Today’s story bubbled up to the top of our reading lists.
[Sad] [Slice of Life] • 4,552 words
Golden Harvest farms carrots, is incredibly devoted to her husband, and lives in bubbles.
Written Script writes and travels far too often, but is charismatic and well-liked.
Derpy likes muffins and is legally unfit to take care of her foal.
And then there’s Dinky, who (legally) belongs to Golden Harvest and (legally) must visit her mother once a month.
Life is incredibly complex, but it’s also profoundly simple.
FROM THE CURATORS: Let’s not mince words here: the tragedy here is on a level rarely seen in ponyfic. “This story does such a masterful job of making you squirm as you read that I felt absolutely compelled to nominate it,” Chris said, and the rest of us agreed as it sailed to a rare unanimous approval. “Often, Sad-tagged fics prod you continually with ever-increasing woes, like sticks, hoping you’ll eventually break and cry,” Present Perfect said. “This Sad-tagged fic punches you in the junk and steals your lunch money.”
At the center of that were the exemplary portrayals of Golden Harvest and a vivid supporting cast. “This is a story about characters trying to make the best of situations they wouldn’t have chosen for themselves,” Chris explained, while AugieDog focused on Golden herself: “The portrait of a character completely out of her depth is terrific.” Horizon agreed: “All of the characters are painted solidly, and Golden is laudably complex — while she’s clearly the villain, she’s presented sympathetically, and we see how she’s been damaged by forces beyond her control. And when she crosses a line, and the story gamely continues on with the other characters pretending like nothing’s changed, we see that damage from a very different angle.”
Several of us also singled out the story’s structure for praise. “I love how the themes manage to resonate with the plot, the characters, and each other,” Soge said, and Chris agreed: “Perhaps the best thing about this is the poignant simplicity of its ‘bubbles’ motif. It frames the entire narrative as an exploration of who we are when we’re rocked from our comfort zones.” But as bleak and non-pony as that might sound — “this is earth-analogue to a fault,” Present Perfect noted — it felt informed by the show on a deeper level. “It manages to feel pony in spite of all the darkness,” Soge said, and AugieDog agreed: “As the eternal optimist, I’m able to see a bit of light in the ending.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Plumander discusses technicolor reality, non-anti-heroes, and ninja plums.
Give us the standard biography.
Hi, I’m plumander, most people call me Plu, and you might know me from a fic I wrote called 2+2=5.
Biographies are hard for me because often you have to talk about where you’re from. Having lived 5 places in the last 7 years, that’s a bit of a difficult question for me. So I’ll skip that part.
I skipped two years of high school in order to start college earlier, so currently I’m a sophomore studying film production. Lately I’ve been applying to transfer schools, so that’s taken up a good chunk of my time.
Besides writing, I’m very into filmmaking (obviously), video games (my current obsession is Stardew Valley), and acting. And that about covers me.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
This is a weird story. Back in 6th or 7th grade, I was a member of a forum, not related to ponies, and I had a falling out with a moderator on there. Not wanting to quit the forum altogether, I created a new username, based on random nouns: NinjaPlum. I tired of NinjaPlum pretty quickly, so I wanted to create a new username to use lots of places. I was really into the different names of shades of purple then, so I created plumander as a botched portmanteau of plum and lavender.
And by the way, it’s pronounced plum-ander, not plu-mander.
Who’s your favorite pony?
I don’t actually have one, but it usually hovers around Sweetie Belle.
What’s your favorite episode?
The Cutie Mark Chronicles. I’m a sucker for the CMC and anything from season 1.
What do you get from the show?
Obviously, the fandom would not exist without the show, so that’s the biggest one. But the show itself is incredibly unique, at least for me, because the characters it presents are so real, even in their technicolor context, that you’re able to have them go through very dark things without it seeming like too much of a stretch.
What do you want from life?
To be happy.
Why do you write?
I’m a pretty artistic person … who isn’t good at art. So I started writing as an outlet for my creative energy. Writing is one of those things that you can do anywhere, and isn’t very limited by funds or form or anything, unlike filmmaking.
When I started on Fimfic, I promised myself that I was writing for me. And if my stories got big, it would be for their content and not for anything else. I’d like to think I still do that. I have a weird style, and it certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But I publish stories on Fimfic to get something polished out there, and any attention anything receives is just a bonus. Although it does feel really nice.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
Usually my advice is to utilize pre-readers and editors. However, I’m very hypocritical on that front. Despite that, it’s sound advice.
When it comes to actual writing, don’t be afraid to break rules. Interesting stories are ones that do something different with the form, whether that is through structure, characterization, or style.
What inspired the bubbles metaphor?
When I began this story I knew I wanted to have a recurring symbol of some sort to have Golden focus on. In an early draft of the story (which I recently discovered I still have) it was time, specifically months. However, I wanted to use something more specific and tangible.
The bubbles are obviously Derpy’s cutie mark. It’s revealed that Golden is very jealous of her cutie mark, and I think that it’s stuck with her for a while. As conscious as she is of all the bubbles in her life, she’s ignoring a lot of them.
It’s also a metaphor that has a lot of layers. Bubbles have a lot of different facets that I play with throughout the piece: fragility, innocence, movement. Golden is very unlike a bubble: she’s hardened and stubborn, and I wanted something to highlight that. They’re seen as dainty and childlike and that definitely isn’t Golden.
What led Derpy to pick Golden Harvest specifically to raise her filly? Why did Golden accept?
Derpy and Golden were very close when they were younger, best friends even, up until the point when she and Written Script got married. When it was decided that Derpy had to choose someone to take care of Dinky, she chose Golden for two reasons: firstly, she was romanticizing the early days of her friendship, and secondly, she’d look good to the courts. She was married and both her and her husband had a stable job, which was more than Derpy could say about any of her other friends.
As much as one would like to think that there is something redeemable deep down inside Golden, the truth is she was mostly guilted into it. Written Script was much more of a fan of the idea than Golden was, so he pushed her into it a little bit.
However, with both of these questions, there are still gaps, which is intentional. A lot of times, in real life, the decisions we make aren’t perfectly logical, and I wanted to reflect that in this piece.
What’s your technique for employing varied sentence length?
I write a lot of freeform poetry, so I like to make my prose flow like poetry would. It’s my goal to make readers pay attention to certain sentences, and I’ve found that sentence length is a really good way to do that.
A lot of my sentences in my writing are very short, which I caught a lot of flak for in school, because sometimes that would leak over to my formal writing. However, I think varied sentence length adds a lot of interest to the flow of a story, and I like to make my writing itself interesting, not just the content.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A lot of my stories are experiments or exercises for me, and for this one, I wanted to focus on a protagonist who is incredibly unlikeable, but not for classic anti-hero reasons. Because of that, I could probably talk about Golden’s character for way too long, but I’ll spare y’all from that.
I feel like I haven’t written enough, but I guess I’m a woman of few words. My abundance of 1000-word one-shots is sort of evidence of that. So if anyone has any more questions about this fic or me in general, I’m always happy to answer them.
I’d also like to thank RCL for this, because ever since I joined the site, I dreamed of one of my stories being featured, and genuinely never thought it would happen.
Also, a fun fact about this story that I discovered while doing this interview: there’s a full prequel to this story planned out, with a finished first chapter that I’d forgotten I’d written. So we’ll see if that ever gets published.