Prepare for today’s story to drag you through the doubts of impending parenthood.
[Drama] [Slice of Life] • 6,038 words
Princess Cadance is nearly ready to deliver Princess Flurry Heart into the world, and Shining should be the happiest stallion in the world. After all, he’s about to become a father — what stallion wouldn’t rejoice at this fact?
And yet … something’s eating away at him. Keeping him up nights. Driving him to speak with anypony that’ll listen. An anxiety. A fear. A doubt.
FROM THE CURATORS: When the Season 6 opener introduced us to Cadance and Shining Armor’s foal, it was inevitable that we would see a rush of stories examining their parenthood — but this one stood out for how squarely it hit the nail on the head. “This is a fantastic, believable look into Shining Armor’s character and things he should rightfully feel doubtful about,” Present Perfect said. Horizon also praised the way the story handled its characters: “It takes a lot for a story about the joys of parenting to burst through my shell, but the honesty and maturity on display here from everyone won me over.” And AugieDog was similarly won over by that core maturity: “I’m a big fan of stories where characters come to realize that they’re in over their heads, then go out and find help to deal with the problem,” he said. “And the situation here is both nicely specific to Shining Armor and nicely general to the experience of fatherhood.”
Augie wasn’t the only one who appreciated the way the story was structured around that search for perspective. “Shining’s continued denial gives the supporting cast a chance to really shine — the scene with Night Light was particularly impressive — and winds up to a powerful ending that reinforces the story’s major themes,” Horizon said. That ending, too, impressed multiple curators. “I’m very pleased that he doesn’t magically get over his troubles by the end,” Present Perfect said. “I love that he doesn’t even know who to talk to — starting off with that random private, then slowly going for better and better choices. Of course, the scene with Cadance ended up being the best, as it should be.” And Chris agreed on both counts: “There was a structure to what Shining Armor learned that made it feel like it needed to happen. … And the lack of a total, instantaneous, and-then-everything-was-perfect-style resolution is a big point in this fic’s favor.”
But ultimately, it was the core authenticity here that made this such an exemplary read — and such a powerful one. “Shiny feels pleasantly human,” Chris said, and Horizon added: “The way that it explores his emotions just feels important.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Regidar discusses cave goblins, osmosis snippets, and the misreading of Dungeons & Dragons.
Give us the standard biography.
I was born at the tender age of zero in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I lived in Philly until I was six, at which point my family and I moved to Maui, Hawaii. I lurked around on dA and FA a lot in 2011/2012, so I got exposed to the show that way. I’ve been writing ponyfic since 2012; I started at the tail end of my 8th grade year, and am due to graduate from high school this year in June. I spent my entire high school career writing horsewords instead of doing schoolwork. Protip: don’t do this. I seriously could have been valedictorian of my school, but due to many poor choices relating to spending all my time writing ponefic, I am now nothing but a cave goblinesque creature who barely scrapes by in most aspects of civilized society, education included.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
This is a story I tell quite often: in 3.5e Dungeons and Dragons, there’s a sample starting character named Regdar. I started playing it at the age of six, and I misread “Regdar” as “Regidar”. When I started forming my own fantasy/adventure series, I had the main character as “Regidar” (and still do, as I’m properly writing the books now). When I started going online, I used “Regidar” as my username, mostly in online games like Runescape or World of Warcraft. When I started to get more into other things, like Deviantart, Furaffinity, and finally FiMFiction, it was just second nature to use “Regidar” as the name, and it’s stuck. I quite like the nickname “Regi” that people have given me as a result, so it’s a nice bonus. A lot of people pronounce Regidar as “Rej-eh-dar”, but I pronounce it “Reg (rhymes with “keg”)-eh-dar”.
Who’s your favorite pony?
It was Rarity for the longest time, but recently I’ve had a epitome of sorts, in which I realized that Twilight Sparkle is the one and true love of my life. Twilight, aside from being the main character, is everything I want in a personality — intelligent, obsessive, passionate, slightly awkward and odd, and with a healthy dose of neuroses. To pull on another fandom cliché, she’s a lot like me. Although, she has considerably more friends and is, unlike myself, a princess.
What’s your favorite episode?
It’s really hard to choose, considering I don’t watch the episodes more than three or four times generally, but I really love “Three’s a Crowd”. Discord is really compelling for me and I love to see what gets done with him. It’s also nice to see Cadance since she’s actually a fairly large character who gets little screen time.
What do you get from the show?
It’s a source of whimsy for me, and it’s refreshing to see something so cute and childlike be handled with surprising maturity at times. Plus, the way that the fandom goes to the lengths it does (both good and bad) with what it’s presented by the show is both entertaining and inspiring.
What do you want from life?
I want to be recognized for my artistic works (both musical and literary). I don’t want to be anxious and frightened all the time. I don’t want to be alone any more. I want to be happy.
Why do you write?
I’ve always loved writing, ever since I was really young. I had aspired to be a novelist as far back as eight, and I have close to 40 journals laying around from the last decade that I filled with story ideas and the like. When I got a bit older and I found out about fanfiction (I led a somewhat sheltered life before late 2011 with minimal internet exploration), I figured it would be a good place to hone my skills for a year or two. I started off writing the kinds of things I was comfortable with — overblown, melodramatic adventures, and lowbrow comedies. As of late, I’ve been using writing as more direct catharsis than I did before. I’ve been battling a lot of different mental illnesses as well for the better part of my life, and conforming to the cliché (as I often do), the show has helped me out a lot, and the fanfiction I write is a good place to deposit and process a lot of my feelings and emotions through a medium that appeals to a very specific audience that I relate to deeply. That doesn’t exactly mean that my work has progressed too far from my earlier works, though; technically, I have a much better grasp on English now than I did, but conceptually and artistically, I am still vapid. I went from writing imbecilic crackfics to self-pitying, cliché dramas. I get frustrated a lot and think I haven’t improved, just changed. I see a lot of the work that’s been produced by more reputable and inspired authors on this site alone, and I can feel a crippling wave of … inadequacy wash over me.
Sometimes though, I do strike gold, as implied by the acceptance of The Inadequacy into The Royal Canterlot Library. I did do my best with the story, I like to think. I’m honored and thrilled at the reception, and a lot of why I write is tied up in how other people perceive the story. I love to spark conversation, incite emotion, make someone laugh … writing is a very natural way for me to do that. So yeah, that’s why I write.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
It may seem overstated, but my advice is to read a lot, write a lot, and accept criticism. That last one is especially important; you’re not always able to see everything that’s wrong with your work, and one of the only surefire ways to grow as an author, or any sort of artist, is to realize that other people can see certain flaws better than you can. In addition, you should honestly write what you want to write. I used to be one of those people who would actively tell people not to write certain types of stories I didn’t like, but if you honestly want to write a Fallout: Equestria fic or a Past Sins sequel, then who am I to stop you? If it makes you happy, go for it. Remember to still give it your all, though. Great stories can sag to merely good (or even lower) because the author has decided to slack on effort halfway through, riding on the wave of their early success.
Why did you write this as a prequel to the episode rather than using those events as a starting point?
I suppose I wanted to tap into the feelings that would come from his speculation; the episode hadn’t come out at the time of writing, and I also wanted to really portray that frenzied anxiety that comes before a major event. The nebulous, chaotic way that beings react to what they believe is a “known unknown” — in this case, Shining’s perceived reality of what the future relationship between him and his daughter was going to be like. If I had used the opener’s events as a starting point, I feel like maybe I would have tried to play it off more as a comedy, possibly? There’d still be a fair amount of drama, but it would be more sitcom/dramady drama, I suppose.
Where was the advice given to Shining Armor drawn from?
It’s probably the result of the various snippets of advice I received via osmosis over the years twisted to apply to this specific scenario; a lot of it was based on what I thought would be the most likely thing for the characters to say (along with some of my own headcanon being shoehorned in with Night Light). My dad talks to me a lot the way Night Light does to Shining, and Twilight has always been my favorite character so I obsessively study her personality and write about her whenever I can. Cadance was … a weird stroke of inspiration. I can’t say to have known much romantic love, so I guess I was tapping into a swirl of imagined emotion and media-told romance stories while trying to dodge cliché. I’ve been told it turned out well, and I’m quite pleased it did.
Why did you choose not to resolve Shining’s doubts by the end?
Real life issues, especially ones like the one presented in “The Inadequacy”, are not often solved in an instant. Because the issue is one that is so complex and lies so deeply in psychology, I don’t think I’m qualified to present a solution to this issue. I feel like the show itself too often presents “quick fixes” to large issues, and I wanted to avoid that. I didn’t want people to think that it was all going to go away in the end, because it often doesn’t. You have to live with something like this for a while, and it doesn’t even fully go away sometimes.
How do you think this story would have changed if Flurry Heart hadn’t been an alicorn?
I’m not sure; I had originally planned for this idea to not feature Shining and Cadance, and not have to be about alicorns at all. It morphed into this when I realized what was going to happen in the Season 6 premier. Supposing she wasn’t an alicorn, I would have not written about the alicorn feelings of inadequacy, and instead about general fatherly inadequacy emotions that I feel with alarming regularity, considering I’m not anywhere near being a father. I wrote the story with these characters because it was incredibly relevant to the community and the show was presenting me the opportunity to explore a fic idea in a way that aligned with the show instead of being forced in.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
(This answer intentionally left blank.)