The way that today’s story examines the challenges of a long-distance relationship is something to write home about.
Distance To Be Covered
[Romance] • 9,017 words
Dash had been accepted into the Wonderbolts and was going to be living in Cloudsdale. Twilight was going to be spending much of her time in Canterlot as a new princess of Equestria. Both of their lives would be changing forever, and in very different ways, but Dash wasn’t worried. Their relationship could handle the distance, and though they were both moving away from Ponyville, the town and all their friends were still going to be there, the same as they always had been.
She knew everything was going to be all right. They were going to be able to deal with it. She knew it was going to be fine — she was just having a hard time getting herself to feel like it was going to be.
FROM THE CURATORS: One of the many reasons this feature delighted us was how endlessly quotable its prose was. Early lines like this one impressed Chris: “She knew just the pegasus to get that packing done — the fastest pegasus that had probably even ever existed — and that pegasus was named Future Dash. Present Dash was already flying out the door.” “There’s some nice characterization humor here,” Chris said, “and that really buoys the whole fic.” Closer to the end was the line that sealed Horizon’s approval: “”I’m scared, okay?’ Rainbow said, and the two of them were silent as they lay in the vast, empty sky, the aurora glimmering above them.'” “It’s a little thing,” Horizon said, “but reinforcing the theme of the conversation with the tone of the setting is exactly the sort of attention to detail and craft that we should be rewarding.”
Little touches like those rewarded us throughout our reading, but the big things — such as the portrayal of the central TwiDash relationship — were equally powerful. “It sold the relationship well in medias res,” Present Perfect said, and Horizon agreed: “There’s a lot of solid work here to non-intrusively set up the relationship and the characterization, as well as scenes directly showing us why the couple works together.” For his part, Chris was impressed by “how little of the romance was gratuitous, by which I mean ‘irrelevant to the plot’ … and that is exactly what I want to see from a shipping story.”
Add all those qualities to a story that’s “wonderfully paced and closes strong,” as Horizon said, and it’s easy to see why this one was a winner. Present Perfect expanded on that: “The ending is intense and romantic, taking Rainbow’s character heavily into account to make an emotional statement while also giving us a look at TwiDash that’s just a little outside the norm.”
Read on for our author interview, in which AcreuBall discusses uncanny Balls, Wolverine neighbors, and personal headcanon cement.
Give us the standard biography.
I’m definitely a wannabe artist and writer. I went to school for stuff a while back, and I was at it for a good six years or so until then they gave me some kind of paper and told me not to come back. Now I’m doing next to nothing with my life except working at the mall food court. I’m from Alberta, Canada, which is cool because so is Wolverine. I don’t have a healing factor though.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
All these different things in my life that I’m a fan of somehow worked themselves back around to someone with the name Ball. Cannonball Adderley, Hugo Ball, Harvey Ball, Ashleigh Ball, Ernie Ball. It was uncanny. And it’s a weird name. So I started using it. And ‘Acreu’ because of other reasons.
Who’s your favorite pony?
Rarity, most of the time. I’ve talked at length with people about how her character, and I just love how — in my opinion — she acts totally two-dimensional to cover up her actually really deep and nuanced self. There’s a lot there, is what I feel. And I love Twilight the rest of the time because she’s a nerd.
What’s your favorite episode?
That’s a tough one! I always used to say ‘Sweet and Elite’, but I don’t know. The stuff that I really hang on to are usually small bits from different episodes. Like Pinkie’s rock farm in the cutie mark episode. Ah, I just love that! The whole setting, then when the rainbow clears it all away and stuff — I kind of am writing a sort of a novel (or whatever you call a long-format non-pony story) that’s in part directly inspired by that scene. I don’t even know. And I love the blending between science and magic, and how Twilight uses magic all the time but can’t even deal with the Pinkie Sense because it’s not science. That stuff’s so great!
What do you get from the show?
For me it always used to be this single pinnacle of amazing non-anime cartoons. Something that was awesome in a really honest way — not a string of reference jokes, not just a series of typical cliches again and again. Now there’s a bunch, with Steven Universe and Star vs. the Forces of Evil and others. The amazing characters and group dynamics, though, I’d say is what I continue to take away from the show.
What do you want from life?
To make stories. I thought about it long and hard, and pretty much everything that I ever thought I wanted to do with my life, and all the life choices I’ve made that led me to this point, can be traced to a desire for that. Probably.
Why do you write?
Because I can’t deal with people and life, I think. I dwell on junk a lot. Like, tiny things. Like, I said that one little thing to a complete stranger the other day, and I can’t help thinking I should’ve said something slightly different. It keeps me up at night. Then eventually they turn into stories? Mostly stuff I never put anywhere. This pony stuff is great, because it actually got me putting stuff where people look at it and talk about it and include it in things. Which also keeps me up at night.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
Hang on to all the little seemingly meaningless feelings and stupid thoughts you have. Especially the messy ones that don’t make sense. They’re sometimes secretly magical little inklings about life. You can figure out the meanings behind them as you write with them, and they can turn into great little moments in a story. Or an entire story in and of themselves. Or absolutely nothing, but hey.
Is there any story behind Distance To Be Covered’s more unique setting elements, like the aurora they go out to watch together?
Not so much for the aurora — that was a cold, calculated artistic choice for something they would both appreciate, I thought. But, as I said, I do live rather more northish than some other places, and definitely do get northern lights here occasionally, so that’s cool. The general premise of the story, though, I kind of took from the feelings of moving far away from my home town and all my friends and family when I went to school. Specifically the time right before moving, and how nothing really seems it’s going to be a problem yet, because it’s not actually a reality yet.
How do you see this story’s Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash as having gotten in a relationship?
Ha, that’s a tough one! I don’t usually ship those two, to be honest! I generally feel the romance I like to write and am most successful with is the kind that’s really plain on the outside, but it’s amazing to those involved. So I’d probably say they got together because they were both attracted to each other and also liked spending time with each other! But then all the little thoughts and feelings as it was happening was what was awesome about it!
Would you have changed this story at all if you had written it post-Season 4? Could it have worked with the modern characters?
I wonder! A lot of the key intro bits revolve around the library, which is no more — and where we’re currently at, Twilight is pretty locked down in Ponyville, what with having a castle there and all, so it would be a quite a stretch for her to be moving to Canterlot. I definitely wanted the premise of the story to be that they were both going away and doing different things they wanted to do with their lives, because I didn’t want it to turn into a story about just one leaving the other behind to follow their dreams. So maybe I could’ve worked it out with the current setting, but it’d have to be quite a bit different! I knew that was going to be the case, but didn’t want this idea to go to waste, and so nearly killed myself rushing to get it out just before the season premiere (posted Nov. 19th … S4 E1 came out the 23rd. Nailed it!)
What’s the best way to ship two characters who your readers have such strong headcanons about?
Reject everyone else’s headcanon and substitute your own! Well, not quite, but still. I think it’s important to have your own strong personal feelings about who the two characters are and what their relationship looks like, and really cement it out for yourself. If the characters are solid — true to the version of themselves that you’ve settled on — and the romance is there, and it’s specific to their characters, people will be willing to adopt your headcanon! Spend a long time thinking about it, then write with confidence! People respond well to that, I think.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for putting me in the Royal Canterlot Library! Wow! It’s always kind of been a personal secret bonus objective for me, so I’m really pretty stoked about it! That’s all! Thank you and goodnight! Ball out.