Today’s story lets a novel interpretation of Princess Celestia shine.
A Million Little Lights
[Drama] [Slice of Life] • 2,176 words
Tonight, Celestia will talk to Shining Armor. With just one conversation, she needs to save Equestria.
FROM THE CURATORS: The core of this story, which earned rare unanimous curator approval, is “Celestia trying by sheer force of will to stop ponies — including herself — from believing in her divinity,” as AugieDog put it. And both the vision and the execution of that idea were exemplary. “This is a really singular ‘goddess Celestia’ story,” Present Perfect said. “It’s clear the Celestia in this story could solve the world’s problems in a heartbeat, or the problems of single ponies, but if she does, they won’t learn anything. Assuming she doesn’t make things worse somehow, as her sorrowful monologue at the end suggests.”
But while this shines as an idea story — “The idea of walking the tightrope between being a living symbol and being the object of zealotry is explored concisely, but compellingly,” Chris said — its depth as a character piece won our equal acclaim. “Celestia’s a remarkable combination of alien and all-too-comprehensible,” Horizon said, and AugieDog found her extremely sympathetic: “Her inner struggle is so nicely rendered — very calm, very quiet, very Celestia, but very heartfelt.”
That sympathetic portrayal made this story both a moving experience and an easy choice for a feature. “Celestia repeating her phrase like a mantra drives home just how easy it is for even a creature who can all but see the future to become trapped into a world — and a role — they can’t abide,” Chris said. And its economy of storytelling was the cherry on top of the narrative sundae. “This is a fantastic little one-two punch of a story … it really is remarkable how vivid a picture this paints given its length,” Horizon said. “Not a word feels wasted here.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Aragon discusses finger guns, nightmare retardant, and boys named Texas.
Give us the standard biography.
I am an extremely handsome man. That fact is not technically part of my biography, but nevertheless I believe it’s the first thing you should know about me. Because, well, that’s what people usually notice in real life whenever they look in my general direction, and it brings them immense happiness. I feel that you should also enjoy the wonderful gift that is my face. So picture that as you read my words.
Haunting beauty aside: I’m a college student from Spain. This means that English is not my first language and also that I spend most of my time studying. Currently I’m getting two degrees: Law and Economics (or, more specifically, Business Management, but I refer to it as simply “Economics” because, really, it’s the same stuff).
In layman terms: I turned the word “boring” into a lifestyle. To counter this, I act like a cool dude, or at least like a jock, constantly using words like “yo”, “bro”, “neato peato mamapapa” and the classic “eyyyyy-plus-fingergun combo”.
But of course, I do this in an ironic and intelligent way, which comes off as interesting and extremely attractive to women. Not like those people who do it in an unironic and dumb way, which comes off as boring and extremely attractive to women.
Life is awesome and it’s easy to get a date, is the message I’m trying to convey here.
That’s pretty much it, really. I think I didn’t miss anything, but I’m not going to lie: I’ve rewritten this paragraph seven times because I keep wondering if I can use swears in this interview. Is that allowed?
No? Well, fuck me. I’ll try to behave, then.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
There is a short and a long answer to this. The short one is “no, I’m not a dyslexic Lord of the Rings fan, there’s no ‘r’ in there”. The long one is several paragraphs long. But this is an interview and I’m officially allowed to make it all about me, so you’re getting the long answer too. Aren’t you glaaaad?
Stereotypically enough (look it up, it’s a thing) the main reason why I’m named “Aragón” in Fimfiction is because of Spanish Pride, with capital letters. It’s an Important Thing That Matters. When I first thought about creating an account for this website, I wanted to make it clear that I was a non-English speaker, and also from Spain.
So I chose “Aragón”, which is the place where I was born and where my parents live. Blame Fimfiction’s inability to detect the “ó” for the lack of accentuation, by the way. I don’t mind if you write it as “Aragon” or “Aragón” anyway.
I created the account when I was like… 16 or so? Young enough to think I was old already, I know that. But when I started college I moved to Barcelona, so I’m not from Aragón anymore, technically, which I find HIGHLY IRONIC and NOT REALLY THAT INTERESTING A FACT. I had a previous penname that I used on online forums and so on, but it was rather silly and I was looking forward for a change, so I said screw it. Aragón it is. I use it everywhere now.
Sure, this is like an American naming himself “Texas” because thinkin’ is hard and Mama said pretty ladies don’t think or they’ll turn ugly, but there’s more to it. This is a writing website for writers who write, right? So I thought about giving myself a name related to that.
“Aragón” was perfect for it, due to Louis Aragon, the surrealist French poet. I like French poets, because when I was a kid my mother said that Baudelaire was a bad person — and, I mean, there’s only one way to react to that, isn’t there?
But maybe it was a little convoluted. So I asked my father: Is “Aragón” a good name for a writer? It’s a reference to—
“The French poet?”
So there I was, feeling extremely clever, until my sister told me that the trainer for Spain’s national soccer team was called “Luis Aragonés” too. So it looks like a reference to soccer, instead of a poetry thing.
But, y’know, until less than a week ago, Goodreads couldn’t tell the difference, and listed me as the author of Les Voyageurs de l’impériale, so clearly my father and I were on to something. Now that’s been fixed and I’m detailed as “the fanfiction author”, so I bid adieu to my best practical joke, I guess.
Sigh. I don’t even like soccer, dude.
Who’s your favorite pony?
Pinkie Pie. Also, Diamond Tiara. And I have a soft spot for Cadance, and I adored Flurry Heart in the S6 premiere.
…Start to see a pattern? I’m fairly sure I like Pinkie Pie for what she is, as I love clowny characters — and me being a Pinkie Pie fangirl is blatant to the point where I like pretty much anything that includes her — but on the other hand… I think I just like pink shit?
Like, this is actually causing me a mild existential crisis. Do I have any degree of objectivity when it comes to judging things, or do I just like the pretty colors? A mystery for the ages. My family correctly guessed which pony I loved the most when they saw a TV commercial for the show, though, and they didn’t even pretend to have a hard time guessing. “It’s probably the girliest one,” they said. The moral of this story is that well, okay, fuck you too, people.
So I guess… just look at the color of the pony. Is it pink? Then I like it. I’m a simple man.
What’s your favorite episode?
Screw it. I know that there are better episodes, don’t get me wrong — I mean, I loved episode 100, for example. I think that Wonderbolt Academy is great. I got depressed for a week after my local priest told me that I can’t legally marry Rarity Investigates. (Yet. I’m a lawyer in training, I’m working on it.)
But, still, man. Baby Cakes. That episode was perfect for me. Brought me a lot of joy for all of the right reasons — it just catered to all the little things I like in a story, message-wise and characters-wise. Another one I also loved was Somepony to Watch Over Me because I can relate with Applejack.
Oh, and while it’s by no means one of the best episodes ever, I consider the Pinkie subplot in the Yak episode to be brilliant. And I really really loved the S6 premiere because of Flurry Heart, I found her adorable.
…Look, just. Just throw pink shit at me, and include a little kid or explore the idea of motherhood, and I’ll be sold. I already told you: I’m a simple man with simple tastes.
What do you get from the show?
It’s cute, it has pink elements, and I adore the voice acting. Also, I can speak English because of this show — I had a basic grasp on the language when I started to watch it, but I couldn’t really communicate in it that well. Then I decided to watch the show, because fuck the police, I’m an independent woman who doesn’t need no husband to tell her what to do.
And I marathoned the shit out of it.
Thing is, I watched the entire show in one weekend, right? Two days. I found it cute, and innocent, and funny, and I loved the characters. I watched it with Spanish subtitles, of course.
But then the first season ended… And I noticed that the second season had started that very same day.
I was ecstatic! Man, fuck the hiatus, I don’t need that shit. However — the first two episodes of S2 were out, yes, but not subtitled.
Yeah. After finding out I didn’t need to wait, I realized I might need to wait two extra days. I pondered. Do I really need the subtitles? Or is it time for me to actually try to understand what they say? I chose the cool option. Neato peato mamapapa.
From that moment on, I never used subtitles again. I got better at English, I started writing fics, I made friends ‘cause of those fics, and I spent a week in Germany visiting a Fimfiction friend. First time in my life I got in a plane.
This show has literally and unironically changed my life for the better, chap. That’s what I get from it. That, and pink shit.
Man, I love me some pink shit.
What do you want from life?
Woah. That’s a — that’s an awfully deep question you’re throwing at my face after I spent like seven hundred words ranting about how I love pink. Yikes.
One thing I always try to do is get better at everything, and also have a happy life or something. But, really — you want to know my lifelong dream? Get the mountain that overlooks my hometown carved in the shape of my beautiful face. So, even when the thickest of mists is blocking their view, the townspeople have a little more light in their lives.
And then one night I sneak there and furiously make out with my own giant fa—
[Note: The rest of this answer goes against this website’s contents policy]
Why do you write?
I actually have a cool answer to this: I get nightmares if I don’t.
No, really. If I don’t write I tend to get a lot of nightmares — I still have at least one or two per week, because I get scared by loud noises and slightly circular shapes, but if I write they are fewer. ‘Cause I tire myself mentally, see? So I just sleep. Or I don’t remember the nightmares. Whatever, it works.
Of course, I also like my own writing, and find it a really entertaining hobby. I learned to read when I was two years old, ‘cause we had no videogame consoles in my house but we had books, so I’d always loved literature. Moving from reading to writing seemed like a fairly natural step forward.
Also no, for real, I like my own writing. I re-read my old fics constantly. I’m kind of the only one who does that but screw it I think I’m great leave me alone I didn’t say anything bad.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
Writing a lot is my main advice, yes? But really, that’s just the start.
I think is the best way to go is — write, write, write, and write till you find your voice. When you’re comfortable enough with what you create, when you find out that you have developed the skill, and that your ideas are sharper, and that you know what stories you do best? That’s when you’ve found it.
So develop that voice. Use that voice of yours. Make sure that you can write a story that makes people go, “Oh, it’s by this person! Such an amazing writer. I can always tell when a story is by this author”.
Then, write something wildly different.
Writing is about achieving a voice, then growing. Write stuff you’re not familiar with, then become familiar with it. Study it, rationalize it, play it by ear — doesn’t matter. Keep pushing till you love what you wrote, and see that at least someone else loves it too. Then move on, keeping the experience, and become a richer writer.
Get a comfort zone, kill it, rule it, then get out of it and move to greener pastures, is what I mean I guess. Sort of what Spain did with the Americas back in the day. Eh? EH?
God, I hope that doesn’t register as racist.
What was this story a “sarcastic counterargument” to?
Oh-hoh-hoh, we’re getting straight to the meat, eh? That Author Note got almost more popular than the entire story itself, didn’t it?
I wrote A Million Little Lights, first and foremost, as a homage to Pearple Prose, a friend of mine who really knows how to write. I had an initial idea, a message I wanted to send, and the image I had of it was a single conversation between Celestia and Shining Armor, after the latter peeks through a keyhole. I wanted to write that story as told by someone else.
A little aside: Boy, was that hard! (Getting outta your comfort zone, remember?). Fic got through a thousand iterations. Notice the number of prereaders listed in the description? Every single one asked me to rewrite the fic entirely, and I did. Pearple Prose, I think, did so more than once.
But the main idea never changed through all those rewrites, and that’s the sarcastic counterargument itself.
See, I don’t think Celestia is a god. I think she’s immortal, a wise individual, and a mentor figure.
She is not, however, perfect. Or all-powerful, for that matter.
I write about Celestia a lot, and I always write her as a normal pony. Maybe wiser than usual, but still, a pony. She can make mistakes. And some people seem to have a problem with that.
It’s not that I dislike the headcanon of Celestia being a literal deity — far from it, as long as you realize it’s a headcanon. However, I don’t feel that writers are forced to portray her as such (especially because the show itself sure doesn’t do that) and that criticising a story based on that personal headcanon of yours is wrong.
So I said, okay. What if she was?
I wrote Celestia as being a god, then. See how it plays off. And the way it plays off is clear — she suffers. She doesn’t want others to realize she’s a god. She doesn’t want to be a god. She doesn’t believe that she’s a god… Or at least, that’s what she tells to herself.
That’s the thing I like about the story. I write Celestia as a god, and what she wants — what she so desperately wants — is to not be a god. Yikes!
Hence, sarcastic counterargument. Counterargument, because I debate (albeit in-universe) the idea of Celestia being omniscient. Sarcastic, because I do so by writing her as actually omniscient, but doing her best to fight against that fact, to deny that reality.
Of course, the story goes first, the message comes second. You can (and should!) read the story and just believe it’s a story, see nothing under it. That means I didn’t mess it up. But what I wanted to tell was that Celestia is not a god. And if she is, she doesn’t want to.
What inspired the “little lights”? What can you tell us about what they actually are?
At first, I thought that nothing really inspired the little lights themselves — I juggled a couple visual cues for Celestia to “see” all the time, such as colors, arrows, lines, or dreamlike creatures, but the little lights were definitely the best idea. The imagery of them being lights, of Celestia never seeing shadows — physically and metaphorically — and them illuminating the future with colors was way too good to waste. Plus, “A Million Little Lights” is a killer title.
But then I realized that there’s a song I’ve heard a couple times named “All the Little Lights”. About how we have little lights in our hearts, and so on. I think that might have inspired it, or at least gave me the mental picture that I needed to work on the concept? But if that’s the case, it sure wasn’t a conscious thing.
As to what are the little lights in-universe: they’re the proof of Celestia’s divinity, and also her main burden. She doesn’t want to be a god, but she is — because the lights tell her so.
They’re not real. There are no actual little lights shining around that only Celestia can see. They’re just a trick of the mind, or maybe a mnemonic technique — it’s the way Celestia visualizes her omniscience, the way she rationalizes all the information she has within reach to filter the useless stuff. It’s all in her mind, really.
She knows everything that has been and will be. The lights are merely conjured to make the whole thing easier on her brain. She wasn’t born omniscient, she became omniscient, so she needed some kind of translator when she first started to be all-knowing, to understand what was going on.
Why does Celestia not act on her seemingly omniscient understanding of the world?
Because the little lights told her that gods have no sisters.
In the end, it’s all about that — Celestia is a god, but Luna isn’t. She lacks the experience, or the mind, or the clarity. Celestia knows as a fact that, when Luna returns, she won’t be a god.
But Luna is the only pony who can be seen as equal to Celestia. Life at the top is lonely enough without anybody else, but with Luna there? Seeing her little sister, and knowing that you’re not the same anymore?
Celestia became a god after sending Luna to the moon. She sent her there and thought that she’d have to wait for a thousand years — hard, but doable. But if she’s a god, things can never go back to the way they were before. She lost Luna for real, forever.
So she refuses to admit that she’s a god. She has omniscience, yes, but that means nothing. If she keeps repeating to herself that she’s not a god, if she keeps ignoring what the lights say, then maybe it’ll all be right once Luna comes back.
She could, in theory, stop being a god. She knows everything — that means that she knows a way to go back, if it exists. But that would mean not being able to protect Equestria, at least not in the same way she’s doing it right now. A single life lost because she didn’t know enough would be too much on her conscience.
This means that Celestia can’t stop being omniscient. Deep within, she knows that once you’re a god you’re forever a god, and there’s no turning back. But she won’t act on her omniscience except in the most underhanded, subtle ways — because if she does it that way, then she’s not really a god. Her subjects don’t see her as a god.
Maybe that means she’s not a god, at least in a sense.
So yeah. She’s lying to herself, mostly, for the sake of hope. But she can only lie to herself to a certain degree, so she doesn’t become a normal pony again either.
Man, what a bummer, huh?
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’m mainly a comedy writer. You can tell by the fact that you just read this entire interview. However, I think that there are ways I can improve myself — and that means learning. This was a homage to Pearple Prose because I genuinely like the guy (even though he’s an idiot), but it was also made for selfish reasons.
I already explained it: it’s about getting out of your comfort zone. Go out of your way to write stuff you know you can’t write, and turn it into something you can do with one hand tied at your back. To me, that implies making my prose better, and thankfully enough, I have three friends — Pearple Prose himself, MrNumbers, and Kitsunerisu; I call them the Dark Triad — that I consider masters of the art of making your prose prettier. (Go read them, they’re all underappreciated).
So, I imitate them. I read their stuff, I try to understand what they do and how they do it, and then I try to write in their style. Then I try to use the stuff I already know to do that even better than them, if possible.
(It’s… it’s apparently not possible, at least so far.)
When you’re a writer, you’re almost always aware of your weaknesses. The stuff you can’t do, or the stuff that always comes off as lackluster no matter how you try. When that happens, don’t ignore those weaknesses, or try to justify them — turn them into a strength. Read examples of people doing that right. Learn. Ask for advice. Don’t be afraid of deleting and rewriting.
Grow as a writer. Shit, apply this to your real life, and grow as a person too. Become the goddamn Terminator. And whenever you have doubts, whenever the night is too dark and you want to give up, look up. You’ll see my beautiful, beautiful face, carved on that mountain. And your heart will fill with warmth, and the path towards your future will shine in front of you.
And then you’ll squint and you’ll notice me, making out with my own giant fa—