplay, and quality, probably one of the best games that will come out this decade!
This is a game that has, in all honesty, made me cry much more than others—I won’t spoil anything major for your sake~! But as the quest I wanna talk about’s been out since the game’s first release, I feel safe talking about it a bit…
One of the areas in the game is an abandoned mining village named Mingyun (明蕴), where we can get a quest as soon as we enter!
If my memory serves me well, there’s a ghost of an old man you can find in the village, who speaks about wishing to move out of the town and start over again…
Whatever he means isn’t clear to us yet, but in one of the ruined houses, we find a note seemingly left from the same man, which comprises a cryptic hint for the man’s three sons to find treasure that he left behind for them!
In his note, one message stands out for later:
Unite, and you shall share in its blessing.
Given the letter implies that the father’s ill, and it’s marked as his will, well… we have quite a set-up here, don’t we?
From here, our goal is basically to look around the abandoned town for where this treasure could be!
We check four spots total, all in ruined mines scattered around the mountainous terrain, and at the first three spots, we encounter the ghosts of each of the three sons, bickering and racing against one another as they rush to hoard the treasure for themselves.
At the final spot, instead of either of these three, we instead meet the father’s ghost again, who simply sighs in disappointment at the feud his family’s descended into.
Yet… we still don’t have the treasure anywhere, so where do we check next~?
We take a look at the will again, and this time focus on his mention of:
The tree who stands alone has no forest to call his home.
And luckily for us, on one of the highest cliffs surrounding the village, there’s a lone tree matching that description! Much taller and grander than any other trees in the area.
So, in a last push to search for the treasure, we head up there, approach the tree, and sense… something.
Something buried in the plot we’re standing on.
Sure enough, we dig a bit, and find a hefty chest—the treasure at last!
But it’s also here where we find out what really happened.
The father’s ghost returns, alongside the ghosts of his three sons, and he lectures them for fighting each other for the treasure, revealing that the chest, in fact, contained riches and trinkets he’d slowly saved up over the years, in the hopes that, someday, he and his family could look back at this collection and revel in memories…
But instead, we see that the selfishness of each of the sons not only damaged their relationships with one another, but also left their already-dying father in a state of despair at what his family’s become. 。・°°・(＞_＜)・°°・。
The ghosts disappear, and we contemplate for a bit as to whether we should collect the treasure or not. Our companion mentions that, perhaps, this family could come back someday to finally take these items for themselves, but given how much time has passed… and the fact we see everyone involved as ghosts…
Honestly, it’s kind of anyone’s guess what really happened after that reveal.
Personally, just given what I saw being said and how eager everyone seemed to take all the treasure… I have a pretty-pessimistic view on how the sons ended up as ghosts afterwards, but that’s just my take of course—the open-ended way this quest concludes is really good in a solemn way…
But that final reveal of the quest really struck something in me I didn’t expect.
This little storyline was the first of many times this game made me cry, and the reason why is…
I hope you can bear with me on this （ ; ; ）
“For that is where the home is made…”
When we wake up everyday, we rarely expect anything bad to really happen to us, and when most of a day goes alright, it’s even harder for me to break out of that sense of security…
One night, I’d just finished eating dinner earlier than my family—given it was a pretty slow day, I took a nap to refresh myself after a day of work.
I had some sweet dreams about my friends in a bank~ It’s weird now looking back, but that was an hour or so of just slumber that left me entirely detached from the world around me （＾_＾）
Then some loud thumps echoed from somewhere.
My vision was blurry, my hearing was still messy, but on such a normal day, it’s especially unusual for a traditional East Asian household to be so… loud.
And then came a frantic doorbell, a lot of running, panicked speaking…
By the time I was up and moving from my nap, I was the last person in the household to hear the news.
To my knowledge, I was the only one who didn’t see at all what had happened, but I returned and sulked for the next hour or so, until we got the call.
My paternal grandfather had just passed away.
I didn’t know what happened, just that it was near-instantaneous.
Knowing that he always wanted to go out painlessly like that helped ease me just a little, but I went back to sleep early that night, and for many nights thereafter, at least until after the initial services were finished…
The day of the internment at the temple gave me a lot of closure at the time, but, as with losing anyone close, some things just don’t really leave you, you know?
That night is still one of the most vivid memories I have of recent years, and there’s a part of me that can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if I hadn’t taken that nap…
If I was there to see what happened, how would I have turned out after?
If I’d heard and saw what happened that night, instead of being woken up into it, would my emotional scars have been deeper?
I honestly… don’t really want to know the answer.
But that time was a challenge for almost everyone around me, and even now, almost two years on, I get the impression that none of us have fully recovered from something so… well, sudden.
I only knew one way to try and make sense of what I was feeling, and when the opportunity presented itself…
“An ornament frozen in time, always grasping at the same minute in the hopes it may some day serve its purpose.”
In the end, I knew well enough that I couldn’t let the pain hit me for long!
I fear sometimes that people might say I move on too fast, and while that’s partly down to some of my disagreements with our traditions, I also don’t blame anyone who gets that impression…
The same week as the final internment, I’d already put together some of my life back: I was back to my bubbly self my friends were used to, I’d returned to writing my 6th manuscript, and I was finding motivation again to carry on with my usual work after an entire period of feeling drained!
But it’s really fitting to compare this kind of loss to a scar.
While I feel letting out my emotions early on helped me move past faster, there are still imprints and impacts that will take much longer to heal… if ever.
I wrote Dear Prospects around several weeks after all of that happened, and my idea was basically to feature someone completely-unlike me, physically and mentally, in a very similar position to the one I was in…
Our protagonist, with the pretty-grand name of Adair Isidor Priestly-Eccleston, is someone I imagined as a middle-aged man who’s in a state of confusion in the aftermath of losing his mother.
That’s kind of the premise of my story—His dream reminding him of the thoughts and emotions he may be repressing, as is sadly too common with men especially in this scenario.
Everything from social expectations I’ve seen myself, to a friend’s personal experiences, helped me craft Adair’s experiences better, but every now and then, he writes things that I feel reflect more about me than him.
I didn’t know what was on it or what the rest of the room looked like, but that image of something so familiar lying right there in front of me filled me with this… torrent of comfort I may never feel again.
Because yeah… familiarity is comfort, isn’t it?
In an odd irony, every now and then when I let emotions out, I’m taken back to how much I cried and ranted back when this first happened, and it gives me that sense of comfort… that I’m still the same person as I always was, with the same ways of trying to cope with problems…
And in that way… Dear Prospects was kind of a turning point for my writing…
“Talk about the old times…”
I don’t mean to say this to devalue anyone writing these of course-!
But I feel like when it comes to most genres like romance or action or thrillers, anyone can write them as long as they have the experience, skills, and feedback necessary, right?
So what about writing out of your personal experiences?
Maybe I just think I’m special~ but Dear Prospects made me realise that, if there was anything I could write that nobody else could, it would have to be about something from within me, right?
My way of coping with loss through letting the emotions out, leaning on others for comfort, then expressing my thoughts through writing isn’t something everyone does… A lot of people do, sure!
But not everyone, and that’s what I love focusing on.
Since Dear Prospects, every book and story I have written has centred on a different fear or anxiety of mine, from mortality, to identity, to memory, to security, to stability, to society, to expectations…
Everything representing, as best as I can anyways, my perspectives on things and the dreams, desires, and despairs flowing through my mind in that very moment…
This level of personal connection’s honestly what’s kept me motivated to write after my thirst for adrenaline rushes ran out, and to this day?
I don’t really have any regrets~!
I just wish what led me to this point didn’t have to be so painful…
…but it’s a part of life, isn’t it?
I don’t think I’ve written anything this personal yet, so if you’ve stuck around until here, then just know I can’t thank you enough! (^з^)-☆
I’m sure we’ve all had our experiences like this, and our own ways of dealing with things… and maybe if you’re comfortable sharing, I’d love to hear some of your own too—if only so we can share our lasting grief in a safer place (>_<)
But whatever the case… All the more love to ‘ya!
And please, wherever and whoever you are, keep the people around you as close as you can… because sometimes, it really is too late for us to realise these things. (T-T)
Blending Chinese percussion ensembles and cocktail piano… Proud to announce another new song~!
Hiya-!! Happy Sunday or Saturday depending on where you are!
I’ve just put out another track today—it’s one I’ve been working on since around June, but finishing Dreamer’s Wonderland really gave me the burst I needed to push through with this~!
Among names I planned were Arbiter’s Summit, Arbiter’s Serenade, or Ballad of the Arbiter… but I settled on a fourth option eventually, so let me present to you:
I have a philosophy of trying to make all my songs better than the one before it, so whether or not you believe it is, that’s up to you to decide~!
If your time allows, then I’d love to hear what you think of this song—once again I’m on quite a high horse at the moment~ (((o(*ﾟ▽ﾟ*)o)))♡
Musically, I think the title today says a lot—My original vision was of these rich Westerners basically holding a banquet in a Tibetan-inspired village, but things changed, and here we are with… Well, hopefully, something pretty unique-!
More love to ‘ya, and can I just say—working with digital Chinese instruments is always fun HAHAHAHAHAHAHA ♪(*^^)o∀*∀o(^^*)♪
From Remember Summer Days to Henshin (返信)… The themes and writing in pop that I love~
Among my many musical preferences that set me apart from my friends… one of those only I seem to care about are a song’s lyrics!
Every now and then I’ll come across a song that I adore musically, but that I only listen to a handful of times because of something I didn’t really enjoy with the lyrics: take… well, a good chunk of mainstream Western pop—If I named artists, I would be here all day-!
Even my most-loved artists have some songs I’ve liked less because of their lyrics: for example, David Bowie’s Atomica or Born in a UFO, which I really enjoy musically, but that I think are kinda dumb lyrically… and not in a fun way, just a more “this could’ve been more coherent for sure” way (｀・ω・´)
So… what do I think are “good” lyrics?
Well—It’s honestly hard for me to be objective about this-! But as a start, I do love when simple ideas and emotions can be conveyed in unusual-but-effective ways…
As an example, let’s take a quick look at a pretty-famous city pop record!
“Summer is fading…”
I love this song, a lot of people inside and outside the country love this song—maybe you will too, it’s a great pop record-!
I’ve always interpreted this song as an ode of sorts to someone the narrator grew infatuated with during a brief vacation—But this being the 80s, keeping in contact with this person is… welp, kind of a problem.
If this song had a mock nutritional label, I’d probably give it like 80% bliss, 20% heartbreak—the narrator knows that their only real option is to treasure the memories they’ve already spent, so that’s exactly what they choose, even if they long to relive those days…
Anri’s writing captures this blend really well, but with a twist: Like with a good portion of Japanese media, the lyrics have this running theme with the seasons, their emotions, and how they relate to the moment-!
Right in the first line, we have a mention of the autumn sea (秋の海), with the next line already referencing the passing of summer!
The chorus sections alternate between the seasons and emotions too, with summer reflecting this blissful nostalgia, autumn an empty longing, and winter a possible glimpse of hope—also joined by “next summer” towards the end of the track-!
“I’ll come here again,” sings Anri, and the fact the song ends with that chorus fading out gives the story a cyclical feeling…
I personally like to believe that, come next summer, the narrator gets at least a chance to relive those memories they hold so dear, but their hopeful tone might be something clouded by the moment—
If you wanna take it into conspiracy theory levels, maybe the person they’re signing about never loved them in the first place, or something sinister’s happened—but this is really pulling conclusions out of nothing… ʅ（◞‿◟）ʃ
What we actually have though is just a nice pop song: creative lyrics, a visually-powerful theme in the seasons, amazing, emotional vocals from Anri, and rich instrumentation that holds everything together—For a bonus track on her Timely!! album, it’s really lovely how this song is not only now seen as one of city pop’s best, but also, as its parent album would suggest, still timely! In everything from sound to performance to lyrics…
Please don’t let my skimmed summary distract from the song—I promise you, a listen is well worth it!
But now that I’ve told you some of what I like in a song…
“A half-burnt-out dream…”
So I’ll probably sound like some grumpy old imperialist saying this—but modern chart-toppers really make me wonder how pop music’s just… fallen so far lyrically. d(￣ ￣)
I originally planned to include here lyrics of the current top 3 Billboard Hot 100 songs and just compare them to their equivalents in 1983, both in Japan and outside, but… well the first song is way too graphic for me to put here and the second is just repetitive!
Heh—I’m definitely biased in a way, but to include those lyrics or mention said songs would be kinda insulting to everything else I recommend, so those duds aside…
Here’s something I guarantee we’ll love a lot more—and features a little-something extra compared to Remember Summer Days that I wanted to talk about-!
The title’s sometimes translated as “My Answer”, other times as just “Reply”, but I think both are similar enough to not make too much difference~
If you’re someone like me who was introduced to Takeuchi through a lot of her more popular songs, then Henshin (返信) might be a bit jarring…
The catchiness of Plastic Love? The swinging vocals of Manhattan Kiss? Even Minna Hitori’s mellow piano?
None of that’s here in Henshin… All we have are her vocals and lyrics, plus Yoshiyuki Sahashi (佐橋佳幸) on this flamenco-esque guitar, kept in tune by nothing more than the backing, reverb-heavy taiko (太鼓), as well as a light string arrangement!
I think it’s one of the most minimalistic songs she’s ever put out—and for its effectiveness in that regard? I already love it~!
There aren’t too many English translations published online, but my favourite one’s this one for our reference—I think it’s the best in terms of capturing the tone of the recording anyways, so any lyrics I reference are taken straight from here, maybe with slight edits~
Just like Remember Summer Days, this song’s lyrics have a nostalgic, romantic tone to them, but in a much more depressive mood…
I’m probably looking too much into it, but the way she sings really-fatalistic lyrics like these below, combined with the heavy drums, makes me feel like I’m hearing somebody who chooses to move on from the past through repression of this sadness.
When everyone is born
It is decided that
They will all soon
Return to this sea
Do you think the taiko might be representing something inside the narrator’s body?
Every now and then, the echo makes me think it’s a heartbeat of some kind, and the heaviness of it all gives a really-dramatic and conflicted tone that Takeuchi’s singing emphasises.
From the very beginning, Henshin begins building up in intensity, especially with the drums, but right at the end of the middle section… all of it abruptly stops.
For me, the final verse, sung without any of the percussion, has that same bittersweet tone that Remember Summer Days faded out with…
You won't be able to read my letter
Yet you've made me write it
I've included my eternal love
So that my answer
Reaches your soul
Are they moving on here…?
Is this even an attempt to move on from their apparent heartbreak, or is it an attempt to cling onto some fading dream?
The grief and reminiscence that followed this feel to me like this song itself is, in some ways, the letter mentioned here in the end—And in that case, their raw emotions so far feel to genuine for me to doubt that…
But whoever they’re writing to, what does it take for an answer to reach a soul?
After Takeuchi’s vocals and the guitar end, a stringed instrument of sorts plays a final, rising tone—something much more resolved than a chorus fadeout, but in the context of that last verse, also very unresolved…
Two weeks ago I talked about another Takeuchi song—Minna Hitori—which ended with a sudden jump into English for this thank-you verse to the singer’s best friends ((o(^∇^)o))
Both songs have a really-resolved ending musically, but thematically, this one kind of leaves us hanging…
And that’s the magic of this song, isn’t it?
What happens to the song’s narrator? What about the person they’re talking to? What state is that person in?
All the drama of Henshin is released after that final verse, freed like a bluebird, but that lingering uncertainty, for me, adds to that internally-conflicted tone the whole song’s presented with so far…
It’s that kind of simplicity I love—The writing is creative, beautiful, but understandable, the music is minimalistic but fitting, and the best part?
You don’t need to care about any of this!
You can enjoy all of Henshin’s dramatic edge, melancholic vocals, and flowing guitar even without thinking about its meaning or composition~!
They’re perfectly-fitting in that nothing takes us out of the experience, and beautifully-fluid in that nothing makes us want to get out of the experience… unlike the uselessly-vulgar and predictable lyrics of today’s pop hits. （；＿；）
“Even today’s evening calm will be beautiful…”
Heehee~ Maybe I’m being too harsh on mainstream Western pop, I definitely have my biases in some places…
But it’s hard for me to dismiss the feeling that, at some point over the last few decades, the industry’s just become oversaturated with conventionally-attractive people who are only really composing for the money and fame…
Can’t say us in the East aren’t guilty of that—the idol industry can be genuinely disgusting at a lot of times—but Henshin? For a song released in 2006, it really holds up well compared to the many J-pop hits of the 80s that I love, and that’s one of many things I’ve always admired Mariya Takeuchi for: you can 100% count on her to always put the art in music!
As a closing note, I haven’t actually seen the movie Henshin was written for, Deguchi no naiumi (出口のない海), but the wartime premise does sound really interesting—This tie-in definitely explains all the song’s references to the sea and ocean at least~
I originally wanted to talk about another song after Henshin, but heh—looks like I’ve been rambling much longer than I thought~
But, sometime in the future, I’d love to show you something with that same, dramatic flair as this song, but in a much more different style and era…
A certain French song old enough to have influenced a teenaged David Bowie- ψ(｀∇´)ψ
Hopefully I can see you again for when that comes, and for the rest of our week in general, so until then, all the love to ‘ya~!
From a koi pond to bliss… New song out~!!
Hiya—How’s your day been-?
Wherever you are, I hope we’re all enjoying some semblance of peace for today—goes without saying this world could really use a lot more of it (T ^ T)
I just wanted to chime in today to share my first new track since mid-July: something I’ve been working on for most of the week~
I had a few working titles for this song: Window into Bliss, Peek into Ataraxia, but in the end, I settled on Dreamer’s Wonderland!
It’s another song that I wanna tie in with my current books, so when the time comes to place this on the rankings, we can talk so much more about that!
But for some quick context: my inspiration for this song came about from me tinkering with the DALL-E image generator, since I received my invite just a few days ago~
At some point, I thought of this image of me lying on a windowsill overlooking this koi pond, so I asked DALL-E to draw these, and…
Sure, none of it’s perfect, but the general aesthetic gave me this image idea for a song—Ennarin and Sakiyo pacing about a koi pond and eventually feeding the fish~
I don’t think the final output is exactly that image, but as a jumping-off point?
Heh~ Let’s just say everything came about naturally after that! =(^.^)=
Musically, this track’s also a bit unusual for me: it’s my only song composed with a BPM of 102, only the second written in the key of F# Major, and also the third or so where I challenged myself to try and create the drum beat myself…
Oh and thanks to a pitch slider with the lead clavichord, I was able to play that middle section with notes outside of the usual tonality~! Hopefully my melodies there still sound coherent-!
And yes—Clavichord! But I loved the sound of it so much that I kept adjusting it until it sounded much closer to the Chinese Yangqin (扬琴) dulcimer, which is probably one of my favourite instruments of all time~
Whether or not you’ll listen to Dreamer’s Wonderland, many thanks for just coming to check out this sudden announcement—and I hope your weekend treats you well-! ^ ^
Any and all support is greatly-appreciated~!
All the love to ‘ya! ʕ•̫͡•ʕ•̫͡•ʔ•̫͡•ʔ•̫͡•ʕ•̫͡•ʔ•̫͡•ʕ•̫͡•ʕ•̫͡•ʔ•̫͡•ʔ•̫͡•ʕ•̫͡•ʔ•̫͡•ʔ
“A Town of Trades”… an excerpt from my book~
Hiya-!! I thought of doing something a bit different today from the usual musical analysis~
Today, I felt like actually showing a bit of my current writing, especially after the rambling yesterday, I felt it was about time to put a little more out~
So the chapter we’ll see below is Chapter 5 of my work-in-progress book, and I mentioned this in my previous post, but here’s the blurb for it-!
A 12,000 year old deity awakens in the human world with only two memories: their name, and the fact that they are not a mortal. Will they find a way to return to godhood, or remain and adapt to the world they once held influence over, but has now forgotten them entirely?
To summarise this chapter, that former deity, taking the name Ennarin and presenting as a female human, retains only their immortality and incorporeal status, otherwise losing nearly all memory of who they once were! This leaves the universe’s Synod with only 11 remaining Princes, with Ennarin currently seeking to become the 12th once more~
By this chapter, they and their traveling companion, a quiet woman going by the name Sakiyo Naozami, arrive in a town named Kergant, in search of Urillan, the Prince of Dealings, as they learn that, in order to attain status as a Prince again, Ennarin must receive a token of approval from all active deities: thus, they travel here in pursuit of their second Assent, along the way facing the trial that he has already set up~
Hopefully that’s enough context to help set what’s actually happening here-? But my judgement could be wrong, as I usually am (>_<)
But enough of me—However much of this chunk you’ll read, I hope you’ll find something worthwhile~!
I hope to catch you all again soon~!!
“In this age of grand illusion…”
In December of 2018, I visited Hong Kong for a leisurely trip, and being a place that my family was also familiar with, I’d had a long history of enjoying various sights around the place!
This trip was the second time I’d been to Lantau Island—probably one of my favourite destinations in the entire region—and as with the first time, I headed for The Big Buddha (天壇大佛), or the Lantau Buddha as I like to call it!
It was a pretty foggy day, so at first I thought the sights would be… not great.
But little did I expect to be greeted by a sight so surreal… that the image has stayed with me to this day (*´ω｀*)
“Growing heart and soul…”
This was my view from the stairs leading up to the Buddha, and everything just gave off a vibe I hadn’t felt anywhere else: from the fog, to the sun’s position, and even the tranquility—it was crowded, but almost everyone was pretty quiet, so it was just me, my camera, the Buddha, and the footsteps of everyone visiting the site too…
As I went up the stairs, I felt a mixture of pressure and calmness, like the Buddha, looking down, was almost judging me in general… I couldn’t see its eyes, but it felt like it could see right into mine… and that kind of one-way staring’s always a bit unnerving, isn’t it?
On my very first visit years before this, I remember being able to enter this museum area at the very top around the Buddha, but this time, for various reasons, the very top was cordoned off—didn’t stop a few cheeky tourists from jumping the ropes, but welp I felt like playing it safe that day~
Here’s the better of two shots I got from the highest point we were allowed to climb, and given I’m no professional photographer… this one image is one of my favourites out of all the ones I’ve ever taken!
I wanna ask first though: what do you personally feel seeing this?
For me, the way the Buddha remained blurred and fogged this high up made me feel even tinier—it’s what I imagine coming face to face with him would look like in some dramatised biography…
In that moment, I felt like me, all the people taking photos alongside me, and everyone on that staircase were completely insignificant… and the fact I’ve never been overly-religious really made it a strange feeling, even now.
Around that level we were at, there was a balcony of sorts that wrapped around the statue, and it wasn’t the highest point, but because most people were around the stairs, this little ring was pretty quiet…
It was there that I noticed another sight to my left.
Now I’m not 100% sure, but I think this mountain is Lantau Peak, in English anyways—If I’m not mistaken, its Chinese name is 鳳凰山 (Fung Wong Shan), a name that actually references its two distinct peaks: one known as 鳳山 (Male Phoenix Mountain), and the other 凰山 (Female Phoenix Mountain)l which I thought was a cool etymology~!
But if that Buddha and the sun behind it made me feel tiny, then Lantau Peak here reduced me to a speck.
I was genuinely mesmerised just gazing off at the mountain—in the fog, it looked to me like a floating island: like some higher plane, maybe a mythical garden, perhaps the geographic manifestation of Nirvana- I didn’t do it of course, but I felt this urge to just head over and climb that peak myself… to find out what was above the mist.
I was so transfixed by everything at the time that I just stayed up there for a good hour or so… but eventually the fog went away, and so did that surreal, boreal feeling that kept me around for that long （ ; ; ）
The emotion of the moment receded with the fog, but my love for Buddhist monuments really began here—helped a lot by my pre-existing fascination with stuff like Shinto temples and shrines…
Like a lot of the teachings of Eastern religions, Buddhist landmarks like this did a good job of making me feel tiny—to use psychological terms, it was like its very presence removed my ego from my self-concept for just that one hour…
“Sweet name, you’re born once again for me…”
1976 was an interesting year for David Bowie—he released Station to Station, presently known as one of his greatest albums, performing alongside what’s also known as one of his greatest backing bands-!
But it was also a year marred by widespread accusations that he was a Nazi sympathiser, largely because he portrayed his then-personal the Thin White Duke, as a nasty, soulless figure with those kinds of tendencies…
Whether or not Bowie actually believed these views at the time is… in all honesty, a matter of debate, but what is for sure is that his spiralling cocaine addiction amplified a lot of these controversial moments of his.
Most of Station to Station is defined by surreal, grungy topics and tracks that I feel really reflect this addiction of his, but when I first listened to the whole album, one track really stood out to me…
In between songs like the epic, progressive rock title track, to the funky, soulless, romantic crooning of Golden Years, then the rough guitar edges of Stay, is a lone pleasant, if melancholic, ballad: Word on a Wing.
So no exaggeration here…
That opening piano is one of my all-time favourite bars of music!
The pianist here is Roy Bittan—and you might recognise him from all his work with Bruce Springsteen over the years!
But the way he articulates that opening bar after two whole songs from an emotionless void…
For me, it’s such a sudden but pleasant break that I couldn’t help but just kick back and let some of my day’s burdens take off into the air…
Now for a quick preface—I wanna make this analysis not of Bowie himself, but largely of the character he portrays in the album, so when I do begin talking about him as a person, I’ll hopefully remember to clarify…
The opening lyrics, personally speaking, echo a lot of that bitter yet defiant tone the prior songs established:
In this age of grand illusion
You walked into my life out of my dreams
I don’t need another change
Still you force your way into my scheme of things
Coming from Golden Years, my first guess was that this was another song about some romance-gone-sour… because it kinda has that tone, right?
But for me, his choice of words echo this questioning of something much larger than just another partner.
His slow, quiet vocals don’t have a sense of rage in them too… it’s more of a confused anger at something he knows is out of his control.
Then the pre-chorus segment comes, and the theme of the song became really clear for me…
Sweet name, you're born once again for me
Sweet name, you're born once again for me
Oh sweet name, I call you again
You're born once again for me
Just because I believe don't mean I don't think as well
Don't have to question everything in Heaven or Hell
He is disgruntled at someone again… but this time, it’s a higher being—perhaps God, perhaps Buddha depending on what he believed- but personally?
I think it’s a lot more of a vent at fate itself than any one higher being…
In the chorus, Bowie’s vocals ramp up like he’s on the verge of crying, and he sings:
Lord, I kneel and offer you my word on a wing
And I'm trying hard to fit among your scheme of things
It's safer than a strange land, but I still care for myself
And I don't stand in my own light
Lord, Lord, my prayer flies like a word on a wing
My prayer flies like a word on a wing
Does my prayer fit in with your scheme of things?
For me, this is kind of an image of someone struggling so much in life that they turn to spirituality as a last resort… yet they’re so far downhill that even faith can’t help them anymore,
And as an inherently-religious song, I feel like Word on a Wing is still something that might be able to speak to a lot of us outside these faiths…
We all have our own ways of dealing with personal tragedies, but personally, bitterness towards some irrational being has always been a part of my experiences.
That constant feeling of “why is this happening to us?” when, in reality, the question should really be “who is this not happening to?”
But I think grief and reason are all too often mutually-exclusive.
And songs like Word on a Wing showcase a very-real person in such a state: in 1999, when Bowie revived the song and performed it live for a studio audience, he said something along the lines of “I’m sure it was a cry for help,” labelling it one of the only genuine moments in all of Station to Station.
Drug addiction, marriage problems, career troubles—all of it stacked up in this one song that showcases the real Bowie in, what I feel anyways, may be one of his most vulnerable on-record moments…
I think he channels so much emotion in this performance that the music was almost secondary—that he really just wanted to vent about the place he found himself in as he found himself, for a rare moment, aware of his own mind.
“Does my prayer fit in with your scheme of things?”
It’s pure speculation from here onwards… but I wonder if his thoughts at the time were similar to what I felt looking up at that statue and that peak?
As humans, I feel almost every culture out there at least somewhat focuses on showcasing ourselves in some way… perhaps for independence and self-actualisation in Individualistic societies, or to best contribute to the population in Collectivist societies.
But having that sense of self disappear is really surreal to look back on for me…
It’s not like blending into a crowd in a busy shopping district, it’s more like disappearing altogether—becoming, if for but a moment, so intertwined with the world that you become inseparable from it.
To feel like your life is spiralling because of some sort of fate that detests you… Would it feel the same way? Would someone in that position also feel like something less than a pawn—so helpless and powerless that even complaining becomes taxing?
I don’t know the answer to this honestly…
I can’t say I ever found myself in a situation as dire as Bowie’s was in 1976–I remember seeing reports that he himself was surprised he even survived that year thanks to how bad his self-destruction got…
To me, it’s like a negative version of the Buddhist concept of anattā or the non-self: to become completely detached from any self-concept or essence, but through tragedy rather than enlightenment.
Hearing about the amount of people going through similar, and much worse, problems nowadays… will never not be depressing for me.
Wherever you are right now, I hope you’re doing alright! There are people out there with all sorts of love for each of us, so if trouble appears to be brewing, then I hope you’ll pull through and come out someone new, if not for yourself, then perhaps, for all those around you!
Have a wonderful weekend, and all the love to you~! ♪（ｖ＾＿＾）ｖ
Northbound Voyage now released on Bandcamp!
If you’ve been to my About Me page, you’ve probably seen my Bandcamp linked, but it’s been an empty profile… until today!
Feel free to have a look over here if you’d please—I love to say there’s something for everyone, but only you can really judge that, yeah?
It’s mostly the same as my YouTube content, but I did make minor edits here and there to polish the quality a bit~
In the future, assuming I do alright on this platform, I’ll begin releasing exclusively on it and see where that goes~
But until then, it’d mean a lot to me if you could pay some bits a little listen~
Once again, you can find the album here, and if you want a bit of backstory behind one of its tracks… then don’t let me distract you from checking this post out either! ♪( O▽0)
Whatever the future holds, stay safe, and all the love to ya’!
The story of my first book… and the mistakes I made with it-! (~Part 2~)
Now this is a follow-up of sorts to a previous post I made on August 15th, so if you haven’t seen it, feel free to check it out here if you wish! (*ﾟ▽ﾟ*)
But with that out the way…
When it comes to discussing culture in countries around East and Southeast Asia, I feel like it’s a bit difficult for me to put into scale how influential Confucius’s teachings have been.
Bit-more-recent articles like this break it down much better for us—but all across Mainland China, a lot of quotes from Confucius’s and Mencius’s works live on as proverbs, and with how highly-regarded moral values, discipline, and wisdom are in families around here, there’s a good lot of us who grew up learning some versions of some of these!
Here’s a simple one that was among the earlier ones I picked up from textbooks: 温故而知新 (wēngù ‘ér zhī xīn), which directly translates to “Learn from the past,” but in context usually has a longer meaning of “Learn from the past to make sense of the present.”
And I think that’s quite a fitting preface to my takeaway from this journey!
It was late-2019, I just finished my first ever book draft without much experience, and… welp the problem is: that book only went through the first two seasons of the series-!
So my idea was to just continue things—after all, there were eight seasons total, and if I could write two each per book, then maybe I could pump out a best-selling series, yeah-?
I think I took about one day off before continuing the second book, but no—I didn’t really spend any of that time trying to reflect on my mistakes, or trying to learn more- I’d say I was carried away, but at that time and place, it was still a bit unusual for people like me to chase these kinds of dreams outside our loved ones’ demands…
So perhaps a part of it was me just wanting to be different—some way for me to put myself above the collectivist values I was raised with.
Maybe it was the process of growing up artistically, or maybe some natural energy intervening to prevent a second war crime, but in the end—I never actually finished book 2 of this series *\(^o^)/*
~The beginning of learning~
It was January of 2020 that I began to realise I was way, way out of my depth in this regard—and I think there were several factors that played into that revelation for me.
The first was my growing interest in what’s been called the Booktuber community—a subculture of authors and readers and even agents and editors on YouTube who spend a lot of time reviewing classics, dissecting troops, scanning new releases, so on like that!
But there was one kind of video that I grew addicted to: reviews of terrible books.
There were two of the first I came across, and I highly recommend not just these videos, but also both channels-! Both KrimsonRogue and Strange Æons balance comedy, entertainment, and criticism well, and I credit a lot of my early writing knowledge to them both!
But whether it’s really-bland romances or self-published epics of delusion… something about watching these bad examples get completely torn apart was really entertaining for me!
If I had to explain it, I guess there’s merit in learning what not to do as well, yeah?
I really enjoyed reviews of one person’s books in particular—Onision, someone so vile and demented that I’d rather not describe the stuff this guy has been accused of…
Now sometimes terrible people become good writers- I won’t name anyone in particular but the number of authors with really-inflammatory beliefs is staggering sometimes (_ _).｡o○
Luckily for us, Onision was both a terrible person and an atrocious writer—and I learned so much from watching his three books get shredded!
Basic stuff like plotting and structure were like alien concepts to me at the time—others like character development I had a marginal grasp of, and things a bit more advanced like descriptive prose… was in a completely different dimension.
Not to really inflate myself here but-
A question I got asked a lot back then, and still do sometimes, was how exactly I became proficient in English in a country that has a pretty-ineffective way of teaching it.
It’s hard for me to give an exact answer to something like that, but I usually reply with this: from around the age of 4 / 5, I was already an avid reader of online and offline encyclopaedias in not just my native languages, but also in English!
That’s still something I do a lot nowadays, but at the time, I didn’t realise that the English used in these formal texts was a different register than what’s used by authors in books…
And that is the first mistake I found out I made with this project.
Mistake 1: Register / Tone confusion
Now quick disclaimer I’m not saying this to like belittle our English teachers or anything—they did the best job they could given our curriculum and I honestly learned some good stuff from them-!
But for a while, I was taught that English was only ever in five registers: frozen, formal, consultative, casual, and intimate—We weren’t taught the equivalents for writing, but given my native language also had a complex system of honourifics, plus its own registers, these five categories made a lot of sense to me!
So I kind of want to ask you this here: do you think language is best taught through rules or through experience?
Personally… I’d answer experience for quite a few reasons—if you’ve seen this post of mine, I gave a few examples of English’s phonosyntactic rules and how both aware and unaware we are of them—and I think that captures our minds’ capabilities well.
We don’t really have to be told of a rule to be able to follow it, yeah?
So because of that, I wrote almost entirely in what I thought was a “formal” style.
In reality… my writing comes off more as what I’d call an informative style—the same ones used in the encyclopaedias I always read-!
It honestly took me a while before I noticed that I was kind of just… emulating the style of stuff like Wikipedia articles and not actually what authors used.
For me, looking back, that’s mainly why my writing came off as so soulless—because I was employing a style meant not for creativity, but for education.
Now maybe it’s just because I know this difference now, but doesn’t confusing something like that feel a bit too basic of a thing to mess up?
I was already pretty internet-savvy—so if I just looked that up, I think that would’ve clarified things, right?
If you have the same conclusion as that, then correct actually! But…
Mistake 2: Doing absolutely no research~
Maybe it was my eagerness, maybe it was my ignorance, maybe both—but whatever the answer is, I really should’ve done some research into basic writing first-!
I was listening to these reviews and they’d bring up a lot of concepts like the Hero’s Journey or the Three-Act Structure—but believe it or not I didn’t know about these at the time-!
I had basic ideas, yeah, like I’d seen some games divided into acts, I’d read other books divided into acts—but actually writing these concepts?
“What’s the worst that could happen?”
And as it turns out… well, stuff like this is what happened.
If you do read this… What do you think about it?
Personally, I think it perfectly captures that juvenile bloodlust I had at the time… as well as all the pratfalls of investing everything into ideas and about nothing into the actual execution-!
I wanna know though—were the number of names in these two pages a bit confusing-?
Personally, I like to think I’m good with remembering names, but… I think there’s a limit that I didn’t violate, but rather murdered then cremated…
Mistake 3: ~Character Soup~
…I’m not actually sure where I heard that term used, sorry-!
But I love it too much not to throw it in here~
I didn’t think about it at the time, but I had a really bad case of naming every single character who ever appeared—and to try and give a picture on how bad it got…
Every time I write a story, I create these spreadsheets of sorts that tracks each individual character by various things~
Here’s a small part of the one I created for this book!
Now I remember all of these characters clearly even now—but I spent months just creating them, moving them about, and… well, killing them! ٩(๑❛ᴗ❛๑)۶
But what about a first-time reader-?
My complete lack of any description only makes it worse—like if I asked you to try and visualise Fredrick, for example, what would you imagine?
It’s so bland that I actually forgot what he looked like… so… （＾Ｏ＾☆♪
If me, as the author, can’t even describe my characters’ basic traits well enough, what can I really expect from an average reader who basically has to do all the work?
(almost) Three Years on…
If you ask me, then I think the three mistakes above were the worst things that I messed up—being completely fair, I feel like there were quite a few characters and arcs that weren’t all that bad, just executed so, so sloppily…
So I wanna use this moment to thank all the YouTube book reviewers!
Just seeing bad examples, and then hearing an explanation of why these were bad, really made me aware of how… well, how much worse I wrote compared to even these people-
And it made me feel really embarrassed at the time.
I felt like, by writing these atrocities, I was wasting the time of the few people around me who were really just trying to offer help…
That I looked like too much of an idiot by trying to be different and by swatting these people away from me.
On the night of January 11th, 2020, I wrote the very last sentence I ever would in this book, and then I closed it.
Writing this for you now means I went back to look at these books… and what I feel is a mix of that shame I mentioned, but also of some light pride—that I can look back in the past, show us both why it failed, and then pull up something much better thanks to all the lessons I learned!
It’s like a forest fire…
On that night I decided to cremate this series and stuff it into an unmarked urn, I was on my laptop again when a new inspiration hit me…
And if there was anything I really knew at the time, it was that a fresh start was better than anything else~!
If time allows, I wanna continue this retelling with the history of the book that followed this series—the one I personally consider to be my first real attempt at a novel-!
If you’re interested in that, then feel free to check back by that time, or leave any comment or question—I wanna welcome anything at this point, at least while I’m still a bit free from obligations (๑˃̵ᴗ˂̵)
Till then, have some fun, and all the love to you~!
A botched debut… (#52 – Searing Debut)
So I was undecided before, but I think for now, I’ll allot Wednesdays for something a bit special: I’ll use it as an opportunity to look back in the tracks I’ve produced so far, and break down their histories, as well as my opinions on them, positive or negative!
After all—this kind of objective retrospect is how we really learn improve ourselves creatively, isn’t it?
Personally, I keep a ranking of my own songs from best to worst updated every now and then, so I’ll be discussing 51 tracks total, starting from the bottom of the litter, all the way to the ones I think we’ll enjoy the most-!
A quick disclaimer though—I’m in no way any kind of professional musical critic! I think there’s no such thing as objective perspectives anyways, but, as long as I don’t carried away, my musings on these past tracks will largely just reflect some of my personal and technical opinions on them-!
So without further rambling, here we’ll begin at the very, very bottom… ʅ（◞‿◟）ʃ
The third album I ever worked on for my YouTube channel marked a bit of a shift in my sound at the time!
The German Electronica band Kraftwerk has long been one of my core influences, but I’d spent the previous two albums mostly trying to work out what I was even doing- so now that I was a bit better, I thought, “what if I tried embodying one of the groups that I looked up to?”
This line of thought started what would become my third concept album, Day of the Dead, and from the Kraftwerk-influence came two songs, Atop the Outermost Peaks and The Winterbourne, that, luckily for us, fared far better than our topic today~!
One thing I wanna tell you first though: the theme of Day of the Dead itself was something of a reoccurring trope in my works, specifically, environmental destruction, and for the people who don’t think that’s a problem, they’ve clearly never lived in a country loved by earthquakes and floods *\(^o^)/*
That aside, my vision for the album basically split it into three thirds: a calm, first section depicting the beauty of nature, a second, melancholic section depicting it in peril, and a third, discordant and dramatic division depicting nature’s downright desecration.
Searing Debut is a song that I wanted to insert into that last section—but it’s about here that I made my first mistake with this song: I had literally no direction-!
I mentioned in this post before that I usually keep a certain image in mind when composing my songs, and this time I was so eager to keep going that I really didn’t bother with that…
I just sat down one afternoon, pulled out the digital instruments, and played away… so here’s the end result, for both of us to probably laugh at~ (=^▽^)σ
So… I personally really don’t recommend listening to this—but it’s your choice of course, so if you feel like it, then you can do whatever you please with this track for a bit-!
For me though, the first problem comes up right in the runtime: nine minutes-!
I really don’t have a problem with longer instrumentals—I feel they have their place honestly—but this?
Barely any musical progression other than just getting louder, and not really trying to say anything either.
Let’s try to imagine I’m some stranger that stumbles upon this track—My reaction to it would probably go along the lines of:
“Why is this piano so out-of-time? It doesn’t seem to follow any pattern and just sounds really bad-?
“This Piano really isn’t going anywhere—where is this song going?”
“9 minutes!? Well, I think I’ve heard enough, I can try something else now…”
Genuinely… I’m sorry if this has taken an overly-negative tone but- I re-listened to this track and just barely paid enough attention to articulate my thoughts on it… (had to wash it off with some Anri afterwards ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ)
But I feel that’s the core of my problem with this song—it starts nowhere, goes nowhere, and kinda does all of that sounding like a 6-year old trying desperately to mimic someone like Hiromi…
Now I don’t think a song being “nowhere” is inherently bad, and if you’re interested you can have a look at my take on that here!
But I feel there’s a level of artistry that’s needed to execute something like that—proficiency that I just completely lacked in when attempting this style.
So, almost 10 months later, here we are: me just lightly-tearing apart one of my own tracks, and you… well, honestly if you’re still here, then I’m ever-grateful you could sit through one of my rants~!
(fun bonus for you—Searing Debut is also the only song I’ve removed from all my playlist…)
If you gave the 9-minute noise a listen, then feel free to share your thoughts down here—I think we’ll have a great time just tossing knives into this! Unless you actually like it- in which case, if you’re up for it or course, I’d also like to hear from you to get a different perspective on things~! ♪(๑ᴖ◡ᴖ๑)♪
Whenever the next entry in this ranking comes out, just know I’d love to see you back here to join me for that~
‘Til then, all love to you!
“Here, there’s no music here…”
A question I think we’ve all thought about at some point goes something like:
“Would you rather know about the date of your death, or the cause of your death?”
And I think we’ll all have different answers to this… Personally? I don’t think I’d choose either—as is a common belief around here, sometimes it’s best got just let things happen…
I do fear that, if I knew either for certain, I would obsess so much with the prospect that I wouldn’t have any time or calm left for myself-!
But that question brings me to David Bowie once again, because, as the story goes, he apparently knew the answer the both!
According to his longtime pianist and friend Mike Garson (he’s amazing by the way—look at his channel here!), Bowie consulted with a psychic in the 70s who informed him that he would die at the age of 69 or 70, and from the moment he heard this, he believed and accepted it, soldiering on under the idea that he would only have about 40 years of life left.
By 2014, aged 67, he received something all of us dread: a cancer diagnosis.
And yet he pushed on, releasing one last goodbye album, Blackstar, on his 69th birthday in 2016, passing away just two days later.
Now as reported, he knew his diagnosis was terminal and ended treatment by late 2015, so if he still had that psychic’s message in mind, then you can argue he knew both answers to the earlier question…
I honestly wonder how he felt during those months…? Just to know that the prediction of some random psychic almost 50 years ago was unfortunately pretty-accurate?
But he wasn’t known as an innovator and a reinventor without merit—and he turned his impending death into his final piece of art, a last farewell gesture that’s really made me appreciate his career from start to the present!
Perhaps it’s my age speaking, but were I to be in that position, I think I would be too consumed by fear to really plow on as well as he did—but just like other industry legends like Queen’s Freddie Mercury, it was like his life was one grand spectacle right up to the end; an ending that he took into his own hands and turned into one of 2016’s greatest records!
I might talk about my personal thoughts on Blackstar in the future, but the thing is, Bowie’s death was really not the end of his career-!
Just one year later, on what would’ve been his 70th birthday, his estate released an EP: No Plan, consisting of some of his last-recorded songs that didn’t make it into the prior album.
I honestly love the three deep cuts in this record—but today I wanted to show you the title track specifically-!
No Plan – David Bowie, 2017
No Plan has a lot of hallmarks of Bowie’s post-2003 releases, with everything from cryptic lyrics, to an avant-garde jazzy presentation, it’s a style that I feel only someone like him could not just dabble with, but completely embody!
This music video has a lot of cute-little callbacks to past Bowie too, like the store being named after his The Man Who Fell to Earth role, the street being named after a place he resided in in London, the rocket launch from Space Oddity, and even the bluebird he sings about in Lazarus, but I think the most effective visual element of the song isn’t even any of these.
From the moment the first bystander comes to the store’s windowfront, the camera freezes on his face for a moment, and as the crowd grows larger and larger, it does the same for most of them—and almost everyone here appears to be of a different ethnicity, a different age, everything! Like a neat nod from the video’s director towards how internationally-loved his music is, and writing this as someone in a region Bowie rarely ever visited, I think that’s quite the fitting imagery!
I say that all without even touching on the lyrics, and they’re definitely open to a lot of interpretatio, but if I had to make a comparison… it’s as if this song, and the rest of the EP, are like the closing credits of Bowie’s career: less a final goodbye like Blackstar and more of a look on the future and past that he was running out of time to think about.
Right when it starts, we’re met with two contradictory lines:
“Here, there’s no music here. I’m lost in streams of sound.”
Does he mean to say that the sound around him is just meaningless noise now? That the music has gone? Or is he saying that “music” and “noise” have become interchangeable?
For me, the line feels like him guessing at what happens after his passing: that he may go someplace where he’ll never hear his music again, or that he may end up as somebody who doesn’t see music the same way he did—given his spirituality changed as much as his genres over the years, it does make me wonder what he believed he’d experience after this life…
But I think this opening line gives us a hint at the tone he follows with for the rest of the song:
Here, am I nowhere now? No plan Wherever I may go Just where, just there I am
For me, his lyrics evoke a sense of timelessness: once he’s gone, he’s both nowhere and nowhen, and he doesn’t quite have a plan for that.
I think the somber mood of the whole song paints a much more vulnerable image of Bowie in his last weeks compared to what we heard in Blackstar, but of course, it’s anyone’s guess as to which image represents how he truly felt: the defiant artist eager to be liberated from this world, or the everyday man who wishes for just a little more time?
Realistically, the answer’s probably somewhere in-between, and the second half of the song does a good job alternating between these two archetypes!
All the things that are my life My moods, my beliefs My desires, me alone Nothing to regret This is no place, but here I am
Moods, beliefs, desires… Just like his timelessness in this song, to me there’s also a sense of impending transcendence: like he’s ready to let go of everything you’d consider “material” because he knows none of that ever truly was him.
On the topic of my question earlier, his simple line about having no regrets puts him in a good balance between the two scenarios: he’s still just a guy in the end, but someone who not only wants to leave free of regrets, but also announce his peace with his life in a grand statement!
A pretty simple but cryptic line closes off the song:
This is not quite yet
What is “this”? is the first question that comes into my mind…
Is he talking about death here?
I mentioned earlier that the song to me has a timeless tone to it—and I feel like this closing line reinforces that.
If I asked you where you’d place death on a timeline… well, none of us would say “right now”, only a few of us would probably say “later”, and anything specific like “tomorrow” or “next month”… would have to take some really tragic circumstances （ ｉ _ ｉ ）
I think the best most of us could really answer is just as Bowie sings: “Not quite yet”.
Like it’s on a dimension a simple timeline can’t really capture.
And that right there is the power of No Plan for me: it says so much through saying so little!
Even though Bowie may be gone, one of his most powerful vocal deliveries of the 2010s shines through on, what I believe anyways, to be one of his most vulnerable Blackstar-era tracks.
Just like the rest of them though, through brilliant lyrics and masterful production, Bowie has made certain that his work will seize a life of its own separate from him.
Immortality-by-proxy, I suppose you could say (*´∀`)♪
Now here’s the thing about discussing Bowie and spirituality—there’s one song of his back from the 70s that I feel really deserves more attention-!
One song that, intentionally or not, perfectly captures the image of somebody struggling not with impending death, but instead with the means of confronting that fate that they thought they had.
So I hope to see you here again on Friday, when I’ll discuss with you what that song is!
Until then, stay safe, and all love to you~! ♪(*^^)o∀*∀o(^^*)♪
The story of my first book… and my failure to realise I had no idea what I was doing (~Part 1~)
The year is 2015, and through a routine YouTube binge, I was introduced to this cool-looking sandbox game on the source engine—I remember in that video, the guy playing threw this grenade into an office room, and the explosion sent papers and cans and chairs and computer parts flying everywhere-!
I was very inexperienced with video games by that point, so that kind of physics was like landing on the moon for me—I had a Steam account I rarely used back then, so I immediately searched up Garry’s Mod and snagged the thing on sale-!
By 2016, I developed a really strong addiction of just creating storylines in the game through whatever I had available…
Before Garry’s Mod, I basically sketched almost all my stories in really crude, basic drawings that even a kindergartener could probably critique, so being able to simulate everything how I wanted was literally magic-!
And little did I know it back then, but a specific storyline I came up with one day ended up being, to this day, the longest-running thing I ever worked on (´；ω；`)
My premise for it is, to be honest with you, basically the most disjointed possible mix of the media I consumed at the time: an officer in a top agency goes around and… does cool secret agents things.
Taking down drug cartels? Eliminating mob bosses? Weeding out corrupt cops? Exposing top-level moles-? Disarming nuclear warhead!?
My close peers at the time were largely obsessed with everything from reaction channels, to toy reviewers, to beyblades and Hello Kitty merch—so me writing stuff like this was like my way of trying to stand out more at the time, and I’ll admit, I really did have fun working on that plot line…
For almost four years!
It may not sound like too much for you, especially with legendary authors like George R. R. Martin taking like a decade to write one book, but for my pace before and after this series, it was less an obsession and more like a real-life friend by the end (・Д・)
All in all, by the time I finished, my series consisted of:
- 8 Main “Seasons”
- 3 “Remasters” of the first three Seasons
- 1 Non-canonical sequel
- 2 Canonical Spin-offs
- and 1 Extended Cut featuring everything I’d ever cut from the main series-
But it wasn’t until 2019 that I really got the idea: what if I turned this series into a book?
So you may be wondering here: what experience did I actually have with books up to this point?
Maybe like a few classics? Some action-packed stuff to match the genre I grew obsessed with? Maybe Romance novels that only the schoolboys really read?
Nope—it was much simpler~
It was nothing!
Except a few book reports in school of course, but I had quite the overconfidence problem—It really didn’t take long for warning signs to just start popping up all over the first manuscript, and yet, being a lass with an ego, you can imagine I ignored just about… all of them (´∀｀=)
My very first page was a literal info dump on like three years of history, followed by another dump on the main protagonist’s backstory!
Page after that? More dumps on everyone else in the team—like genuinely, I kid you not, I thought this was good writing at the time…
My thought process went something along like: “OOOOH THE MORE THE READER KNOWS THE MORE THEY’LL LOVE MY WORLD AND MY CHARACTERS HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA”
And—yeah, that ain’t wrong!
But there’s a difference between patting someone’s head and giving them a concussion, one that poor young me just thought I was immune to. o(^▽^)o
And thus, despite literally everyone in my life telling me this was a bad idea, I pushed through… and finished the thing.
I didn’t keep track of my writing progress at the time, and now I’ve honestly forgotten the exact timeline, but I think I started around June or July of 2019 and finished by October… and the funny part is, since then, I’ve finished first drafts in much shorter timeframes than that!
Now—I don’t believe it when I say it, but I had slightly more than 1 IQ point back then… so when I was done with the first manuscript, I did the next best thing any sensible author would: immediately look for a platform to self-publish!
Did I proofread the spelling? Did I check the plot for any of its several dozen plot holes? Did I run the book by my friends or family for sensitivity issues? Did I look for-
Okay I won’t prolong that~ I think you and I both know the answer… (*⁰▿⁰*)
Luckily for the entire world though, I was a lazy excuse of an aho あほ—so the book never, ever saw the light of day, and I can just hide my shame… or…
I think for once… I’ll put my shame to some good use!
The image below here is a screenshot of the first two pages of this book, which I haven’t seen nor touched since I winged the first draft in late-2019, and below that?
I hope you enjoy my improvised attempt at deconstructing my war-crime-level writing!
- This first page is so dense it probably qualifies as a wall somewhere in the world…
- For like 80 years now, the United States-mania lives on in this large chunk of Asia! Not that there’s anything inherently wrong about that, but hey I did love poaching any setting that was trending…
- I’M SORRY I LAUGHED REREADING THAT LINE ABOUT FREDRICK—HOW DID I THINK THIS WAS SERIOUS WRITING 草草草草草
- The plot didn’t begin until 3/4 of the way down the page—That is amazing, and not in a good way m(._.)m
- Oh my I really did name every single one of them—Like I promise you three of these characters are dead in the next ten pages why did I- *hides face*
- “Sensing a fiery passion” From retired Navy Seal to Anime mentor—no wonder he gets offed by a serial killer in the next ten pages~!
- That is such a long line for page 2—like not even for any emotional purpose- I usually make exceptions for paragraphs-long lines when it’s something technical like this, but- it’s really obvious I watched like five movies and thought I was a genius…
- Okay no I’ve seen interviews with actual police officers from here, from where I come from, from the US, from countries I’ve never been to—They usually serve much longer than this-! Most of this dude’s force quit in two years or under-? Is he sure he ain’t killing them off-?
- The punctuation on that line below the “most quit in two years” nonsense is really wrong…
- AND IS IT JUST ME OR CAN I NOT TAKE THAT LINE SERIOUSLY AT ALL—HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA GOOD SIR YOU ARE A SHŌNEN REJECT
- “Torrid Affair” I know it sounds a bit hypocritical given some of the English I use but—oh my he’s British now!?,.,,??!?!
…I’d really upload more but I think it’s safe to classify the rest of this book’s 202 pages as a hate crime against us authors- It’s hard to even call it a learning experience because of how little effort I put into this…
Because here’s the thing—I didn’t stop the series with this book’s failure.
Somehow, at some point, I was delusional enough to keep going and going—and even when things came to an end eventually, the road to becoming a dedicated writer was still kilometres ahead-!
So, believe it or not, I did write a sequel to this…
Despite having no clear understanding of what I was writing about, nor any understanding of writing in general, I kept going—because I really thought I had something legendary in my hands!
On Thursday, I’ll be back, and I’d love to share with you the story of how this series finally retired itself…
As well as all the lessons for myself I’ve picked up in retrospect.
Will I really be able to offer you some new insights? I don’t know—my inexperience makes me doubt it a lot, but as long as I enjoy sharing these tales of failure, I’ll be here!
And hopefully I can have you along for the ride too~
Take care, and bye bye ‘til next time! ╰(*´︶`*)╯
“Even the strongest person…”
From 2016 to 2019, stories I wrote tended to follow a really similar pattern…
I can summarise for you what almost all of these involves in three words: ghosts, guns, gore—because as a newbie writer and storycrafter, that seemed like the cool thing at the time!
And don’t get me wrong—all of these are perfectly fine to write about, but I had neither the wherewithal nor ability to pull a single thing off, except maybe some characters but- they’re irrelevant to me now I guess.
There was one series I had that went on for around 10 instalments, and the third “season” has always been memorable—because out of over 100 characters introduced, only 7 walked out alive!
To give you a picture on how that got whittled down, some of the more memorable deaths included:
- A character who got their limbs torn off one by one by an alien.
- Several characters who drowned after being trapped in a train that derailed into a river.
- One character who was killed in a mine collapse.
- Three characters killed in a helicopter crash after said chopper was swung out of flight by… another alien (=^▽^)σ
I could go on, but from here it’s a lot of bullet wounds doing the work—and somehow these deaths got more ludicrous as the series went on, but because of how often I’d just drag someone in, then immediately delete them, character friendships never really got a chance to shine through.
Fast forward almost four years, and I’ve just completed a manuscript without any named characters dying, and whose main plot revolves around a very-unlikely friendship… (((o(*ﾟ▽ﾟ*)o)))
And I think my shift in writing’s really down to one thing: time, and how quickly those fun days with friends fade as early adulthood sets in.
That proverb “I’ve no friends, so I make my mind my friend” is really one of the few options left once everyone’s committed to their own paths in life—and perhaps this is part of why Omori really hit something emotional in me, but instead of wallowing about this, I’d like to dedicate today’s recommendation to… well, friendship!
Now Yakusha Damashii (役者魂!!) may not be the most popular drama out there, but its theme song is something that’s stuck with me since I first heard it online: Minna Hitori (みんなひとり), written and produced by Mariya Takeuchi (竹内まりや), and first recorded by Takako Matsu (松隆子)-!
Takeuchi’s version from her 2008 album Expressions has become a staple of my city pop playlists nowadays—but I also have a lot of love for Matsu’s versions- specifically this live performance here-!
For me, both of these versions strike “beauty” in different ways—from the minimalism of the former, to the slightly-higher key and wailing strings of the latter- and honestly, I can’t tell you which one I love more—for such a fitting and poignantly-penned tribute to friendship in general, I think it’s only appropriate that it can be performed in two different yet equally-moving ways… ʕ•̫͡•ʕ•̫͡•ʔ•̫͡•ʔ•̫͡•ʕ•̫͡•ʔ•̫͡•ʕ•̫͡•ʕ•̫͡•ʔ•̫͡•ʔ•̫͡•ʕ•̫͡•ʔ•̫͡•ʔ
“Even the strongest person hides weaknesses, carrying wounds that can’t be revealed” goes one line before the second chorus—and it’s simple!
Simple, but definitely relatable for all of us, because whatever that pain may be—well, it’s a part of what makes us human, isn’t it?
No plugs or promotions this time, I think it’s best I just let this ode to friendships speak for itself-!!
And wherever, whoever you are—I wish you and your loved ones a great day~!
Because, as Takeuchi and Matsu sing, even if we’re all alone when we’re born and when we pass, we can all enjoy that bit of warmth while it lasts ♪(*^^)o∀*∀o(^^*)♪
Character Names—and the fun of stirring the real world into a broth!
As a longtime fantasy writer, character names are one of those things I have to put a good bit of thought into—so over the years, I’ve also seen a good bit of advice on how exactly this should be done!
One bit I see a lot is that a character’s name ideally has some meaning that corresponds to their qualities… and I like that idea, but it does make me ask: of all the popular names over the years, how many of their bearers really become something akin to its meaning-?
Maybe if I was writing a purely-romance piece, I’d commit to choosing names based off whatever they actually mean—I don’t read the genre much, but I hear of a lot of mainstay authors taking this approach, and I’ve always thought it was quite a clever way to add extra flavour to their texts!
Here’s one of my favourite resources for real-world names by the way~! But that aside…
This advice gets a bit problematic for me personally when writing worlds that really stray from our own—which is almost everything I write-! So back when I first began dabbling in this genre, I almost immediately wanted some way to just… roll with stuff that actually did suit my worlds~ (^◇^;)
It’s here that a personal interest really came to save me: linguistics!
I only found out lately that the study of names is called Onomastics—that’s not something I actually knew for a while… ٩(^‿^)۶
But the very origins behind so many real-world names and rules always captivated me, and I personally have that mindset that anything can be inspiration for writers—in this case, obscure, often-archaic rules behind so many names that we take for granted.
Among the systems around the world that I found fascinating:
- Russian diminutive names, their association with formality and intimacy, and the many variations—this article gives a pretty good overview of the basics!
- Chinese & Japanese names using their logograms to imply additional meaning outside of the sound alone: both 美咲 and 海咲 are read みさき (Misaki), but while the first roughly means “beautiful blossom”, the second instead translates to “ocean blossom”, and as someone endlessly intrigued by the ocean, I’m quite glad to be using that second variation~
- The fascinating culture behind Burmese names: from how normal it is to change your own, to its extensive connection with astrological elements—this article summarises this much better than I can!
Me learning about most of this was, in all honesty, mostly from my habit of just browsing and binging websites like Wikipedia, Quora, YouTube, and various travel blogs every night—and with everything I wrote down in my notes, it was really just a matter of… welp, figuring out how exactly I could create something similar for my worlds!
I only began true work on this idea in 2020, thanks to two factors: one, the initial COVID-19 lockdowns giving me plenty of time to myself for once, and two, a friend’s dream, which she and I discussed extensively as everything about this world just fell into place in my head~
Eight Islands: arranged in a ring with the last at the centre, all cut off and isolated from one another following a war that occurred 70 years in the past.
Coming up with the naming scheme / convention for each island was a lot of fun—but I typically started off with one basic factor for each: differentiating female from male names.
That didn’t universally-apply—It only went for the three islands I felt would be the most conservative on that topic—but as with real-world customs, it was a great place to start devising rules from!
The next was a more-linguistic matter: I wanted several islands to echo real-life places and groups, but at the same time, I wanted it to be different enough that I didn’t just basically rename said group.
This is where one of my favourite worldbuilding elements stems from: taking a look at the languages these groups speak, and then deliberately breaking as many rules as possible!
Phonosyntactic rules are among my favourite to just twist, because most of us aren’t even that aware of them, but it’s really obvious when they’re broken!
One such rule for English, for example, is the fact that the velar nasal /ŋ/ sound (ng) can never start a word—any word that does start with that immediately sounds un-English, for lack of a better word!
I also love introducing sounds that otherwise don’t occur in a given language—like separating the “L” and “R” sounds from one another in Japanese-inspired regions, as these sounds are basically the same for native speakers of Japanese and several other languages!
Last but not least, I also have a lot of love for just blending cultures and geographies together that you wouldn’t otherwise see—Ancient Romans on a tropical island under a Westminster-inspired government? Modern Koreans residing in a cold, arctic archipelago? Secular Persians in a flat, Mediterranean environment?
Even without using these real groups… it’s really fun for me to just throw together these random elements, then sit down and actually write how these societies all work—but at that point, it’s not about the names anymore~ *\(^o^)/*
And all of this without once worrying about the meaning of any name—not that they’d even have one since I just pulled them out of nothing!
I’m not saying this is the best method of naming your characters of course—I do think that losing the meaning sacrifices a bit of depth that could’ve been there—but in its place instead is, for me anyways, pages upon pages of notes on how each and every morpheme in a fictional language melds together to create a name!
All notes that I may post here someday actually…
Much of this has been pretty rambly and general, so in the future, I do plan on going over specific characters from my (all unpublished （＾Ｏ＾☆♪) works to just discuss them—from where and how I got their names, to why I’m so fond of them~
‘Til then, have a lovely day, and all the best~!
(If you want to learn more about English Phonosyntactics by the way, then I recommend Heidi Harley’s 2003 book English Words: A Linguistic Introduction! Pages 58-69 really highlight how much about this language even non-native speakers like me just pick up without thinking about it…)
Hello~! A bit more about me…
Great to see you on my page today!
I’m Mundae Misaki, as you can see, though I also go by Mundae-Ennarin on other sites—hopefully I can reveal soon why I went with something more usual here- ( ◠‿◠ )
Writing and music are my main interests—as of right now, that mostly entails fantasy works and instrumentals, but if that changes in the future, then it’d be lovely having you around for the ride!
This website’ll be my outlet for these interests, so you can expect periodic uploads of short stories and music, maybe poetry if I’m feeling bold enough—and all of these will be announced on my blog page, Occasional Dreams! Along with random thoughts, of course—it’s nice to have these recorded somewhere, ain’t it? Even if you do look back on things with shame…
If the blog’s title’s familiar, then by chance are you a fellow David Bowie fan-? I’d still put him at the top of my influences, but down here’s a quick rundown of artists, games, and other properties I find interesting!
- David Bowie
- Mariya Takeuchi
- The Bee Gees
- The Final Fantasy Franchise
- Genshin Impact
- Cookie Run: Kingdom
- Garry’s Mod
- Spy x Family
- Is the Order a Rabbit?
I could go on and on—especially with a list of authors, so maybe someday I’ll run that down too when I’ve made up my mind a bit more (￣▽￣)
If you find any of these above interesting, then great! I’m sure we could casually discuss a lot—and if you don’t, then great! No problems with that either. (^_^*)
In any case, I hope to see you again soon when I begin posting for real!
While you’re here though, feel free to have a look at some of my released tracks on this page, all free of any charge! Including one song I’ve released nowhere else~
If you have anything to say so far, please do leave a comment, and if you’re interested in seeing my writings, then come sign up down here!
Whether it’s enigmatic, allegorical short stories, or full-length fluff novels, I’ve got quite a lot I’d love to show here someday.
And if you’re a fan of the art here, be sure to check out @rrain_013 on Instagram! Anything not AI generated is drawn by them—and it’s turned out quite lovely huh?
All the best~! ʕ•̫͡•ʕ•̫͡•ʔ•̫͡•ʔ•̫͡•ʕ•̫͡•ʔ•̫͡•ʕ•̫͡•ʕ•̫͡•ʔ•̫͡•ʔ•̫͡•ʕ•̫͡•ʔ•̫͡•ʔ
~AI Art Gallery III~
Disclaimer: All of the images here are AI-Generated with no actual artistry on my part! I’m simply sharing them as a little bonus thing to show some of the nicer results clogging up my gallery (*^▽^*)
A Soft Downpour
A Sonata in Grey
Less of the same from more of the same… Another ambient track out today~
I’m kinda just shifting this into a music blog now aren’t I…
There is a book I wanna talk about next week if I have time? So we’ll see—I still have a lot of fun popping up every once in a while~!
On that note, Hiya!
Not much of note again in my life, but around December or so, I might get a chance to talk about some new stuff—as long as my travel plans go smoothly!
But for now, I pass my time instead through traveling… well, through sound!
~The song itself~
First of all, I’m glad to show you all my newest release: another ambient track, Above Endless Fields!
Quick fun fact: of my last four songs, this is the only one whose title remained the same from concept to release!
Dreamer’s Wonderland, for example, was “Window into Ataraxia” during its development, whilst Wayfarers of Snowfall was “Pilgrims of Snowfall” for quite a while.
Temple of the Arbiter takes the record though, going from “Arbiter’s Summit” to “Arbiter’s Serenade” to “Serenade of the Arbiter” before it finally settled on a title that’s… well, for me anyways, a lot more fitting~!
So Above Endless Fields staying with this title does show a little something else: me becoming ever-so-slightly more confident with where I want to take this album!
I personally don’t think this track really trumps Wayfarers of Snowfall, but it does continue a lot of my ideas and techniques from then—which I’d love to go off about as I slowly lose myself in all this theory again…
Plowing the fields…
My opening for Above Endless Fields is basically what started this whole idea: a repeating melody of just G – A – B, which I thought sounded lovely!
Credits to my piano teacher here—I played out that opening melody for him, and he helped me get some more ideas on what scales to toss into the track!
So among my options: there were all the pentatonic scales, there’s the Italian Enigmatic Scale, there were the Japanese scales I’d previously messed around with…
but in the end, I just went for simple G Major / Ionian (๑>◡<๑)
All the white keys, except with F sharpened, to give a basic picture of it!
And what makes this convenient is this scale is basically the same as C Lydian—so if I wanted to modulate into C Major, then I could do so quite smoothly!
The main things I reused we’re suspended chords, just because I love their sound and feel so much~
There are four of these total in the song: Asus4, Bsus4, and Esus4, which replace the ii, iii, and vi chords respectively, plus… F#sus4.
Now there is an F#dim chord in the key of G Major, but in terms of purpose, I saw this chord as more of a borrowed one from the neighbouring key of D!
These four chords, combined with simple G, C, F, and D, make up pretty much the whole song—though sometimes I toss in an additional 6th note!
And that’s something that I personally just love…
A whole song, about 95% of which is built on just eight chords—sometimes played alone, sometimes with an added / removed note, sometimes harmonised over each other.
It’s something I love about most creative mediums: you can really create so much out of so little, and still give it a mood that may not really be unique by itself…
but hopefully, is unique to each of us! ((o(^∇^)o))
I love seeing music in terms of its mood first, story second, then sound third, really putting the setting of a song above… the actual song itself, in a way!
If you’ve read my previous music-related posts, you’ll probably know how I start basically every song with an image of some kind, which I just try to drag a whole track out of~
It can be gruelling, it can be ear-piercing when you get sounds wrong, but at the end of the day… we have something.
And whether or not it’s good or fitting, as I always say, is up for you to decide!
I’d really love to hear what you think once again, and if you enjoy what you hear, then I’d love too if you could check out my channel and maybe stick around for the future!
My 6th album is less than halfway finished, and yet I can’t help but feel I’ve already gone through so many ideas in such few songs…
So it’s time to start looking for more, yeah~? (๑˃̵ᴗ˂̵)
As a final bonus, I wanna put here a bunch of the images I generated for this song’s cover, but decided not to use!
The setting itself is the country of Dearlocke from my works, which like a lot of things I wanna set aside for the future!
But it’s a country mostly known for rolling hills, vast vineyards, rich estates, and lush landscapes… so whether or not these images catch that—well, it’s an AI creating them, it’ll never understand context or spirit as well as a human, which is for the best!
Hope these are still nice for you, and ‘til next I write, all the more love to ‘ya! ٩(๑❛ᴗ❛๑)۶
That time I dabbled with pop rock, orchestral music, and political themes… A rundown of my second album!
Something I’ve always loved about writing fantasy is that sense of freedom and awe that comes with the worlds we can just breathe life into ٩(๑❛ᴗ❛๑)۶
It’s probably my own desire to just see more of the world, but my writing over the past few years feature extensive themes of travel especially, which is definitely something divisive for my beta readers—a few have said that it feels too fast, others have loved that sense of adventure as much as I have!
But that’s the thing about art: every little detail is subjective, isn’t it?
I think it’s even more interesting when we enjoy consuming a certain kind of media, but not really creating it: and it’s that position I was in a year ago!
Before anything though: you can click on this image banner to go directly to my YouTube Channel!
So if you’ve been enjoying my music so far, then I’d love if you could pay a visit and maybe a subscription or two *\(^o^)/*
I’ve also already discussed some of this album’s songs before, and though I won’t go over them again for the sake of time, you can have a look at them all in order here~
So with that out of the way… let me take you to one of my personal favourite locations in my works: the Island of Decceliar ♪( ´θ｀)ノ
“To protect the paramount authority, to mentor brothers and sisters, to defend the homeland by bullet or by blade.”
This above is the core of most Decceliar natives’ beliefs.
In an archipelago of eight major islands sits Decceliar in the northwest: the largest and most-populated, yet the most divided.
Once renowned by its neighbouring island nations as a warm and vibrant paradise, it has become a geopolitical pariah in the year 2277, becoming more isolated and erratic ever since it was blamed for instigating a war known as the Cataclysm.
Decceliar’s landscape is diverse, with low, beautiful coasts in the southwest, vast meadows in the centre, rich mountains in the northeast, and steep cliffs along the eastern shores.
This brings with it a diverse population, including many immigrants from neighbouring islands. As a whole, Decceliar’s divided into 31 counties, among them one unrecognised separatist region.
Socially, topics of faith and the military are in the hearts of Decceliar’s residents, many adhering to the teachings of the Prince of Loyalty, Lucellius, but debates over how these philosophies are discussed constitute only the first of many, many controversies on the island.
One key issue stands out: that of exacting revenge on its longtime rival, the island of Ledunridge, whom nationalist locals blame for the island’s current, isolated state.
They believe that Ledunridge, allying with the other major islands, turned public opinion against Decceliar to exaggerate their role in the conflict, but reformists and moderates oppose this view, instead seeking for a reconnection with these islands, whom they have not had any relations with for the last 70 years.
This is the reality the average Decceliar citizen faces: trapped on an increasingly-partisan island that seems far too willing to turn itself into an embarrassment once again.
“When personal preferences masquerade as the facts, they will become the facts.”
And yet… I love Decceliar ( ^ω^ )
It’s a beautiful mess all around—and an exercise for me in crafting everything from geopolitical relations to historical misinterpretations to administrative subdivisions and-
I’ll stop myself there!
Point is: you can ask me anything about Decceliar, and I’ll probably, probably, be able to answer it in detail—just because of how much I’ve obsessed over it! The summary above is more tailored just for this discussion- I’d love to challenge myself to write a Wikipedia article of this island~
I was so obsessed, in fact, that I made a whole album based on it…
From themes to events to locations, it’s an album that doesn’t capture Decceliar’s mood all too well honestly, but without the island as context, it’d be a bit emptier for sure (*^▽^*)
So let’s start right in Southwest Decceliar: specifically, the county of Holstanveld.
Holstanveld goes by many names: the Jewel of Decceliar, the Nest of Giants, the Pride of Man, all owing to its status as the island’s busiest and wealthiest commercial district!
Let’s go back to this photo from earlier, since it’s a good attempt at capturing what I feel Holstanveld is like!
From bustling avenues lined with hotels and casinos to garden plazas dominated by cafes and boutiques, it’s a common saying among locals that, if a foreigner claims to have never seen Holstanveld, then they were never actually on the island.
As it sits by the coast, Holstanveld hosts breathtaking views of the sunset, depicted even in its county flag and postage stamps!
Our very first song comes in right there: at sunset in Holstanveld as evening news channels spark to life.
The Broadcast is one unusual song for me, especially compared to my recent works, but it’s one I still have some fondness for ʅ（◞‿◟）ʃ
My initial vision was to let it be an opening theme of sorts for Holstanveld’s evening news, which was where the intro horns came from, but at some point I got distracted as usual and just went with… a straightforward rocker!
It builds, it builds, and it keeps building until we get a crescendo near the end with the lead guitar, a bass guitar, a drum set, an orchestra, and a grand piano—which brings me to why these songs are so different for me!
They are almost all either pop rock, hard rock, or straight-up orchestral music—styles which I have never attempted since!
My main reason is just that I’m not good with these genres; what you’re hearing in all of these songs is autoplayed, so my contribution is really just putting it all together… (*´ω`*)
But for just one song, I did the opposite… and instead slashed it asunder~
“Perhaps innocuous, perhaps nefarious…”
The next two songs are tracks I envisioned as one long medley, and personally, I think they’re the peak of the kind of orchestral music I was able to put together—with one competitor, but that’s irrelevant for now \(//∇//)\
Our scene shifts from Holstanveld further east to the political heart of Decceliar: The Noble County of Viel tem Caxillian, home to the Palace of Lucellius, where the bicameral Parliament of Decceliar operates!
I mentioned earlier that Decceliar’s politics have become very partisan—and when I talk about the island again in the future I’ll explain that more—but this medley coming up is basically my vision of a daily session in there:
We start here with a slow song that I personally think is pretty lovely!
It’s just a section of legato violins at first, a calmness soon complimented by a slow piano, before our lead viola sets in, almost muting both of these in its entrance!
But as the song builds, the violin section returns, then so does the piano, then a drum kicks in, and the orchestra continues building.
I see all of this as a debate in this Parliament getting more and more and more heated as the hours tick by, but while it’s all good and civilised first, that partisan nature comes back soon enough, and-
With little warning, we’re thrust right into our next song: Broken Arrow, the second half of this debate marked by nothing but an escalating argument.
Just like World of Fabulists, we begin on a quiet section with just a piano and the drums, but the way we’ve transitioned from D♭ Major to D Minor should be the first sign that things are gonna get rough!
A new instrument emerges: an electric guitar, completely absent from World of Fabulists, but it builds from there as the orchestra slowly returns, disappears, then crescendos again and again.
Fun fact here—the second, climactic orchestra section features the most string instruments I’ve ever played at the same time: 35!
Around 1/3 are mostly muted in the background, but the remaining ones definitely carry not just that bit, but also most of Broken Arrow!
And once they leave and the drums kick out, it makes the final outro all the more… bizarre.
The song ends on a repeating series of two notes: C4 to C5, with a total of 8 such pairs played.
Does that sound familiar for you~?
That same sequence is how I ended my previous song Relic from Another Breeze, which I previously discussed here~!
I called it the “doom signal” there, and in this song, it serves that purpose once again: the Parliament has adjourned, and nothing has been accomplished that day thanks to the bickering.
Broken Arrow is our third song on The Broadcast, but it also closes off what I call the album’s Third of Tranquility…
With the government too busy arguing to function, Decceliar’s problems remain ever-so-prevalent, and from here, we finally get a glimpse into the hardships on this island.
“A force that has stopped looking after them.”
I’m gonna make this clear: I love the Half Life franchise!
The games—and even the Asian-exclusive versions which I was lucky to try out a few times—are among the titles that made me interested in… well, gaming in general!
I can’t put into words how good Kelly Bailey’s music is; it’s this mix of realistic grittiness with synthetic danger that suits the franchise perfectly, and if you have time, I highly recommend checking out his soundtrack on YouTube!
But as with any composer I love, I made one attempt to try, keyword try, and emulate Bailey’s style…
But first: the setting!
We move westward in Decceliar and end up just north of Holstanveld in the county of Aeritar, another dense, urban area home to the Clasellience, Decceliar’s leading research university for anything from the arts to the sciences!
Medium-rise apartment blocks and low-density flats dominate the cityscape of Aeritar, many built and run by opportunistic developers looking to accommodate Clasellience students, but in more clumped areas away from the university, the tightness of these buildings creates many narrow alleyways, where a growing number of homeless people are forced to take refuge in.
Our protagonist for this song is one such destitute resident, who has just stolen an unguarded handbag out of desperation. They’re spotted and forced to retreat into Aeritar’s alleyways, where they continue running and hiding from pursuers close behind.
And thus opens Involuntary Seclusion, my one and only attempt at a hard rock song!
Just like a lot of Half Life music, I open with this mechanical but punchy synth that sets up what I feel is a heavy tone right from the start—and once the guitar and drums smash in, that carries on right to the end!
There’s a bit of an Amen Break-style drum sequence in the middle, but other than that, this song’s a straightforward rocker that I think’s quite alright, but doesn’t have much more to it than that （ ; ; ）
So you can imagine the whiplash when one of the following songs is:
“A tribute song, perhaps. You will know who to write it for when the time comes.”
This header is what I wrote as my prompt for our next song, Lucidity!
And it’s a song that I think best speaks for itself—nothing too grand, nothing too upbeat, just a nice, if lengthy, tune I made with that prompt in mind.
As for who it’s for… that’s something I’ve never told anyone, not even my friends, just because I find it funny—I’ve seen them guess it’s about some crush or celebrity or influencer, and I’ll gladly rule all of those out (๑>◡<๑)
Because the correct answer is actually ██ █████, ██████
“Yet this year, the snow was thinner. Noticeably thinner.”
The outliers in this album continue, especially here in the second side, with a song that honestly fits more in Another Breeze than it does here:
Decceliar‘s location is fairly tropical, so snow’s rare—this song’s thus not set on the island at all!
Rather, it’s more like a brief glimpse into reality, tackling a theme of global warming again just like Another Breeze, and told in… a fairly similar way~
A slow, quiet sta