Thoughts from the writer - A trip to the past

(This post was written by Elmo Mustonen, the author of The Great Voyage, after I asked him to contribute his feelings about the project)

I started writing this VN seven years ago, working together with Hanna, who was my class mate at the time. I liked writing (and still do) and she liked artwork and computers (and still does). Back then I finished a version of the text and soon after life got in the way and we never finished the VN. Eventually I moved to a different school and then we both graduated and went to do different things as we tumbled our way into adulthood.

Then, last spring, as I was wrestling with my bachelors essay in history at the University of Helsinki, Hanna sent me a surprise: shed finished the VN, and asked if I wanted to finish my bit and edit and translate the text. I of course agreed and what followed was an eerie journey into my past.

When I started writing the original text, I had a number of key influences. The big ones were of course history and social justice, two things that remain close to my heart. The story is mostly about sailing ships and muskets because I thought they were cool. On the literary side, I read a lot of really old books when I was fifteen. The likes of Sorrows of Young Werther and the Count of Monte Cristo weighed heavily in my taste for books and that shows. The original Vassan was half-self insert and half Werther from Goethe`s book. The original Vassan was also far more depressed and much more on the side of actively suicidal than the final version. Reading the original script made me retroactively wonder whether my mental health was really top notch at the time.

On more recent things to influence me, there was the original Battlestar Galactica, a then much more recent TV show where the remnants of humanity travel towards an unknown new home aboard a flotilla of space ships while bickering among themselves and being constantly pestered by a relentless enemy. Sound familiar?

There were of course tons of things about the original that made me cringe. The characters went nowhere, had the craziest mood swings and eventually had very little effect on the plot. There were so many bad jokes, weird word choices, dysfunctional sentences and things that were just plain bad. There were also a lot of stuff that really had to go. In the original script was deeply misogynist, for example. Not only were all the men absolutely horrible towards all the women all the time (some of them still are, some of the time) but the narration itself treated women as untrustworthy, emotional, vain and without any value other than esthetic. Reading these tracts of the original caused me some physical pain. Not only because they are hateful and shouldn`t have been written, but because the person who wrote them was so insecure, disappointed and without hope for the future of his love life. It brought back memories of some very bleak days in my mid-teens.

But in there was also the work of a young writer, trying to find his voice. The voice of someone who wrote because it was fun and only about things that he enjoyed writing, a luxury he no longer has. I felt like I owed it to the younger me not to rewrite the text completely, but merely to fix the parts that I felt didnt work or shouldnt be there.

The work was at times grueling by I`m actually quite pleased with the end result. The story has very much the same structure and pacing as the original and the characters are mostly the same, too. I only changed them where I thought they were acting erratically or against their intended character development. This was not an easy balance to strike and changes to character defining moments were still made in the last stages of editing. The version that was delivered looks to me like a mosaic: a watchful reader can detect both the passion and the anguish of a young, confused writer, struggling between naivety and cynicism both in his own life and his writing. This text has been augmented by more experienced hands, hands that have seen the beauty and the cruelty of life that the younger man had only read about. The finished version can be read as my love letter to me from seven years ago.

The journey we took to deliver this Visual Novel was a long and eventful one. We hope you enjoy it and wish you the best of luck in your journeys.


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