Up And Running, Seriously. · 1:31am
Well, my last novel is up and running. I have a lot of mixed feelings about it - it was always intended to be the final work, tying everything up in a neat little zero-magic science fiction bow - but it is still... the end of an era.
It's lonely, being the last true Conversion Bureau writer. The Bureau was what excited me enough to write at all - ponies, by themselves, could never do such a thing. The Bureau concept - transformation, identity, survival against the backdrop of a dying world - oh, that's blockbuster material right there. And endless fount of stories about human nature and Something Better. Universes in collision... what a rare and special opportunity.
For one year, 2012, I had the single most fulfilling creative time of my life. I felt part of a growing community of passionate and talented authors and artists, all sharing camaraderie and riffing off of each other. I now suspect that most of this friendship and unity was all in my head - I was poisoned by the sweet and innocent thought that there could ever be a place on the internet where compassion and intelligence reigned supreme. But, for one year, ensconced in my delusion, I was truly happy in a way I have never been before, or since.
I won't bore anyone with tales of the sad children that came and ruined everything. I will mention how disappointed I was in certain members of my own community at the time. People I trusted and cared about booted me from the main Bureau group - not the original, first one, that was always mine, group 22 - but the larger group to which I deferred for so long. They did this because they wanted to bow to the bastards, and were afraid that I would object - but worse, that I might somehow (I never understood the mechanism) wrest control of the group from them... somehow... and then, I don't know. It was pretty insane.
Caving to people that seek only your destruction using abuse and terrorization, that, of course, never works - you cannot cave to terrorists, and terror was the agenda... to terrorize Bureau authors and force them to stop writing entirely. One by one, many of the productive writers I knew and trusted found some reason to disown me - one merely because I refused to change the names of two of my characters, from a novel I had written years ago, because a new friend of his wanted to use those names. I pointed out that this was an unreasonable demand. Bam! I'm somehow evil for that.
Damn, it's like dealing with children. Which it is, mostly.
The brain does not mature until one is past the age of twenty-five, and for some, not even then. The forebrain, the seat of rational judgement, is not complete until then. Some neurologists would argue thirty. Petty disputes, petty and unreasonable demands, pettiness in general - the hallmark of immaturity.
It's been hell here, past that first year. And not just from the 'anti-everything' trolls.
But, some people have been true and golden, loyal and bright through it all. These have been the raisins in the oatmeal, the shining stars amidst the nigrescent horrors of nightmare space. Good folks, mature folks regardless of their physical age, the readers I truly write for. They have made continuing here worthwhile. They have been in the majority, good readers all, good friends all.
They are why ending my writing career here - such as it is - is sad to me. But, the joy is finally gone.
Friendship Is Magic has been sucking, as a show, for some time now. We get a few well written episodes per year, but only a handful at most. The rest are terrible. The problem is always a lack of any care or value. Most MLP scriptwriters clearly just see themselves as slumming... writing a stupid show for little girls and immature internet boys - and they just don't bother to try very hard.
But some, occasionally, take the premise of the show seriously, and do an episode that is true to the characters and the world they live in. Those are the rare, decent episodes.
One often hears the bleating of fools about this issue (indeed, one episode of MLP of recent was just such a bleat itself!) that - ineffect, if not in exact phrasing - "It's only a cartoon, and therefore don't take it seriously!"
No, it is telling a story. The medium does not matter. And I can prove that opinion wrong easily. Batman: The Animated Series. Every single work by Hayao Miyazaki. Code Lyoko. The Mysterious Cities Of Gold. Avatar: The Last Airbender.
"It's only a cartoon, don't take it seriously?" How impressive would Batman: The Animated Series have been if, carelessly, for cheap jokes, they gave Batman a sidekick - Scrappy Doo, the horrible Hanna-Barbera monstrosity that ruined what remained of Scooby-Doo? Imagine Laputa or Princess Mononoke with Animaniacs styled sight gags tossed in randomly. It would kind of ruin them utterly, wouldn't it? Avatar, only instead of Aapa the windbeast, they gave Aang and his crew Hanna-Barbera's Grape Ape to ride around on. Oh, that would make it a 'classic of animated televison' then, wouldn't it?
A good writer - not a hack - takes every assignment seriously. No script is a throwaway 'just for stupid little girls' waste of effort. If you are going to write for a show, then write, and write well. If you are just shining things on, just throwing crap out to make a buck - then you are a hack and you are ruining the product for the audience.
Most of the shows I listed above work because of excellent worldbuilding and the passion to remain consistent to the world that is created. The stories take the world and the events and characters seriously. Every bit as seriously as if the work were some dire cop drama done for the big screen. There is passion and commitment in them.
Code Lyoko: kids find a supercomputer with an evil digital energy being inside it, and they have to fight the entity to save the world. The premise is a little off - artificial intelligence being a threat, good, but virtual specters from some digital universe beyond space and time... a little wack. I suppose you could make a case for simulationism, but they never explicitly did so.
Doesn't matter - every episode of that show was written seriously. They did not throw in topical crap just for cheap gags, they never violated the rules for how their defined story universe worked. Their geography and characters and milieu were always kept intact and believable. Nothing was ever done just to please some assholes on 4Chan. They had a story to tell, and they told it well. What humor they had was both human and relationship based. They did not pull Animaniacs gags for no reason.
Like MLP:FIM often does.
Real artists take their world seriously, and color within the lines. If the show is silly and insane, then be silly and insane. But if the show describes a unique world with a tone and feeling to it, then don't be silly - be true to the show.
MLP:FIM started as a story of growing up and the power of friendship... that just happened to be set within a pony universe with fantasy elements. Harry Potter for horses, Buffy The Vampire Slayer with Shetlands. Melrose Place with magical ponies.
It turned into a Darkwing Duck parody at one point. Fuck. Fuuuuuuuck.
Long after Friendship Is Magic has been forgotten, and despised, the shows I listed above will be remembered as classics. Some already are considered so. Because they were good, but mostly because they remained true to their premise. Their writers never once had to defend themselves with the argument "it's just a cartoon." Because for the writers of those programs, it was never 'just a cartoon'. It was always a story, a story worth telling. A story that demanded professional and serious skills, attention, and passion. Not hack writing.
But, enough of that. I love to rant, don't I? It's because I care so very much.
I've done my best with my stories. My many, many stories. Jesus. I've written a lot.
But I have always taken my premise seriously. I have always written with the expectation that my reader would be smart, sharp, and demanding of excellence. I have worked to satisfy the most serious of critical minds. I have done massive amounts of research to make sure that no reader should think I took them less than seriously, or that I in any way tried to be lazy in my writing. I stayed true to my world, because I wrote with the expectation that any real reader of mine would expect nothing less.
I visualize my ideal reader, and they are smarter than I am, know more than I do, and they deserve all of my respect with regard to their intelligence, and their emotion. That is you - that is who I write for in my mind.
I believe - I truly think - that every writer who would not be a hack should think thus. Write up to your reader, not down to some hypothetical plebes. Write to one person, one brilliant Ideal person. Respect that Ideal person in every sentence you craft. Never take them for granted. Always go the extra mile.
And take your craft seriously, whatever you may write.
This is my authorial creed, if you like.
Well, back to writing.
- Petal Chatoyance ( Jennifer Diane Reitz )