Otherfic Meta: Spectrum Trilogy

The following entry contains personal details that may be triggering.

So, I reorganized some Otherfaith fanfics I wrote into a series, and thought to share more here about the process. (Edit to add: hey, this is a lot in line with Aine’s post on writing the myths.) Note that I’m all for the figurative Death of the Author, also less known as the Birth of the Reader, so this certainly is not to put out that I heard a voice, or had a dream, and therefore this bit or that bit is a truthier truth.

I.

Ironically, I’d say, it’s Princess Irene’s obscurity (wasn’t named in the Founding of the West, just in the Wikia) and liminality (roles usually being of a mediator and herald) in the existing body of Otherfaith canon that I considered so intriguing and was why I wanted to write more of her.

My thought process during Almost Heroes, a writing experiment not part of the trilogy, went sort of like this: “Ooh, I like her, so she gets a comity-shipping cameo with the Ophelia. Wait, am I mythologizing my real life history? Yeah. Irene’s got to be there when Mary Sue starts crushing on the science teacher lady, because I really wish that some guiding spiritual presence like Irene had been there then, as first loves of lady-loving ladies in a no homo world. Wait, and Irene can turn into a bird? The Laetha’s a bird, if they fought I wonder who would win?” And I thought, “Obvously, the god would win in a fight with a spirit, so what would make it as though there’s tension?” And I thought, “It can’t be a challenge on neutral grounds, then, it must be…a surprise attack on the god’s sacred personal space.”

And then I thought, “Ulp, now my headcanon Irene did a bad thing.” My headcanon Irene did possibly the worst thing, and I never even did get around to revisiting the elation and yearning of what I guess people in temperate climates euphemistically call a spring awakening. How one makes up for messing up was also a very interesting question, though. But I didn’t want to write an Irene whose turning point in character development was…a deliberate Mary Sue, who I’d originally stuck in there to explore the more established, more prominent personalities of the myths, and a way to write the gods and spirits enacting their scopes of responsibilities.

I picked up the story again after I’d read up more on Laetha shards, and figured Aletheia 003 to be the best character foil for this Irene, because of all the meta I caught around The Red Room.

Peace At Last was mostly a way to organize the elements of a complicated idea, not so much to resolve the question or announce the role or method of forgiveness in the Otherfaith.

I may have also caught a sort of disembodied voice shouting, “Libel!” at an earlier retelling of The Red Room that I’d posted, but the main idea that voice pushed for, of reversing William’s and A003’s roles, was still something I thought (and decided) would fit in neatly. So, as far as woo might go, I’d say that’s still par with my just deciding that the Firebird and Irenebird would fight instead of figure out, like a responsible plotter-writer, some avian way they could bond.


(The above painting gives me Irene feels, though Aine tagged it for the Laethan Firebird on the tumblog. They could have a lot in common.) (Also yay Irene has a tumblog tag!)

II.

Upping the woo, lowering the word count. Here are some excerpts from my noxary (dream diary or dream journal, and I write sideways on notebooks with dotted or plain paper, to double the size of a page uninterrupted by the spine.) These inspired the sequel, Songs of the Sunsets. Except for the third dream. That one was just weird.

18 Sept 2015. Princess seated between hourglass and clock stained glass circle before her like anathema device time was set but she still wanted to interfere.

19 Sept 2015. Queen-of-Years-but-not moved the telescope and hourglass. Kaleidoscope window on a balcony looked over indigo twilight.

20 Sept 2015. Wandered a bookstore, bestseller was a romance between an angler fish and a remora.

These records drew similarities to Anathema Device (a character from Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman) although not a correct one because that character was very much for doing what she’s been foretold, and also the Queen of Years from the new Doctor Who although in the dream the red cowl looked worn by somebody bigger than a wee child and I don’t remember more.

I actually shouted when the not-really-Queen-of-Years moved the stuff, and this woke up my corporeal friend and roommate Cecilia, who woke me up to say that I sounded like I was being tortured. It must have been important in the dream not to move the stuff.
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Belated Reunion Post

I had a blog post in the works before the end of last year that continued the exploration of modern forms of invidia-apotropaic, and meant to post the form of the thing as unique to the Otherfaith on the occasion that celebrates the defeat of Jealousy* for all time.

Whenever I hear somebody accusing anybody else of being “just jealous” I flinch away and shake my head. Doesn’t the speaker know how immature that accusation comes off as? It broadcasts an insecurity so personal that even the accuser can’t know that they’re voicing it, and wraps it up in a humblebrag that makes sympathy impossible. So, I’ve got to make clear that invidia-apotropaics are an intellectual interest. I personally have nothing to envy.

But it’s a lie, that nobody needs an envy-apotropaic except to disguise self-aggrandization with fear. While my unenviability might be true now, I look back on my life and find all these damaging ways to cope with the company of people who I didn’t want to believe were vindictive or jealous. I really wanted to believe they were just unpleasant because they were hurt, and that they were honest about what I could do (was supposed to do) about that. The temptation to dismiss bad behavior as jealousy would never overpower the sheer embarrassment of how immature that accusation would sound. But what became a commitment to self-sabotage didn’t always stop me from blurting out pretentious and even hurtful words, it wasn’t a path to awareness of my privileges and intuiting what would be the best and right thing to do with them, and it still didn’t transform mean people into nicer people. It cost my family far more than what I tried to rescue them from. I’d say it was all based on a dynamic of unhealthy boundaries (not jealousy itself so much as how expressions of hrmmgrumblemumblejealousy reacted with my own lack of fortitude,) not that I’ve entirely figured out by now what a dynamic of healthy boundaries would even be like.

But a message that I think would have really helped back then, shines pretty demonstrably in Otherfaith mythology: You’re not supposed to pretend that you’re less awesome than you are. Nobody is supposed to aspire to dim or snuff out the joy in someone else’s heart, take them down a peg or several, decide what their place is and put them there.

Sometimes I consider the myth of the Sundering in terms of what fanfiction writers call “Fix-It Fic”: If only Pallis had found it in her to tell Mircea, “I’m sorry that I knocked you off your path, but I don’t owe you this because of it, this is me and mine,” and meant it. If only Arabella could have caught Mircea mid-tantrum and woken up to the fact that he should be happy that she has a chance at not dying, if he really loved her, but he didn’t. If only the Clarene could have gotten through that the only cause for someone like Mircea to compare himself to anybody else is when he’s making sure that someone else has enough of what they need. (I can’t think of what the Ophelia could have done or said.)

But that all makes it out like the real problem was something or somebody other than Mircea himself. The Sundering displayed the worst consequences of keeping that sort of thing around, and resolved by Mircea ceasing to exist. That was for the best, in my opinion.

(Two dissenting seeds of an opinion at the back of my mind: First, that perhaps the feeling of jealousy calls attention to some imbalance and therefore some injustice, perhaps the feeling is misdirected admiration, aspiration, and ambition…but at the moment it’s considered as such, jealousy held inside transforms into something else, something that could be constructively communicated or could even be a creative force. Perhaps to receive jealousy means to draw attention to the privileges of the target that are not being traded on as allies to the underprivileged. At some point, though, this reframes active harm as justified or even complimentary. This might be a bad seed or it depends on how I water it. Second, a distinctive shift from understanding these gods and spirits as incorporeal people, through how I’ve been told…repeatedly, by various different corporeal people in my offline life…that it’s wrong to blame as in identify a person as the problem instead of envisioning solutions to a systemic/dynamic impersonal problem. Well, fine then, Mircea alone remains figurative, even if I encounter or get possessed by him or encounter someone somehow possessed by him—gods forbid it all! By complete coincidence, I can’t exactly regret the unpersoning I’ve done, even as it’s caused almost as many problems as it threatened to cause and evident repercussions can always worsen. Getting a lot more breathing room right away could remain an option if the real trouble with blame is really the noisy confrontation, rather than the act of identifying the problem as a person.)

Above pictured is a simple tarot spread based on the Reunion of the Laetha and the Dierne. This spread’s position follows:

1. Lefthand side (Laetha’s message)
2. Low point (Mircea’s mess…erm, more like what’s meant to be left behind)
3. Righthand side (Dierne’s message)
4. High point (what to look forward to in the coming year)

What signifies the Laetha and the Dierne here, respectively the Hierophant and the Chariot cards, comes off to me as somewhat in opposition to the nature of who these signify. The Hierophant gives me the sense of the Luddite, whereas the Laetha is a god of technology; and even this Chariot with the wonderfully flowy art suggests a stagnancy (as a lot of Chariot tarot cards give off to me) that I find ill-suited to the Dierne as the dancer.

I usually associate the Dierne herself with the Star card, but it’s also appropriate to Mircea.

I swear, I shuffled all 78 cards together. I even have more difficulty interpreting major-only tarot card draws, because the suits and pips are the ones with applicable specifics.

The interpretations I speak, the interactions I seek, with the stories and gods and spirits and people of the Otherfaith, I’ve hoped to have kept personal. I wouldn’t want to speak for (or over) anyone else, which has happened when I’ve been as excited. Despite that, or a point entirely apart from that, all these majors come off to me as a reminder that the Otherfaith is bigger than myself, and the High Priestess (in the position of what to look forward to in the next year) an invitation to contemplate that.