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Today’s story reminds us that even loving spouses sometimes will make cold decisions.

blanketsBlankets
[Romance] [Slice of Life] • 2,556 words

Marriage is the hardest thing Carrot Cake has ever done, second only to being a father to his two foals.

Woken by a chill and finding himself quite bereft of blankets, he finds himself pondering the canyon that has appeared between he and his wife.

FROM THE CURATORS: As the description suggests, this is a story about relationship problems — but it’s full of the sort of realism and nuance that elevate the premise from angst to art.  “I always enjoy it when writers take a situation from the show and apply real-life psychology to it: how would someone really react to this situation, and how might that reaction change the character’s outlook on life?” AugieDog said.  “Even better, we then get the character reacting to that first reaction and deciding it was the wrong thing to do.”

Several of us noted the deft way which Blankets dug back through both the Cakes’ troubled relationship and the incident that caused the rift.  “Even when we discover what happened, there’s never any attempt by the author to act like this single thing is what’s pushing them apart,” Chris said.  “Instead, this is a story about all the little barbs, all the slightly-too-guarded conversations, all the individually unimportant but oh-so-crucial-in-the-heat-of-the-moment battles which drive people apart, told with beautiful metaphors and no small amount of self-awareness.”  And that storytelling finesse even won over our doubters.  “It started out feeling like a generic midlife crisis story, but once the curtain pulled back on the original source of their rift, that did wonders for my engagement,” Horizon said.  “The central conflict and the realistic approach to that growing divide of paranoia are exemplary, and I really appreciate the way that the resolution turned on trust rather than on the truth.”

But ultimately, Blankets’ strength comes from its uncompromising look at the truth behind a marriage in crisis — and that wouldn’t have been nearly as powerful if it hadn’t gotten so effectively inside its characters’ heads.  “Mr. Cake makes no bones about what’s happened,” Present Perfect said. “He’s laying his soul bare, not asking for pity. If anything, this story reveals that he does truly understand his wife in the way only someone who’s been with another for a long time can — we see him seeing himself through her eyes.”

Read on for our author interview, in which MidnightDancer discusses dark days, basic morals, and that old time-thief Soap.


 

Give us the standard biography.

A single mother living, working for a big tech company, and periodically sleeping just outside the Philadelphia area. Aside from writing horsewerds, I enjoy taking photographs, playing video games, spending time with my son Ash, reading, and making soap. Soap has pretty much consumed a lot of my free time. I also like to knit, and draw on occasion (though not very well). I also have two cats (Hermione and Abacus), a dog (Ruby), and three fish tanks.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

Well, my handle and my pony’s name is Midnight Dancer. You know, someone that dances. At midnight (and other hours in the PM). Usually for money.

I’ll leave you to your deductions on that one.

Who’s your favorite pony?

Applejack, with my runner-up being Luna. Applejack because she’s hardworking, honest, and family oriented. Luna because she’s a pony displaced from time, struggling to understand and come to terms with a dark past.

What’s your favorite episode?

“Simple Ways.” I wrote an entire blog on it. I loved it so much. The message was perfect for the actual target audience of the show.

What do you get from the show?

I get a sense of peace, and more importantly, a reminder of the simpler things. It’s easy to get distracted and muddled up in real life when you’re an adult; responsibilities are tempting to ignore in favor of that sweet, sweet instant gratification. Simple morals presented in the show are still important regardless of their perceived simplicity; and sometimes I think that, as adults, we need to remember those basic things.

What do you want from life?

To be comfortable. I’m a very anxious person in general. I worry about my son a lot, and I try my best to have him turn out wonderful. I want to be a good mother, and someone my son can come to even years from now with his metaphorical boo-boos. I want to continue to advance my career so I can keep our lives comfortable and stable. I want to be a good friend to those few I call friend. Overall, I suppose I want what everyone wants: to be a good person, to live a comfortable life, and to die with no regrets.

Why do you write?

Writing is often an outlet for me. My stories occasionally mirror a real-life situation or problem I’m struggling with, and writing out characters going through the same thing with a resolution can often help me see my way through. Other times, it’s simple stress relief. Other times still, a story just itches and burns in my brain until it begs to be told.

What advice do you have for the authors out there?

I’ve seen this new thing going around where people are encouraging people to not read any site stories if they write for the site. I, personally, believe this to be rubbish.

Read. Read books, read magazines. Read scholarly articles on philosophy. If you’re writing something you don’t know much about (for example, a female writing a male POV, or a male writing a female POV), research. If your mechanical skills are shaky, get an editor.

And above all, watch the source material. When I’m writing a pony I’m not fond of, I watch episodes with that pony in it to remind me of her mannerisms, her body language, and her turns of phrase. This is vitally important to writing characters believably, in my opinion.

What goes into a good marriage?

A whole lot of hard work. People often think that marriage is an end goal, followed by “and they lived happily ever after, the end”. This is not true. Marriage is a long, difficult road through life. Staying honest about your needs and feelings is extremely important. Being able to talk through issues without it devolving into a screaming match is important. Each partner needs to put work in, and even if it’s not the same exact work (for instance, the traditional “man works, woman takes care of house” view), it needs to be valued the same.

It’s about trust, commitment, and refusing to turn tail at the first sign of a storm. You hold hands together and make your way further and further into the world, encouraging and helping each other on the way.

What was Mrs. Cake’s role in creating the gulf between them?

Her role was the instinctive, defensive move of a new mother protecting her children: drawing in on herself and focusing on keeping them safe. She sensed Carrot’s distrust, and she knew he’d gone behind her back somehow, but instead of discussing it with him, she withdrew. I can understand why (having been in the situation myself), but it certainly added to the width of the gulf.

What is likely to be Mr. Cake’s best hope for building that bridge?

An honest apology for his doubt in her, and a discussion of his reasoning for having that doubt to that extent. That would be an excellent start. Mrs. Cake still needs to be coaxed out of her protective mode, and an honest confession and discussion is the best way to do that.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Aside from the fact that I’m surprised and happy that you liked the story this much, I guess I really just have to say thank you. I’ve made a lot of really wonderful friends through this site that have helped me and held me through my darkest days of the last three years (and there have been many of those dark days).

Be good to one another.

You can read Blankets at FIMFiction.net. Read more interviews right here at the Royal Canterlot Library, or suggest stories for us to feature at our Fimfiction group.

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