Originally posted to the Vault on 3/22/13.
Everypony grows old eventually, and it can be a trying time for their loved ones.
[Slice-of-Life] • 7,100 words
Dear Princess Celestia,
I'm sorry I haven't written in a while. Things seem to be falling through the cracks lately. Spike thinks I should go see the doctor, but...
Hit the break for a chat with Obselescence, and links to In Memory Of out on the ponynet. Don't forget to grab your own copy over on the Downloads page!
Where do you live?
I’m currently chilling in the rootin’ tootin’ city of Austin, Texas.
What kind of work do you do? (i.e. are you a student, do you have a career/day job, etc)
I’m a student right now at UT, studying Pre-Med Biology in the hopes that I will one day save lives with my mad doctor skills. Or, at the very least, do no harm.
How did you discover My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic? When did you realize you were a fan of the show?
I got into the game relatively late, midway through season 2, when MLP had already become something of an internet phenomenon. At the time I was hanging around on a fan forum for Terraria, where ponies had become the dominant subculture (to the point that there were a couple debates as to how to address frequent bad feelings between pony fans and the rest of the populace). I’d never had any strong feelings on ponies on way or the other, but I had nothing better to do on one fateful Saturday, so I decided to look My Little Pony up on Youtube and see what all the hullabaloo was about. I was not disappointed.
I don’t want to say I became an instant convert... but, uh, I did like it very much from almost the start.
Do you have a favorite episode?
I think I’m sold on “Sleepless in Ponyville”. Everything in that episode is just so perfect. Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash, Sweetie Belle (FRIGGIN’ SWEETIE BELLE), Rarity, Luna... Pretty much everyone is wonderful in “SiP”, and all the gags were extremely solid. I’m very much looking forward to episodes by Corey Powell in the future.
Who is your favorite character based purely on the canon of the show itself? Would your answer change if you considered the fandom in its entirety (i.e. art, fanfiction, memes, etc)?
Purely on showcanon, I want to say Celestia, just because the show hits that sweet spot where we know juuuust enough about her to be intriguing, but there’s enough information kept from us that we’re able to come up with our own ideas about her. As a writer of pony fanfiction, her role as a benevolent, seemingly immortal, god-princess is intriguing to me, and I’m really fond of writing things that look at just how deep the rabbit hole goes with her.
Taking into account the fandom in its entirety, art, fanfiction, Friendship is Witchcraft... I’d have to give it to Sweetie Belle. She’s too cute. Too sweet. Seriously. I am fizzing right now at the mouth at how sweet she is. I have to take insulin daily because she is just that sweet. All the fan artists need to avoid making her so cute when they draw her. They’d save lives in doing so.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
I’d been using names starting with “Obs” around the internet on and off for... longer than I can honestly remember. Obsequious, Observant, etc. I don’t know why, but there it is. Obselescence was just the latest name I chose when signing up to one website, and somehow it stuck. Probably not the smartest move I’ve ever made, considering I didn’t realize I’d misspelled Obsolescence until after I’d already registered.
I SURE DO WISH I HADN’T DONE THAT.
Have you written in other capacities (other fandoms, professionally, etc)? When did you first start writing?
Actually, no, I’d never really written in any capacity before getting into MLP. I’d played around with the idea of doing short stories in an age long past, but that mostly never went anywhere.
The decision to start writing MLP fanfiction was a fateful one, and pretty much everything I know about writing now came from a constant drive to improve and not suck at making pony words. I’m really glad I started doing it, and I feel like I’m a much better author now for my efforts.
Started writing... last March, I guess. Maybe a bit earlier. Gosh, it’s been almost a year now.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Video games. Video games so hard.
Who is your favorite author (published or fanfiction)? Do you have a favorite story or novel?
Oh, gosh, that’s a hard one. I like a lot of authors in the fandom, and I’m not really sure I can pick just one. Blueshift, Wanderer D, NorsePony, and Skywriter seem like good places to start, though.
Published, I’d say... Douglas Adams, maybe? He sure was a cool dude. Wish we had him back.
Favorite story overall, actually, is Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It’s the most hardcore piece of Ancient Chinese literature anyone can bother to pick up, and I’m a huge fan of the work as a whole. Go find yourself a good translation and read it sometime. It’s totes worth it, I promise.
Stephen King believes that every author has an “ideal reader” – the one person who they write for, the one person whose reactions they care about. Do you have one, and if so, who is it?
I... don’t think I do? I’m kind of all over the map when it comes to the genre. I’d like to say that I appeal to the folks who are into whatever kind of fic I’m writing at the time, but that may be a little optimistic. Hm.
My ideal reader is probably one who doesn’t want to throw a rotten tomato at me for my writing. That sounds like a good place to start. I’ll take whatever I can get after that.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers, or writers who are struggling with their own stories?
My favorite piece of advice for authors is one I really should work harder to follow myself:
As an author, you’re going to want to learn doublethink. When in the process of actually writing your story, you should strive to maintain a mindset of “Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, this is the most brilliant thing I’ve ever written!” This is important, because the pressure to feel like you’re wasting your time and you’re not good enough to keep putting words down on paper will be enormous. You will occasionally look at the words you’re putting on the paper and desire to vomit. Try not to. You have to punch through and trust that you don’t, in fact, suck.
When you’re done with all the macrowriting and it’s time to sit down and edit before posting it up somewhere, you want to switch your mindset to “Jesus Christ on a bicycle, this is worthless garbage!” This is important also, because now that you’ve got the skeleton of a story and it’s too late to turn back, you want to leave yourself open to any and all criticism that might help you improve upon it. Very rarely does anyone get things right the first time, so once you’ve ego’d your way over the hill and written a story, it’s time to humble yourself and make the thing you wrote as great as you can possibly make it.
One thing that helps is to find yourself an editor/prereader whose opinion, advice, and criticism you respect and trust. Self-editing is workable if you’re absolutely in a pinch, but another pair of eyes on your work is enormously helpful for catching flaws you might’ve missed.
What is your typical writing process? (Do you work through multiple drafts, do you have any prereaders/editors, etc?)
My typical writing process goes thusly:
-Sit around for five hours like a lazy heap of junk.
-Suddenly have stunning epiphany, in which the seed of an idea is formed.
-Sit around for five hours like a lazy heap of junk as I think about how the idea can be turned into a story.
-Sit around for five hours and do things that aren’t writing because I don’t want to ruin the perfection of this new idea.
-Finally open up Google Docs and start typing.
-Maybe play some tunes to get me pumped up.
-Go back over things repeatedly while writing to see if there’s anything I can make better.
-When finished, beg everyone I know to look at it and tell me how it can be better.
WOW, WHEN I WRITE IT ALL OUT LIKE THAT IT LOOKS SUPER BAD. Just pretend story pop fully formed from my head like the Goddess Athena or something. I dunno.
Incidentally, for editing, I really have to give a shout out to user NorsePony. He is unfairly good at fixing up a story and making it look nice, and without his help I probably wouldn’t be half the dude I am today. Seriously, go read his stuff right now.
What inspired you to write In Memory Of?
I think the start of what would become In Memory Of was a random brainspark I had about what it might be like for Twilight to lose her memory, which’d be really big for Twilight Sparkle, because she lives for knowledge, and her memory is everything she stands for. Confronting her with the loss of that seemed like a really interesting conflict, so I filed the idea away to be written at a later date.
From there, the concept kind of evolved over time, shifting in new and different directions as I thought more about where I wanted to take the story. I don’t really outline my fics that often, so sometimes they end up in places I didn’t quite expect when I started. That said, I’m pretty happy with where it ended up.
Did you run into any tough spots or challenges when writing In Memory Of?
Uh, yeah, actually. Anyone who happened to be near me at the time could probably tell you that I obsessed over making absolutely sure every letter was perfect before I moved forward. It got particularly hairy near the end, when I was asking people to look at variations on the same letter, like, a dozen times or more.
Don’t be like me, kids.
When you set out to write In Memory Of, did you have any specific messages or themes in mind?
Not in particular. The initial thought was, as I said, focused on how Twilight would confront the idea of slowly losing her mind. It quickly evolved into an exploration of the Twilight-Spike-Celestia relationship, though, and I think it ended up becoming a pretty worthwhile deal on how they’re sort of a family, in their own way, with Twilight and Spike as siblings and Celestia as the mom. Thinking about how that dynamic would work with an older Twilight and Spike was really interesting for me, and I’d like to believe it was interesting for everyone who read In Memory Of as well.
Where can readers drop you a line?
Readers can generally reach me by sending me a message on Fimfiction, or dropping a comment on my profile wall. Sometimes my school schedule makes it tough for me to get a quick response back, but I do see pretty much everything that reaches me by those means.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I love all of you.