We’re grateful our job brings us to gems like today’s story.
[Sad] • 3,602 words
Pear Butter and Bright McIntosh have recently passed. What remains of the Apple Family find themselves in the care of their newest family member. But they can’t do everything to provide for the new foal on their own.
An ad is placed.
A position is filled.
But loss is a thing that affects each individual differently. And new faces can be both a curse and a blessing.
FROM THE CURATORS: There are certain story ideas which just hit you right between the eyes. “This has about the most perfect set-up of any story I’ve read recently,” AugieDog said in our discussion thread. “I mean, of course the Apples would need a wet nurse for Apple Bloom! Why has it taken all these years for someone to realize that?” And it’s always a joy to find a story which capitalizes on an idea so strong. “This is fantastic, a vivid tale of broken people fixing their lives by coming together at the worst of times,” Soge said in his nomination. “It really puts all the characters through quite the ordeal, but never stretching credibility, leading to a well-earned ending.”
But even beyond the premise, we found much to impress us — chiefly, the exemplary balancing act the story pulled with its Sad tag. “The emotional tone here is very carefully handled,” FanOfMostEverything said. “It lets us feel the characters’ despair without making us wallow in it. There’s enough diversity in the mood to keep it from becoming a slog, whether it’s the attempts at normalcy that feel very true for a mourning family, or intriguing hints of things to come like Rosemary’s first reaction to seeing Apple Bloom.” Present Perfect agreed. “The emotional drain of the situation comes through in the writing; never is it forced, and that alone would make this worth reading,” he said. “But taking the Apples’ greatest loss and turning it into an opportunity to bond with another pony suffering her own loss is a fantastic idea. We get to see grief from multiple sides, and how it can bring people closer together.”
And that wasn’t all that curators praised. “It is backed by some wonderful characterization, powerful drama, and very interesting tidbits of worldbuilding which really help elevate the story,” Soge said. AugieDog, not normally a fan of perspective leaps, was even impressed by that: “Given the subject matter, I find the uncertain and wandering perspective very effective,” he said. “The way we don’t get a single character name till we’re a dozen paragraphs into the story makes the opening very distancing, and it just plain fits. Later, when the POV hops, it’s like the story’s opening up along with the characters. And having the last section be from Apple Bloom’s POV? Just right.” All in all, as Present Perfect said, “this is a really good use of the show characters, not to mention the Sad tag.”
Read on for our author interview, in which miss-cyan discusses dog yards, Equestrian ladies, and yan seeing.
Give us the standard biography.
I’m a bit private, so bear with me, ha. I’m Miss-Cyan, and I am a miss. Again, very private, but I will say that I’m not straight. I only mention it because it lends itself to my writing from time to time and I don’t want readers thinking I’m pulling this stuff from parts unmentionable. I am currently working on my Bachelor’s to be an art teacher, only two more semesters, if everything goes according to plan. I hope to start teaching soon after that, got student loans to pay off. I’m the oldest of three, and I’m an (internet) ordained minister. I’ve always wanted to help people get hitched. So that’s Reverend Miss-Cyan, if you’re fancy.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
It’s kind of funny — I often have certain things that make me happy, almost inexplicably. Things that I like for no reason at all, and one of the few things is the color cyan. Turquoise will do it too. If I see something at the store that is in that color range, there’s a good chance I’ll be leaving with it. Notably, I pronounced it “see-yan” when I first read it, and it never really stopped sounding like that in my head.
Who’s your favorite pony?
It used to be Fluttershy — hard not to connect to that socially-anxious pony, and I still love her to bits. But lately I’ve been gravitating towards Pinkie Pie. It’s hard not to like her. When she’s written well, by the show writers or fanfiction ones, she’s more than just a punchline/non-sequitur in the shape of a pony. She’s a caring, special character and I can’t help but like her.
What’s your favorite episode?
I’m a simple person. Any of the episodes in the early seasons with a good song is enough to win me over. I do love love love “Pinkie Pride” — Weird Al will win me over every time. And “Canterlot Boutique” makes me happy, seeing Rarity see all the mares trying on dresses at the end and they love them so much. So cute.
What do you get from the show?
When I first started watching way back in Season 1, I appreciated the writing and work from Lauren Faust and Rob Renzetti. I’m a bit of an animation buff and I love both of their work. It’s hard not to love a lot about the show. As for what I get from it personally, I appreciate a show that brings out so much creativity in people.
What do you want from life?
What anyone my age wants, I guess. A moderately-priced place to live with a yard for a dog, and not to stress about money. I want to be a kind of jack-of-all-trades for art, writing, painting, sculpting, woodworking, ceramics, the list goes on and on. I want to have a studio one day, even if it’s just out of my garage where I can keep my easel and my power tools. I want to inspire creativity in others, and watch them find that part of themselves they didn’t know how to express.
Why do you write?
It’s hard to say. I used to write fanfiction and original stories like it was my job, churning out page after page of varying quality stuff for no reason other than to just write. I hit a slump of sorts right after high school, and I wrote hardly anything for years. Now I write because I think I have something to say? Maybe?
I love reading what people think about my work — that immediate feedback you get from fanfiction can’t be found anywhere else. I write because I want to write that story that makes someone go “I really enjoyed that” or even “That makes me think of something that I want to write myself”. It’s hard to put into words.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
Cliches first: avoid “character goes here, character says this, character goes here, etc.” writing. I don’t always remember to follow this but I knows it when I sees it. Your average character’s got five senses — write on what hits those senses when the scene suits it. I’m not much for advice.
But really, just write what you want to see? The first story I ever posted on Fimfiction came from a lack of FiE stories — like where are all the ladies going to Equestria and interacting with ponies? If you want to read something special to you but you can’t find it, there’s a good possibility that somebody else is waiting for that fic to be written too. Or book, or game, movie, etc. Become the content creator you wish you had right now.
What inspired “Now Hiring”?
It started off as an idea about a pony who would come in as a wet nurse for Apple Bloom after the deaths of the Apple parents, in a “Well this might’ve happened, maybe?” kind of way. I just started writing. And the more I planned things, the more fleshed out the character of Rosemary became. As odd as it sounds, her big “tragedy” was not even in the original idea. The story was never supposed to be about her own pain. She was a blank slate. But when the idea popped into my head, I couldn’t not write it, you know? I almost always begin a story because of an idea and nothing else, and the details come as I write, shaping things into what they eventually become.
How do you go about keeping a story tagged “Sad” from becoming overwrought?
I’ve written some sad stuff lately, and it often concludes with me saying to myself, “Why would I write that? Do I want to make myself sad? Do I want to put this sad time out there?” But as for keeping it from being too complicated… I’d say sadness is a human feeling (used in pony context, but bear with me). It comes from a source that is complex and a treat to explore, not just “My parents died and now I cry sometimes, witness my sadness.”
I guess to write good, uncomplicated sadness, remember how complicated it is. A great comment on Now Hiring from PresentPerfect reads “This is how you write a sad fic, no tearjerking save what comes naturally from the situation,” and I think that’s a nice way of putting it. They also wrote a short but very nice review on it — just thanking them again here, I guess.
How important is revision to your writing process?
I do all my own editing, and that’s “easy” when you obsessively re-read your stuff to make sure it’s up to snuff with what you want to say. I stress so hard about making sure every word that comes out of my mouth, digitally or otherwise, can’t be misinterpreted in any way I don’t want it to. I often finish up a chapter feeling awful, thinking it’s all too direct, there’s not enough “literary flourish”, whatever that means, even though I just panicked for however many words to make it as direct as possible. But I try not to do a lot of actual revisions myself. If I overthink things, the story loses that original fire behind it, if that makes any sense. If you feel like your work needs revising, feel free! But don’t lose what makes it special in the meantime.
What usually pushes you to finish up a story that’s on your unpublished list?
Oh, I have a few sitting in there that I need to get back to, make no mistake. But the push to finish usually comes from not overthinking it. Another story of mine was in the works since Season 4-ish, and I thought about it in my spare time, almost constantly. I planned that sucker out from every angle. I filled a little notebook with plot points and character developments that I carried around in community college. The more I tried to hash it out, the longer it took to post. What if it wasn’t good enough? What if nobody wanted to read it?
The stories I’ve been writing lately usually go like this: Get idea, stay up all night writing as much as I can while the juices are still flowing, think about plot along the way.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I don’t know who said “Good art should leave you different than when you found it” or something like that — the internet is not helping me. I’m not a pretentious quote type person, but talking about art here made me think of that one.