There's a lot of pressure on a young person (or foal, as the case may be) - societal pressure, family pressure, peer pressure - but things generally work out in the end.
[Slice-of-Life] • 2,700 words
Apple Bloom had always dreamed of the day. She just never dreamed that it would be a nightmare.
Hit the break for a chat with RazedRainbow (boy, I hope that handle doesn't mean what I think it means...) and links to The Mill all over the ponynet. If you ask very nicely, there just might be an ebook waiting for you over at the Downloads page as well.
Where do you live?
Rock Hill, South Carolina.
What kind of work do you do? (i.e. are you a student, do you have a career/day job, etc)
I'm a full-time college student. I sometimes act and do menial tasks (set painting, light board operator) at a local playhouse, but it is non-profit.
How did you discover My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic? When did you realize you were a fan of the show?
I discovered it through a site called Ultimate-Guitar. I would browse through their message boards from time to time, and one day in July 2011 I just so happened to open their general discussion forum right when their My Little Pony thread was at the top of the front page. I clicked the link because I had nothing better to do, and was immediately thrust into a world of Rainbooms and Sondheim-inspired song. Being a longtime fan of animation, I was hooked right off the bat.
Do you have a favorite episode?
For season one, A Dog and Pony Show. Rarity's drama queen breakdowns had me in stitches, and the Diamond Dogs are sadly underutilized within the community. For season two, I'll go with A Friend in Deed, mainly because of "Smile, Smile, Smile," but also because I really loved the chemistry between Pinkie and Cranky Doodle.
Who is your favorite character based purely on the canon of the show itself? Would your answer change if you considered the fandom in its entirety (i.e. art, fanfiction, memes, etc)?
Based on canon, I'd have to say Applejack. Coming from a hard-working, close-knit Southern family, it's hard for me not to adore her character. She's down to earth, determined, and could probably cave in your skull with a single buck, yet she also has that soft side. Add in the family dynamic (especially her relationship with Apple Bloom) and you've got my (current) holder of "Best Pony."
Taking fanart, fanfiction, and memes into account, Lyra definitely jumps high on my list of awesome ponies. I love her design, and some of the personalities the fandom creates for her are downright beautiful. I even love her in her "obsessed with hands/humans" form. It's one of the few memes that I never seem to grow tired of.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
This is a strange one, not to mention difficult to explain.
The first fic I ever (attempted) to write involved Rainbow Dash dying (readers of my other work will note that I kill Rainbow Dash off as often as Pinkie Pie throws a party). Now, I'm a fan of wordplay and homophones, so I decided to do a little bit of both for my penname. "Razed" means to destroy, and since I was doing such a thing to poor ol' Rainbow Dash, I decided to throw some dark humor into the mix and call myself RazedRainbow (one word because I'm too lazy to hit the spacebar). Add in the "raised" and "razed" homophone thingamajig, and you've got yourself an overly-complicated and silly penname.
Have you written in other capacities (other fandoms, professionally, etc)? When did you first start writing?
I wrote a single 400-word-long chapter for a Sonic fanfic when I was a sophomore in high school. Aside from that, I've done a few short stories for class projects, but never anything that was visible to the public before I started writing ponyfic.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I spend way more time browsing the web than I should. I also enjoy playing my bass and listening to music, reading, playing video games, watching movies, and all that other stuff that a typical twenty-something loves to consume. Also, for an odder hobby, I do a lot of urban exploration around my area. There's a lot of derelict textile factories and abandoned houses/stores that are a ton of fun to just explore.
Who is your favorite author (published or fanfiction)? Do you have a favorite story or novel?
On the original fiction side of things, I'm going to have to go with Patrick Rothfuss and his Kingkiller Chronicle series for favorite author/book(s). Just a very well written and thought out piece of fantasy literature.
Other original fiction authors I love: Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, Brian Jacques, and Brandon Sanderson.
On the fanfiction side, my favorite writer would probably be shortskirtsandexplosions. Few authors can hold my attention for a 10k word chapter, let alone a 30k word chapter, yet he manages to do so constantly.
Also, I have to give my friend Corejo a shout out. Not only is he a great writer, but he also taught me a lot about writing. My fics would probably still be huge clusters of purple prose and semicolon misuse if he hadn't slapped my wrist and taught me the beauty of simplicity.
Stephen King believes that every author has an "ideal reader" - the one person who they write for, the one person whose reactions they care about. Do you have one, and if so, who is it?
I write for myself first and foremost. My works are usually fics I want to read, but the fandom has never produced. Impatience takes hold and I just say, "Screw it," and decide to tackle them myself.
Also, quite a few of my fics are written as a coping mechanism, conceived and typed when things aren't all sunshine and rainbows. The Mill is an example of this.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers, or writers who are struggling with their own stories?
First off, read as much as you can. Be it a doorstopper fantasy novel or Writing Ponies for Dummies, you'll only benefit from it. I have a very "see-it-in-action" way of learning. I read a ton of manuals on style, yet it wasn't until I was reading American Gods that I became fully aware of when to use a period at the end of dialogue and when to use a comma.
Also, get people to look over your work. You can think that you're the greatest thing since Steinbeck, but that doesn't mean that you actually are (and you're not. Trust me, you're not). Several times in some of my longer stories, I've written sections that I think are literary gold. Then one of my pre-readers comes in and says that it's crap. And while I might argue it at the time, they are almost always right. Then there are the dreaded typos. I can't count how many times I've forgotten to put a period at the end of a paragraph. The problem with typos - missing punctuation, punctuation misuse, tense errors, word confusion and so on - is that they are both easy to make and easy to overlook.
And finally, don't ever give up. If your first fic gets lambasted, don't lower your head in defeat and walk away. Work hard, aim for the stars, and don't quit. When I started out, I was absolutely abysmal — purple prose, punctuation screwups, lackluster plots, horrid characterization, the list goes on ad nauseum. Still, through practice and determination, I was able to turn myself into a somewhat decent writer.
What is your typical writing process? (Do you work through multiple drafts, do you have any prereaders/editors, etc?)
With my multi-chapter stories, I usually outline a chapter by scenes. Then I sit down, start writing, and don't stop until I'm finished with that scene. On a good day, I get through 1,500 to 2,000 words. Unfortunately, my "good" writing days are few and far between.
While I don't go through multiple drafts per se, the chapters I publish hardly ever resemble the original plan. Scenes are deleted and/or added rather frequently. I then send the chapter out to my pre-readers and hope that they can help me turn it into something resembling "decent."
The process The Mill followed was very different one (and one I wouldn't advise following unless you're crazy, like I am). I wrote the entire thing in one go in the lobby of my public library. One draft, one proofread sweep by one of my pre-readers, and it was published. All in all, it took an hour to complete.
What inspired you to write The Mill?
The Mill was a very personal tale for me. I'm gay, live in the South, and live with rather religious parents. A few weeks before I wrote The Mill, I came out to them, expecting the worst. However, when I came out they were barely upset at all. Shocked, yes, but they didn't disown me or kick me out or any of the things I feared would happen. We still have a healthy relationship today.
While it turned out far better than I expected it to, the stress and worry that had built up had not released, so I decided to write The Mill as a way of letting those emotions out. I have trouble expressing emotions in real life (as an occasional actor, this sometimes comes back to bite me in the haunches) but I can pour them onto paper. That's basically where The Mill came from: pent-up emotions.
Did you run into any tough spots or challenges when writing The Mill?
Nope. The whole thing flowed through my fingers like the Nile. As I stated before, the whole thing took a little over an hour to type.
When you set out to write The Mill, did you have any specific messages or themes in mind?
The message of The Mill is that there's nothing wrong with being different. Don't be afraid to be who you are. Just because your whole family follows one path doesn't mean that you're a lesser person for following a different one. Just because you like ponies doesn't mean you're any less of a man.
Where can readers drop you a line?
Several ways. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you can PM me through FiMFiction or simply comment on my user page. I try my best to respond to every message and comment I receive.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I'd like to thank RBDash47 for this interview and place in the Vault.
I'd also like to thank everyone who read and enjoyed The Mill. It was a personal project that I thought would fade into the sea of ponyfic. For it to be so widely accepted and touch so many people really warms my heart and brings a smile to my face. I may write the words, but all of you give them life, and I can't thank y'all enough (darn, my Southern side is slipping through).
And finally, I'd like to apologize to Rainbow Dash for turning her into my own personal Redshirt. One of these days you'll survive past the prologue of one of my stories, Dashie. One of these days...