Like Walt Whitman, I am large, I contain multitudes. I usually don't expect to have to backpedal a whole lot from things said in this space, though I will argue with a straight face that some of my positions have, um, evolved over the years.

Exactly four months ago, in Vent #767, I attempted to reset the keel of some poor lad who was so distraught at the state of the world today that he wanted to ditch it entirely and spend the rest of his days in the universe of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, a place he deemed much more hospitable. "If there is any way i can get to this place, Tell me. I want to know," he said. After providing what I thought was enough backstory to persuade him that this pony paradise had some pretty scary history, I came up with the following questionable advice:

Ultimately, if we can't get to Equestria, our best bet is to create something like it here in Dirtville. Pick a pony and be like that pony: you'll be flawed, as all sentient creatures are, but your instincts will likely be sounder, and you'll definitely feel better.

What makes this questionable is that it's possible he'd select for his role model the odious Prince Blueblood, who is so often described exactly that way that I've wondered if maybe Odious Prince might have been his actual title. And given the relative dearth of stallions on the show, it's possible he might have trouble identifying with one of the mares. (I addressed this very point in Vent #775, exactly two months ago. Hmmm.)

Then I spent a month in Equestria, kinda sorta.

You may remember this paragraph from Vent #781, which was actually in the middle of the month:

[T]he story coming together in my head keeps cycling through lines and set pieces and scenes and more lines and it won't go away. I've been fighting with it for several weeks now. At some point I'm going to have to write it, just to present it with a location that isn't the edge of my synapses while I'm trying to get some sleep fercrissake. Its one redeeming feature is that it's in a genre considered disreputable — fanfiction — and therefore it's highly unlikely to be exposed to anyone other than the members of that particular fandom. And it's written in the style I know best: First Person Oblivious. One advantage of this scheme is that it contains some built-in resistance to Mary Sue-ishness, given my general unwillingness to say anything kindly about myself.

This was the point that I decided that yes, I would write it. As of Monday night, it was more or less finished, by which I mean that I had yet to polish up a few things, and some of the more glaring howlers had yet to manifest themselves. Unfortunately for Mary Sue and her friends, I come off far better in this tale than I deserve to, largely because the ending, which I came up with first, so demands.

But what the hay, as the ponies say. Since it's pertinent here, a passage from TV Tropes on the subject of interspecies romance:

May include a moral about the Fantastic Racism version of inter-racial romances. Also may be Starcrossed Lovers, anyone looking for more built in angst will make one of these a Mayfly December Romance. In less realistic settings, can easily result in Half Human Hybrids or Hybrid Monsters.

Chances of it actually becoming an Official Couple (and evolving into a mixed marriage) are increased if the nonhuman has a human form, although that still doesn't take away the Squick for a steadfast minority of viewers.

I note for the record that I read none of those linked articles before I finished the story. Just the same, for all you squick fans, The Sparkle Chronicles — that was the working title, and I stuck with it — is a romance between a pony experimenting with discontinuities in the fabric of space/time and the human in whose yard she lands. This has been done before, of course; pretty much everything has been done before, up to and including a My Little Pony/Back to the Future crossover. However, this gives me the opportunity to play with my existing persona, specifically my claim to being the World's Least Interesting Man. And I had to invent rather a lot of noncanon stuff to speed the plot along, which is always fun.

But getting it to where I wanted it to be required a far greater level of sheer immersion in all things Equestria than I'd imagined, to the point where random bits from our culture triggered specific pony-related memories that I didn't actually have, even though none of the story actually takes place in Equestria. (The whole idea is that we have a maximum of forty minutes together at any one time.) I'm assuming more experienced writers of fiction either do not suffer from this syndrome or have learned to push it aside. And as written, it's very talky — fits the characters, anyway — so I had to read the whole thing out loud to evaluate the dialogue for feel.

Still, the scutwork is done. Now comes the real fun: watching as fandom assembled rips it to shreds. This will happen starting some time this weekend; I will post a link for those wishing to observe.

The Vent

  1 August 2012

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