If you’re looking for some comedy with a philosophical twist, don’t wait to read today’s story.
Waiting For Celestia
[Comedy] [Slice of Life] • 6,056 words
After Celestia takes her flying chariot to Ponyville to have an important talk with the new Princess Twilight Sparkle, she teleports back to Canterlot … leaving her charioteers behind. Unsure what else to do in the wake of this improbable, nay, highly unusual, nay, nay, impossible event, the two pegasi have a conversation that leads them to some startling revelations.
FROM THE CURATORS: Appearances can be deceiving with fanfiction — and in this case, there were pleasant surprises behind the façade of the title. “I’ve never actually seen Waiting for Godot, but this isn’t really a crossover with it, so no worries on that front,” Chris said. “What it is is a story that moves from absurd comedy to crisis-of-faith in barely 6000 words, and is both funny and thoughtful where it needs to be.” Present Perfect agreed, adding: “I’m very glad that the author decided to invoke Godot just long enough to subvert it, then put in some actual plot.”
Subverting its source material was a point in Waiting For Celestia’s favor, but it didn’t stop there — and one of the factors in its feature was how memorably it made the tale its own. “It’s been more than a year since I last saw this story, but all its scenes stuck in my notoriously sieve-like brain,” AugieDog said. Even its send-up of the titular absurdist play was a joy to read: “The image of how the guards communicated while guarding the chariot was, alone, enough to get me liking this story,” Horizon said.
But ultimately, the story’s stand-out feature was the way it first balanced, then merged, the comedy and philosophy, which at first seemed destined for an ungainly collision. “Not only was I engaged all the way through, but I found the ending surprisingly impactful,” JohnPerry said. “The earlier discussion on the omniscience of Celestia came back in a big way, such that it turned the absurdist nature of the set-up into a surprisingly grounded tale.” That light touch with philosophy was praised by several curators. “Waiting For Celestia doesn’t try to tackle something as weighty as ‘what does it mean to be seen as deific by those who serve you’ in its entirety, but instead confined itself to what that meant for two ponies, for one night,” Chris said. “Sometimes, keeping things small is the right way to go.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Bronetheus discusses altruistic struggles, pony charity, and mythic trees.
Give us the standard biography.
I’m a 29-year-old home health aide. I live and adventure in Ohio.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
It’s a running gag among my friends (and people on the Internet, I hear) to insert “bro” before any word that begins with the “o” sound. Broman Empire, Broseph Goebbels, Broseidon. I combined that gag with “brony” and “Prometheus” to get Bronetheus.
Who’s your favorite pony?
I vacillate between Rarity and Rainbow Dash. For now I’ll talk about Rarity, because her being my favorite usually generates more surprise.
Mainly, it’s that she flies in the face of expectations. In a lesser show, she would be the villain, the judgmental mean girl who seemingly exists only to make the protagonists’ lives miserable. But here, she is brave, caring, and of course, generous. Of course, by themselves those qualities wouldn’t be remarkable. It’s when they’re juxtaposed with her flaws that they really shine. Rarity’s life is a constant struggle between what she wants and what makes others happy, and that conflict is very moving and relatable to me. Rainbow Dash has a similar thing going on between her good and bad qualities, hence my enjoyment of her as well.
What’s your favorite episode?
Sonic Rainboom. Not only does it highlight the strengths and weaknesses of my two favorite ponies, but it’s full of action and emotion. And the idea of a flying pony breaking the sound barrier and creating a rainbow with it is just so delightfully absurd.
What do you get from the show?
The single greatest thing I get from Friendship is Magic is its positivity. It is hopeful, adventurous, and compassionate, without becoming too preachy or saccharine. It presents its surprisingly deep and thought-provoking world and characters with a refreshing earnestness, which really appeals to me in a world that seems to be saturated with irony, sarcasm, and cynicism. The fact that it respects and celebrates “girl stuff” in a very misogynistic culture is really important too. I very much hope the show helps this generation of women.
I also got a renewed passion for charity from being involved with the pony fandom, which has enriched my life a great deal. That brings me to the next question …
What do you want from life?
I want to get enough from life that I’m able to give even more back. Helping is a byword of my life, from my job, to my friends, to free time, to how I spend my money. We’re all in this together. Shout out to Bronies For Good, a charity that has done some amazing stuff.
Why do you write?
I have so many ideas in my head, and not enough avenues to get them out. Not even writing is enough to get them all out, but it helps. It’s a free way for me to possibly impact someone else’s life too, even if it’s only small.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
Get help. The single biggest factor in improving my writing was editing and being edited on ponychan for a while. I know how difficult and sometimes painful it can be to endure criticism, but taking it gracefully is a crucial skill. It’ll make you a better author for sure, and possibly a better person too. At the very least, developing a rapport with your fellow writers is a great way to make new friends!
Besides Waiting for Godot, what sources of inspiration did you draw from when writing Waiting For Celestia?
The jumping-off point for the story was a discussion on a message board about Stryke’s fic By Royal Command. There is a minor plot-hole in it, where Celestia travels to Twilight’s place on her chariot, but then teleports away at the end of the story. Some board members, myself included, mused about what the two charioteers must have thought about that, and the comparisons were born.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard is the other major influence, and it’s where I drew the names for the main characters from. It’s where I got the “play-within-a-play” idea, too. “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Ponies” is even the alternate title for the story.
There are similarities in the situation of the main characters. Just as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are out-of-the-loop pawns in the story of Hamlet, so too are Stern Rose and Gilded Plate just side players on the crazy stage that is Equestria. Though one key difference is that Celestia cares for them personally and is not deliberately using them (or is she!?).
Aside from that, I’d have to say my studies of philosophy informed much of the story. The two royal guards challenge each other about life and morality, but in a very pony way.
Waiting for Godot is a very surreal work; how did you go about transferring that scenario to a pony context?
My Little Pony can certainly be surreal itself; remember The Return of Harmony? Even without Discord around, the show can be a bit odd, like the crazy stunts Pinkie Pie pulls. Or smaller things, such as the gag during Ponyville Confidential with Celestia getting caught eating cake. That and similar “humanizing” events were major inspirations for Waiting for Celestia, now that I think about it. So this match-up actually seemed like a natural, wonderful fit.
The play features two people talking near a tree, making it easy to craft descriptive and thematic parallels between it and my story. In Waiting for Celestia, there is also an extra layer of irony, because while the treehouse is deeply symbolic in relation to the guards, it’s also simply Twilight Sparkle’s home and the town’s library. It is at once both mythic and mundane.
In addition, it says a lot to me that the tree in Waiting for Godot is leafless and withered, while the tree in MLP is magical and alive. That ties back into what I said earlier about what I get out of the show.
Let’s talk about the guards, Stern Rose and Gilded Plate. How did you come up with them, and what do their views towards Celestia say about their characters?
My first step was deciding what I wanted out of the two characters: I wanted one to be faithful, the other to be world-weary and somewhat doubtful, so that I could get at the core of what Celestia means to the citizens of Equestria. But they also had to have a connection, to be friends despite those differences. They had to want to help each other through things as those roles completely flipped over the course of the story, as one’s faith started to show cracks, and the other started to recall some of their old belief. In the end, no matter what views they end up holding, they know that they’ll still have each other, and that’s what I think Celestia would want if she ever found out about their little drama (or does she already know!?).
After deciding all of that, it was just a matter of giving them history, likes, and dislikes. Even the details that didn’t show up in the story were crucial in helping me find their unique voices.
Did you run into any challenges while writing this?
Oh yeah. Getting the narrative from about the middle to the ending I had in my mind required a lot of frustrating rewrites, and even then it wasn’t as successful a transition as I would have liked. Luckily, that was the only major challenge. I didn’t have to deal with setting time aside to write and overcoming writer’s block like I’ve had to with longer stories.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
This is actually the first time I’ve been interviewed about anything (except jobs I guess)! So thanks for this opportunity.