End Note – Love
First of all, thank you for reading. It means a lot to me when readers stick through 65 chapters and nearly a quarter of a million words of my attempts to entertain. It means I might, just might, be doing something useful. There are many days when I doubt it but occasionally I think some of this is worth doing. A chapter here, a chapter there stand out above the others and like faithful old dogs I like to go back to these time and again and give them a stroke.
If there is one recurring theme in all my stories it is love. You don't have to look hard to find it. To me it's the centre of my world, my whole belief system. If you love people, everything is alright. I'm not just talking about the love a girl has for a boy, or a boy for a girl (or if it's what floats your boat, between two girls or two boys), or, come to that, love within a family. If everyone loved the people close to them, their neighbours, their work colleagues, their school friends, their teachers, their business partners, their political opponents, the people in other countries… then the world would be as near perfect as us weak humans can make it. Love means respect, tenderness, forgiveness, devotion, helpfulness, selflessness, kindness, honesty, caring, communication, contact. If people loved one another there would be no war, no crime, no profiteering by individuals or companies, no exploitation, no lying, no rumour mongering, no talking about people behind their backs, no racism, no crazed kids with guns massacring people in colleges, no ambulance-chasing lawyers (yay!), in fact no lawyers at all (double yay!), no stupid divorce settlements, no religious hatred and intolerance, no unfairness. I think we could pretty well get a handle on world poverty and starvation and global warming and HIV / AIDS too. And definitely on drugs and cancer caused by tobacco. We would, at one fell swoop, actually have Heaven on earth, or as close to it as makes little difference(1).
If there is a motto in my life it is: Love Everything for Love is Everything.
Feel free to quote me.
But of course it's not an easy path to walk. The human impulse means we do lie, we do cheat and steal and hate and covet riches. I try with my puny willpower and God's help not to but it ain't easy.
But what I love to write about and what totally enchants me about all kinds of love is the romantic heterosexual love between young people. I find the whole aspect of the first feelings of it in children and young teenagers, the first awakenings, the first stumbling attempts to understand and control and channel and give it quite hopelessly charming. At times it's heartbreaking, at others it's beautiful but at all times it's fascinating. The first physical encounters are an extension of this and I think that's why I delight in writing such scenes. I get such a huge buzz out of feeling the new sensations these young people feel and imagining how their hearts must be feeling when they fall in love and the other person responds. When that happens your world is perfect; you do not need anything else and trying to impart those feelings to readers via words on a page is a very rewarding pastime. One day I would like to write professionally and if I can earn a living by enchanting people with my stories of love I'll be a near-enough totally fulfilled person.
When I wrote "Attic Room" I was very dubious about how people might receive it and doing this to one of Ghibli's pure and 'untouchable' couples was bound to be misunderstood by some people. However my whole thinking behind that story is highlighted in four key places:
1) when Seiji brings out the condom – here we see a boy who cares. Caring is vitally important in a relationship and I wanted to show a Seiji who really demonstrated to Shizuku that he had thought about this and cared about her. This wasn't just about what he wanted, it was about them.
2) when Shizuku is in the bathroom and thinking about her old school lesson, and what she subsequently takes from that lesson into the bedroom. I also wanted to show how much she loves and respects her parents here.
3) at the end when Seiji climaxes and Shizuku climaxes with him for her second time. She bursts into tears. Yes there is physical pleasure here, but when she cries, it is sheer love that makes her cry, sheer joy, total and unbounded happiness. Crudely speaking she could probably have achieved almost as much physical enjoyment with her own fingers. But this isn't about an orgasm. Not in the slightest. Here there isn't a meeting of two bodies but of two people; two people in love. It's the love that she feels for him and she knows he feels for her that makes her cry.
4) but my favourite moment is the morning after when Seiji awakes and looks at her and feels this incredibly powerful feeling of love and caring and he makes then a promise to himself to stick with her no matter what.
I enjoy writing about sex and reading what others write, sure, it's a nice buzz right? But it's what comes after the sex scene that really interests me. Did the writer just do a moist sticky groping little PWP or are they going to tell me more about these people? Why did they just do that? What are their motivations? Do they care? Are these people having sex or are they making love? There's a huge difference. In "End of Summer" I wrote about a set of events that paved the way for two young people to find in themselves a reason to commit. "Attic Room" was, in crude terms, the sex scene (I think it had a little more to it, but essentially that's what it was). But "Other Side" was the really important story. This was the "afterwards" the rest of their lives, the commitment. Like Peter Jackson once said in an interview: "You only make 'The Fellowship of the Ring' and 'The Two Towers' so that you can go on to make 'The Return of the King'. You make the first two movies just so that you can make the third." I really only wrote "End of Summer" and "Attic Room" so that I could then write "Other Side". "Other Side" just would not have worked without the first two 'volumes'. I didn't see it like that at the time though. At the time I saw each story as an end in itself. But part way through "Other Side", probably at around the time they got married, I finally understood what it was I was doing.
Moving on to "Castle in the Sky", in this story I saw a movie that had in it a lot of potential (heh, at first I didn't, for months I didn't but someone who has grown into a good friend during the gestation of "Moonlight" pointed out to me the possibilities and his nudging led me to see them). During the movie this girl and this boy endure a number of traumatic incidents that the viewer can see are bringing them closer and closer together. There is no real discussion between them, no apparent thought process going on, no articulation even of any need one might have for the other. The viewer is given nothing specific... yet when the movie ends the viewer knows Pazu isn't just going to take Sheeta home to Gondoa and then, hands in pockets whistling tunelessly, walk the long walk back to the Ravine. No, you just know that hidden in that story Miyazaki tells us, there is a budding love. I saw that and knew there was an interesting story there to tell.
And this is it.
My imagination took the end of the movie as a base start point, and then fuelling that with incidents in the movie that might generate 'push' factors afterwards (mainly the crash of Goliath and the investigation by the Agency into why) and incidents in the movie that I took and then twisted and developed (the floating of Sheeta down into Pazu's arms - the first and greatest image of the whole movie incidentally - became a really key thing for me, it pretty much defined my story and who Pazu was), I began to plan out a story. Originally it was fairly simple and involved Pazu finding out he was a Gondoan Royal Prince, the two of them getting to her village (and being obstructed by the war and various adventures that entailed) and he being unable to stay there because the Gondoans didn't want flight and would throw him out. He would then give up his royal status and become a common man just so that he could live with the girl he loved, giving up everything for her. And really, with one or two minor bits of icing, that was the cake I started with.
And in the way I usually work I added things as I went. I thought at first this story might be as long as "End of Summer" and might run to about two dozen chapters. Har, har, har, how innocent and foolish I was. If someone had told me when I started that the end would not come until 65 chapters and 218,000 words later I would probably not have written it.
But I am very glad I did. Because a lot of that expanded story revolved around their relationship, their clumsy mismanaged early attempts to understand each others needs. The whole language thing was originally a simple device to generate a couple of romantic scenes. These eventually took form in "Kaesu" and "Hearth" (the Hearth moment is when Sheeta tells Pazu what "Yau he-ayerth al om-e tuh" means and she also reveals to him the link between he-ayerth and the phrase "Ur he-ayerth mo". But once I had the language it seemed easy to work it into various scenes and make them a little more interesting, a little deeper, to knit the fabric of the story a little tighter. I also originally introduced the concept of Lucita the birth/life spirit simply as a device to bring out a little more depth to Sheeta's character. And, well, that concept just went way beyond what I planned for it. It turned into a whole spirit pantheon, almost a whole worship and faith system. And this spirit world plus the language plus the very brief couple of shots we have of Sheeta's farm in the movie became the building blocks of the entire Gondoan society I ended up with. And I'm really glad I went down that route because I think this society we have in Gondoa pretty much holds up the second half of the story – all the Sky/Soil argument comes out of that – the Engine/Daughter crystals thing gains more because of that, their wedding gains so much from that, and so on.
But weaving through it all, right from the beginning, right from "Toes" (well really right from "Descent" where Sheeta is huddled under the poncho watching Pazu fly the glider and finding him fascinating to watch) and through the character of Tanner teaching Pazu in the fields, through the coming together of the two of them in the back of Hamar's wagon that night at the Cross Keys Inn, through the fear of the chase and killing of Hempser, the trauma of the debris of war, even the sadness Pazu endures when he finds the bodies at the farm, his delicious cutesy light-bulb moment of revelation in "Following", everything that happened in the forest and the cave, their conversation in the snow storm outside Thoma's inn, their struggles against the Gathering and the final scenes in the Engine chamber, their marriage and their children – all of this has running through it the fact that they are made for each other, will do anything, anything for each other and will die or go to the ends of the earth for each other. For love.
That is the story I wanted to write. Yes it's an adventure story, yes it's an action story, but first and foremost (and last of all, after everything else is said and done) it's a love story.
I felt a need to write more about Shizuku and Seiji at the end of "Other Side", but with these two lovers I really do feel as though I have said all I need to say. What happens in their future life as their children grow up, as they get married and have their own children and as Sheeta and Pazu grow old together doesn't really need to be told. I've said it already.(2) Sheeta said it way back in Chapter 17 "Hamar" when she said this:
"Pazu… I just want to be left alone. To live in peace, have children, see my children have children, and die. No one can ask for more, or deserve less."
To that, I think Pazu's answer would be:
"Sheeta, my love, I will be there with you. I will share that with you. I will grow old with you. And one day, with you, I will die."
And that is devotion, that is love.
And that is all I need to say about that.
(1) Well, we'd pretty quickly have a very overcrowded earth though with all these causes of death removed so we'd all have to practice serious family planning, not that I think that's a bad thing.
(2) I may write more... I never say 'never' but right now I don't have a strong desire to like I did at the end of "Other Side".
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All the time while writing I have music playing, usually on the old iPod. It keeps me sane, keeps the ideas flowing. If I stop writing a moment to think about how something needs to come out and stare out the train window I might hear a snippet of a song and that gets me going again. While writing "Moonlight" I listened to a lot of Vienna Teng as I am doing all the time these days. I also listened to quite a lot of Irish folk music, particularly Clannad, Enya, a Christian album I have by Nick and Anita Haigh called "Heartcry : Celtic Roots and Rhythms" which has some great fiddle work on it and a very unusual album by the Mediaeval Baebes called "Worldes Blysse" which is medieval music sung by a bunch of university students (so I understand), almost all voices, deep drums and pipes. The last few albums really helped set the mood for the Gondoan part of the story. Folk and medieval singing is exactly how I imagine some of those evenings in the great hall in Bruaendell sounding. Vienna Teng again provided some key lyrics for the story, particularly "Harbour". That song is, for me, to Sheeta and Pazu what her "Eric's Song" is to Shizuku and Seiji.
I wanted a set of song lyrics to end the story, as I did with Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" for the end of "Other Side." I just could not choose but in the end a coin-flip led me to putting Bob Dylan's "If Not For You" up there which sort of fits because if it were not for one person who inspired and helped me a lot through this the story wouldn't have been written. Hence the dedication. But the other song that almost went at the end was Vienna Teng's "Gravity", and as I want to use it because it sums up the relationship Sheeta and Pazu have so well, I'm including it here.
Is that the name you're meant to have
For me to call
They've given up believing
They've turned aside our stories of the gentle fall
But don't you believe them
Don't you drink their poison too
These are the scars that words have carved
That's the name we've long held back
From the core of truth
So don't turn away now
I am turning in revolution
These are the scars that silence carved
This the same place
No, not the same place
This is the same place, love
No, not the same place we've been before
I am a constant satellite
Of your blazing sun
I obey your law of gravity
This is the fate you've carved on me
The law of gravity
This is the fate you've carved on me
Vienna Teng - Gravity, 2002
Now some nuts and bolts type stuff...
On this earth-type planet the year is 360 days. This is divided into 8 months each of 45 days. A month is defined by the two moons Tahro and Ptamos passing from conjunction to conjunction (i.e. they both occupy the same vector in the sky). Weeks are 7 days of 24 hours.
The 8 months and the seasons they fall under are:
Month 1 Rhayadhirrin. WINTER.
Month 2 Umsennemar. SPRING. Spring Equinox (Umsenneshuu) is on the 33.
Month 3 Luhlemandieh. SPRING.
Month 4 Amthume. SUMMER. Summer Solstice (Amthuelhin) is on the 38.
Month 5 Urwriddin. SUMMER.
Month 6 Hoemaeyanir. AUTUMN. Autumn Equinox (Hoemaeyshuu) is on the 33.
Month 7 Torthufudurn. AUTUMN.
Month 8 Suethelhinaar. WINTER. Winter Solstice (Suethelhin) is on the 39.
Rhayadhirrin : Rye-had-here-in
Umsennemar : Oom-sen-hem-ar
Luhlemandieh : Loo-lem-an-dee-ay
Amthume : Am-thoo-may
Urwriddin : Ooer-rid-in
Hoemaeyanir : Hoe-may-haneer
Torthufudurn : Tor-thoo-foo-dern
Suethelhinaar : Sway-thel-hin-ar
Umsenneshuu : Oom-sen-esh-oo
Amthuelhin : Am-thway-lin
Hoemaeyshuu : Hoe-may-shoo
Suethelhin : Sway-thel-in
Timeline: (if you can read it with ff dot net's stupid stupid refusal to accept formatting...grrr...)
5790..Torthufudurn...7...(late autumn)...Pazu is born (1862 his calendar).
5791..Luhlemandieh...7...(late spring)...Lucita Toelle Ur Laputa (Sheeta) is born.
5795..Suethelhinaar...11...(early winter)...Sheeta's parents are murdered. Her grandmother takes care of her.
5796..Amthume...22...(early summer)...Pazu's father photographs Laputa (July 1868 his calendar).
5798..Urwriddin...2...(late summer)...Pazu's parents die in a gas explosion.
5804..Suethelhinaar...43...(early winter)...Sheeta's grandmother dies. She works the family farm alone for the next two years.
5806..Luhlemandieh...7...(late spring)...Sheeta is 15.
5806..Urwriddin...26...(late summer)...Sheeta is kidnapped from her farm by Muska.
5806..Hoemaeyanir...(early autumn)..."Castle in the Sky" movie takes place.
5806..Torthufudurn...3...(late autumn)..."Hills of Moonlight" begins. Pazu and Sheeta fly the glider to Tanner and Morwen's farm.
5806..Torthufudurn...3-11..(late autumn)...Pazu and Sheeta at Tanner's farm.
5806..Torthufudurn...7...(late autumn)...Pazu is 16 (1878 his calendar).
5806..Torthufudurn...11-12...(late autumn)...Pazu and Sheeta journey to Rutsford in Hamar's wagon.
5806..Torthufudurn...13...(late autumn)...Morning: Pazu and Sheeta chased by Surun's men. Pazu kills Hempser.
5806..Torthufudurn...13...(late autumn)...Evening: Pazu's first kiss in the ruined barn.
5806..Torthufudurn...17...(late autumn)...Pazu and Sheeta reach the abandoned farm. Pazu first sees Sheeta naked.
5806..Torthufudurn...17-19...(late autumn)...They stay at the farm for three nights.
5806..Torthufudurn...23...(late autumn)...Pazu and Sheeta steal the air-machine, crashing it in the forest in Restormel. Sheeta is shot but healed by Pazu drawing an Aminhir spell from her stone.
5806..Torthufudurn...23-28...(late autumn)...Pazu takes care of Sheeta as she recuperates in the cave.
5806..Torthufudurn...29...(late autumn)...They find the library and lose their virginity to each other in the cave.
5806..Torthufudurn...32...(late autumn)...They reach the inn in Restormel.
5806..Torthufudurn...33...(late autumn)...They meet Shuna and Keya. Pazu draws a Lirhum spell from the stone.
5806..Torthufudurn...34...(late autumn)...They set off north with Shuna.
5806..Torthufudurn...34...(late autumn)...Evening and night at Thoma's inn. Pazu overdoses on timsu smoke.
5806..Torthufudurn...35...(late autumn)...They arrive at Bruaendell and confront Surun and his men.
5806..Suethelhinaar...5-7...(early winter)...The Gathering debates Pazu's lineage.
5806..Suethelhinaar...39...(early winter)...On Solstice dawn Pazu has a "road to Damascus moment" and decides to lead a rural life and go native.
5807..Rhayadhirrin...11...(late winter)...The Gathering's decision.
5807..Rhayadhirrin...40...(late winter)...Auyhonia and the Councillors arrive at Sheeta's farm.
5807..Rhayadhirrin...41...(late winter)...Sheeta puts the Last Engine to sleep.
5807..Rhayadhirrin...42...(late winter)...Sheeta relinquishes/abdicates her royal status and becomes a commoner. Her stone is given up.
5807..Umsennemar...13...(early spring)...Pazu, Shuna, Tomba and Asbela win the yaoko shearing festival.
5807..Umsennemar...33...(early spring)...Pazu and Sheeta are married.
5807..Luhlemandieh...7...(late spring)...Sheeta is 16.
5807..Hoemaeyanir...20...(early autumn)...Sheeta conceives Rhaeal-Aghana on the lake shore.
5808..Amthume...29...(early summer)...Their daughter Rhaeal-Aghana is born when Sheeta is 17 and Pazu 18.
5810..Suethelhinaar...39...(early winter)...During the winter solstice celebrations the twins are conceived when Sheeta is 19 and Pazu 20.
5811..Hoemaeyanir...44...(early autumn)...The twin boys Tormola and Phuta are born.
5822..Urwriddin...(late summer)...The airship flies over the valley when the boys are 11, Rahaeal-Aghana is 14, Sheeta is 31 and Pazu 32.
5824..Torthufudurn...6...(late autumn)...Tormola goes away for his Pead-lth-u'or when he is 13.
5826..Luhlemandieh...16...(late spring)...Tormola returns in his gas-speeder Anstruther 12 months (a year and a half) later when he is 15. Sheeta is then 33 and Pazu 34.
5829..Amthume...11...(early summer)...When she is 36 Sheeta conceives Lucita when she and Pazu make love in the bathroom.
5830..Umsennemar...33...(early spring)...Lucita is born on Sheeta and Pazu's 23rd wedding anniversary.
5830-????...And they all lived happily ever after.