Take a poetic excursion through the mind of Nightmare Moon with today’s story.
Only, Only, Only You
[Romance] [Sad] • 1,594 words
Come closer here—my heart, my host.
Come closer. Hear my heart, my host,
Is only staid with presence close.
If love’s a potion, ample dose.
My night-ful bride, I need your boon.
My baleful bride, I need you soon:
For what’s eclipsed by half a moon?
FROM THE CURATORS: If it seems like we disproportionately feature poetry relative to how rare it is in the fandom, it’s only because we keep stumbling across poems that are really, really good. This was laudable not only in its construction — “The mouthfeel of this piece in lines like ‘nightshade-wound chrysanthemum’ is exquisite, and it uses its repetitions and its breaks from verse to solid effect,” Horizon said — but also in its storytelling: “It tells a riveting tale, recasting the story of Luna and Nightmare Moon as a love story,” Present Perfect said. “The characters and plot fit the poem form well, and I love how strong the sense of yearning and desire is.”
But what impressed us all the most was the mastery of language on display. “The words are obviously carefully chosen,” Present Perfect said. “There’s some great wordplay, like the ‘here/hear’ in the otherwise identical couplet that appears in the description.” Chris found another example to praise: “I think the moment I realized I was in for a treat was the couplet ‘To slither, snake, in shadow form, / To recollect, inveigle—mourn—’,” he said. “I’m on board with anyone who can use ‘inveigle‘ in a coherent sentence, especially while holding to the rhythm of the line.” And Horizon agreed: “This is a piece which isn’t afraid to deploy ten-dollar words with rapier precision. Seriously, look up ‘Lacuna’ the first time the poem uses it: this isn’t just a pet name for Luna, it’s a direct statement on the relationship.”
Despite the deep linguistic delving, though, “this remains shockingly readable as it flows through a story of need and betrayal and loss,” as Horizon put it. “Nightmare Moon’s anguish is palpable, even as the piece makes very clear who the villain is here.” And that makes this remarkable on another level, Chris said: “The content is a fresh twist on the oldest story in the fandom, which is increasingly hard to do six seasons in … but, as Corejo shows here, by no means impossible.” That it managed to do so while impressing even our poetry connoisseurs was what sealed this story’s feature. “I will admit to being a giant poetry grouch who clings to strict ideas about rhyme and rhythm and imagery,” AugieDog said. “To find a piece like this one that picks a meter and keeps to it, that picks a rhyme scheme and keeps to it, that paints some wonderful pictures with words and sounds and all, that’s the sort of thing that makes me very, very happy.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Corejo discusses rabbit errors, fluff-ectomies, and the fine line between hugboxers and skimmers.
Give us the standard biography.
I am a 24-year-old male living in Ohio. I work night shift as a medical technologist at the local hospital. Pretty standard.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
This is kind of a funny one.
So way back in the day, when I was in high school, a friend of mine got me into World of Warcraft. I ended up making a character (undead warrior, woo!), and when it came time to name him, I thought: what would be a cool name? At the time, being in high school and all, I was really into my Spanish class. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be awesome to use a word in Spanish for my name? What’d be a good one? I know, I’ll use the Spanish word for ‘rabbit!’ I’m so awesome.”
It was a good three or four months afterward that I realized the actual word for “rabbit” was “conejo.” Though, as a silver lining, I also found out that, of all 11 million players in the game, I was the only person with the name Corejo, so I stuck with it.
Who’s your favorite pony?
Luna. I’m a sucker for tragic characters, if this or my latest story (or my first, too, come to think of it) is any indication. Just to see a character broken by the powers that be or their own hubris, to watch them struggle against the hand of fate in search of their redemption, to feel alongside them as they forever struggle for the just-out-of-reach, knowing one day, if they reach a bit farther, push a little harder, it will finally be within their grasp. I melt over stories that do this theme right, because this is where you see what a character is truly made of — what makes them tick.
Luna is the epitome of this theme. Her backstory, that of her fall as Nightmare Moon, the spiralling descent that no doubt occurred behind the scenes — which the fandom has explored to the point of exhaustion. It is full of heartache and keeping the struggle to oneself, of being the stronger pony willing to bear a burden too great for her, until its final straw sees itself upon her back. Her fall from grace in her transformation, banishment, and, ultimately, her redemption as Nightmare Moon solidify the lowest point, the — if you’ll allow me the phrase — darkest point in her life.
From there, it is her struggle for redemption in the eyes of her ponies. That uphill battle of proving she’s no longer a being of nightmares bent on gobbling the backsides of helpless, little colts, knowing what she’s done has caused terror and irreparable damage to those she held dear. Seeing the crippling weight thrown upon her shoulders, yet also her resilience and determination to not let it get the best of her, that yes she is strong enough despite the odds and no she doesn’t need help (until all other options are exhausted) because she couldn’t bear to watch another pony take the fall for her transgressions. I fucking love it; I can’t not.
What’s your favorite episode?
I have different favorites for different reasons:
Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?, for srs bsns. This one’s obvious, given my answer to the previous question (though, I will say that I had all the feelings above before this one aired; all it did was pile on the affirmations). This one delves into the tragic character stuff full steam and doesn’t stop until it makes it to Tartarus and back.
The Saddle Row Review, for pure laughs.
Flutter Brutter, for best show of character growth of a main character spanning the seasons.
Look Before You Sleep, for best book horse. Yes, that’s an allowable category!
What do you get from the show?
Strictly from the show and not including any fandom stuff, a barrel full of laughs and a fuller perspective on life and what it means to be myself. Including the fandom stuff, friends, even more barrels of laughs, a new life skill in writing, and a crippling humility that I will never be as talented as 80% of the people here.
What do you want from life?
A Celestia episode. Just kidding (but seriously). I’m not sure what to say to this one. The standard fare of a good job/house/wife/etc is all well and true, but outside that, there’s so much to do and see, I can’t rightly define it.
Have fun, I guess? Learn all that I can? Those are still kind of bland answers. I’ll let my life answer this one for me in its own time.
Why do you write?
In short, because I can. Why I started writing is because way back in the summer of 2011 when I first boarded the pony train, I was bored out of my mind. I found ponies, loved them, got through all the episodes, and then, because I was back at square one of boredom and needing something to do to again kill time, found myself reading fanfiction like it was nobody’s business. From sun-up to long past sundown, I read pony words. It was new. It was fantastic (in every sense of the word). By the end of summer, I knew I had to give back to the community for getting me through an awfully dull and far-too-hot summer.
Why I write now is more a compulsion. I’ve learned so much from this fandom. I can’t give up that gift. And I’ve still stories to tell, people to make smile (and cry — always cry; I’m a dark writer). Besides, it’s just plain fun. Who doesn’t like having fun?
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
For improvement? Keep writing, and read good authors like Cold in Gardez, for sentence concision and comedic timing; PatchworkPoltergeist, for the best goddamn dialogue and internal narrative interplay there is; and theycallmejub, for action scenes. There are others out there with their level of skill, but these three are easy, recognizable names off the top of my head. Learn from what they write, little tricks like wordplay and turns of phrase, and powerful imagery.
Never be afraid to experiment with your writing. Sometimes, a character’s voice is different than what you want for the story’s tone, or vice versa. This ties into word choice and turns of phrase and what have you. Sometimes, you want something really weird, funny, or even dull for a particular effect. You’ll never know until you try it.
Finally, find an editor that can and will plow into your writing to find all the little things wrong with it. You don’t want a hugboxer or a skimmer. You want someone that will leave you feeling partially disappointed in what you’ve written — not because it’s bad, but because now you can see that it could be so much better. Find someone that will push you to your limits, then encourage you beyond them. This, truly, is the most important piece of the puzzle, but yet is also the rarest. Keep these people close; they are your most valuable weapon.
Can you talk a little further about what advice you’d have for authors of poetry in specific?
Go here. Read that website cover to cover. You’ll come out enlightened. Apart from that, most of what I’d have to say relates to having a strong vocabulary. The bigger your vocabulary, the more versatile you can be with your syllables and turns of phrase. Though, like in normal prose, avoid using big words just for the heck of it.
Understand your material. This is also true of prose — but in poetry, where concision is all the more vital, specific words mean more. Learn all the vocabulary of your subject, and then look for ways to apply it. The lines “And shun your nightmound pedigree/Remain in surly apogee?” is a solid example of where I did this in Only You. This sort of thing lets you play with both imagery and meaning while building up your syllable flexibility.
This was written in less than 72 hours for a Writeoff Association competition. How did that tight deadline affect the story?
A lot. If you were to compare the Writeoff version to the Fimfiction version, you’ll see a lot has changed, namely the missing second scene and proper adherence to iambic tetrameter. Though, to say that the deadline affected the story would be a half truth. It was the wordcount that truly affected the story.
As you can see comparing the two versions, the polished Fimfic version is about 600 words shorter than the Writeoff version. With a minimum wordcount requirement of 2000 words for the Writeoff, I had to fill in extra couplets that circled back on a lot of familiar territory in both theme and phrasing. Not only did this make it repetitive in a bad way, but the extra length, by virtue of being a poem, made the fluff all the more laborious to keep under wraps when reading. Poetry, even when lacking extraordinarily over-condensed and vague concepts like mine does, is more draining (or, to phrase it in a more positive light, requires more effort) to read than prose. Besides, removing about 30% of a story’s wordcount of pure fluff will do wonders to any story.
Why did you choose the particular form (rhymed couplets) that you did?
In my opinion, iambic tetrameter is the easiest, smoothest rhyme scheme barring anapestic tetrameter. The only reason I didn’t go anapestic is because it’s too whimsical and childlike — too Cat in the Hat-y. Iambic tetrameter has beautiful flow while still maintaining the option of seriousness in my eyes.
What’s the role in the poem of repetition?
Everything’s all about emphasis (see what I did there?). It all points toward Nightmare Moon believing she and Luna are meant for each other. At the end of the poem, it emphasizes how wrong she is.
Is the Nightmare in this story uniquely bound to Luna, or might she recover and move on?
As the author, I refuse to answer this. Not because I don’t have an answer, but because my answer doesn’t matter. Any story written to make a reader think is, by that virtue, meant for the reader to decide. The story I intended to tell is over. What may come is for you to tell me.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I really wasn’t expecting this! Having this story inducted into the RCL is another notch in my belt that I can wear proudly.
Additionally, I have to thank Present Perfect and Chris for being my catalysts in properly learning poetry. The rest of you I’d have to thank as a whole for being there and being a source of inspiration. I’d have never found this love for writing if not for the fandom.
(Note: AugieDog recused himself from nomination and voting due to his assistance with this story.)