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Today’s story will reward you for stepping out of your comfort zone.

insecuritiesInsecurities
[Slice of Life] • 12,105 words

Fleur Lumineuse, daughter of Fancy Pants and Fleur de Lis, has made a mistake.  A serious one.  She never intended so much harm but, even with her eyes now open, can she make amends?

Sometimes, what a pony really needs, is somepony else to reach out to them.

FROM THE CURATORS: While one of the great truisms of fanfiction is that no idea is irredeemable, there are some premises which are very, very difficult to sell.  So when a story admits in its author’s note to being “blatant self-insertion and gratuitous wish fulfillment,” and yet turns our heads anyhow, that should be a sign that the author is doing something very, very right.

The core of that, as Horizon put it, was the stark self-awareness on display.  “This is like no other ‘wish fulfillment’ fic I’ve ever seen,” he added.  “It draws boundaries in a way that both respects the female counterpart and reinforces her characterization.”  Present Perfect, meanwhile, was most impressed by how that self-awareness came through in the protagonist.  “Front and center is Hyperic Cable: shy, awkward, socially phobic, possibly autistic,” he said.  “It’s the kind of character portrayal that can only come from personal experience, and the fact that he isn’t the viewpoint character undercuts a lot of the wish-fulfillment angle.”  Chris felt similarly: “The self-insertiness comes through really clearly.  But on the other hand, he’s still a character who’s easy to empathize with.  I felt most of the story feeling really bad for this guy, which is exactly what I was supposed to be doing.”

But while the “nuanced, flawed characters” (as Present Perfect put it) turned our heads, this was exemplary in areas beyond its self-awareness.  “This is an excellent look into anxiety and irrational fears with equally excellent writing,” Present Perfect said, while Soge appreciated that there was an equally solid B-plot: “What really struck me was how Fleur learns to not be such a horrible pony.  She is … an incredibly selfish narcissist, profoundly bigoted, and almost comical in her lack of empathy — and yet she grows a lot during the fic, eventually even trying to see things from his perspective.”  Ultimately, Horizon said, this story became more than the sum of its parts: “The characters here are — through personal experience, good writing, or a combination of the two — both earnestly authentic, and that transforms this into something far beyond its roots.”

Read on for our author interview, in which Shachza discusses dinosaur toys, friendship ironies, and pancakes vs. ponies.


 

Give us the standard biography.

The standard?  Well, then…  I’m a 34 year old shrinking violet white knight beta male with some heavy female-based insecurities and … well …

Not what you were expecting, was it?  You’ll understand.

But anyway …

My parents are a lawyer and were a doctor, but go figure, they produced three highly artistic kids.  I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember — longer, if my mom’s child-blackmail child memory book is any indication — so I’ve always been imaginative.  When I learned to read, I started with the written adaptation of Disney’s The Little Mermaid (I still remember being so happy when I finished it myself!), immediately taking to words like a Decapodian to sardines.  It was just the logical conclusion: since I spent so much time coming up with fantasy worlds, how could I not love immersing myself in every one I could find?

Perhaps it was just my way of dealing with a world that was ‘too mundane.’  After all, being a retail peon was never what I’d imagined when teachers told me I could do anything I wanted.  (I’m still waiting to become a dragon.)

Writing my own stuff didn’t come until only a few years ago, and I have to give My Little Pony my deepest thanks for opening me to it.  I was honestly surprised by how good some fanfiction could be.  The beginning though … It was rough because I found out just how awful most of my ideas had been.

But I grew out of that, which brings us here!

(Can you believe I hated English class?  If only Creative Writing had been an option earlier than a late-in-college elective.)

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

I don’t actually know, but I have some clues.  As far as I can tell, it was somewhere between the ages of 6 and 11, depending on a couple of things.  I always thought it had been the name of the atrocious mixed dinosaur I drew during a doodling session with a friend after seeing Jurassic Park (he drew a T-rex).  My dad says he’s pretty sure it was what I named the Dino-Rider Monoclonius toy I had had for years before that.

Either way, my penchant for just making up words (I used to ask my dad what language it sounded like I was speaking) generated it at some point (no, it’s not a derivative of “Sasha”).  Said terrible mutant dino managed to stick around as a favored character to deal with bullies, though he gradually becoming less mutant-y.  That meant the name also lingered.  By the time I got to playing computer games and running around online, it was pretty well stuck as a useful, unusual handle (not taken) that didn’t have any alternate meaning.

Plus it’s kinda fun to hear people try to pronounce it.

Who’s your favorite pony?

Princess Celestia.

More?  I came into the fandom just before Luna Eclipsed.  I started with Fluttershy (she’s so adorably shy!) but soon graduated to Luna (she really just needs a good hug and some support).  However, at the time you couldn’t shake a stick at the fanfiction tree without knocking loose an inordinate amount of “Celestia is actually more evil than Luna ever was, and doesn’t deserve redemption” stories.

The rest is white-knight tendencies and history.

It also helps that she seems the most mature but can let loose and have fun, is clearly highly intelligent yet hasn’t lost that sense of wonder, and is generally the kind of person I could see myself having a great time just hanging out with.  We (fans) also know comparatively little of her, so there’s plenty of mystique to go with all that power.

What’s your favorite episode?

I can’t imagine a better fandom introduction than Bridle Gossip.  I had no idea what was going on, but it was amazing.  Flutterguy is just about the best thing ever (behind blueberry pancakes and ponies in general).

And I freely admit an unhealthy love for alicorns (I think my goal with my first fanfic was to include as many as I could), so I was right there among the masses eagerly awaiting Luna Eclipsed.  Heck, all episodes with sizeable princess presences of any kind rank highly with me.

What do you get from the show?

A lot of fun and plenty of inspiration, even after all these years.  There’s just something about watching these cute, colorful ponies deal with problems through magic and whimsy that makes me happy.

Oh, and there’s also a smattering of irony.  After all, I’m spending time away from people to watch a show about going out and making friends.

Honestly, I also just like the ponies themselves.  So many people talk up shows like Steven Universe, but I can’t muster the same interest because, well, not pony!  It’s been that way since the original movie.  (I may have skipped the intervening generations.  No great loss, or so I’m told.)

The show also gave me this fandom, which never ceases to amaze me.  How often do you take a step back, look at something made by the fandom, and are are absolutely awed that it came from a girly little cartoon for children?

What do you want from life?

I’m on a never-ending quest to do things that I can be proud to say that I’ve done.  I want to do things that awe people, or make them think, or simply entertain.  Even better, I want to do things that make them do all three.

I … would like to find someone who I can make as happy as they would make me.

Why do you write?

Because I have such a powerful imagination. There are things in my head that I feel an overwhelming need to bring to life and share with the world.

I also want to share these ideas, scenes, characters, and events with others.  I understand that not everyone will like the things I do — I distinctly remember learning that tidbit way back when — but there is so much pure joy when you find someone who is amazed at the things you’ve created, so I have to try.

I’ll also admit to an eentsy, weentsy bit of conceit.  Some plot ideas are just so interesting, yet the stories fall so short of what they could be.  I know I can do them better.

What advice do you have for the authors out there?

Persist.

It’s not easy to translate thoughts and images into a written format that is both sensical and engaging to an audience.  The rewards are amazing though.  First, there’s so much validation when you see others thoroughly enjoying your work.  But most importantly, when you’ve put your all into something you’ve created, the completed work will be simply awe-inspiring.

If you get this wonderful feeling of ‘I did all that?!’ when looking at your stuff, then you’re doing it right.

Also, I’m sure many have heard it before, but there are truly no bad ideas, only bad execution.  Red and black alicorns, time paradoxes, evil without a backstory, self-inserts, the fourth wall, and more are perfectly fine story elements.  The trick is developing a purpose for them that works with your story and not against it.  This can be exceedingly difficult, but it’s never an impossibility.

Drive and creativity will take you to amazing places.  Make all those disbelievers eat their words!

This is labeled as “self-insert wish-fulfillment”, so why did you make Fleur the viewpoint character?

Hey!  Stop blowing up my spot!  I want people to actually read my story!

But …

The answer is because the story wouldn’t have worked without her.  She’s simply more relatable to more people.  Using her as the viewpoint also allowed me to more gently introduce readers to Hyperic and gradually bring about understanding.  And since she’s not Hyperic, readers are distanced from his repetitive and likely highly annoying inner workings.  After all, it’s not easy being inside an insecure mind.

And, to be honest, I selfishly wanted to experience the moment at the end for myself.

Why do nice guys finish last?

Because we’re busy holding the door, letting more worthy people cut ahead for various reasons, refusing to be pushy because that might upset others, or any number of things that get us closer to the back of the line.  And who would go digging around at the rear for a rarity when there are so many obvious choices up front?

You expected something not a platitude?

What advice do you have for those who struggle to relate to others?

That’s why the story is marked “gratuitous wish-fulfillment”: I don’t have a good answer.  If I did, then I wouldn’t have needed to write it.  I’m still very surprised by how strong some of my story’s support has been, because, to me, it is hard to separate it from depression-spurred venting and lamentation of unfulfilled desire.

But that’s the problem with insecurity.  There is no good solution.  Oh, sure, rationally the steps are simple: go out, say ‘hi,’ keep the fear and potential disappointment to a minimum, and stay persistent.  But real insecurity doesn’t care.  It’s so vicious because with it, you don’t fear the possibility of failure, you already know you’ve lost without having tried.

I guess the best I can say is to find someone you trust, talk to them, and ask for their help.  For those who are on the outside, I hope you can look around and see how much help a friend may need, but also realize just how carefully things must be done.  You have to be patient, gentle, and persistent all at once because — though it may be frustrating — pushing too hard can just force an insecure person deeper.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I have to give ArmedBrony so much love.  Without him, I wouldn’t have been able to look at my own insecurities with an outsider’s perspective.  I wish him well with his own.

Thank you, Royal Canterlot Library, for somehow finding my story worthy of this honor!  You can’t imagine how … validating this is!

P.S.  I’m so happy to have gotten PresentPerfect to like something straight off his “I will never read this” list.

You can read Insecurities at FIMFiction.net. Read more interviews right here at the Royal Canterlot Library, or suggest stories for us to feature at our Fimfiction group.

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