Last CAS, March Reflection: The End of it All

And thus, the journey ends. The last CAS reflection, in a way, I’m not entirely sure how to conclude this last one. It would be better to reflect on this program as a whole instead of just this month, probably. But first, I will go over the timeline of my CAS project, as I haven’t really updated it at all.

This began in early 2021, around April, when I finally found my writing partner. For references, I will call her Elysia, as this was her favorite character in our story.

When we began, we first bonded over our love for fantasy and talked about different series that we loved reading and exploring when we were younger. Started out mostly with the lord of the rings and Skyrim and such. And when I proposed the idea that we write a story together, she agreed almost instantly, then we went to start brainstorming.

The process of brainstorming was probably the most fun during this entire ordeal. We thought about worldbuilding, the questions that came up were numerous and varied. Things like “how does the economy work? Does racism exist? Why does racism exist? What historical events caused these issues to arise?” Here’s something funny, I didn’t even know the difference between low and high fantasy until this phase, where we had to do research to understand how certain things worked. Apparently the difference between those two is what world the story took place in. If the story took place in a separate, created world, it’s high fantasy. More things came up as we brainstormed, but it came to a pretty interesting halt as we came to characters.

Characters was a key point of our brainstorming process. After all, we would write in the perspectives of different characters. Her first, Elysia, was her favorite. The fourth child of a royal family, I distinctively remember her telling me, “Elysia means ‘from the blessed isles,’ she’ll one day journey to heaven, probably at the end, a truely blessed hall.” Isn’t that beautiful? A lot of our names ended up foreshadowing their future, names like “Aken” or “Gianna.” This took quite a bit of research, to find something that really fits, and of course, it was quite the experience researching. This process probably took the longest out of everything. I think the patience required during this process was pretty important, just not burning out especially with everything else going on. But when there’s another person just as passionate as you, it’s not as difficult as it would have been alone. I think, especially for research, it takes a certain tenacity for reading long texts from different time periods to be able to really engage with fantasy writing.

Then came plot planning. And this I have some pictures for.

It doesn’t look like much, but it was little notes for ourselves that represented key ideas for certain characters that will have long long futures. Elysia specifically, I remember her fawning over. There’s this character that we researched, her name is Ranni, Ranni the Witch from Elden Ring, and they share very similar themes. Which is why we planned for a moonlit castle to be built an area of the world- you get the idea. The plots just came and came. This must have been the most prolonged, aggressively pushing experience of this project. We just continued to think of new ideas to replace old ones. I learned just how creative two minds can be, challenging each other, creating something out of nothing, then building on hollow foundations into a delusional castle. After around two months of planning, the writing was to start, but not until both of us were properly done with our ideas for this world, which we had to properly flesh out. Here’s a small extract from our world description:

“Two brothers struck the essence of worlds until the coal of darkness was forged into a star. The sky-forged sun was born in an empty sea, and from this sea the Earth and the Moon arose. The elder brother, the drowned prince, was seen never again, and he will be beloved yet.”

Then the writing began. We wrote six paragraphs each and sent it into a group chat. One after another, we wrote chapter after chapter. It was fun, pushing our creative juices like that. The pace was not too fast and not too slow, sort of like what we learned from the Percy Jackson series. Although it wasn’t our favorite, Lord of the Rings had a pace that was far too slow for what was enjoyable at a high school level, at least for most people. Game of Thrones was a bit better but not by much, especially the starting parts. Our research ultimately proved fruitful in the sense that we were able to better know what we wanted for ourselves, after all, why write something we didn’t enjoy?

Then she disappeared, Elysia. I am unsure where my friend went, or whether she just lost her online presence for some reason, but because of that, I could not work on the project beyond November of last year. I think this was the one experience I cherished over the last two years, being the only activity I properly enjoyed. We wrote our story, planned it, brainstormed, researched. We did everything any other writer would do starting their piece, only that it couldn’t be finished. I deeply regret that. I still think about the story sometimes, what it could have been. I remember one of the things I really reflected on was the collaborative experience, how working with someone made an experience like this truly… melting. To merge two minds in one experience. But oh well, it’s over, and I’ve sorted between what I’ve learned, from how to write a story to what I’ve felt, what it’s like to write with a friend. In the end, I wrote one more paragraph, a timeskip, to properly end our project the way she would have wanted. A marriage, a death, and the memory of a friend left in words.

For those who want to read what was written, including the short epilogue to end what would have been much longer, here is the link to the discord server in which it was written:

And March, like the rest of my experiences, really ended up making me feel raw, vulnerable to the senses of selfish nihilism. I decided that, there really is no point in these acts of service, or creativity, or activity, other than the selfish need to feel some sort of point in living, yet it ends, regardless. But it is reflective, is it not? To feel the pull of annihilation, to which the world no longer provides a reason, and it only is. To where we purely are, and I simply am. I felt joy in my project; I felt fatigue in my activities; I felt inspired by my creativeness. Ultimately, I feel the same, the same as two years ago, just with a new belief in reality and the world around us, maybe that is the point of the program, to make us reflect and choose a world to believe in.

You have achieved your goal, IB. Now, so have I.

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