As I undertook the arduous task of editing Northern Lights, I thought I might try something, well, not entirely different, but more comprehensive than my prior methods. I decided to keep a scheduled and detailed record of my editing account. I can’t say with certainty what this will entail, but I definitely want to share my inspirations, references, subtexts, symbolism, process, and anything else I might have thought of. I want this to be a record and insight into my often insane editing and thought processes. It makes sense to me, and I will try to impart some comprehension of it into the zeitgeist. So first some background and information.
I wrote this as I edited Northern Lights, which I started doing last September (2014), so there’s some wibley, wobbly, timey-wimey stuff to consider. Because of this I’ll put the date on each entry (or multiple entries when we reach that point), but there may be some times when what you’re reading was laid down in the past and other times where it happened in the present or closer to the present than the original (told you, wibley wobbly timey wimey). There are a lot of entries, approximately 3-5 for each chapter and more for later and and longer installments, which means I should have blog posts for quite a long time. I’m not sure how often I’ll update, maybe a few times a week as I can post/edit them.
Yeah, that’s another thing; I physically wrote and drafted nearly all of these (until the very end) on my Google Blogger page Ramblings, Revelations, and Other Things You Probably Missed as I went along, but when I posted NL there, I received very few hits. I figured I’d just take what I’d already drafted and move it over here, but Blogger and WordPress aren’t on good speaking terms so it takes some time fixing the compatibility issues.
I talk about a variety of things in this pile of ridiculousness. Where applicable I”ll use spoiler tags, obviously not for the fanfiction (which you should’ve read if you’re reading this. I mean you’ll get some of my random ramblings out of it, but it’s really for me to talk about my editing process so if you’re interested in this, you should just go ahead and read Northern Lights. I’ll wait…okay you’re done? Awesome!), but for whatever other story/stories I might talk about (prepare yourself for lots of ASOIAF/GOT. I’m considering making separate posts for those since there are so many of them that came from this jumping off point). I will also throw in links and credits, the latter if I can find them. I try to be very cognizant about disclaiming or locating picture sources, but I’m not perfect (yet) and some sources are very well hidden.
Hopefully, this is enough to let you know what’s going on. I rarely if ever know what’s happening (in real life, I’m generally pretty up and up in fiction/fantasy) and just try to keep myself in a state of constant confusion. It just seems easier that way. So enjoy the introduction and first Chapter 1 entry. The organization (lol, “organization” that’s hilarious) is me giving a general introduction to the chapter with title, potential quotes and potential pictures. Obviously “potential” is in the past since Northern Lights is complete, but at the time they were. Then I ramble on for however long I wish about things and then afterwards I do the edit, which entails remarking on certain lines that I found worthy of remark as I go along. I’m meta-editing aren’t I? *sigh* I’m always guilty of that. Anyway, shall we go?
Northern Lights is a Final Fantasy VII fanfiction. FFVII is not only my favorite game of all time, it’s also my favorite story. The foundation of this will be covered more in the preamble along with information necessary for those who wish to read who don’t know the original tale. I knew more than a decade ago that I had to write this, but it took me writing my novel The Serpent’s Tale, a paranormal romance/dark fantasy, and some inspirational spark before I could see how it would be laid. The fore mentioned novel itself was inspired by the first Aeriseph fanfiction I’d ever read entitled So Here I Am by Serena. This story brought me into the world of Aeriseph. I’d dabbled in fanfiction a bit before this, FFVI fanfiction to be exact, and had actually started to novelize that game since it was my first Final Fantasy obsession, but hitherto this, I’d never really read a fanfiction I enjoyed and actually found it quite difficult to read anything on the computer, but Serena’s little story did it for me. I was hooked and I fell in love with the idea of the penitent fallen and the all forgiving innocent. It…just made so much sense to me. So I wrote my first fanfiction Forgiveness and Redemption (which is currently not posted anywhere, but I plan to reedit and do so), then I wrote others…many others. This was in the beginning part of the 00s, and I was in my early twenties so the writing seems abysmal to me now; however, I received stellar reviews from other fans. I still have them even though the stories have been removed and read them on days I need to forget that I’m low. Then I got the idea for an original novel, but I wholly admit to being inspired by Aeriseph fanfiction, ones I read and others I wrote. I completed and edited the paranormal romance novel between 2008-2010. Things…happened (or rather didn’t happen with that. I’m not a published novelist, but I’m in a good mood right now and don’t want to stir up that sorrow), and I decided to shelf The Serpent’s Tale for a time. I’d written Borrowed Lives, another FFVII Aeriseph fanfiction, and had also written an original short Threads of Sorrow, which was based on the characters from TST, that’s published in an international journal. I’m not giving the link for that as one of my goals this year is to find a more prestigious/better known journal for it. Then I found some inspiration (which will be discussed in later installments) and took a little less than a year to write and edit Northern Lights.
The name “Northern Lights” comes from the alternative title for The Golden Compass, the first volume in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, which you should most definitely read. It’s Pullman’s answer to C.S. Lewis’s Christ metaphor bonanza of The Chronicles of Narnia that despite my seeming derisiveness (it’s not) is an excellent story, as well. I have been obsessed with the northern lights themselves for quite a while (wrote a post about that phenomenon here) and knew after gaining that information that I, too, wanted to write a tale with such title. What that story would entail, I did not yet know, but when the idea for this fanfiction trickled down from the stars, all of the pieces fell into place.
Northern Lights pairs Aeris and Sephiroth (my favorite ship regardless of how how absurd it might seem…though others agree with me with more support) a hundred years after the events of the game. Let me just get this out of the way right now; I absolutely abhor the name Aerith. I realize and understand that that was what the translation should’ve been. I love FFVII with every fiber of my soul, but God knows it was poorly translated. This neither detracts from nor diminishes its greatness, but it has created a bit of a divide. Aeris and Aerith both have merit for the little Cetra’s name, but I prefer the former, and that is what she is called in this tale. Aerith sounds like you have a lisp, and that’s all I have to say about that *drops mic* The blurb is as follows. I’m planning a macro for it. Yeah, I make macros for FFVII. Don’t pretend to be shocked.
“The truth can transform you…
Drowning in memories, bound to the past, and consumed by mortal regret, the penitent former general seeks the grave and forgiveness of the true mother never known, but not before he fulfills an obligation to the flower girl he once slew.”
I love how I can think of a kick ass hook/blurb for stories I don’t have to worry about getting published, but I try to imagine one for my original novel and it’s all no bueno. Ah well, now is not the time. Each chapter of NL has or will have a quote and a picture. Currently not all chapters have this, so that will be one of my tasks in the editing to figure this out. Quotes obviously have sources. The pictures…not so much so that will be another necessary job as I want to give laud where it is due, because artists work too damn hard not to be credited for their work. I’ll try to edit this, er, editing piece as well (heh meta editing), but I’m not as concerned about this as I am with Northern Lights itself. Alright, on to the first chapter!
Part I – The General and the Rose
Quote: “The kingdom lies beneath the foundation and the foundation is rotting above.”
Quote: “Heaven help the wayward soul that travels toward becoming whole, but never gets to see the kingdom come.” –November Project “Are You Sleeping?”
Quote: “Is misery made beautiful right before our eyes/Mercy be revealed or blind us where we stand.” –Sarah McLachlan “Witness”
Picture Source: Yes
Picture Satisfaction: High
No your eyes did not deceive you, there are three quotes there. The one about the kingdom and the foundation is the quote that encompasses the entire story. There is no source because it’s, well, my quote. The inspiration and reference for that comes from the Qabalah and Tree of Life glyph, which I have tattooed on my right arm.
Pay attention to that last sentence because it’s going to be very important later. As for the two below I haven’t yet decided which one I’m going to use. You’ll also notice there are two pictures. The banner one is for the first section and I couldn’t have done without the help of my BFF Amanda Devine who does amazing graphic design. I gave her a shout-out in the Preamble/Prelude, but you can never thank people enough for doing the things you can’t do yourself. She does design for the fore mentioned Caffeine Crew blog as well, and also writes for Nerd-Base.
The name of this chapter comes from a version of Aerith’s Theme (I’m only using that name because that’s the title of the song) by YouTube user Erutan (katethegreat19). Alright, let me back the train up. The Flowers Blooming in the Shadows is actually the name of a song from FFVII itself, but the inspiration for the title came from Erutan’s rendition of it, which brought me to tears the first time I heard it. I highly suggest you click the link and grab your tissues. Another consideration for a chapter title was “Lilies White as Ice.” It was really close, but I think the one I went with more aligns with the tale, and I use the phrase “lilies white as ice” enough times that I don’t feel like I’ve lost out on anything.
I have to thank Game of Thrones (the TV show not the book, although I guess I would have to thank the book, too, since there wouldn’t be a show without it) for the name of the first part. The second episode of the fourth season is entitled “The Lion and the Rose” and it concerns the despicable King Joffrey’s wedding to the widowed rose Margaery Tyrell of High Garden and *spoilers (highlight to see)* his subsequent murder orchestrated by Olenna Redwyne and Petyr Baelish aka Littlefinger with Tyrion Lannister framed as the culprit *end spoilers* The episode really doesn’t have much to do with Northern Lights, although there is inspiration from other parts of ASOIAF in this tale, but the title of it struck me. Sephiroth eventually starts calling Aeris “little rose,” and “my little rose,” (yeah, it’s super sweet); she eventually starts to think of him as “her general,” and so it led from there. I like the unity of opposites. There’s also this awesome picture of him holding a rose, but I’m pretty sure it’s photoshopped.
Northern Lights originally had a prologue, but when I finished the story late last week, I decided I didn’t need an epilogue and so subsequently didn’t need a prologue. General writing advice greatly urges against including a prologue. If you’re going to tell a story, you tell a story without saying you’re going to tell a story. I think a prologue is sometimes necessary, but if you don’t need it then don’t use it. If you’re just starting a tale by all means include it! You can always cut it out or cut it up later during your edits. The opening was written in Aeris’s voice and the epilogue was going to be written in Sephiroth’s, but as I was finishing the final part, I realized that I wasn’t adding any additional information to the narrative so I removed it. With the prologue there was really only a few pieces I needed from it, so I wove them into the first chapter. There was a very beautiful picture of Aeris superimposed upon the northern lights themselves so it almost looks like she’s swimming in the Lifestream, which is eerily appropriate. I never realized the aurora does bear a strange resemblance to that fictional swell. It’s possibly I may have a use for this picture elsewhere in the story. Only time will tell.
Oh, quick shameless (shameful?) plug. I also write for the Caffeine Crew blog also under the name of the Shameful Narcissist. I’m the resident Final Fantasy Guru, but I post cosplays of all sorts on a daily basis. This may find itself there as well. I’m, er, winging this as of right now hehe. Oh I should’ve warned you…I LOVE puns. I had to keep reminding myself that Northern Lights is grim and tragic and humor, while used (hello comic relief. Did we learn nothing from Shakespeare?) must be carefully considered.
Now that I’m thinking about it, the November Project quote would’ve been more suited for the prologue, but I’m not entirely convinced on the Sarah McLachlan one either. I’ll have to maybe do what I did with my novel and write down some of the chapter’s themes in order to get a clearer head.
Aaaaaaand we have a winner. It’s Sarah McLachlan., but a different song. I looked back through my Unassigned Quotes (I have a category for EVERYTHING in OneNote) and found one from a song with a chillingly appropriate title.
“Wind in time rapes the flower trembling on the vine…” –Sarah McLachlan “Fear” That’s it…that’s the quote for “The Flowers Blooming in the Shadows.” Is it foreshadowing? What perils must our poor heroine face?
“The cats were always hungry, but they were ever wary, too.” The opening line of the story. I started with the cats because of Cid, my cat (yes he’s named after the omnipresent Cid from the Final Fantasy Series). As I was pondering how to begin, he made his typical sigh, mew, purring sound (which is adorable by the way. I”ll try to record it), and I knew that was how I should begin. You can all thank my Cid for the cats. Yup, that’s him right here. My ever purring, slightly stupid, little clown. His eyes are actually greener than that, and he has the best eyeliner in the house. My other cat Kin-mei has green eyes, too. I, uh, sort of have a thing for green cat eyes *ahem*
“Then there was a calico who was almost friendly, though her eyes had been dug out of her skull.” *shivers* That line gets me with how visceral and brutal it is.
“From her birth mother she might have her Ancient blood, but from Elmyra she had a house.” Yup, Aeris is definitely written as a practical little Taurus hehe. According to the wiki however she was born February 7, 1985. Yes, the wiki knows all! This means she’s technically an Aquarius (air sign go figure), and the game just throws another seven into the mix, because it has about as many as the Book of Revelations..
God bless the FFVII Wiki. I used it before to check up on things, but just now it turns out I was wrong about something that doesn’t really come into play until later. Aeris was not born in what I’m calling the “black labs,” but rather prior to her father’s death and mother’s capture. She was less than a month old when it happened though so her first memories would be of that place. Horrible. Unless Ifalna told her, there’s really no way the Cetra could ever know. Also in accordance with the great wiki she lived there for (another!) seven years before escaping. This doesn’t really change much of the narrative. I’m still going to keep the flashback scene the same.
The great wiki of knowledge also led me down the path of realization that Northern Lights is quite non-canonical (obviously) since Midgar was uninhabitable after the events of the game. We find out in Advent (apparently. I don’t remember that, but I also missed something else REALLY SIGNIFICANT there, too, so yeah…) that the reactors were damaged and leaking Mako so living there was a no go. My guess is by the meteor, which would make sense. My favorite fanfiction Slumbering Mountains has its earlier and later setting occurring in Midgar, too, and it takes place after the events of the game so it’s not like there isn’t a precedent. I’m not too worried about it. What I can do is have the city atop the plate look even more decrepit and destroyed than it does in the later chapters.
Ah I love when life mimics art. I was editing the part where Aeris breaks up a cat fight and I just had to do the same thing because my two idiots either constantly squabble or argue over who gets to clean the other’s ass #thisissomethingtofightabout
I made it through the first half of the chapter, right when Aeris gets to the place once known as Wall Market. Next time we shall see what she finds there and how this discovery changes everything.
Thus ends my first Northern Lights Editing Blog entry. Until later my faithful followers. I shall do my best to keep you continually entertained.