Today’s story is on point.
[Slice of Life] • 1,437 words
Relevé: position in which the dancer rises from any position to on one or both feet on at least demi-pointe, or possibly full pointe
She’s done the simple Rainbooms choreo, the square dancing with her family, the silly free-styles with her friends. But today, Applejack wants to try something a bit different, something she’d never expected to be interested in.
You would think attending Canterlot High would teach her to expect the unexpected.
FROM THE CURATORS: “An important story,” Present Perfect mused. “Not just a story about a tomboy trying to be feminine, this is about Applejack trying to break her own mold.” Soge called it “a delightful tale of societal expectations—both internal and external” in his nomination, and FanOfMostEverything likewise appreciated choosing Applejack as the story’s focal character, because “the fact that it’s so unexpected for her only makes the concept work better.”
“She’s getting out of her comfort zone, doing something that no one would expect her to, because it mystifies, intrigues and delights her. Her own joy when she accomplishes just one tiny bit of what she set out to do is palpable,” Present Perfect went on to say. And that joy, that excitement, is tempered by insecurity—Soge saw right away that “her passion for something which she thinks others will misjudge her for … is instantly relatable for people in all walks of life.”
FanOfMostEverything acknowledged how easy it would have been for this particular conceit to fail, pointing out how “stories that draw on the author’s experiences can sometimes feel both invasive and false to the characters used to replicate those experiences,” but he was happy to find that this work “avoids that entirely.” AugieDog agreed that the author completely sold him on “how Applejack might actually find something in the artistry of ballet that speaks to her” and felt it succeeds as “a nice insight into the character … I always enjoy it when authors have such a good feel for one of the show’s characters that they can take that character to a place the show never would and still have it entirely work.”
A classical ballet can mean hours of dancing, but “Relevé” economizes, distilling its story down into just one movement, and that was all it needed. Soge appreciated that “its core conflict is so well built, and the character work is so precise, that it feels much weightier than its paltry word count would suggest.” FanOfMostEverything felt the same way: “It’s brief, but uses what’s there with incredible efficiency. This is a single dance, not a full recital, but the artistry involved is undeniable.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Cillerenda discusses reading above your grade level, the freedom of artistry, and juxtaposition.
Give us the standard biography.
Aha, there isn’t much to say about me. My parents had me when they were older, almost into their forties. My mother never planned having kids and was a bit ill-prepared, so when I came along there wasn’t much to entertain me aside from toys she bought on-the-fly. My mother had shelves full of books full of names such as Stephen King and Dean Koontz that I would try to read the second I was able to. Needless to say, trying to bring books like those into my kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms didn’t go too well! But those books are what stirred me into becoming interested in writing.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
Oh gosh, here we go. The name “Cillerenda” is actually a reference to a funny moment in an old episode of Game Grumps, which is a popular gaming group on YouTube. It comes from Jon, in a rage, mispronouncing Cinderella’s name and it just always stuck with me.
Who’s your favorite pony?
If it isn’t obvious in my writing, I’ll just say it: Applejack, 100%. I could go on for hours about why I love this character so much.
What’s your favorite episode?
“The Mane Attraction.” Not only because it’s one of the best AJ episodes ever, but its incredible music, and interesting new character, and it does what I’ve always wanted an AJ episode to do: to focus on her weakness as her strength, that weakness being her stubbornness. Silver Quill goes into it much more eloquently and thoroughly than I could in his review, but he hits every nail on the head.
What do you get from the show?
A sense of togetherness and friendship. Like I said, my parents had me rather late in life. Once I was born, the kids of her friends were already grown, so I was around adults until I finally went to school. I hated school with a passion and I had very few friends there as well. There’s something about MLP that makes me feel like I know what I missed.
What do you want from life?
I simply want a life that I’m happy with.
Why do you write?
That’s an interesting question, not one that I’ve thought about before. I’ve always envied people who can draw and paint; I was incredibly in awe at the fact that an artist needs only a pen, paper, and imagination to create something beautiful. If you think about it, it’s the same with writing. I can create worlds with my own rules, languages, and characters, and no one can tell me that it’s wrong. It’s freeing.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
While I hardly think I am eligible to give advice, I do have something: just write it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to make sense, just do it. Write whatever nonsense comes into your brain and clean it up later. If you spend time pondering over every tiny detail and loophole, you won’t make any progress. Just do something and then go back and give it a look.
What inspired “Relevé”?
I am a huge fan of juxtaposition. The shy character turning into a raging monster, the strong character showing weakness, etc. I actually got the idea from watching something silly: Bendy and the Ink Machine: The Musical. MatPat, well known for his work on Game Theory, voices the star of the musical and it amazed me that I’ve been watching his content for so long and had no clue he could sing so well. After watching that, I had a thought: what hidden talents or interests could I delve into?
Given that you write a lot about Applejack, why did you choose her as the main character for this particular story?
I touched on it in the notes of the story, but I always tend to put myself in Applejack’s shoes because I find her to be the most relatable of the bunch. I’m not exactly a size 0, but I joined a dance team in high school. Oh, I heard every insult from the rest of the school. I was too big and fat, I should quit, I shouldn’t be dancing, blah blah blah. But as the years went on, I got pretty damn good! I was even an officer during my senior year.
Anyway, it also plays into my love of juxtaposition. Why can’t the rugged, tomboyish farm girl have an interest for ballet?
What brought you back to writing Ponyfic after your time away?
I was going through some stuff. I won’t turn this into a sob story, but just know that it was bad. I wasn’t able to focus on writing as much I would have liked and the things I did write were very dark to match the place my head was in. It also happened during a show hiatus. Once the show started again, it refreshed me quite a bit and I was able to put the bad thoughts away long enough to produce “I Didn’t Sign Up For This,” and I just kept writing from there.
Do you prefer planning a story out ahead of time, or would you rather let it grow during the typing process?
I’m an unorganized mess in everything I do, and writing is no different. I normally just type a bunch of trash and then run a broom through it later!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about myself and these stories. I’m no Stephen King, but I cannot express how validating it is that people would want to feature my work in one way or another!