As today’s story reminds us, there are some things in life that are constants — like death, taxes, and Pinkie Pie showing up at the end of the universe.
It Doesn’t Matter Now
[Random] [Slice of Life] • 1,334 words
The Spirit Pony is responsible for the End of All That Ever Was. It has always been so. This particular End looks like being a straightforward one – until a certain pink pony intervenes to prevent it happening. Pinkie has a very, very good reason for stopping the Spirit, too…
FROM THE CURATORS: This fun little eschatological romp (and how often do you get to use those words together?) is what it says on the tin: Pinkie Pie at the End of All That Ever Was, stopping the universe from ending because she’s got some unfinished business. “It’s a fresh subversion of a theme that has been done to death with the show’s immortal princesses,” Horizon said, but we found depth beyond that. “It’s more a look into the power of Pinkie, something that goes beyond crass fourth-wall breakage while still giving her a magic of her own,” Present Perfect said.
One of its core strengths was that clever examination of a pony who is among the most difficult to write. “I was impressed by the way Pinkie’s character is used in this story,” Present Perfect said. “It benefits from letting her act in that situation as she does in all situations: like Pinkie.” Chris was impressed, too: “It definitely speaks to the kind of dramatic whimsy Pinkie’s capable of. She’s more than just a goof, after all — she takes her goofiness seriously.”
Add to that the strong writing which carried this to a UK of Equestria contest win, and this short little tale sailed through to an easy feature. “It plays with contrast and tone in clever ways,” Horizon said. “It’s got a cute and simple premise which might not carry a longer story, but it packs up enough gravitas to give the ending a satisfying impact.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Loganberry discusses wanderlust, tea, and Egg-Kings.
Give us the standard biography.
Whose would you like?
There’s not much to tell, really: I’m male, I’m in my late thirties and I live in an ordinary house in an ordinary small town in central England. I spend hours looking at computer screens, so naturally I decided on a hobby which would take up large chunks of my spare time doing much the same thing, only without my getting paid for it. My health is somewhat variable, so more active pursuits aren’t always possible in any case. I do spend quite some time on trains, though. Some good ideas (and quite a few terrible ones) have come to me that way.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
My first internet fandom, around 15 years ago now, was that for Watership Down, which to this day remains a favourite book of mine. (It was also the first fandom I wrote serious fanfic for: Blackavar’s Gift, published in 2003.) In the WD universe, male rabbits are usually named after plants, and I named my own character Loganberry. In time, I got to using the name myself, and I then carried it with me to other fandoms. It’s pure luck that, on joining the herd, I already had a name that fitted the ponyverse quite well.
It also has the advantage that it shortens to what you might call a “stealth username”. Fandom friends call me “Logan” in real life all the time and nobody bats an eyelid. I’m not secretive about my liking for MLP, but I’d still feel a bit awkward about being addressed as “Silvermane Twinklehooves” or something in a crowded pub!
(Hmm. Google Docs’ spell checker allows “Silvermane” but complains about “Twinklehooves”.)
Who’s your favorite pony?
Fluttershy. She has been since the start, even before I watched my first episode. I believe cruelty to be the worst of all sins, so a pony who exemplifies the opposing virtue was always going to appeal. She’s a far more interesting character than some give her credit for: you only have to watch “A Bird in the Hoof” to see an oft-neglected side of the pegasus that has nothing to do with her being timid. The whole Philomena mess is set off by ‘Shy’s impulsiveness in the service of compassion.
Next comes Scootaloo: “Sleepless in Ponyville” (a shining star in a very variable S3) is largely responsible. As with Fluttershy, we know nothing of her family background; given that Rainbow’s early life is also somewhat shadowy, it seems that pegasi may not have particularly close familial bonds. (I play around with this idea a little bit in my currently-stalled FlutterDash backstory fic, Where They Understand You.)
I also like Twilight, though I’m conflicted: I think she’s a better pony now than she was in S1, but a less compelling character. Finally, there’s Celestia: the IDW comics have explored her character and backstory to an extent, but I’d like the show to do so as well.
The above is all about which ponies’ stories I like to consume. When it comes to writing them, Fluttershy is still number one, but Rarity is up there too.
What’s your favorite episode?
“Hurricane Fluttershy”, because it provides a fascinating insight into the remarkable friendship between the “odd couple” of ‘Shy and Rainbow Dash. Rainbow puts in a huge amount of effort to encourage Fluttershy to take part in Tornado Day; I doubt she’d have done that for anypony else. One of my favourite scenes in the entire series comes near the end of that episode, when Dash realises that Fluttershy has joined her in the tornado at last. Rainbow gives a huge smile of pure joy; it’s one of the most uplifting and moving things I’ve seen in any cartoon.
Other standouts: “Suited for Success”, which takes the most stereotypically “little-girly” plot ever and makes it (and us) sing; “The Cutie Mark Chronicles”, which is a perfect example of how to pace a busy story; “Sleepless in Ponyville”, which single-handedly propelled Scootaloo to second-favourite pony status; “Pinkie Pride”, which is a masterclass in writing the pink party pony; and “Filli Vanilli”, for making me grin like a loon during that final song. I’m not one of the fans who thinks it’s a worse show now than it was in the early days. It’s a different show, but that’s not the same thing.
As for least favourite, that would be “Owl’s Well That Ends Well”. Yes, written by the same Cindy Morrow who wrote my favourite episode. A lot of this one is just plain tedious, something MLP hardly ever is. The “Hoo?” joke, in particular, is run so far into the ground it could give Jules Verne a few pointers.
What do you get from the show?
Fun! (Don’t you dare…) The show itself is generally highly entertaining, while the fandom is generally likewise. It has its good and bad sides, both of which I see in my role as a moderator on UK of Equestria’s forums, but I think the good still greatly outweighs the bad; I certainly don’t think everything fell apart after 2012. Mind you, that was the year I joined the fandom, so perhaps those people have a point. More seriously, the show has helped me through some dark days and I will always owe it a debt for that. I am a happier person today than I would have been had MLP:FiM not become a part of my life.
What do you want from life?
I could think of much worse things than a quiet, comfortable house with a big library chock-full of books (real ones! What sort of philistine do you think I am?), a few slightly shabby old armchairs and sofas to lounge on and several large windows looking out over verdant English countryside. Preferably with a gas fire hissing away in the background during the winter months; I grew up with that noise (my early-childhood home wasn’t centrally heated) and it’s always been a very comforting sound to me.
Really, I’d rather live a relaxing, peaceful life than a noisy, thrilling one. I’m an Arthur Dent, not a Zaphod Beeblebrox. Give me a small group of people who care about me, freedom from money worries, an unending supply of tea (told you!) and rather better health and I’d be pretty satisfied. Oh, and a guaranteed 100% reliable, super-fast internet connection on which I could chat to my friends and watch the England cricket team find new and exciting ways to self-destruct. There are some limits to how peaceful a life I’d want to live.
Why do you write?
Because, despite being rather a stay-at-home type in real life (I’ve never travelled further than Germany), I do have a certain amount of wanderlust. This I can satisfy through writing: writers have the wonderful luxury of being able to go anywhere, not just to places that are sensible or even possible. Besides, I like peace and quiet, and writing is the only way to get the ideas in my head to stop yelling at me for a bit.
More prosaically, this is a fandom that has a wonderful culture of creativity. I wanted to participate in that, not merely be a consumer of other people’s works. I can’t draw to save my life, I can’t sew rugs or paint blind bags, my PMV skills are non-existent and my musical talents extend little further than adapting “Smile” for the BBC Micro. The one creative thing I can do to a halfway acceptable standard is write. So I do.
Not for fame. Let’s be honest, if what you crave in this fandom is fame, then writing ponyfic is a terrible way to go about it. You can look at a piece of fanart and tell in a few seconds whether it’s any good. Not with writing: we’ve all read fics that have started out promisingly, then fallen apart thousands of words later. Unlike most other fanwork producers, we ask our audience to put in significant amounts of their own time and effort. That makes writers and readers more of a partnership, but is probably part of what makes fanfic a minority interest in our fandom. (And it is. Would EQD consider for one moment having a “Not-Fanart” tag?)
That said, I do like it when the people who do read fanfic say nice things about my stories. If you’re publishing stories and you aren’t at least a little bit vain, you’re a liar.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
Don’t do what I do. I’m a disaster area. But if I must…
Good characterisation is everything when it comes to sustaining immersion. You need to be completely familiar with any character you’re writing for; as far as canon characters go, I think you should have watched every episode of the series at least twice. Even if you’ve fallen out of love with the show itself, I still think you benefit from keeping up with it, and from refreshing your knowledge of older episodes from time to time. Little things really count: for example, only Pinkie and Fluttershy have ever used the nickname “Dashie”.
Don’t assume that the story you spend months agonising over, or the story that has a six-figure word count, will necessarily be your most popular, most accomplished or best-received fic. The greater part of It Doesn’t Matter Now was written in a single evening; We Who with Songs Beguile didn’t take much longer. I’ve spent far more time on stories that ended up going nowhere fast, sometimes never even seeing the light of day. Your darlings may not be the fandom’s darlings. It’s tough, but it happens. Quite a lot, actually.
Learn the “rules of writing” thoroughly – but then work out how to break them effectively. You can write good fics while following all the “rules”, but for something really memorable you’ll probably need to go against the grain somewhere or other. Isaac Asimov’s classic Foundation trilogy is stuffed with exposition dumps. Julian Barnes won the Booker Prize with a 160-page book in an era when “no-one wants short novels”. Lucky Dreams’ extraordinary In the Place the Wild Horses Sleep is a [human]-tagged children’s story. And (ahem) It Doesn’t Matter Now has a 78-word opening sentence.
Acknowledge your readers. Reply to their comments. Thank them for their interest. Make them feel they’re getting something out of taking the time to leave their thoughts about your story. (Yes, even if they didn’t like it. You can always think up some exquisitely torturous revenge and inflict it on a thinly-disguised OC in your next fic.) The high priest of this approach is The Descendant, but you don’t need to go to quite those lengths. Just don’t give the impression that you’re handing down your fics to the adoring masses on tablets of stone from an ivory tower. (Yay for mixed Biblical metaphors!)
Finally? Semicolons are awesome; make them your friends.
This story spends a lot of time personifying a being which you explicitly tell us, is beyond personification. Where did you try to draw the line between “too vague” and “totally unrelatable?”
I was amused by exactly that paradox: I felt it was something that Pinkie herself might have appreciated. I suppose it could be considered her slightly less sinister version of doublethink! I didn’t put a lot of conscious effort into “drawing the line”; this was an aspect of the story that just came out naturally in the writing process. I’m sure there were subconscious influences in there – it doesn’t take a genius to see that I’ve read plenty of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. (Perhaps one of the great lost collaborations, that.)
A look through the comments on this story shows that some readers thought the ending was sad, while others considered it more uplifting. What did you want the reader to feel after they finished reading? What sort of mood do you personally think the ending has?
I see it as a happy ending: after an eternity of waiting, a truly remarkable pony has at last completed her life’s work. What happens after that is an open question: perhaps Pinkie joins her friends in the Great Beyond; perhaps she has somewhere else to go. Had she failed in her final task, though, Pinkie would have been left entirely alone, with no way to keep her Promise – surely the worst of all fates for this particular pony. That single proton is what separates [random] from [tragedy].
The Great Beyond itself is a concept which has a certain amount of canon support, at least in the expanded universe of the comics and so on, and it’s something I may explore in a fic one day. The questions of faith and belief raised by a world where you can actually meet the being responsible for raising the sun each day are very interesting.
In the story, you bring up the suggestion that something like this happens in every universe. If you had to wager a guess, who do think our world’s Pinkie Pie might be?
I strongly suspect that it’s Pinkie Pie herself. Actually, I think it’s more than likely that she is every universe’s Pinkie Pie, whatever the rest of us may like to believe.
Stories with the [random] tag have a bad reputation among some readers. What do you see as the biggest pitfalls of the genre, and what are the keys to writing a good [random] story?
The main thing that lets down a [random] fic is when it’s too random! By which I mean, when it’s just a collection of thrown-together ideas with no linking thread of internal logic. This is, not coincidentally, the same thing that lets down many Pinkie-centric fics. (And Discord-centric ones, for that matter. Discord is much harder to write well than many authors imagine.) A bunch of tenuously-connected scenes with a few jokes added in is still just a bunch of scenes. It’s not a story.
Leaving aside trollfics, of which I’m not a big fan anyway, fics that make no sense whatsoever are bad fics. You may have to look at them sideways, diagonally or through a purple beer glass on Maundy Thursday for their logic to become apparent, but it has to be lurking in there somewhere. I admire the way that Blueshift’s [random] stories achieve this sort of thing. Yes, okay, you have to accept that Twilight is a [something], and probably Trixie too, but everything follows perfectly logically from that.
So: did it matter, in the end?
Yes, very much so. Had Pinkie not been present at all, the end result in that universe might have been the same, but it wouldn’t have been the same. Doublethink again!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Other than offering a great big “thank you” to everyone who’s read my scrawlings, whether before or after their publication (if any), I’ll simply say that by the time you read this, I’ll be living in the future, and so will you. Life is not a test.
This, however, is a test:
- Could Pinkie Pie’s gesture break a Wave of Egg-Kings? (Be hardboiled.)
- Decline a proton, accusingly and vocally.
- The Fruits of the Spirit are always apples. Meditate ambiguously on whether this is a Good Thing.
- Should a Pinkie meet a Pinkie comin’ thro’ the rye?