Today’s story is a moving look at what happens when the story’s over but the characters still remain.
[Sad] [Slice of Life] • 7,033 words
Though the distance between Pinkie Pie and her five closest friends has grown in the half-century since they claimed their Elements, she does what she can to prevent the others from drifting away. It’s small things, mostly: tea with Rarity, a drink with Rainbow Dash, a few words with each of the others. The friendship still makes each day together magic, and she works as hard as ever to bring cheer to all of her friends. When the smiles come less frequently, that just makes each one that much more precious.
FROM THE CURATORS: The fandom is thick with stories about the longing and loss that await the Mane Six with the passage of time, but you don’t have to read much of “Tired” to learn why it’s such an exemplar of the genre: it’s got rare depth and maturity. “There’s no trickery here, no overblown drama, just life’s changes and the difficulties those can bring,” Vimbert said. Horizon added, “I’ve never seen a sadfic so effortlessly sandwich smiles and saudade.”
It’s also packed with strong moments of characterization and exquisite turns of phrase such as “Trivialities move the sun through the sky.” Not a word feels wasted. “The story’s brevity heightens the impact,” Chris said. “It doesn’t weigh itself down … and as a result is utterly moving.”
Read on for our interview, in which Ebon Mane discusses when not to write dialogue, and the convention experience that led to a “grand reconciliation with his mortality.”
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
I more or less just picked a random name that seemed like a plausible pony name that would still be manly, or at least masculine.
Who’s your favorite pony?
Pinkie Pie, because she’s so happy! Definitely most adorable pony.
What’s your favorite episode?
Party of One, mostly because of the delusion scene and how well the background music supports the mood of that scene. Also, the song at the beginning features much adorable Pinkieness.
What do you get from the show?
Entertainment, mostly, but it was also the gateway to a community that has been extremely rewarding in many ways. I’ve learned a lot about storytelling and met some amazing people because of the fandom.
What do you want from life?
Improvement. I want things to get better all the time. I want to become more adept at what I do, and produce more, and make more money, and live in a better place. Not better than others, better than past me. I don’t want to be the best; I want to be better than I have ever been.
Why do you write?
To communicate. Writing is fundamentally about conveying meaning. There is no direct line between two peoples’ minds; if I want to teach you something, I need to tell you, or I need to show you. I originally started writing fanfiction to become better at communicating. Once people started responding, I wrote to get a better response. I wrote Merely a Mare to make people think. I wrote Tired to try to make people understand a part of my worldview, specifically my optimism in the face of a world that is very much imperfect.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
You’ll never become a better writer if you’re satisfied with how well you write now. If you’re good, you could be great. If you’re great, you could be even greater. Learn from those whose writing you admire. Read about writing. Discuss writing. Debate writing.
Where did you get your inspiration for this story?
When I wrote The Three Notes, my first good sadfic, I was really excited by the response I received on Equestria Daily and DeviantArt (Since FIMFiction did not exist yet). I figured that sadfics were an easy way to get an emotional response from readers (and they are, for many readers, which is why there are so many terrible sadfics), so I started brainstorming more ideas for sad themes. I settled quickly on aging and had a concept for a story where everypony relied on Pinkie as someone to vent their dissatisfaction and discomfort to, with each of the other mane 6 summing up their feelings in a vignette. Each would end in a way involving the phrase ‘I’m tired’. The last scene would have been Pinkie Pie alone in front of the mirror thinking about how she’s tired too. Pretty simple periodic repetition with a side of cliche. Luckily, it started raining and I wrote In The Rain instead.
That was over a year before I started writing Tired.
In May of 2012, I attended Fanime, an anime convention and general nerdfest. My friends and I drink a lot at conventions and sleep very little. On the Monday morning that was the last day of the con, I had been up since ~11 AM Sunday, and I was hungover without the benefit of having slept. A friend gave me a ride home, and I got back to my apartment at ~11 AM Monday. Despite being beyond exhausted, I sat down at my computer and booted it up, and then I remembered my terrible throwaway idea for a sad story about aging and being Tired. I pounded out the entirety of the Rarity section in less than an hour, running primarily on adrenaline and the conviction that I would never get a better understanding of what it felt like to be truly worn down but still so, so happy. I realized that things don’t have to last forever to be worthwhile. The con had been awesome as I was living it, and it was over, and that’s okay, because I enjoyed it so deeply while it lasted. It felt like a grand reconciliation with my mortality, and I wanted to put it on display.
More than a few times in the story, you summarize dialogue rather than writing it out in full. What inspired that choice?
Originally, I didn’t want there to be any spoken dialogue. I wanted it to be more of a mood piece. Part of being a writer is a keen awareness of how difficult it is at times to express complex experiences, concepts, and emotions in words, especially when trying to be specific. Sometimes it’s better to leave things open to interpretation and hope that the reader takes away the right message, or at least one that is valuable to him.
What’s your favorite response you’ve received on Tired?
Since Tired is a story set chronologically many years from the show, what kind of ending to Friendship is Magic would you like to see?
An open-ended one. The future we imagine is better than any definite fate.
You can read Tired at FIMFiction.net.
If this does not blow your mind, you have no emotion.
I especially like how at first glance, the lack of dialogue is easy to mistake as the author telling and not showing and thus breaking one of writing’s golden rules, but his execution and style manages to show so much more than dialogue could speak throughout the whole story. Definitely a top favorite of mine.
Challenge failed. I can’t see more than emotion-porn.
I get that, even though it’s pretty much wall-to-wall telling there is more below the surface, but it isn’t really presented in a way I can even conceive of being interesting. I want to be able to see that it’s somehow done something to transcend the basic rule, but in truth, the style of prose just bored me to tears. It took three tries just to finish it.
There are stories that I can appreciate even if I don’t like. There are stories I don’t like myself but I can see other people liking. There are stories that frustrate me because they could have been so much more, and of course, there are stories that I just think are bad. There are very few stories, however, that simply pass me by so utterly that I can’t even understand why they exist.
Now there is one more.