Lotis Heroes Monthly - September 2020

This month's Retelling Myths: Chang'e Admires the Earth

Wow, first newsletter! I’m excited! Thank you for joining us!

Firstly, Happy Mid-Autumn Festival everyone!

This year, it takes places on October 1st, and I wrote this month’s Retelling Myths to celebrate it!

So, without further ado…


Chang'e Admires the Earth

For this Mid-Autumn Festival, we join Chang'e, the lunar goddess, at her home on the moon...

~~~

"Come now," I said to my rabbit companions, here on the moon, "Put away your tools, it's almost time for the banquet!"

The moon rabbits laid down their tools, and gathered around me as I led them to the grand dining table that was outside in the garden.

As we waited for the annual banquet to come, I started to remember about how I had ended up here, on the moon.

***

A long time ago, there were ten suns that provided warmth and light to the life on Earth.

One by one, they would take turns to shine in the sky.

However, one day, all ten decided to unleash their intense heat upon the Earth at the same time.

Many died, and the land started to dry up.

Eventually, Hou Yi, my husband, was tasked by the gods to bring the suns back into order.

At first, my husband tried to reason with the suns.

However, even after much pleading and begging, the suns did not listen.

And thus, having no other choice, my husband took up his bow.

When his final warning went unheeded, Hou Yi began to shoot down the suns, one by one.

Finally, after nine of the suns had been shot down, the remaining sun begged for its life, and it promised to follow the natural order again.

And so, the cycle of sun and moon began again, and the Earth began to recover.

For his great deed, Hou Yi was given an elixir of immortality by the gods.

As he had only enough for one person, my beloved husband decide to store it away, so that he could be with me.

And for a while, we lived in happiness together.

***

Our happiness ended suddenly one day.

When Hou Yi was away, one of his apprentices snuck into our home, trying to steal the elixir of immortality for himself.

I tried to hide the elixir, but the thief found me in the garden as I was trying to escape.

I didn't know why the thief had decided to betray my husband, but I knew that I could not let such an evil man become an immortal.

And so, seeing no other choice, I drank the elixir myself.

Immediately, I began to float, as if drawn to something in the sky.

"Chang'e!" a voice cried out. It was Hou Yi - he had returned too late.

As the traitor took this chance to escape, my husband rushed towards me.

Managing to grab my outstretched hand, Hou Yi tried to pull me back towards the earth.

"What happened?!" my husband asked, while frantically trying to hold on to me.

As I explained what had happened, Hou Yi struggled to keep me from floating away into the sky.

But, the pull towards the sky was becoming too strong for him.

"I'm sorry, my beloved," I said, with tears in my eyes, "but you have to let me go."

"No, Chang'e!" he yelled, "I won't! I won't let you-"

And he lost his grip.

"No!" Hou Yi yelled.

I looked down at my husband as I started to float away, up into the sky.

"Goodbye, my beloved Hou Yi," I said, as the tears streamed down my face, "Please, try to live a happy life without me."

And that was how I floated up to the moon.

***

The years passed.

As an immortal, I had to recuse myself from humanity, and the gods had assigned me the task of watching over the moon.

I would make sure that the moon would do its duty - including being a light in the night, and helping the tides ebb and flow.

I would also help ensure that the moon rabbits would do their duties - that being to make the medicine needed by the other immortals, including the elixir of immortality.

However, on one special night every year, we could take a break and enjoy a grand banquet - and that night was tonight, the Mid-Autumn Festival!

***

I smiled as the cakes that I loved, now called mooncakes, appeared on the dining table, along with other offerings.

It was a tradition that was started by my husband, who would make me offerings of those cakes - so that I could still have them, up here on the moon.

And although offerings are rarely directly made to us nowadays, we still get to partake in the food used to celebrate the festival.

As for my husband, he ascended to godhood after his death - for saving the mortals from the suns, as well as for his skills in archery, he was granted this blessing.

And although both of our divine duties kept us apart for most of the year, on this day, we-

"Chang'e!" my husband's happy voice called out to me.

"Hou Yi!" I cried out as I rushed over to my husband.

Happily, we embraced each other.

On this day, my husband and I would get to be together again.

And so, Hou Yi and I joined the rabbits at the table.

Together, while we laughed and feasted on the banquet in front of us, we admired the Earth.

We watched as families got together for this special day, as the moon also represented family reunion to them.

We watched as families helped their children make lanterns, and lit them up together.

We watched as families gathered around together to admire the moon.

And we watched, as mortals from all over the Earth gathered together to celebrate this special day - this special day of the moon.

~~~

And so, just as the mortals on Earth admire the moon on this day, Chang'e admires the Earth with her husband and their rabbit companions.


I hope you enjoyed that story!

Some commentary that I have from when I was doing research for this story:

  • There are actually a lot of other variations of this tale.

  • Hou Yi is portrayed with varying degrees of divinity in various stories - some have him as a god who descended down from the heavens to aid mankind, while others portray him as being a mortal.

  • The reason for Chang'e consuming the elixir of immortality is also different in different stories - some have Hou Yi becoming a tyrant after being crowned a king for his deeds, so Chang'e consumes the elixir to save the people from an immortal tyrant; some simply have Chang'e steal it for herself; while others have Hou Yi store the elixir away without telling his wife what the contents where, and Chang'e's curiousity got the better of her.

  • Also, some versions of the tale elaborate more about the suns. I chose to keep it brief for this version, as the this version's focus is on Chang'e.

  • Lastly, a lot of versions don't really show if Chang'e and Hou Yi ever see each other again. I, as you can tell, opted to put in a bit of happiness there at the end.


Now, for some updates on my current projects:

  • The Sun Aegis - unfortunately, progress for The Sun Aegis has been slow this year. With the current pandemic going on and other various things in my personal life, it has been hard to get into the mindset to write this… However, I have still been making changes and such to the overall plotline, so I’m hoping to still be on track for next year!

  • Mysterious Unicorn Girl Comic - I have repaired the broken unicorn girl’s heart! Only a few more pages to go, and I can send it off to my (hopefully) artist! Aiming to be done by FanExpo next year (if there is going to be one)!

  • Mysterious Holiday Video - I’ve gone on hiatus for my YouTube channel, so that I can focus on making a holiday video for December. I’ve finished the script, and have sent it off to my illustrator. Hopefully, I’ll hear back from them soon, and start seeing some illustrations!


Writing Anecdote - Writing, Scrapping, and Rewriting

So, for my very first newsletter, I thought I’d talk about a time when I experienced a major roadblock with The Sun Aegis, and what I learned from dealing with it.

If you’ve read all five of the currently released parts of The Sun Aegis, then you know about Princess Evelyn and her rebellion against the rotten king (I won’t spoil too much here, don’t worry).

As I was setting up this character and her associates (Lady Justina, Lord Westward, etc.), I knew that I wanted to write up all this backstory that I had come up with for this new web of people.

At the time, my solution was for Part 3 to basically start with Princess Evelyn and Lady Justina sitting in a room, and have Evelyn tell Justina… her ENTIRE BACKSTORY.

This next part is probably very obvious now, but, at the time, I started to run into a very significant problem - I was getting really bored writing it.

I tried for many weeks to bang out this part, but to no avail.

Suddenly, I realized something - if I was so bored writing it, then wouldn’t my readers be bored reading it?

Realizing this, I took one last look at what I had spent nearly an entire month writing… and then I scrapped it.

(I mean, I kept a backup of it, of course; but the point is that I took it out of the story.)

Instead, I decided to disperse her backstory throughout the remaining parts of the series, slowly sprinkling it in (you can see some of these sprinkles in Part 5, and a lot more sprinkles will show up in future parts).

That made for a much better flow of the story, and allowed a more… refined revealing of the character’s history.

So, don’t be afraid to start writing - because even if you have to scrap it later, you will still have learned something from it, and you might still have something that you can use later down the road!


And that’s it for this month’s newsletter!

Thank you for reading!

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Thank you!

From E. H. Lau