• Member Since 5th Feb, 2019
  • offline last seen Last Thursday

The Cloptimist

do not mistake peace for quiet


A unicorn with an unwanted special magical talent isolates herself on a remote hillside, away from other ponies, for their sake and hers.

Rated T for dark themes and descriptions of death, but this isn't a horror fic; rather, it's a story about isolation, loneliness and broken magic. And chamomile tea.

Featured on Equestria Daily, 1st June 2020
One of Equestria Daily's 40 Best Fanfics to Read for OC Day, December 2020

25/30, My Little Reviews & Feedback
4* (Recommended), Louder Yay
Pretty Good, PaulAsaran Thursday Reviews

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 40 )

That was good, I guess. Don't get it twisted, I like the premise and story itself but the way she talked to herself unnerved me.

Eh, what can I expect, this is a fic about loneliness and isolation and for that have a kudos.

Thanks! Yes, I wanted to try and convey her state of mind without outright describing it, it's one of the reasons I was keen to do this in first person (something I've never done before).

This was pretty good stuff. I like the really gradual exploration and atmosphere. The first-person narration was the right choice for this story, but it's usually the right choice for everything. And quality first-person narration on here can be rare. Luna reaching out to ponies who would otherwise go unnoticed is always nice to see as well. Most stories have her dream magic abused for stupid situations or downplayed a lot.

I really want to know where that cover art is from, though. It's pretty stuff.

Thank you for reading, and for the nice comment!

The artwork? Well, I made it, but if you mean geographically, it's Hergest Ridge, which is (a) quite near where I live, and (b) the name of the album I happened to be listening to at the time.

That's... sorta near the Lake District, right? Y'all have some of the sexiest landscapes in the UK.

My first guess was going to be Saddleworth moor, but in hindsight, those are a much more gloomy-looking place.

Kind of depends on perspective, really; it's a few hundred miles from the Lake District (it's on the Herefordshire-Wales border), but to an American that probably isn't very far at all!

And yes, it's a beautiful place. In real life there aren't many bothies in that part of the country, but it was the kind of remote hillside view I wanted, and I liked the idea of the window frame forming both an opening and a barrier between the narrator (or reader!) and the lovely landscape.


Kind of depends on perspective, really; it's a few hundred miles from the Lake District (it's on the Herefordshire-Wales border), but to an American that probably isn't very far at all!

...yeah, point taken there.

I hope it didn't come across as a dig, it wasn't meant to! I just mean, our country is relatively tiny.

Oh, not at all. I just think that it's funny how small it is and driving/distance complaints here vs. in the UK.

"An Englishman thinks a hundred miles is a long way; an American thinks a hundred years is a long time." - Diana Gabaldon

Now that’s a good quote.

This was interesting! Super-cool plot; this is the kind of thing I'd been wishing the show would touch on ever since cutie marks were a thing, though obviously they'd never have it be anything so visceral. I liked the narration voice and how the scenes are broken up and arranged so you get a lot of passage of time conveyed without dipping too much into summarizing. Good usage of the princesses, too! Star Swirl's book sounded so him, I love it.

A few things bothered me, though. The very nitpicky one:

"Princess Luna? Can you hear me?", I ask, out loud, my voice cracking.

You don't need a comma after quotations if you have a question mark in the dialogue.

Actual story stuff: mainly, I wasn't sold on why the protagonist didn't tell anyone about what she was seeing. This is something that, sure, if I were seeing those things, I'd be worried about people thinking I was crazy. But in a setting with the variety of magic Equestria has, I found it a lot harder to swallow that she'd think her visions are so out of the ordinary that she wouldn't be taken seriously or that it's completely out of the question that there's a solution or remedy. Even more so when she seems to correctly assume that the visions are connected to her cutie mark.

I also felt like the ending was a bit too easy and clean. It was sweet, and Celestia was lovely here, but at the same time, it's magic godhorse showing up and making the problem go away. I don't know how much of that is objectively an issue, though--we do see the protagonist making attempts to reach out to other ponies, so it's not like she's completely passive and dependent on other ponies.

So, yeah, some small gripes, but I really enjoyed this. Thanks for writing, good luck in the contest!

Oh my, it's you! Thank you for taking the time to read and critique this.

I have removed the extraneous comma :)

I wanted to go into more detail about why she doesn't explain herself, but ran out of word count space - she doesn't worry about ponies thinking she's crazy, but rather that they'll believe her all too well, and make both her and their lives unbearable, becoming obsessed with knowing, demanding "readings" as if she's a super accurate fortune teller, without concern for how it causes her physical and psychological pain. She acts rashly and commits to a bad plan (or, well, a sensible plan, poorly executed) as a seemingly easy way out - I wanted to make it seem like a panicked teenager's spur of the moment Best Idea Ever rather than a calm, methodical approach. (Later, when it dawns on her how stuck she is, she does want to get professional help, but realises she can't even send a letter.) That was the idea, anyway, I guess it didn't really come across as well as I hoped.

As for the ending, yeah, guilty as charged; I did worry it would come across as pat, but it was meant to tie in with her having gone about things the wrong way, and I tried to underline Celestia wasn't actually rescuing her from lockdown, just helping her understand that isolation doesn't have to mean loneliness, even without the Internet. (Also, the contest did ask for an uplifting ending, but that was a secondary consideration!) I hope it wasn't too cloying.

Thanks again for the thoughtful, um, thoughts, it really is much appreciated!

"Keeping your distance does not mean being alone"

After 6 weeks of solitary managed isolation, this quote is more poignant than ever. I must remember this one.

Thanks for brightening thing up a bit

Thank you for taking the time to say so! And if you or anyone else wants to just talk randomly, please feel free to message me, I'll always reply (if not necessarily straight away!)

Oh my goodness! I'll write a blog post about this soon, but... I just found out Away has won first place in the Self-Isolation Contest!

I'm lost for words. Thank you!

I've tried to tidy the story up a little, at Secret Moon's urging and based on some of their and Naiad’s comments showing me where things could be tightened or clarified, resulting in an extra 500 words or so of plothole fixes and general patching-up (which I couldn't do before submitting for the contest as I was right up against the 7777-word limit) - if you’ve read Away already, hopefully the result of my post-contest meddling is a better story, and I haven't just ruined it! And if you haven’t, well, I hope you will - I still think it’s one of my better efforts, and I hope you like it.

Well, now I kind of want to read a sequel where she becomes penpals with Moondancer after returning her book. Though the piece is probably better off as a standalone (heh).

Hello, Equestria Daily people! Thanks for stopping by and reading my story, I hope you liked it.

Hey there! This was reviewed here! Thanks for submitting and I hope you found what I had to say helpful! Deuces!

Well, gosh, thank you so much for the thoughtful review, I'm really glad you liked it!

It's also very good to know that people recognise the rambling narration as a stylistic choice to show the protagonist's state of mind, rather than just me needing an editor. That being said, I was always unhappy with the jumbled tenses for that sentence you flagged about the newspaper, so I'll try to tighten that up a bit.

[spoilers ahead]

Luna's spell breaking up and culminating in a barely-intelligible "Connection lost" was meant to be a little joke, based on the movie's own joke about the crystal ball spell being like a bad video call. I don't know about anypony else's lockdown experience, but for me... well, failing to teleconference into remote meetings from a rural area over a flaky Internet connection has been a pretty consistent feature, so I wanted to make a nod to it.

With Celestia... I totally get what you mean, but my favourite Celestia is always the Celestia who's slightly daffy. I like the ziplining, smiley-pancake-baking, occasionally wildly inappropriate Princess who nonetheless still cares deeply for all her subjects. Right from the start, I had it in my mind that she'd have prepared some sort of calm, gently regal entrance, trying not to scare the narrator despite her massive curiosity about what she'd see, only to blurt out the question she'd rehearsed not asking. I also made myself laugh imagining her concerned facial expression reacting to the protagonist slapping herself in disbelief, and decided that "playful" was the way to go.

But enough out of me. This is one of the best (in all senses of the word) reviews I've ever had, so thank you again! It's never been a particularly popular story (with the combined weight of publicity from this, the EQD feature, and winning the contest, it looks like Away is finally going to crack 300 readers), but it's one of my favourites among the things I've written - and it really means a lot to see others enjoy it too.

This seems to have had a little mini-revival in views in the past couple of days, does anypony know why? Was this mentioned or reviewed somewhere, or something?

Anyway, hello there new readers! Hope you liked the story.

Hey, glad to be here!

Now without Zalgo!

That was a brilliant story in many regards! Epistolary tales are too often poorly done and make use of implausible techniques, but you hit the perfect tone in making the rambling just enough to give the impression of unplanned writing, and slightly unfocused thoughts.

And I have to say that I adore your portrayal of Celestia here, her little flaws and quirks making her very relatable despite her status and the power she commands.

I rarely add a story to my "Excellent" shelf, but this one certainly deserves it!

Thank you so much for the kind words, and the blog post - I can't tell you how much I appreciate it!

Iisaw recommended your story . Loved every word. Well done.

Thank you, very kind of you to say so. Glad you liked it!

This is the living situation I crave. Cant give it a like in good conscience, because it portrays it as a bad thing. Sorry.

My pleasure!

I actually teared up a tad at the ending there. So glad to see she finally has help!
Kind of want a sequel now. The difficulties of taming whatever ails her, the reunion with her family and friends, the exploration of her possible potential, etc. I feel like there's great potential for a story there.

Here because of 10641537

That was an incredible story. Thank you for it.

Captivating story. Even if Celestia hadn't promised a cure, I like the happy ending with the protagonist learning that her complete isolation isn't forever.

It was the right choice to leave the accuracy of her visions uncertain, although I hope for the sake of the citizens of Equestria that they're not accurate. That's a really high percentage of ponies meeting tragic, probably untimely ends!

In answer to your question from a month ago, I found this story in the "Popular Stories" column on the Fimfiction home page. So whatever mystery algorithms put it there, that's how I learned about it.

That was a great story - I enjoyed you working through the implications of what talent she got, and I liked seeing a more real, quirky, and not 100% polished Celestia.

I also liked how the protagonist (because she doesn't have a name) didn't have a great sense of time passing; something that would be hard to do stuck out in the middle of nowhere.

Ohhhh!! Nice story. It’s great where it ended and leaves us to imagine a less isolated future.

She can see the deaths of ponies : can she see the deaths of other intelligent species? (I mean, she clearly can't see the deaths of small mammals and birds, let alone insects, which would be entirely inescapable short of being shot off into space.)

Thank you again for this, I'm so happy you liked it!

Don't mind me, just popping by quickly to award the favourite I should have given you two years ago. Fascinating, and with a particularly satisfying Celestia, too.

Thank you very much, and for the nice review of Âme Câline!

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