|My attempt at capturing Elsa's likeness.|
Methinks it'd be easier with a 6" doll....
For this month’s Character Encounter, we’re supposed to meet a Character in our living room “that you think about a lot, have much of his or her story plotted out, but have never actually sat down and written anything with them.”
Unfortunately, most of the Characters I think about a lot and have their stories pretty well thought out are ones that have something jotted down already…and they’ve already made appearances on CE (save Ciára, Tempest and Gilbert; they were featured in an interview a while back, but it still counts as “screen time”). I don’t really feel I should do repeats until I’ve introduced several more Characters (especially since I already broke that rule with Ciaran *innocent whistle*). So for this month’s CE, I’ve chosen one who up to this point has been an idea in my head, but never actually had anything written about her. Introducing Elsa Lightfoot, an Elven maiden with some very special gifts (and no, I did not take her name from the character in Frozen; my Elsa was christened a couple years ago, before I even heard about the movie…plus I like the name).
* * *
I had just draped myself languidly on the reclining chair in our living room, to see about making some progress on the afghan I’d been crocheting for Mom…for over a year. I still felt a bit proud of myself for actually having reached the sewing-together stage at last, considering I hardly ever finish any needlework project. It didn’t help that the octagonal patches—after I’d gone to all the trouble of blocking them prior to assembly—had reverted to their former curly state when I sewed them to the little diamond-shaped “fillers” that go in between the octagons. But then, that’s what one gets for making the “fillers” too small to begin with. Twice. But now I had them about the right size, so theoretically, all the parts of the afghan should lie down more smoothly.
As I threaded the dark-green yarn through the tapestry needle, staring unseeingly at the blank TV screen opposite my chair, I began thinking of my Characters. Really, they deserved better treatment than to be locked in my head all the time, hidden from potential readers. They deserved to be brought to life to the best of my God-given ability…if only I could figure out how to break through that…whatever-it-was…that blocked my imagination whenever I tried to convert my stories into cold, hard text.
Perhaps is I interviewed them I thought, it’d get my creative juices flowing. Maybe if I got them talking to me, and I wrote down their words, maybe the actions—and the environments those actions took place—would come to me as a result.
BANG! came a noise from the kitchen to my right, as our seventeen-pound Maine Coon-Ragdoll mix bolted through the cat-door like a jet-propelled bat.
I looked up from my work to see him trotting through the dining area of the kitchen, fairly galloping through the maze of table- and chair-legs.
“Hey, puss!” I called, making squeaky noises at him. “Mister Licorice.”
“Mister Licorice” ignored me, skittering to a stop in front of the tiny hallway leading to my own room. I watched, intrigued, as he suddenly flopped over on his side, exposing his fuzzy white-striped belly, his forepaws tucked up atop his chest, his head laid back against the floor. His usual position for greeting us when we return home from church or town, or come back in the house from the work-building. To my knowledge, I was the only one in the house just now, yet he seemed to think there was someone in the hallway—someone he was very glad to see. In another two seconds, I found out whom.
A tall, slender lady with hair like sunshine, which fell to her ankles in thick ripples, stepped into the dining area, the silver and crystal-clear beads on her pale-blue floor-length gown sparkling in the fluorescent lights from the living room lamp. Her feet and arms were bare, her hands slender and graceful. Her perfectly oval face boasted a complexion like peaches and cream, without flaw or blemish—making myself painfully aware of the ugly little moles on my own face and neck—enhanced by rosy cheeks and smiling ruby lips. Her eyes, framed with dark brown lashes and delicately arched eyebrows, sparkled like two sapphires as she smiled down at the purring black-and-white fluffball begging her to rub his belly. She lowered herself down—I hate to use such a coarse term as “squatted” for such an ethereal being as the lady before me—and gently stroked the thick, wooly fur, producing deep, rumbling purrs from its affectionate owner. She murmured softly, speaking words I couldn’t understand, seemingly talking to the cat, pausing every now and then as if listening to his reply.
This had to be Elsa Lightfoot, my Elven maiden raised by Halflings (or rather, Bryndikins, as they call themselves in the Young World)—no other of my Characters possess such beauty (save perhaps Lady Müriel, but her hair is white with a tinge of pale-blue), and it would explain the Beast-speaking abilities this lady demonstrated. All thoughts of afghan construction were forgotten in my fascinated observation of Elsa’s graceful movements, studying her face and form, the way her hair shone in the light.
At that moment Elsa raised her head slightly and turned her face towards me, still smiling her rosy smile. She whispered a few words to the cat and rose to her feet, her posture erect, yet not imposing. Then she raised her left hand, palm outwards, with the middle finger leaning forward slightly and the thumb at an acute angle from the hand. “Greetings, Author,” she beamed, her voice soothing and musical.
“Hello, Elsa,” I returned, wondering if there was any proper way to return an Elvish greeting…and how an Elven maiden raised by the Little Folk would even know the proper way for Elven ladies to greet one another.
“That is a mystery even to myself,” Elsa confessed.
I blinked. “How could you be reading my thoughts, when they weren’t even in concrete words?” I gasped.
Elsa’s sunny smile deepened, making her look even more beautiful (if that were possible). “Why, the same way I can speak to dumb beasts, Author; I can sense the impression of the thought, and—as my foster family would say—read between the lines to get at its meaning.”
“Would you care to sit down?” I asked, suddenly remembering my manners.
“I thank you, yes,” she replied cheerily. She crossed the few yards of laminate flooring and carpet—her feet not even bending the carpet fibers as she trod on them—her silken gown swaying elegantly about her feet as she moved. Elsa daintily adjusted the pillows on the upholstered dining room chair that served as extra seating in our tiny living room, seating herself with grace and ease…and without a sound but the rustle of her dress. For anyone else, the chair would have let out an irritating squawk. Meanwhile, Licorice had hopped up from his “rub-my-tummy!” position and followed Elsa into the living room, where he immediately flopped over on his side…right on top of Elsa’s silk-covered foot.
“Ca-at!” I groaned. “You’ll get your hairs all over her pretty dress!”
“Never mind, Author,” Elsa soothed, rubbing Licorice’s belly. “Cat-hairs are easily brushed off. In any case, he is so intent on welcoming me that he is not as aware of himself as he might be. Pray do not scold him for giving love.”
I buttoned up my mouth, a little put out at being lectured—albeit ever-so-gently—by my own Character. However, seeing how happy Licorice appeared in her presence, I left off pouting and allowed myself to join Elsa in laughing at the cat’s amazing displays of contortion. I had just begun to ponder how to ease into an interview with Elsa—since she was here, and a Character I really knew very little about as yet—when she spoke again:
“They would not help you, Author.”
“Wh-what?” I stuttered, blinking stupidly.
“The interviews you were thinking of conducting,” Elsa explained. She ceased petting the cat—much to his chagrin—and directed her full attention to me now. “They might indeed help you know us your creations better,” she continued, “but they would become stories unto themselves, I deem, and distract you from writing our histories, rather than inspiring you.”
“Then what am I supposed to do?” I wailed. “Whenever I go to continue an existing story, my inspiration dries up and gets ADD, and my motivation goes out the window. I can’t just force myself to be creative—can I?”
Elsa closed her eyes and tilted her head slightly upward, as though praying, for a moment. Presently she opened her eyes and spoke again:
“Creativity in general cannot be successfully forced, true,” she mused, “but the answer that comes to mind—which I believe Elyon has sent me to relate to you—is that you may need to force yourself at first, writing whether you feel like writing or no, until it becomes a pattern, a rhythm. And when there is rhythm,” she concluded, “it will also be a joy again.”
“That would be nice,” I sighed, lifting one corner of my mouth. “I miss those days when words seemed to flow through my head and out my fingers—when I didn’t even have to think of what to say, hardly, and the scenes almost wrote themselves—it was wonderful.”
“It can be so again, Author,” she declared, reaching over and laying her fair hand gently on my arm. “Pray for the right words; Elyon will guide you. He has given you this gift—will He leave you to develop it alone, or allow you to forsake it?”
I smiled sheepishly, recalling a couple other talents I had “forsaken.” “No; that’s one thing He’s never let me drop completely, even in the worst part of this ten-year slump—going on eleven now,” I muttered under my breath. “All through the years, I’ve always had this need to write something—even stupid, silly, often whiny-awful blog-posts—I was always writing something.”
“Elyon has great plans for you, Author,” Elsa replied. “It may be that this one talent—and all others connected with it—is part of that purpose for your life. He began the work in your childhood; He will be faithful to complete it in His perfect time.”
“I just need to obey His—calling, I guess.”
Elsa rose suddenly and stepped closer to my chair. She leaned down and wrapped her slender arms about my shoulders. “Go forth and write!” she whispered as I returned her embrace. Then she straightened and saluted me Elvish-fashion again. “Elyon be with you, Author.”
I also stood, mirroring her salute. “And also with you, Elsa Lightfoot. Someday,” I smirked, “I’ll get your story fleshed out.”
“My history can wait,” she smiled. “There are others whose tales take precedence, and therefore need to be finished—and read—foremost.” With that, she bestowed one more belly-rub to Mister Licorice, one more sunny smile me-ward, and walked gracefully back toward the hallway, disappearing around the corner. She left in her wake one rather disappointed puss-cat…and one very thoughtful author.