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About the Author

Skywriter is for all practical purposes Jeffrey Channing Wells, best known in Internet circles as the co-creator of the award-winning daily webcomic "Skin Horse," whose coincidentally equine name is just that.  He also writes non-pony fiction, which you should totally check out over at Scrivnarium.net.  He quite sensibly views winged ponies as having the best of both worlds, a point which is totally indisputable so don't even try.  To sum, up, Ms. Lovingcup Harshwhinny is best pony.  Thank you.

Good Places to Start

  • Derplicity Derpy Hooves is secretly a changeling. Nopony particularly notices, or cares. by Skywriter 7,984 words · 22,746 views · 2,565 likes · 36 dislikes
  • How to Remove a Unicorn Tooth Three missing pieces, two loving alicorns, and a single stupid decision that will set young Princess Cadence on a fresh new course. by Skywriter 11,618 words · 14,323 views · 1,162 likes · 14 dislikes
  • Princess Celestia Hates Tea Seriously, a lot. by Skywriter 8,536 words · 41,534 views · 3,842 likes · 59 dislikes
  • Infernal Machines The touching tale of a pony and her pet mechanical salamander. by Skywriter 8,113 words · 7,523 views · 591 likes · 5 dislikes
  • Shipping Sickness Twilight Sparkle and her bedside table: like two 'ships that pass in the night. by Skywriter 2,286 words · 18,915 views · 1,981 likes · 26 dislikes

Latest Stories

  • E Wassail, Wassail!

    A holiday tale in which Cheerilee learns the true meaning of the word "wassail"; Granny Smith fails to learn the true meaning of the word "polymath"; and somehow, amidst it all, three flowers finally begin to put down roots.  · Skywriter
    6,604 words · 1,577 views  ·  283  ·  7
  • E Heart is Where the Home is

    It's hard saying goodbye to your home of many years.  · Skywriter
    1,068 words · 3,077 views  ·  496  ·  11
  • E Philomeanie

    Luna and Philomena: a hate affair for the ages.  · Skywriter
    10,565 words · 2,972 views  ·  387  ·  7
  • E In the Bleak Midwinter

    In which Cadance I of the Restored Empire is given a very unusual Hearth's Warming gift.  · Skywriter
    4,452 words · 3,675 views  ·  449  ·  3
Mar
3rd
2015

(Crossposted from my scrivnarium.)

I realize I'm dating myself here—and also fingering myself as a dyed-in-the-wool total nerd—but one of the more profoundly shaping experiences of my childhood was Richard Garriott's Enlightenment series of games (Ultima IV and forward).  Though the series decayed somewhat over time, IV and V at least were transcendent.  The use of the second person tense was nothing new to either gamers or veterans of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series, but this was different; beginning with Ultima IV, the character creation process was entirely devoid of stats to assign.  Instead, "you" were asked a number of probing questions about semi-complex moral choices and encouraged to respond how you yourself would actually respond, and you were assigned a class based on those choices[1].  For the first time in gaming history, the second person tense wasn't just a quirk of the narrative.  Your hero was you, encoded however fuzzily into the game's fantasy world by numeric abstraction.

Let us ignore for a moment the fact that any fantasy realm with me as its savior is probably totally boned.  A tangent for another day.

"You" began the game walking up over a slope and looking down into a green valley at an otherworldly Renaissance Faire (Garriott flies his SCA freak flag pretty darn high); the character creation process as described above begins at a fortune-teller's wagon therein, and this is where the technical magic described above begins, but the part that really stuck with me was the moment that came right beforehand.  There's nothing new about "child discovers fantasy world" as a narrative trope.  The literary canon is full of rabbit holes to Wonderland and tornadoes to Oz and phantom tollbooths to the Lands Beyond.  But perhaps as a twin function of the fact that I was already being encouraged to imagine myself there and the utter simplicity of merely walking over a hill, this one gateway to the Magical Kingdom has always stuck with me.

On my farm, there is a point near the lowland where, if you hold your head just right, a great rise of rutted earth fills your entire vision.  You are so low, and the land so high next to you, that nothing is visible beyond it.  No trees or buildings or silos or whatever.  The hill appears to open out into the sky.  Once a year, before the lowland gets too swampy to traverse and before there are crops to be messed up with my boots, I go down to that point, look up at that hill, and believe.

Once a year, I let myself believe—just for a moment—that there is something over that hill.  I'm not sure in my mind if it's Garriott's Sosaria, or Faust's Equestria, or what.  Perhaps it doesn't matter.  Standing there, in the grim gray Wisconsin winter surrounded by a waste of stiff, blunted corn stumps, I imagine that just a few steps away is a warm, green valley just like the one in Ultima, a border-town to some magical world beyond.

I climb, and am always disappointed.

Here is the inspirational point where I look out over the farmland from the top of the rise and determine that I Actually Am In A Magical World After All Here On My Farm.  A nice feel-good moral.  But it never quite happens.  I never quite escape that little pang that comes from having hopes dashed that you knew were laughably unrealistic in the first place.

But still, every year, I keep believing, and I keep climbing.  And every year I worry about the day when I will no longer bother.

I was disappointed again today.  But I guess I'd rather that than the alternative.

[1] Tinker or Mage, depending on which order the questions came, in case you're curious.  Seems about right.

EDIT:  Found an online version.  Apparently, while I am still mostly a mage, my runner-up is paladin.  All notions of real-world virtue aside, it's a much better starting class, since you begin without companions and somebody needs to be the guy with the sword.  Oh, you poor Humble people starting out as Shepherds.  It's a long, hard road starting out in Magincia (a.k.a. the most useless hometown ever).

Skywriter · 269 views · Edited 15h, 56m ago · Report
  • Viewing 221 - 225 of 225
#225 · 6w, 5d ago · · ·

>>1609644

Well, you're welcome!  It's a good story.  It looks like you're winding up toward a conclusion now, so I felt pretty confident in tossing a fave there (unless you really choke on the epilogue, which seems unlikely!)  It's a very nice take on Cadance's origin and I won't pretend that reading your story didn't conversely light a fire under my own butt and make me want to do my own stuff better.

Anyway, whatever part I played in helping you bring the story to successful completion, I'm glad of it.

#224 · 6w, 5d ago · · ·

Thank you.

Your fave was the one I wanted most.

I'm going to be honest here: I wanted to outdo your Lady Prismia with my story, no matter how unreachable that lofty goal was/will ever remain. Not because I don't like yours but because I thought I could do Cadance's origins better.

Heh. Silly. In any case, thanks for providing the drive I needed to complete the story after 6 months.

#223 · 7w, 16h ago · 1 · ·

>>1605820

I'm hoping by January's end.  Either that or another short (as yet untitled) that intruded itself to cover some ground that it'd be awkward to cover in that story.

#222 · 7w, 16h ago · · ·

Any chance you can drop a hint regarding when Mi Amore Influenza will be coming out? :raritystarry:

#221 · 7w, 6d ago · · ·

>>1596678 That's fascinating. :heart:

  • Viewing 221 - 225 of 225
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