You won’t regret choosing today’s story.
The Choices We Make
[Equestria Girls] • 5,146 words
Every Friday, from five in the afternoon to eleven at night, Pinkie Pie does volunteer work. She doesn’t have to do it, the world won’t stop if she doesn’t, but she chooses to do it anyway. Even if it’s doing seemingly insignificant little things.
After all, the best ways to help aren’t always with grand gestures, but with the little things in life.
FROM THE CURATORS: When Horizon first nominated Monochromatic’s The Enchanted Library for consideration by his fellow curators, he realized that adding 343,000 words to our already-overflowing list of stories might not work out in the timeliest of manners. The rest of us reluctantly agreed — as AugieDog put it, “our unrelenting schedule demands that it be fed.”
So Horizon nominated this lovely story as well. “This didn’t repeatedly reduce me to tears the way The Enchanted Library did,” he said, “but it’s an equally worthy feature as a bite-sized package overflowing with heart.” And this time, the rest of us enthusiastically agreed. “Safe to say,” Present Perfect wrote, “this punched me in the gut more than once,” while AugieDog found himself “hard-pressed to think of a better piece of Equestria Girls fanfiction.”
“The character writing,” AugieDog went on, “just shines from the easy rapport of Pinkie, Rarity, and Rainbow to the OCs we meet at the call center,” and Present Perfect added, “I can’t remember the last time I read a story about supporting supporters, and I am floored by the amount of sympathy this story has for literally everyone in it.” Horizon praised the story’s “amazing verisimilitude as it examines the ‘behind the scenes’ of the job” and pointed out “an author’s note about the research they did to get the details right.”
So read on for our author interview, in which Monochromatic discusses RariTwi, Barney the Dinosaur’s act of passion, the undying drive to create, and just a little more RariTwi.
Give us the standard biography.
Can I just say RariTwi is me and I am RariTwi and be done with it? Biographies are awkward. Or maybe I’m awkward. Maybe both. Probably both. I am also very dramatic, which is why I love Rarity.
Up until seven months ago, a few months before turning twenty-four, I’d lived in Mexico City my entire life. It is a magnificent place led by corruption, passion, love, and lots of Tequila. My mother, a frighteningly smart interpreter from New York who hates Mexico but married a mexican, made it her life’s mission that her two children spoke English as fluently as they did Spanish. I think she did all right, but she says I say ‘like’ too much, which is, like, so not true. Like, maybe sometimes, but, like, not always.
I don’t think I ever wanted to be a writer so much as it was the inevitable consequence of being a shipper. My first fanfiction ever was published in 2008 for the Pokemon fandom, and after I got 5 positive reviews and three likes, clearly I was better than Hemingway and my destiny was to write novels and be wildly successful. People would look at me in the street and whisper, “it’s that girl with the fics!”
I was bullied a lot as a kid. It’s sad, but that’s the hand I was dealt. Children are terribly cruel, and I went from being the confident class clown to the terrified shy girl in the corner, so I submerged myself in the internet, fandoms, and fanfiction. I was in the Futurama fandom for a few years, so entrenched in it I could recite entire episodes. I also shipped the ships no one cared about, because clearly I’m a masochist. After that, I moved into the Homestuck fandom for a few years, and halfway through, I watched My Little Pony.
I thought it was cute. The characters were nicely written, the lessons heartfelt, and the white pony with the posh voice was amazing. Yet, I had three golden rules to prevent myself from getting invested. The first, I would only look for drawings. The second, I would not write Fanfiction for it. And the third, I would under no circumstance whatsoever ship anything.
I dabbled in a few fics, told myself I wasn’t invested, and then I read “Ardensfax’s “The Shadow of a Doubt” and it’s like I was dragged kicking and screaming into the pits of shipping hell, and though I’m sure Arden will never, ever, ever read this, god damn you, Arden. You did this to me. I was happy casually shipping RariJack and not writing fics, and look at me now LOOK AT ME NOW
Currently, I am living in Los Angeles trying to be happy. I spent the last year trying to be a Professional Writer™, realized it was making me deeply unhappy, and now I’m content with a non-writing job and writing my silly fanfics in my spare time.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
It’s a reference to a main character in Lynn Town, my original novel that has been in the works since 2010, and has gone through more versions than I’ve written fics.
It stars Samantha Bandon, a young girl who was raised by her brother and loves to take pictures with a manual camera, and Monochrome, a genetically-engineered dragon who wants to nap but this damn child keeps wanting to play pretend.
He actually cameoed in my story The Enchanted Library as the dragon who went with Rarity to the Rainbow Falls Trader’s Exchange. It was an oddly emotional moment for me.
Who’s your favorite pony?
There are characters I love. There are characters I’m enthralled by. And then there’s those quiet nights where I stare at the ceiling and think about how, one day, when I eventually move to original fiction, I won’t be able to use Rarity the Pony anymore and honestly that’s the biggest tragedy of my lifetime.
I adore Rarity. I will live and die for her. She is one of the single most fascinating characters I’ve ever come across, and this is mostly because she’s deeply flawed, and generous, and charming, and dramatic. I live for her drama, if only because I’m nearly as or even more dramatic than she is.
I also think she’s a character that’s gone through a hell of a lot of character development because she’s so flawed. Be it in the show itself, and in the fandom, she has received a lot of heat, but has come out all the stronger as character for it.
And, after all, aren’t diamonds made under pressure?
Was that cheesy? That was really cheesy. I don’t care, it’s still true.
What’s your favorite episode?
Oh God. So many? And I can’t really pick a favorite episode, because it always changes.
My first favorite episode ever was A Dog and Pony Show. And then Inspiration Manifestation showed up, and that was my favorite episode ever. Except then Rarity Investigates aired and I thought to myself that MLP was ruined for me because the show would never top that episode, BUT THEN SADDLE ROW REVIEW AIRED AND—
TL;DR Rarity-centric episodes are my aesthetic.
What do you get from the show?
Joy, I think, is what I get. FIM was with me during some of the most depressing eras of my entire life, and more than that, it drove me to be creative again. The characters, the dynamics, the music—everything, really—were things I could go back to when times were bad, and even when they weren’t.
It brought me friends, as well, who I never would have met otherwise. I am literally living in Los Angeles, and have been able to stay here, explicitly because of people I met through the fandom.
Furthermore, the creativity in this fandom and the talent, is boundless. It is shocking to see how many new stories get uploaded every day, how much fanmusic there is, and there’s just so much. I’ve never been pushed to work better and write harder like I have in this fandom—granted, sometimes it has been for the worse, but I don’t think I ever truly started to take writing seriously until I came here.
There’s an undying drive to create, even as so many people claim the fandom is dying.
And the show also brought me Rarity, and what else could you want from something, I ask you.
What do you want from life?
This is going to sound cliché and trite, but after a year of struggling against myself, I just to be happy. Yes, I also might want to be wildly successful one day; have my own cartoon show starring Twarity and Rwilight, but I think what I want is to be happy being me.
I’ve found that in being happy with myself, I inspire other people to do so as well.
Why do you write?
BECAUSE I WAS DESPERATE FOR RARITWI STORIES IN 2014 SO I HAD TO WRITE THEM MYSELF AND I DON’T KNOW HOW TO STOP
Because I love to tell stories.
I think that, much more than a writer, I’m a storyteller, and written words are simply the instrument I use to tell these stories—unless you’re my roomate, in which case I force you to sit there and listen as I act out in vivid and passionate detail my next thrilling oneshot.
Even as a kid, I’d lie in bed for hours acting out stories with my dolls, like the dramatic case of Mister Pikachu’s torrid love affair with Missus Daisy Duck, which was brought to an unfortunate end when he was killed in an act of passion courtesy of Barney the Dinosaur.
Look, I made due with what I had at hand.
I think it also depends a lot on what I need. I started writing in the MLP fandom because no one had written an immortal!Twi story with a RariTwi focus, and clearly no one else was going to do it if I didn’t. Now, I write both because it’s a habit, and because I just simply enjoy telling stories.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
I don’t feel I’m in the position to be dispensing advice as I myself still have a lot to learn. However, rather than advice, I can share a few things I’ve learned or try to live by.
- Validation is something I naturally seek. I can’t help it, and it stings when a story I worked hard on doesn’t do as well as I want. I forget that I am not entitled to reader’s views, likes, or anything. I am sharing with them, not asking them to read.
- However, in the same vein, when someone harshly and unfairly critiques my story, I try to remember that just as I am not entitled to their views and validation, neither are they entitled to what I write.
- Though this isn’t an excuse to be lazy and not improve, no matter what I write, there will be one person out there who will love it. Write for that person. That’s not a number, it is a whole entire individual. 20 likes seems little, but that’s an entire classroom that loved what you did.
- Whenever I’m finding it hard to go on, I think of a story. I think of that one story I saw in the update section, a 250k multichapter updated monthly with 10 likes and 3 dislikes. That is a story that is being written with heart and love, regardless of whatever ‘writing quality’ it may be. Whenever I’m down on myself, I think of that one writer who is doing it for the love of the story, and I try to be like them.
- I try my best with everything I do, which is not the same as trying to be the best. I tried to be the best for a very long time, and it hurt me so much I had to write Choices to get out of the hole I’d sunk myself in.
- Always try to do different. If something isn’t working out, try changing it, use another approach. Analyze your favorite authors, see what they did, see what they didn’t do. Yes, you can do better, but I prefer saying I can do differently, so it won’t feel like I’m dissing my previous hard work.
Amid the high fantasy and romance of the Enchanted Library series, what inspired you to shift tone and setting for “The Choices We Make”?
The main thing here is that though they both have different tones, I did not shift the message.
As a quick recap for those who’ve never read it, The Enchanted Library is on the surface an Alternate Universe story focused on Rarity and Twilight. Many of my readers say it’s an adventure story, I protest it’s a romance story, but the truth is that it’s a story about mental abuse and manipulation, both self and externally inflicted.
It is a story about being so submerged in the darkness, you cannot see the way out, and you think you deserve the darkness. It is about being so warped by pain, fear, guilt and insecurity, you can’t find the will to fight. It’s about fighting it and making the choice to be better.
It was also my coping mechanism against the own mental abuse I’ve been struggling with my entire life, and it’s raw, intense, and it was destroying me.
As I mentioned in my biography, I moved to Los Angeles in April. I left my country, my family, my friends and “chased my dreams” with my entire life packed into two suitcases. I couldn’t find a job. My money was running out. My only source of income was the Patreon I use to pay for EL’s chapter artworks, and the fact that Enchanted Library had become essentially my job was murdering me. I began to loathe it, to loathe fanfiction, to loathe these things that Hollywood and society was hammering into me weren’t real writing.
I had moved to Los Angeles because I thought I had what it took to become a “professional writer”, and I was forced by life to believe I wasn’t. In August, sitting inside the AirBNB my roommate and I had rented for a month, I was lying at the end of the line, wondering how much more I could take before I gave up and went back to Mexico.
And though I didn’t want to kill myself, I picked up my phone, googled the suicide helpline number, and tried to call to talk.
And I couldn’t dial it.
Because I’m not suicidal, so what gives me the right to think I can call? Because I’m clearly not cripplingly depressed, I’m just being emotional. Because who’s going to take me seriously? Ohhhhh, poor little girl, just moved to Los Angeles and life isn’t giving her what she wants? Boo-hoo. I hadn’t earned the right to call and ask for help. Tough it out, kiddo, there are people with real problems who need that call more than you do.
I couldn’t call anyone because I was afraid they wouldn’t take me seriously. Because I myself didn’t take it seriously even as I sat there crying in the pits of depression.
Because this is a mentality I see in so many people and in myself, and it was suffocating me, and I needed to write. I wanted to write a story about it, but I couldn’t bear to write a story about a character being depressed. I didn’t want pain anymore, I wanted something to hold my hand and say, “yes, it’s okay to call” and more than that, I wanted to make the choice to write something positive about it.
I was desperate for light.
I attended Alcoholics Anonymous for a few months last year. In tears, I told my counselor I felt guilty all the time, how dare I complain about my first-world problems when others have it so much worse. When I stopped, she held my hands and more or less the following happened:
“Do they hurt? Are you in pain?”
“Do you not deserve to be healed? Your problems may not be the same as others, but they still take over your life.”
“If someone asked you for help and comfort with the same problems and pain as you, would you tell them to deal with it and get over it?”
“Of course not.”
“Then why do you tell this to yourself?”
I wrote this story because pain should be taken seriously, and by none more than ourselves. Yes, I am worth helping, and I wanted everyone who read that story to know that they’re always worth helping too.
Why choose Pinkie Pie as the story’s main character?
Superficially, because I adore writing for Pinkie Pie.
Story-wise, because as I mentioned, the thought of writing a sad story was too much, and because the topic of suicide being what it is, I was concerned about generalizing the experience of suicidal people. My depression is not the same as others, so I decided to write from the POV of the often unsung heroes in dealing with depression.
Those who listen, those who try to help. I listened to suicide hotline audios and read transcripts. It is grim. It is dark. And these people willingly do it.
So, I went with Pinkie as a volunteer because I believed she was the ideal character to write a serious and positive story about the topic. I think, really, trying to write this out, Pinkie brings the genuine kindness this topic needed. She is also someone who, as I interpret her, genuinely does have the best intentions at heart, which is why I was able to explore topics where she was in the wrong. She doesn’t mean to be wrong, she was simply misinformed.
We all are, really.
One time, a once dear friend of hers had been very sad for a very long time. They’d been talking in Sugarcube Corner, and so her friend had stormed off in a teary huff after Pinkie had advised her to “just try to be happy! Don’t be sad!”
She had said Pinkie didn’t understand.
And so she took her psychology extracurriculars and volunteered so she could try to understand.
Do you prefer writing short stories or novel-length works? And which do you find your readers prefer?
Regarding what my readers prefer, I think folks who are not very invested in my works prefer the shorter ones, but those who’ve read my longforms, be it The Enchanted Library or Injuring Eternity or a few others, usually prefer my longforms.
Personally speaking, it is easier for me to write short stories. I have a story to tell, I tell it in 4,000 to 6,000 words, someone edits it, I post it AND BOB’S YOUR UNCLE. I can go back to playing Pokemon without a voice hissing in my ear, “update! Update!”
From a writing point of view, I’ll usually think about the impact. Regardless of what I’m writing, there is always a specific scene I’m writing towards, and it’s the impact I want this scene to have that determines how long it’ll be. How much buildup? How much character development? What’s the setting? Canon universe, modified canon, or alternate universe?
Shortform is easy. Longform is painful. Speaking of my current massive multichapter, it has been a struggle to write it because it implies an enormous amount of dedication. It’s a project, it will sometimes feel like a job, and it is hard to go back to the same world every month, especially when I have non-writing obligations.
But, at the same time, there is no reward like longform completed. There is no other thrill than seeing the hard work of months and even years come to life. That foreshadowing you planted ten chapters ago suddenly making sense; two characters who’s relationship you’ve been building up to suddenly getting together.
Among the many plot-threads in TEL, there was one in particular I had established since Chapter 1. A plot-thread that was in the background, always there, always being nurtured, readers didn’t even think twice, or came close but never quite enough. The actual implication and plot twist didn’t come until nearly two years later, but when the universal reaction to it was, basically, “holy SHIT WHAT?”, I have never felt satisfaction quite like I did then—especially when they realized it was there all along.
Essentially, I see benefits to both, but I also know myself, and I know I can’t handle more than one longform at a time.
What tips do you have for creating a good alternate Pony universe?
The main thing with me is that I create the universe solely to benefit the story and the characters. Rather than coming up with a massive sprawling universe and then coming up with a story that showcases the universe, I come up with a massive sprawling character-driven story and then create an entire universe around the characters.
How does a universe change them? What events would need to happen for them to be in this situation, and how do you change them yet keep their essence. Put an idea on the table, and then create a universe that allows this idea to happen. Enchanted Library, again, is the best example I have for this.
The actual AU was born through a drunken ramble in which my best friend drunkenly stated, “So Twilight’s a ghost trapped in a library, and Rarity finds her” and that’s it. I asked her for more details, and when she shrugged, I had to come up with explanations. Why was Twilight trapped? Who trapped her? Why? How did she change? What would be the effects of being trapped for a thousand years? How would she still be Twilight?
Once you have all that, it’s just a matter of sprinkling it throughout the story. You don’t want to tell how the world is different, you want to show it. When writing AUs, I act as if the universe is established, the characters know what’s going on, but the readers don’t. This is actually one of the biggest advantages of writing Alternate Universe fanfiction.
For example, Rarity’s exploring this abandoned, hidden library supposedly inhabited by the spirit of an old princess. Rarity doesn’t know who it is, but we do. Clearly, it’s Twilight. So, Rarity’s walking around, and she notices a basket on the ground. A small bed with a blanket and chunks of emeralds on it. In the story, we spend a line at most on that.
But we, the reader, know who that bed belongs to. But where is he? What happened? Why did he leave? Was he taken? Was he too trapped by the same being or event that trapped Twilight?
A single line of story, taking advantage of the fact that readers know about the original universe, and you have them hooked. Furthermore, in their quest to figure out these answers, they’ll already be hooked to the universe you created to the point that you don’t need the original one.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Well, first, a huge thanks to the RCL for featuring me!
After that, I’d like to give a big shout out to all my readers, to the EL Discord server bc I love them, to the wonderful Cursori and Beltorn for keeping me sane, and to everyone who’s ever written RariTwi ever.
And, a small ending quote my dear friend Cynewulf often repeats to me:
“Great heart will not be denied.”
Whatever you do, do it with the heart.