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I made some edits to Oblivion
Because I watched "Love Between Fairy and Devil" and it changed everything.
I spent the last couple of weeks sick, curled into my sofa, and binge-watching the Netflix series “Love Between Fairy and Devil”—it was then that I had an epiphany about my novel.
I’ve been stuck in a European mindset from my last novel (which was all dark, gothic, 18th-century European vibes and philosophy) and I’ve been struggling to get into the Asian mindset for my current novel (which is all light, utopian, future Asian vibes and philosophy). That’s largely because I just haven’t been inspired by Asian literature the way that I once was inspired by European literature. Probably because I’ve been reading too much philosophy (the Tao Te Ching, the Analects of Confusious) and ancient literature (The Tale of Genji and Musashi) and haven’t dipped my toes into modern literature just yet (because I, mistakenly, thought it was all Haruki Murakami).
Then I discovered Love Between Fairy and Devil (LBFD) and something unlocked in me. It felt like I was watching a movie of the novel I wanted to write, only with a different plot and setting. That aesthetically beautiful, philosophically rich series was my entry point to a rabbit hole of Chinese dramas (or c-dramas) that I never knew existed. As I combed through c-drama Reddit threads and Discord servers, absorbing everything in the genre I could find, I felt as though I had finally found my muse and the whole world of Oblivion opened up to me.
LBFD is a masterpiece. Watching it reminded me of when I first read Les Miserables and thought “I want to write a book like this.” I was so in love with that book back then, so immersed in those rich characters, I felt like I was touching the stars. Watching LBFD was the first time I’ve touched that magic since then. I was so entranced by that beautiful world, so mesmerized by the characters, so moved by every emotion they felt, I felt as though I had fallen into a dream. It was the first time I had seen a romance that still felt literary, and a moving plot that still felt philosophical. All I can think is “I want to write a book like this.”
At some point, I might have to deep dive on the philosophy of peace and love that permeates the whole thing, but for now I want to talk about one of the things I stumbled upon as I wandered Wikipedia page to Wikipedia page in my rabbit hole: Fanghu, the isle of the immortals. The mythical Chinese island was part of five sacred mountains that lived on the backs of turtles and were thus unreachable by mortals. According to the legend, it lived at the confluence of all the world's rivers and was accessible only to those who achieved eternal life through the realization of the Tao. There they lived idyllic lives among beautiful gardens and buildings made of gold.
In search of immortality, the Emperor Qin Shihuang even tried to reach the mythical island circa the late 200s BC. Here is the most famous painting of Fanghu, isle of the immortals by Wang Yun. Dated 1699 AD.
This mythology couldn’t be a better fit for my novel. Not only do we have an island of immortals, but also five of them (my novel takes place across a post-continent archipelago—there are only five lands), as well as a rich philosophical story I can pull from. So I decided to go back and make some changes to Oblivion thus far. Most of them are minor, but I rewrote chapter six to incorporate the new mythology. Here are the changes I’ve made so far:
Prologue — I changed the painting in her hands from Birth of Venus to the scroll of Fanghu. Here’s the paragraph I changed:
“For a moment, I thought I might have ceased to exist, that I had fallen asleep at last and entered some eternal kingdom. But then my eyes caught the painting, a scroll of fabric bobbing in the ocean. I didn’t know myself, but I recognized the painting. Fanghu, isle of the immortals. I rolled the scroll into the folds of my dress, now drifting dreamily in the ocean.”
Chapter 1 — No change
Chapter 2 — No change
Chapter 3 — No change
Chapter 4 — I changed the painting hanging from Taka’s wall to Elysia’s scroll of Fanghu.
“And then I saw the painting. Fanghu, isle of the immortals. The scroll was hanging from a nail in the wall and unraveled to reveal a mountainous island dotted with houses made of gold, beautiful gardens, and the rivers of life flowing into it. I could almost touch what it meant to me. I felt it in my dream and yet I could not grasp it—it slipped between my fingers like a memory lost.”
I also added a few small details to this chapter that would make it a little more obvious that Taka is the love interest. I realized upon re-reading that this wasn’t clear enough.
Chapter 5 — No change
Chapter 6 — I made significant edits here. I would recommend re-reading it as it sets the tone for what is to come.
I apologize for the changes, and I also apologize for being so late about my next chapter. I have been sleeping straight until 9am and thus haven’t made much progress on my novel since I got sick two weeks ago, but I’m on the mend now and spending the weekend retooling Oblivion was pure joy. I think this is going to be a much better book now, and I’m excited about where I can take it from here. Plus! I finally have a compendium of literature to keep me entranced by that world as I write.
I’ll be back soon with the next chapter.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. In case you missed it, the next post in my work and leisure series is out on: “Are 20-hour workweeks on their way?”
I also really loved chatting withabout ”busyness” for his podcast. We are both not busy people, and it was fun to talk about how we designed our lives that way in “I’m not really that busy.”
Andwrote an incredible piece of fiction for the genius series in her "Welcome to gulmohur."