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  • 236 weeks
    An Obituary for a Story.

    Hi, folks. I’ll keep this brief if I can. It’s basically an apology. I wanted to give you a story this Christmas, but unfortunately that’s not going to happen.

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    15 comments · 922 views
  • 278 weeks
    (Not) The Last Word

    (I'll leave this up for anyone curious about my writing. But I finished my break.)


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    13 comments · 830 views
Feb
27th
2015

(Not) The Last Word · 9:51pm Feb 27th, 2015

(I'll leave this up for anyone curious about my writing. But I finished my break.)


TL;DR -- The stories I write originate from ideas for scenes I would have loved to have seen in the show but that I thought were 'missing.' I write the kinds of stories that I personally want to read and want to see: good-natured, feely affairs with happy endings. But between the newer episodes and the stories I've already written, I've 'seen' everything that I've really wanted to right now, and so, until new inspiration strikes me, I'm taking a bit of a break.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I'll get this out of the way first and foremost: Thank you. To everyone who decided to click on the little ramblings I put up here; everyone who took a look at a synopsis and thought, 'yeah, sounds okay, I'll give that a go'; everyone who saw my 'name' on a piece as an indication that the particular arrangements of the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet therein might be worth their time. To those that enjoyed my stories enough that you recommended them to others, and especially to those that even took the time out of your busy lives to tell me what you thought. Thank you. Thank you all. You'll never know how much your kind words encouraged me to continue making stories.

The conclusion of '...Songs and Solace' will likely mark the end of my final piece, at least for a while, and the beginning of something of a hiatus.

Nothing drastic has happened. I haven't suddenly fallen out of love with writing, and I haven't suddenly lost my love of the characters or their world. Nor have I experienced any big life changes or attacks of angst that would necessarily keep me from putting pen to paper. No, I'm afraid the truth is rather more mundane.

I have simply run out of ideas.

I'll explain everything from the beginning. And I'll start, with Applejack.

I like Applejack. Best Pony. To the extent that I have a favourite cast member, it's her: a good-natured and likeable character with a lot of qualities that I relate to and respect. And one of her most defining character traits in the show is a love of her family.

We've seen how well she gets on with her sister many times, and Granny Smith's been given her due as well. But... well, she has a big brother too, and Big Mac has always kind of fallen by the wayside a little. We know they have a history together, but their bond has been implied more than it's been expressed. Which is okay in an, 'it's-not-in-your-face-leave-it-to-the-imagination' way. But one of the scenes I've desperately wanted to see for a long while now, is the Big Mac / Applejack heart-to-heart.

I just want those two to talk to each other. It doesn't even really matter what they talk about, just some meaningful interaction would do. Those two siblings haven't had a real conversation with actual words since Applebuck Season where the topic was... well apples. That's a long time coasting on not-a-lot. I get that Mac is a pony of few words, but for his sister, I think he'd make an exception, and that would only make it more special.

And it's doubly galling as, for my money, the show has passed up two golden opportunities to give them just that. Once in Apple Family Reunion -- right after Applejack's hayride destroys the barn, (I so wanted Big Mac to have Granny Smith's role there); and again more recently in Somepony to Watch Over Me, while AJ's fretting as the two of them walk through the woods.

Anyway, after I didn't get what I was hoping for from Apple Family Reunion, I started thinking. Wondering. Imagining. What would that heart-to-heart I really wanted to see actually look like? What would they talk about? And I had a few ideas, which eventually became the Conversation At The Lake. I created this little scenario in my mind, somewhere between episodes, where those two siblings finally had the big, emotional talk I really wanted them to have. And it was powerful stuff, at least to me. Surprisingly specific too -- there was actual dialogue and prose just popping in there, giving me the feels right inside my own head. Awesome.

But then there was a problem. Because suddenly it wasn't just that scene any more. No, now there was a Before and an After too. This whole story just began to unravel, from beginning to end. It grew and it spread and became fully formed. To the extent that I even knew what the first and last lines were.

Lines?

Why don't you write this down...?

Write it down? In actual words? Nah. Silly idea. I like it where it is, in my head; what's the point of writing it out?

Because you've always kind of wanted to write *something* if only for fun. This is something. And secretly, you think it might turn out alright. It's like... an experiment. Or a hobby. Try it out and see what happens.

It took a while but finally, and with no small amount of self-embarrassment, I put pen to paper. 16,000 words later I had a private, warm, fuzzy story called We Apples, Three just sitting in my GDocs account, and... being there.

It can't stay there. You know that, right?

So, you're just going to destroy it?

It's not like I want to!

Long story short, the little voice in my head that was secretly proud of what I'd done convinced me not to eradicate it, but instead to upload it to t'internet where it would be safe. I got myself a basic fimfic account, mashed the numbers 86 into the keyboard twice (the name doesn't matter, no-one's ever going to read this) and put the words I'd written into it. There. Safe. I could clear the story from my Google Drive, but if I ever wanted to read it again, to remind myself that AJ and her brother really did have that big talk, I knew where to find it.

You're going to let other people read it too though, right?

What? Why in the name of Hallmark would I do that?! Have you seen the internet? That would be a disaster!

Because there's just a small chance that someone else might read it, and it might make them happy.

Oh, you are kidding me...

It took me a lot longer than I care to admit to push that big, red 'Submit' button, and as soon as I'd done it, I wanted to take it back. Hit 'Unpublish, No No No I Don't Want This After All' and forget the whole thing. But I took a deep breath, told myself that if I could make even one other person happy, then it was worth it, and otherwise waited for the denizens of the internet to tear what I'd written to shreds.

Well, it wasn't quite that bad. You can still go read those early comments if you like, but suffice it to say that the people that read it, reacted positively. But hey-ho, nevermind. It's over now. Out of my system. A pleasant, warm little story attached to four numbers and nothing else, rapidly forgotten, and for the best it was too.

You know... even while I was writing it, I was always kind of disappointed that Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo didn't have much time together in the episodes after their big scene in Sleepless in Ponyville. I kinda wanted them to show us how they'd build on that budding relationship. And hey, you know what else? I've always wondered what happened to Dash before she arrived in town. We've only had vague references before. So I came up with some more scenes that I wanted. Concepts like the Pegasus Beach Party, Conversations between Dash and her former teacher, Fluttershy being surprisingly awesome at being Fluttershy... things that, again, the show hadn't offered but that I really wanted to see. What I would eventually come to think of in my head as 'Alpha' scenes. And some of those were pretty powerful too. Rainbow Dash finding the statue of herself in the clubhouse? That one got me.

A little while after Apples was published and not-torn-to-pieces, the voice in my head convinced me to start writing that one too. Writing had been fun. Why not? I started writing Flight. I got so far, and then abandoned it about a third of the way through. No-one was going to want to read this. No-one cares what I think happened to Rainbow Dash in flight school. They've got their own ideas, and I'm inviting them to look at this? A sad piece of headcanon masquerading as a story and blemished with unsubtle Top Gun references, (Dash's former teacher has the nickname Viper? Come on!) Seriously, reading this is just going to provoke people. Just leave it alone.

When I left it I never intended to go back to writing at all. I'd done my bit. Had my fun. It was only the gnawing sense of leaving something unfinished that pulled me back to trying to salvage it. But you know what? For all my insecurity... turned out most folks that read it liked that one too. It was weird. Almost like I was doing something right.

Daring Do was an interesting concept when we first 'met' her. Way back before we knew she was real, I figured the books were kind of Equestria's equivalent of Harry Potter -- ubiquitous and widely-read sources of fiction. I thought about how their publishers would go about promoting the brand between new releases and wondered if they might do something similar to what the real-world did to Lara Croft in the 90's -- cast a real person to 'be' her to make public appearances and whatnot. Then I thought about what life might be like for that pony, always living in someone else's shadow. And before I knew it, there was a character there. A lonely, deeply flawed character with no-one to call a friend. I named her Footlight (after the Footlights dramatics society at Cambridge University, where actors such as John Cleese, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie got their start) and I started writing about her. Somehow, I ended up with a first-person, present-tense story which took place entirely as though it were being relayed to you, the reader, by her consciousness. It was a nice refreshing change of pace and somehow, despite how surreal I know it sounds, it worked. It was only a quick, 5000 word job. A day-in-the-life type affair (really more of an afternoon) with an ending that was more bitter than bittersweet, and for which I felt surprisingly guilty. But at the time, it was done. Finished. A little experiment thrown up for those who like experiments. I made the descriptions a little vague so that only the curious and inquisitive would give it a go. I didn't want to waste anybody's time.

In the author's notes at the end of Yesterday (Ch 1), I described it as a pallette-cleanser between stories, because that's what it was. A way to 'reset' after the debacle that had been Flight, because already there was this new story I wanted to write. Again, based on something I wanted to see that the show hadn't given me. But it was so simple. Such an obvious concept. Twilight and Applejack both have big brothers, but they're very different. So, whose is best? Like Apples, the story, framework and characters, again even down to the first and last lines, were already right there in my mind, but since I was by now much less resistant to picking up the pen, parts of it weren't fully matured before I was ready to put it on paper. I had my Alpha scenes -- scenes and dialogue perfectly formed that I just had to see. Scenes like the Argument About Arguments, the Meeting In The Barn, Applejack Talks to Shining, all waiting patiently. But I just couldn't wait for the parts between them to coalesce the same way, so I came up with Beta scenes -- scenes like The Contest, and Big Mac Talks to Twilight (which actually became my favourite, so satisfying was it to write,) that I knew would be in there, that I would lead the story towards and then deal with in a 'cross that bridge when I come to it' manner.

By the time I reached the ending I was quite proud of what I'd done with the idea. Of the stories I've written, B.B.B.F.F.B.R. isn't my personal favourite, but objectively I think it's the best one I've written combined with the best ending. I like to think I give good, satisfying endings, but that one, when I hit on it, (just give that line to Twilight, idiot)... I knew I had something special.

I was in a rhythm with writing now. Write the story. Obsessively edit the story. Obsessively edit every chapter in the story individually. Upload it. Obsessively edit again (every single time I would find something I'd missed,) post a chapter and give myself about a day to obsess over the next one. If a reader was going to invest time in my stories, then I owed it to them not only to give them a finished one, but also to not keep them waiting too long for the next part. So the first chapter went up, and when the following day came to edit the second chapter, my jaw was on the floor. It had exploded.

It had been featured. People were reading it. People were liking it. In droves! And those people were expecting things. I had comments by the dozens! And suddenly I noticed that it, and some of the other things I'd written were, without any input from me, being put into groups. Respected groups. Famous groups! And they were apparently being recommended to others! And something else was happening too. One or two people were even reading this story because I'd written it! Oh, no. No no no. That wasn't the point! Those are just four numbers! Don't read the story for the author, read the story for the story!

Headrush. The point is I would have bottled it had I not had the rest of the story ready to go. But still, for every expectation in the comments I knew wouldn't be fulfilled, I died a little inside. I wanted to cry out 'Sorry sorry sorry!' But you know what? I posted the last chapter and again, somehow it was good. It was liked. It was like whatever I was doing, I was still doing it right... weird.

I had two goals after that. I was firmly entrenched in this writing scene now, but I'd always felt guilty for how I'd left Footlight: essentially giving her what she wanted most in the world, (a friend) and then snatching it away. I didn't think I was that cruel. After all, I write the stories I want to read, and I really like happy endings. And then I thought about what that friend she met might do, and what might happen the following day...

Ideas. Scenes. Narrative. Chapter 2.

Hesitation. I knew when I was writing it that I was breaking Rule Number One: 'The reader is God.' I also knew that I was coming dangerously close to breaking canon (which I try my hardest to avoid) since we knew Daring Do was real by now. But I thought I might just be forgiven this once, just so I could take care of my character and give her a slightly more hopeful outlook. It took about 10,000 words longer than I thought it would(!) but I eventually got to a point with her where I could leave her on her own and she'd be okay. It was self-indulgent and it put the character before the reader... but I don't regret it. (That's not to say I don't have regrets about my writing but... we'll get there, if you're still with me.)

The second goal was palette cleansing again, and I needed a clean start for this new idea I had while writing B.B.B.F.F.B.R. A short Epic starring Celestia and Luna as Two Best Sisters, as opposed to Canterlot Throne Warmers. See, I wanted to see more interaction and character building between those two which the show has only touched on, and although we got a bit in Season 4, there's so much more potential there.

Eclipse was hard to write. The main problem I had was that it was way bigger than anything I'd tried before, and it wasn't fully formed when I began. I had the first half of a story and that was it. And there were so many challenges I had to overcome, so many moving parts I had to get in the right order, so many ideas I had to have to keep things interesting, not to mention the fact that I knew it was going to give me two obstacles with which I hadn't contended before: writing Action, and writing Pinkie Pie. (Seriously, I'm scared of her.)

By the time the sisters got to Tartarus I was running on fumes. I knew where the story ended but that ending just seemed so far away and I had no fuel left to get there. I had to come up with these challenges and these pitfalls so that I could get them to their next interaction, (the Cyclops Attack was a very late addition,) but I finally managed to get them to the moon. The scene on the moon was the first Alpha scene I had for this story. It was the crux of the whole thing and yet... while I knew what I wanted to happen there between the characters, and the conversation I wanted them to have, the mechanics of it weren't all in place until the last minute. I came very very close to bottling that prison-room scene. It was nearly a weak-sauce version of what it is now, but I am so glad I didn't, because of all the scenes I think I've ever written, that one, and the scene afterwards, are probably the most emotionally satisfying I've done.

The rest of that story, right up to the last part of the final chapter came together more by luck than by judgement. There were a couple of detours but essentially it was a sprint to the finish. I actually came surprisingly close to killing off the King of the Dragons, but no. That's not me. I don't do sad if I can avoid it. Happy stories. Like the show would do. (Though, this was a two-parter, obviously.)

I think it was while I was writing that, EqD put up a poll, discussing what fans wanted to see next season. I cannot for the life of me recall what most of the options were, or what won (probably something like MOAR LUNA) but the one that caught my eye was, 'The Great Ponyville Snowball Fight (feat. Celly & Luna).'

Yes. I want to see that! Ideas. Scenes. Oh, scenes! Sneak attacks, snow-forts, air-raids, tunnels, bad innuendos, icicle sword-fights! Derpy! Characters being happy and Princesses not being Princesses. Simple sweet slice-of-life with ponies being awesome to each other. Just like the reason I fell for the show in the first place, and such a refreshing change from what I'd just done.

By the time I'd finished I was on the crest of a wave. I was getting comments expressing approval for my writing style and characterisation. When people told me that what I'd written 'felt like an episode' it was the highest praise I could imagine. After all, I was just writing what I wanted to see from the show. But apparently I was doing it right. People were reviewing things I'd written. People were asking me to make audio books of my pieces!

Somehow, the four numbers attached to each of those stories had started to mean something to people. And that was scary. I'm not a total recluse but I liked the idea of writing my stories, just tossing them up, and people taking a chance on them, reading them, and maybe finding something in them to enjoy. I don't promote them*. I don't do anything with them except write them and post them. I don't even really consider them 'my' stories anymore, once they're up. They belong to the reader, and I enjoy reading them as much as the next guy.

(* I'll qualify that in the interests of full disclosure. On two occasions, while drunk, I've submitted two of my stories to EqD. Just because I thought a wider audience of folks might like them. Both were rejected. I never resubmitted them, and there is a large part of me that is grateful they were never picked up. Because I want people to read my stories because they want to. Here, what I was doing was essentially asking someone to read them, and that just felt wrong. As for which two stories they were... well, I'll leave you to speculate.)

Then I came to A Friend of a Friend. If there's one story I wish I hadn't written, or at least wish I'd waited longer to write, it's this. And it was so promising.

The premise was simple - give Spike the story about friendship I hadn't seen him get yet. The concept was simple -- everypony gets a thousand words, give or take, to accidentally rebuff Spike and so he gradually becomes sadder and more disillusioned but ultimately leading to a big, happy, heartwarming ending where all his friends tell him what he means to them. I was so confident. Look at what I had done already! I could make this work.

No.

Firstly, a thousand words was too tight a limit. The writing was too direct and cold; functional, nothing more. Secondly, as a product of that, my treatment of some of the characters suffered. Some characters acted out-of-sorts with not enough context or explanation. Some issues went entirely unresolved by the climax. And some characters were not given their due props.

None of which should have been allowed to happen. Not if the reader is going to enjoy the story. Rule One: The reader is God.

Ultimately I ended up re-writing large sections of the final chapter and epilogue (I love epilogues, it gives me a second chance to do the end of the story,) but the point is I had to because I had rushed it in the first place. I learned a lot. I finally got it to a state that I'm not unhappy with, but the bitter taste still lingers. Surprisingly, it seems to be among the most popular of my pieces. Go figure.

To Be Evil, I don't really count as a story. It was another experiment. Another palette-cleanser. Take a character bent on conquering Equestria, and with the aid of another, see if you can get him to the point where he is actually apologising for ever having even thought of doing so. Also, include Derpy. It was a fun, random way to kill a long car journey, but nothing more. I tossed it up and thought no more about it because in my head I was already well on my way to the story I'd wanted to write for a real long time.

Applejack and Rainbow Dash.

Oh, those two. Your actual mileage may vary, but the first time I ever saw Applejack grab Rainbow Dash's tail to stop her from doing something very ill-thought-through, I thought, 'Yes, those two are real close friends.' That's just not the sort of thing you do for someone you've only just met. And then, halfway through season one we got Fall Weather Friends and it was good. And it gave me almost everything I wanted to see.

Almost. Because while the show had been fairly prescient about predicting what I'd wanted to watch up to that point, the climax to that episode, while still all sorts of awesome, I thought would go a different way...

They finally came to rest on what appeared to be a wide, deep rocky shelf. Somehow, their whirlwind of momentum had carried them up the face of the cliff and, once spent, had deposited them here, on this precarious outcrop halfway up the mesa, jutting out high over the trail and the woods.

Dash shook her head to clear the dizziness and looked outwards, able to see above the tree-tops from her new heightened perspective. She could actually see the finish-line from here. A chequered banner strung high between two poles, and a little closer to her, a faint plume of dust that had to be the leading runners. She did a quick, instinctive calculation and decided that, yes, if she set off at a sprint now, she could just about overtake that dust cloud before it reached the banner.

Suddenly there was a crack. And then a crunch. And then a crumble. And the entire shelf lurched horribly, tilting at a sickening angle, pitching downwards but remaining, for the time being, attached to the cliff. Dash rocked her knees and, though stumbling awkwardly, managed to remain on her hooves. Applejack though, still trying to stand, slipped on the layer of dust and loose shingle covering the shelf. She fell on her side with a pained grunt and, to Dash's horror, she began to slide.

Gravity pulled Applejack inexorably towards the edge of the drop, her hooves scrabbling frantically but finding no purchase at all on the dusty surface. Almost in the blink of an eye she reached the edge and went over, hindquarters first and the rest following until, by some sheer luck, right at the last, her left forehoof found a tiny lip. And with what must have been the most monumental of wills, Applejack clung on, her whole body now dangling from the rock-shelf, suspended by a single foreleg and the most precarious of grips.

Dash looked up once more. The dust-cloud was closer to the finish-line now. She could still beat it there, but only if she took to her hooves immediately. Otherwise she'd lose the race.

She fixed her face into a determined frown.

"Hang on, Applejack. I'm coming!"

You see what I'm getting at? Dash spends that whole episode determined to win at everything, so I wanted her to actually have to confront that choice at the end. To force her to decide what was really more important to her: her friendship with Applejack, or her desire to win. And because of who she is, we all know what she would choose. Cue big, feels-inducing closure that would then wrap up in the same way the episode eventually did.

But because I didn't quite get it that way, it always rankled with me a bit. There was always this little ambiguity about Dash's character that didn't explicitly get resolved until right at the end of Rainbow Falls. (Boy does Twilight steal, every, scene in that episode!) Which was good enough, but I wanted more.

Concept. Ideas. Alpha scenes. Beta scenes. I took my time over it because I really wanted to do this one right. To give those two characters the story I'd always wanted to see them have. I was aware while I was writing it that I was treading a little close to shipping territory, but I was determined to walk the tightrope there. I don't ship ponies, at least not in anything other than a perfectly innocent sense, because that's not what the show would do, (and people have their own ideas about who should get together with whom.) But while I didn't want them to go all romance (at least not within the confines of this story -- what happens afterwards is up to you) those two characters do have a relationship, and whatever else you'd call it, it's definitely love. Maybe not Love with a capital 'L', but there's lots of different kinds of love, so I fell back on the one that had served me well enough in the past -- family, using it -- perhaps a little heavy-handedly -- as a container to describe the affection there.

And... that was it. I was out. Spent. With every piece I'd written I already had an idea what the next one might be halfway through. Not anymore. Everything was done.

Well, almost everything. There was one more piece I could write. More of a thank-you than anything else. See, many of the folks that read Eclipse seemed to quite enjoy one of the characters I'd created. As a rule I don't create characters if I can help it. You watch the show for the ponies you know and love, so for the vast majority that's what I stick to. But this guy seemed to strike a chord with people, and I already had quite a bit of lore saved up that was never going to be used otherwise, so I thought why not? I wrote out Songs and Solace just as a way of saying, 'Hey, this is all I've got left, but you know that character you liked? Here's a little more of him.' Time will tell if that was smart or not, but that just about brings me to the here and now.

Once again, thank you for reading. Thank you for all the support. It's one thing to see the number of likes next to a story, but it's hearing what folks think about it that's always kept me coming back to write the next one. I know I don't talk much about me, but honestly that's because I just don't want to distract people from the stories. That's what you came for after all, right? Don't need to hear the author spouting lots of pretentious nonsense about themselves in order to enjoy the fiction. Rest assured though, that there's a real person back here, with real hopes, fears, faults and insecurities, and at the end of it all, he hopes he's made you happy, because that makes him happy too.

Like I say, it's not like I've given up on writing, at least not for any reason. I just don't have any more stories to tell right now, so I'm gonna take a little break. Just relax away from it for a while. If I do go back to writing, the first you'll know of it will be when the first chapter of a new story just appears out of the blue, attached to four numbers and nothing else.

But before that I need a narrative. Before that I need scenes. And before all of that, I need an idea I want to see. So I'll wait for the new season and maybe it'll inspire me. Maybe I'll even read a little in the meantime. Ooh, which reminds me...

Can anyone recommend a good story?

You know the kind I like to read by now...

Stay safe, and have fun,

--The Author

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Comments ( 13 )

I'm sorry to hear you're running low on ideas :ajsleepy:
Let me know if you'd like to borrow a few! Really. I've got a ton of them and increasingly scarce time to pour into fan fiction, especially when I'm supposed to be working on my original novel....

Wow! I must thank you, I’m a little late in getting here but I am so glad I found your stories!

I can easily say you have written some of the best stories in this fandom, so I thank you for writing and sharing those wonderful ideas! You’ve accomplished many things that other authors struggle to achieve and yet you’ve done so in a faction of the space; I could recommend you plenty of stories to read, ones similar to your own but be prepared to read a lot...

See if you want a story as epic as Eclipse then read The Steadfast Sky by TheGreyPotter, all 340,000+ words of it...

If you want an Applejack and Rainbow Dash story as intimate as Above All Else the you’ll have to wade through some 540,000+ words of Appledashrey by Just Essay to try and find it, plus that one’s shipping.

I could recommend stories all day long but I’ll just say go an look over my favorites list and my ranked bookshelves, you’ll most likely find something you’ll like in there, especially if I get around to filling out the lists like I should be...

Anyway I really just want say thanks for the amazing stories.

Although these are dissimilar to your stories here’s three stories I’d recommend for you the most.

Dear Ponyville by 1over0 (This one’s a little on the bittersweet side, but it’s an amazing story if you feel like crying your eyes out.)
http://www.fimfiction.net/story/24295/dear-ponyville

Raider of the Cutie Mark (Don’t let it’s name or cover art fool you, it is completely serious and actually has nothing to do with Indiana Jones.)
http://www.fimfiction.net/story/974/raiders-of-the-cutie-mark

Twilight October by uSea (Just a simple story about the pony friends being friends, it’s pretty funny too.)
http://www.fimfiction.net/story/685/twilight-october

Ah now back to your post, thanks also for sharing your side of the writing experience, that was nice to see. I think it’s funny how you dreaded writing Pinkie because when I finished reading your stories I thought ‘Hmm that was a lot of Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Luna, and Celestia… the others were there too but Pinkie, I’d like to see how 8686 handles a less cerebral character like Pinkie…’
Be inspired Pinkie! Please? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfJIggIySiM

Thanks (again, again) for the ‘deleted scene’ too that was cool, it’s been saved.

As for your hiatus I can even thank you for that… or this post about it… so many authors have simply disappeared without a word and left unfinished stories hanging off of cliffs so thanks for not doing that. I don’t feel like I need to tell you to take your time with your stories, for you to write what you want to write (or read), and for you to post only when you are satisfied with it because you know what you’re doing.

...and now I feel like I’ve said ‘your’ and ‘stories’ too many times but not ‘thanks’ I can’t say thanks enough!

Definitely take a break if you feel the need to. Inspiration can be fickle, but in my experience, the writing bug never completely lets you go. With time--and probably with the new season--I imagine you'll find your muse again. If you do, we'll be here.

And if this is the last we hear from you, let me just say: Thank you for all the great stories. There are a lot of talented writers on this site, but the strength of your writing, as well as your seemingly instinctual grasp of pacing, tone, and characterization, put many other writers (even published ones, it must be said) to shame. Your work has consistently been some of the most entertaining I've seen in this fandom, and even you, as a person, have always radiated a kind of positivity that's a treat to find on the internet.

I look forward to seeing you in my feed again, somewhere down the line.

Thank you SO MUCH for pressing that submit button, seriously your stories are some of the best on this site.

I don't even really consider them 'my' stories anymore, once they're up. They belong to the reader, and I enjoy reading them as much as the next guy.

If I didn't already respect you for the quality of your stories, that alone would probably have instantly earned my respect.

and at the end of it all, he hopes he's made you happy, because that makes him happy too.

From what I've personally read so far, you should be very, very happy. :twilightsmile:

Can anyone recommend a good story?

You know the kind I like to read by now...

I'll have to search through my bookshelves for any recommendations, but I'll try to get back to you on that...

Well, I've put a good many hours into my bookshelves, so maybe give those a spin, top-down.

I do hope you find more inspiration, because you've managed to be one of the best authors on the site in my book. More reliability than Pen Stroke or JasonTheHuman (both of whom had one very good story, taken as a whole, and then some other … decent-enough ones), and while not as prolific in sheer worditation as Reality Check or Hoopy McGee, you still turned out a lot of really awfully good stories.

Before I say anything else, I just want to say thank you for all the stories you've written. Maybe they didn't feel like much to you, but they've brought a lot of joy to people all over the world. 2836308 got it right - you are a truly exceptional author.

The other thing I want to thank you for it for writing this specifically. It's clear that it wasn't necessarily a comfortable or easy thing for you to do, but it made for a wonderful read and a perfect goodbye. I truly hope we see you back again with fresh inspiration, but if we don't, then I wish you all the best in all your future endeavours.

As for story recs, I'll get back to you on that. Give me a bit to look around.

I would definitely reccomend:
In Which Twilight Sparkle Attempts To Eat A Sandwich
&
Don't Knock It Till You Try It
As two wonderful short stories, that I personally think could be episodes of the show in and of themselves.

I've only read two of your stories ( A friend of a friend, & the great ponyville snowball fight) but I loved them both, and I plan on reading the other 8 stories you've written.
I just wanted to say thanks for writing such amazing stories.

Can anyone recommend a good story?

I didn't read much of your blog post (it's a bit too long!), but I know plenty of great little gems that people seem to ignore.

I just dont know what went right

Fun crossover story: Dexters Lab Equestria

Just like her

Glad to hear you're doing what matters to you, rather than trying to please us. n_n What sort of fics are you looking for?

You know, I've always hated blind praise for something. "This is amazing" and "Wow, you're good" always felt, to me, like a disservice to the writer. The person who, after pouring out everything they have(hopefully) onto the page only to be greeted with a couple words of affirmation doesn't seem right, to me. Doesn't seem an apt thanks for their hard work.

Because of this feeling, I've always tried to respond to an author the way I'd like to be responded to. With a thoughtful comment on the story, maybe a few suggested edits and definitely a critique if I can muster one. It's the least I can do.

And that's easy for the average writer.

But it's... so difficult to put into words what I'd like to say to you, Mr. 4 letters.

I suppose I should start over. A friend of mine linked me "We Apples Three" about a year and a half ago because he knew I loved AJ and he had heard it was a good piece. I hadn't written in a long time, and god knows I hadn't read something in even longer, fan fic wise. So when I sat myself down and actually got into that story, immersed myself into this episodic and emotional tale of three characters I personally enjoy quite a bit(AJ best pony, yo), I was taken aback. I fumbled out a comment(which I just reread, amusingly), and hoped you'd see it. That story, with all its depth and emotion, set a precedent in my mind of how I wanted to write, how well I wanted to write.

Afterwards, I delved into your other works, and holy crap I was hit even harder, with each one. I had even recommended quite a few of them to some friends of mine, as well. I found I loved these stories, and your writing, even more.

But something stood out to me. Something... odd. In all I had read, I hadn't seen a single blog post... nary a small handful of author comments... Just this guy, with 4 letters and some damn good stories. All I had known about you was that your author's notes thanked me for reading every time.

It was humbling, honestly. And it still is, and you still continue to be, even as I read this blog.

So what I want you to know, though I'll probably never get a confirmation you had read this, is that your writing does mean a hell of a lot to some people. I want you to know that you've been a huge inspiration to me as I get back into writing, and I want you to know I've personally enjoyed just about every word of yours that I've had the pleasure of reading. Even the author's notes, :raritywink:

While that... may not do the best job at expressing what I'd like to, I do hope it comes close. As I said in that ramble of an opener, I don't think a simple thank you could suffice. Just in case you'd prefer, though, I'll cave. 8686, Thank You. For everything.

And good luck with whatever may come to pass, in writing and elsewhere. It's been a pleasure.

Huh. I thought for sure I had commented on this back when you posted it, but I guess when I went to look for fic recommendations, something distracted me, and the tab vanished. Or something? I dunno, but I'm certainly gonna make sure this comment goes through (Update from future C2: It went through!). Assuming I can remember how words work, that is :raritywink:

Your whole perspective on why you write and how you treat your stories after publication is definitely something I can get behind. I love the focus on the audience and trying to treat them right (as opposed to, say, writing feature bait in an attempt to game the audience). I love the way you take an idea and turn it into a story. It's really cool to see that process.

But there was one thing I can't quite get behind.

Yes, read the stories for the story, not the author. Yes, 8686 is just a random mashing of buttons. But this site isn't limited to stories and people reading them. There's a big community here, with plenty of smaller sub-communities. Once upon a time, I was like you. I was just a guy who read things, using the same name he used everywhere else. The only thing I really did was comment everywhere. After all, the authors work hard on their stories. The least I could do was tell them what I thought. But I was just a random guy who read things. Nothing more. Then I started getting involved in various community activities. I started making friends on the site. I went to Bronycon and spent a good deal of money to get there just to meet some of those friends. And now here I am three years later, and one of my best friends on the site is one I started talking to only a couple months ago. It's amazing just how much the community has to offer and continues to offer, and I definitely think it's something that's worth getting involved in.

It's something you should at least consider, I think. I mean, friendship is magic :duck:


With that out of the way, I believe you were after some recommendations?
Based on the blog, I'm gonna assume:
- [Tragedy] is not something you're interested in. Happy endings or bust.
- On that same note, [Dark] is probably also no bueno.
- You liked keeping your stories as close to canon as possible, so no [Alternate Universe].
- I would say something about [Romance], but it's not something I'm fond of, so if you don't like it, there's nothing to worry about. If you do, well, you'll have to look elsewhere.

So

Eclipse by... wait, no. :trollestia:
I couldn't resist. Sorry.
Except I'm not sorry.
:rainbowwild:

A Diamond and a Tether by PatchworkPoltergeist
- A re-imagining of My Little Dashie, except it's Diamond Tiara instead of Dash. It gets everything right that MLD did wrong. It stars a compelling brat of a main character trying to take care of an equally brattish (I don't care that 'brattish' isn't a word) Diamond Tiara, and her poor maid that has to suffer through it all. And to top it all off, the story sets up very nicely for Season 1 and Diamond Tiara's reign of terror at the school. The ending was particularly powerful and while it's not the happiest of endings, it's also not at all tragic. It just is, and what it is is powerful.

Collaborators by BaalBunny
- I really don't think I can say much beyond just copypasting the description:
"Ahuizotl threatens to sue A. K. Yearling for libel unless she stops writing the Daring Do books. She makes him a counter-offer."

Welcome to the Show by DWK
- Aria attempts to resume life after the events of Rainbow Rocks. It's, well, it's not pretty. And by that, I mean Aria has a fair number of vices. Smoking, drinking, etc. But the amount of characterization that goes into this story and the amount of backstory given to the Dazzlings is absolutely amazing. The only real reason I hesitate to recommend it is that the author experienced a rough stretch a couple months ago and has been unable to write. But if you're fine with waiting, the five chapters that are currently up are excellent.

Moonlight Palaver by Carabas
- I love Carabas, and I would definitely recommend anything he's written. Oh, I can hear you now, "Read for the story, not the author," but hear me out first. Throughout all of his stories, Carabas has created a consistent continuity that is referenced in nearly all of his stories. A bit of world-building here, a mention there. And he works those references in so fluidly. And sometimes, you'll go back and read an older story, and you'll notice a reference to a story that hadn't even been written when the story you're reading was published. The world he's created is spread over multiple stories, and Moonlight Palaver is an excellent place to start. Equestria, after all, is not the only country on the continent. So when Nightmare Moon returns, how exactly will the other continental leaders react? What if they had a summit to discuss exactly that? The result is an absolutely hilarious and amazing story featuring donkeys, dragons, griffons, sheep, and crowns.

It's a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door by Jetfire
- Grand adventure in all senses of the term, DB stars Dash, AJ, and Rarity on a quest to find a cure for Twilight's disease. It was one of the first epics the fandom ever produced, and it's still one of the greatest. Since it takes place early on in the show, there's still that feeling that perhaps AJ and Rarity don't get along too well. Or that AJ's and Dash's rivalry is perhaps too much. This story takes the idea that they might not be best friends with each other and perhaps even only "friends" because of Twilight and uses it as fuel to build their friendships throughout the entire story.

Good Intentions by Just Horsing Around
- I know I figured [Dark] was out of the question, but hear me out. This is [Dark] in the atmospheric sense. The mood of the opening chapters is offset by this increasingly creeping feeling that something is off. Something isn't right. And it is revealed that there's a monster roaming around, the monster is never shown. It's always just on the edge, never seen. And just how does this monster's appearance line up so conveniently with the arrival of two seemingly nice strangers to Ponyville? Good Intentions captures [Dark] in a way that every gore or shockfic fails to do so. It makes the feeling of creepiness stick around in such a way that it adds a terrifying element to the story. So even if [Dark] isn't your thing, I think it's worth a shot.

Through the Well of Pirene by Ether Echoes
- I am really bad at recommending this story. Every time I've tried, I've only been able to say, "It's really good. Read it now. I mean it. It's my favorite story on the site." So there you have it. It's really good. Read it now. I mean it. It's my favorite story on the site. Although, the combination of Eclipse and Of Dragons and Horses, Songs and Solace comes pretty close, now that I think about it.

Certain Advantages by The Descendant
- Celestia and Luna enter the Sisterhooves Social. Hilarity ensues. I really don't think much more needs to be said. Oh, I guess I'll mention that the bunghole sequence was brilliantly executed.

It's occurred to me that I've thrown a lot of things your way, so I think that'll do it for now. If you do read any of these, I'd love to know what you thought (don't forget the authors, though; they probably want to know even more [as I'm sure you would know ;) ]!). Then I'll know what was a hit and what was a miss so the next list'll be a bit more fine-tuned.


Cheers, man, and happy reading!

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