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Saga - OT Evensong (OC Autumn Challenge Response)--Author replies 1/18

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by leiamoody, Dec 31, 2015.

  1. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
    Title: Evensong
    Characters: OC
    Timeframe: Saga-OT (1 BBY)
    Rating: PG
    Genre: Vignette
    Summary: A man ponders certain matters while sitting listening to music.
    Note: Written for the OC Revolution Autumn Challenge. The challenge in question: "Write a story in which your character's feelings, choices, and/or actions are influenced by the experience of either hearing or making music (e.g., singing, playing, etc.). Please note the following:
    - This is distinct from a songfic in that the music has to be taking place in-universe.
    - The influence has to come from the music itself, not just the words of a song, though lyrics and melody can work in tandem.
    - Descriptions of specific characteristics of the music (things like volume, instrumentation, tempo, etc.) are highly encouraged but not absolutely required."

    Thirty minutes past midnight and Paurilis was no closer to finishing the onerous task of grading assignments than when he started two hours ago. Seventy first-year students had written various interpretations on the topic: the influence of Xim the Despot upon the development of galactic commerce. He wasn't sure of the connection between the economic principles of a Pre-Republic era warlord and the current Imperial regime after reading thirty-four (or was it forty-four?) vidscreens drawn from the minds of young beings fulfilling a general education requirement. There were the unifying qualities of corruption and avarice that bound the past and future in an imperfect union. Maybe it was a ridiculous idea for a term assignment, but Paurilis needed to continually justify his fascination with the ancient ways and days before the idea of a unified galactic society was even possible.

    Paurilis ran his hand over his eyes. It was too early and too late to dwell upon politics. But it was yet another thing he brooded over recently. It was the anniversary of Maiena's death, and Nalieza's birthday was next week, but she was on Lacace and couldn't get back home in time to celebrate. It wasn't much of a stretch to say he was more lonely than usual.

    He reached over and took a quick sip from the mug. Three-hour-old Jimicia Green Mountain kahve was unpleasant; cold, with the lingering bitterness of ground long settled on the bottom. Maybe he needed a fresh cup, or perhaps it was better to reach into the back of the kitchen cabinet and indulge a dram or three of Whyren's Reserve. Maybe it was too late for the distilled refreshment and he should just settle for brandy instead.

    A mellow jatz-inspired tune emanated from the wooden music player set upon the right side of a bookshelf. Paurilis had set the channel for a streaming broadcast from Ultraia. It was a regular and steady connection to his birth planet. The song currently playing was a contemporary version of a traditional ballad, one of those antique tunes about lost love composed in Old High Ultraian. Paurilis struggled to remember what little he ever learned of the ancient language. What his ears could pick up was the timeworn tale of a woman yearning for a man who traveled far away in search of adventure and fortune. The singer's voice called across the vastness of space to the gone but not forgotten love, and stirred within any listener to yearning for someone lost yet perpetually remembered. The melody was slow, casual, and suggestive of dreamy afternoons on beaches and evenings under the twin moons and billions of stars. Yet the song was also melancholy, suggestive of lost dreams. That was typical of Ultraia's flavor of jatz. Lyrics focused upon romance both loving and gloaming paired with smooth noted rhythms characterized the genre. It first became popular during the last decade of peace, and was a mainstay by the time he entered university.

    His mother used to play every famous tune from Sindra Kinera and floo horn player extraordinaire Aval Getz. The songs interwove themselves into his unconscious, to the point where they influenced his view on love. He almost felt doomed from the beginning when he first saw Maiena sitting on the concourse one morning. Love was meant to be wonderful yet tragic, at least that was how the songs influenced him. Maybe the pale sadness of his parents' marriage also predisposed him to such a grim perspective. Either way he realized upon first sight he would fall in love with the dark-haired girl who often smiled and seldom cried.

    He pushed the datapad aside and leaned his elbows on the desk. That balmy afternoon occurred twenty-three years ago. It took seven days before Paurilis was able to call up the nerve to speak with her, and that was only after he found she was enrolled in a drama class. He wasn't terribly fascinated by fictional drama, unless it was on the vid. But he realized the only way to make contact was finding his way into the class and strike up a conversation while surrounded by her favorite environment. From the perspective of later years he realized it would have been easier to walk up and say hello. But the younger version of him was introverted, so it made sense to sign up for a class just to meet her. No matter how convoluted the method of introduction, the end result was more than he could have imagined. A first exchange of words occurred when they were chosen to demonstrate a scene from The Vioceni Merchant. Paurilis made a valiant attempt to portray Iano, the ardent suitor in pursuit of Nanthe, the merchant's daughter. Once he got over the initial stuttering it became easier to immerse him in a fictional conversation. A real conversation took place after class.

    In so many ways his life expanded once he got involved with Maiena. He transcended all his self-imposed limitations, including the fear of leaving home.

    Another tune came from the music player, an upbeat tempo paired with lyrics about Carnival Season. The abrupt shift caused Paurilis to call out "Off", forcing the office into sudden quiet. He didn't need reminders of happier times...not tonight, fifteen years after Maiena chose the permanence of Oblivion to the persistence of life. The young woman filled with light hid a lingering melancholy underneath that smile. For years she channeled that torment by assuming fictional people. But real life was always more tragic than anything born from imagination.

    Paurilis sighed. Fifteen years had come and gone. He could have returned back to Ultraia with his daughter and lived in the same house where he grew up. It might have provided Nalieza and him with comfortable stability. But when he received the offer to fill a vacant position in the Department of Pre-Republic History, it felt easier to move to yet another foreign world and start the third phase of his existence. He was an outsider no matter where he lived, even the planet where generations of his family lived and died. That was a common quality that bound him and Maiena together, and made it easier to follow her to Lacace when her acting career commenced. It was the lack of belonging that propelled him toward Aeithera with a toddler and seven packing cases filled with mementos from the other two parts of the life he sometimes could never call his own. But he lived in this flesh and possessed the name given to him at birth, and every decision made came from his mind…

    He stood up. It wasn’t too late for Whyren’s after all.
  2. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    A very nice character and a great response to the challenge
    Ewok Poet, Kahara and leiamoody like this.
  3. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Another spot-on reflection on lost love that manages to pull at the heartstrings without in any way over-sentimentalizing or over-idealizing. And the music theme of the challenge fits perfectly with those themes: even apart from its power to elicit feelings, the music we hear and learn in our youth really can be quite powerful in shaping our attitudes toward things like love and human interaction in general. And music itself, like love, is so easy to over-sentimentalize: it's more than just pretty sounds that we let passively wash over us, just as love at its best isn't just something passive. Paurilis realizes that, and the fact that he does is heightened all the more when he silences the rude incursion of the next, more upbeat Carnival Season piece. (I have to say I love "jatz"—muchbetter than the other word so commonly used to denote the GFFA's equivalent of jazz.)

    It's cool to see Paurilis at the center of a story. I've been curious about him; being as he is in what's considered a more "introverted" area like academia in comparison to his wife and daughter's acting careers, he seems a bit like the "odd man out" in his family (and he is indeed the only man!). But that's not the only way his life and career are such polar opposites of theirs: people in theater are, in a way, used to fitting in wherever they are, while "he was an outsider no matter where he lived" (so true of certain species of introverts here on Earth, too). Heck, in order to first get to know Maiena, he had to leave his comfort zone and enter, at least for a time, a theatrical world where he was very much an outsider. Staying in love with her, and being married to her, has meant that he has had to continue doing similar things: following her to Lacace to further her acting career, and following both her and young Nalieza to Aeithera. Even now after her death, in his academic position, he's still displaced. That's a real, true-blue instance of "love lives on" if I've seen one.

    And kudos too on capturing the drudgery of end-of-term grading and its accompanying brain fuzz, which brought back memories of my own TA days many moons ago—definitely one of the things I don't miss about academia! :p But the idea that the assignment itself is also, in a way, therapeutic for Paurilis, helping him make sense of his own here and now, is also very true to life.

    It's such a treat to have you in on this challenge—congratulations on another triumph! :cool:
    Ewok Poet, Kahara and leiamoody like this.
  4. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 31, 2014
    Ever since the first mention of Paurilis, I've been wondering how he feels, with his late wife and young daughter both being actresses. What is his everyday like when he's not grieving and participating in those awkward family reunions that could get the brightest of the bright down? Guess these are the droids I've been looking for. Of course, it saddens me that he's making a choice between a rock and a hard place (or one drink or the other); but in his situation, where he's alive, but not really living, it's often inevitable. :(

    Can't help wondering why on whatever planet would he give his students such a bizarre theme for an essay. On one hand, in a system like the one of the Galactic Empire, I can see how a lot of topics get policed, but at the same time, he may be lost in his current situation and bored by it to the point where he no longer cares, where he lost motivation. A photographer would take boring photos, a writer would end up doing paperbacks with covers involving tight bodices and wild animals and a super-rational, non-artist like him would, of course, resort to something like this.

    The negative approach to music here would have been a miss in 9 out of 10 cases (note to those concerned about my comments: this appears to every story everywhere, in general, worldwide, not fanfiction on this particular forum) and I must say that you're fearless for having undertaken such a route! It's a perfect response to the challenge and the fact that the music made Paurilis' life flash before his eyes and that it got him even more down than he originally was is something very likely to happen when somebody's stuck in a rut and I'd say that it's perfectly realistic.

    Another thing I noticed is how in each of these sad memories, there's a pleasant or at least satisfying memory of this or that planet, yet they are not powerful enough to chase away the dark thoughts. This truly communicates that Paurilis' sorrow is bigger than a celestial body.

    Congrats on winning the challenge!

    A couple of random things:

    Sindra Kinera and floo horn player extraordinaire Aval Getz

    Did they sing about somebody who was told to hit the hyperlane and never come back? Or am I completely missing the point?

    the permanence of Oblivion

    Oblivion with a capital O? Now I'm wondering if this is another hint to your concept on the afterlife of the Force, or even a Dreamwork reference. Because you never make typos and you never randomly capitalise letters. This has got to mean something.

    P.S. A song for Paurilis' situation...

    Findswoman and leiamoody like this.
  5. gaarastar58

    gaarastar58 Jedi Master star 3

    Dec 19, 2010
    I haven't had the opportunity to read about these characters before so I am going based on the merit of this work on its own, of which there is a great deal! Your description of the music was excellent, when I read the criteria for the challenge I was stumped at how to express something like melody but you did a great job.

    As has been said above you captured the drudgery of marking a student assignment late at night and you set the scene perfectly for the melancholy atmosphere, yet for a story with a fairly bleak theme you handled it with a degree of subtlety which made me want to read on where other stories might have made me simply switch off.

    Some food for thought: have you considered switching the final two paragraphs (not counting the final line which is great)? I only ask because for me the story ended perfectly with "But real life was more tragic than anything born from imagination." This was such a great observation but then I found myself reading more back story in the final parapgraph about how Paurilis got to the point where he is now. I feel this might strengthen the narrative slightly, as well as add a measure of symmetry if the final paragraph involves the music changing and breaking the moment of quiet reflection, but its your vision, so feel free to disregard.

    This is a wonderful piece and has made my day already.
    Findswoman, Ewok Poet and leiamoody like this.
  6. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
    Thanks. :) It was interesting making a story about how music influences a person’s mood in the middle of doing something ordinary. Everyday moments create moments of art.

    Thanks for reading. :D

    “Jatz” is actually a seldom-used term from the Legends canon. It sounds better than the more often used alternative because, aside from the icky connotations, it also sounds closer to our term for the style of music. “Jatz” has a retro sound, and that reflects the style of music I wanted for the Ultraian version.

    Paurilis’ relationship with music functions like it does for anyone else. We all listen to different kinds of music throughout our lives, and it shapes our development, opinions, etc.

    Paurilis was very devoted to Maiena to the extent that she became an ideal woman. She always was his version of the ideal woman, which does make it impossible for him to even imagine meeting someone else. It’s a romantic notion that you long for the person you loved the most, but it’s not exactly healthy. Like most people who have suffered from the loss of a loved one, he threw himself into his work to the detriment of developing new relationships. He even discouraged his daughter from having close friendships, in spite of his mother best efforts to make sure Nalieza received contact with children her own age. Of course Nalieza followed her father’s pattern and seemed to prefer isolation, but in reality, underneath the façade, even she would admit she’s looking for her own group of people to fit in.

    A long time ago in a college far, far away, I seriously contemplated becoming a professor as one of my possible career paths (other ones included psychologist or eternally starving artist). I was on very good terms with a couple of my English and writing professors and actually got to learn about the daily realities of the job through them. The number two complaint both of them mentioned was the monotony of grading papers. :D

    Thanks for reading. :D Yes, how Paurilis approaches his daily life in terms of practical solutions, working through the common tasks every living being has to perform in order to survive. Like you said, it’s not living, but it’s a method to get through life.

    Paurilis is one of those professors who occasionally will assign topics that don’t make any sense on the surface because he actually wants his students to think outside of the proverbial box. This particular topic was definitely off-center, and it does indicate that he is going through the motions instead of being fully engaged in his work.

    His negative perception of the music comes from that earliest part of his life when his perceptions and opinions were being formed, as indicated by his views on love as some inevitable and tragic thing. I wanted this to come forth while he was listening to the music.

    Paurilis has spent years immersed in his grief because it’s something he’s learned to surround himself with, just like the various objects he collects (including the music player mentioned in the story). Part of the problem is that he doesn’t really want to let this grief go, because he has no other feeling to replace it with. The mention of Oblivion in the story is not just part of a long-forgotten religious belief from his childhood, but also a psychological space that he fears. At least grief, along with love for his daughter and his devotion to work, keeps him tied to life.

    There is no significance to this particular duo. The happen to be GFFA versions of the singer Astrid Gilberto and the saxophone player Stan Getz, who became famous for performing several bossa nova songs in the early 1960’s.

    Yes, the capitalization of “Oblivion” does have a certain meaning that pertains to dreamwork, plus it’s a reference from Paurilis’ home planet to their religion’s version of Purgatory (which is related to the philosophical interpretation of "eternal oblivion").

    Thanks for reading. :)

    It was a challenge to incorporate the theme while also creating a story that works on its own merits. I eventually decided to combine the power of music to influence a person’s mood.

    I actually try to avoid the traditional approach to mundane situations when describing them, and I also prefer not going the full melodramatic route when describing tragic situations. I absolutely will not avoid writing about them, but I will not douse them in pathos.

    I’ll admit that the last two paragraphs might work better if they were switched, but I was writing this on a deadline, so the version posted definitely falls into first draft status.
    Findswoman and Ewok Poet like this.
  7. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    Oh dear stars, how do you know me? [face_laugh] Reading fanfic is my reward for slogging through my pile of Canterbury Tales essays.

    I apologize; I thought I had responded to this. I love this glimpse into Paurilis's life. How he met Maiena, what his early university days were like. He had so much hope then, so much enthusiasm and the promise of such excitement and fulfillment. Now it seems that his life has become like the drugery of grading a bottomless pile of boring, irrelevant papers.

    I can see how this must have also influenced Nalieza; her father's sad, resigned acceptance of the fate life has given them must be the lesson she learns. He tries to hope for the best but isn't surprised when it doesn't happen.
    An excellent glimpse into a complicated family.
    leiamoody, Findswoman and Ewok Poet like this.
  8. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
    Thanks for reading. :D

    You do need whatever rewards or get distractions that you get through such an onerous task. ;)

    Paurilis' life definitely has its ups and downs, much like everyone else's. The drudgery gives him discipline and a certain sense of routine that keeps him from getting overwhelmed by the sorrow.

    Nalieza did receive a great deal of influence from her father. She does learn to accept the turn of events without more than a certain amount of disappointment and detachment. They're both pessimistic realists...rather like the author. :p
    Findswoman and Ewok Poet like this.
  9. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    I'll probably be back for a more detailed review of this vignette when I finally get around to reading more of the stories featuring these characters (which I hope will happen soon) but in the meantime I'll just leave a note here to say that 1) I read it, 2) I loved it (unsurprisingly) and 3) it was an absolutely glorious response to what I found to be a truly difficult challenge. The description of the music and the way it influenced Paurilis's emotions came perfectly naturally, and when he called "off" once the tune changed I could literally hear the silence, and for a music-centred story that would be in a way the desired goal.

    Oh, and this is a "first draft"? Okay then :p

    Findswoman likes this.
  10. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
    Thanks for reading. :)

    Yes, this entry (was) (is) a first draft. I spent days trying to write something for the challenge, but I was stuck on the ending until about five hours before the deadline. So I came up with a conclusion that was passable and posted this. I mean, it works for the challenge, because it fulfills the requirements. But it's lacking real substance...and the conclusion certainly should have been better. That's all I can say about what I wrote. [face_dunno]
    Ewok Poet, Chyntuck and Findswoman like this.
  11. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Gee, I wish my first drafts were like yours ^:)^ The story I ended up not posting belonged in the 22nd draft category, and it wasn't 1% as good as this.

    I don't think at all that the story lacks substance, btw, quite the opposite -- it manages to say a lot in very few words, which is IMO the definition of "substance". I do agree with gaarastar58 that switching the last two paragraphs would help making this a self-contained story, but as I know that there is more about Paurilis in other fics you wrote, it worked as it is for me too, because I read it as part of an ensemble (if that makes sense).
    leiamoody likes this.
  12. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
    You wouldn't necessarily enjoy the process of how those first drafts are created. I can't write all at once. I can only write a few hundred words at a time. Plus I write long hand with pen and paper before typing it on the computer (although half of this story *was* composed on my phone, which is really a rather new experience for me. But a sinus infection makes it difficult to sit up sometimes, but the story still wants to be told...but I hate touchscreen keyboards. I'm reduced to "hunt and peck" on those instead of my usual speed). Plus it takes me like a month to come up with a story this short. That's why my output is so lacking.

    I do agree to some extent on switching the two paragraphs, although I still think the final two lines are exactly where they were meant to be. So there's that (yay?). :p
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  13. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Aug 14, 2002
    A nice piece.

    I enjoyed the attention to detail with the beverages.

    This sort of thing could put me off being a teacher. Seventy bits of homework. C'Boath on a bike; that's discouraging.

    Good and honest descriptions of the music that he listens to, how he developed his tastes, etc.
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  14. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
    Thanks for reading. :)

    I wanted to focus on the details like the beverages because it helps provide a sense of realism to the story. Emphasizing the styles of music adds another dimension (plus expands upon the challenge).
    Ewok Poet likes this.