Friday, May 24, 2013

Cynewulf's This is a Story You Will Never Read

As we've all learned, friendship is magic. But even if you have many close, treasured friendships, sometimes you still feel lonely.

[Slice-of-Life] • 3,800 words
Twilight Sparkle is used to being lonely. Sure, she's got friends now, but sometimes they're busy and you're left to your own devices. When these times come, she takes refuge in a particular place and partakes in a very particular activity: writing. Specifically, silly throwaway writings. Why? Well, they're safe.

Hit the break for a chat with Cynewulf and a link to This is a Story You Will Never Read out on the ponynet. Don't forget to grab yourself an ebook copy over at the Downloads page!

Where do you live?

I live in the wonderful state of Mississippi, in the heart of Dixie! And by that I mean I live in the middle of it somewhere. If you find me you get a prize.

What kind of work do you do? (i.e. are you a student, do you have a career/day job, etc)

I am a college student! I actually also play electric lead guitar for worship at my church, which is indeed a job (yay music!) and am employed by said church’s daycare to be an awesome caretaker of rambunctious and energetic young human things. God help me.

How did you discover My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic? When did you realize you were a fan of the show?

A friend. He mentioned off-handedly that he watched My Little Pony, and I was bewildered. Of course I pursued that line of inquiry all the way down the rabbit hole, and he told me that Lauren Faust (who’d been involved with Foster’s and PPG, which I loved as a kid) was involved... and I said I might just watch some. I try not to knock something before I try it, you know? So I watched. I was hooked by the intro of the first episode. This was what I wanted—it was a fairy tale! But it was more. It was myth, and being a lit major I could see an almost Miltony sort of idea about the myth of Nightmare Moon and it was really, really cool. And it was also adorable.

Do you have a favorite episode?

I have two. “Sleepless in Ponyville” and “Read It and Weep”, for sure. Daring Do! :D But also I liked seeing Dash in a fun episode that also challenged her as a character, and I loved seeing her finally officially have some intentional bonding with Scootaloo. It’s heartwarmin’, y’know?

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)?

It’s so clooose. Rarity or Twilight. Rarity is a Lady but Twilight is me! Rarity is the artist and fun but Twilight is adorkable! Ahhh. But with just the show, probably Twilight of the Clan Sparkle.

With any of the fandom work? Rarity, hands down. As time went on, Rarity got a lot of great characterization as being perhaps both the most flawed and the most mature (at times) and then we as a community took that character and ran with it like a bird after a french fry. I adore Rarity the sophisticate as a character. One of my favorite comics involves her using her magic to do archery. And of course, in her I kind of found a muse. Rarity is in like... gosh well over half of my gallery on FiMFic. Maybe 2/3. Grace, poise, Ladyness... and yet remember who kicked a manticore in the face, kids!

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

Four years ago, my lovely ladyfriend (who my followers have heard legend of as The Lady or My Lady) along with myself and a few others, had a long running sort of shared universe. It involved werewolves! It was all of her creation, but we all played around in it. My sort of avatar within this setting was Cynewulf, and he was basically werewolf Aragorn, say true. Born in Pre-Roman Britain, but took a Saxon name along the way and ended up switching back to it every now and then. When I came to FiMFic, I didn’t wanna be Julius Scipio this time around. I wanted something different... and so I became Cynewulf. By the way—I say it KEN-Wolf, not Sign-wolf. No one has ever pronounced it with a hard C! I am perplexed. However, Cyne is said sign an’ I don’t care either way. :3

Have you written in other capacities (other fandoms, professionally, etc)? When did you first start writing?

I have written for a long time. Since I was a child, off and on. I’ve been published for poetry in school publications, but so far all I have is a few rejection letters for poetry.

The first two stories I ever remember writing was a story about a ginormous tree fortress I probably based off of Salamandastron and a spot of Star Wars fanfiction I wrote when my original OTP (AsyrXGav forever) was broken up by a a faked death in the X-Wing series of books. And I was a pissed 5th grader let me tell you. So I totes wrote them getting back together while on a quest underground completely ripped off of Atlantis.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Uhhhhhhhhhh..... there are times I don’t write? Ha! Seriously, though, writing is my biggest hobby. I churn out stories constantly. I’m almost always in a Google Doc somewhere if I’m online at all. I love it—it’s what I live for, words on a page! I do read a lot.

However, I also love vidya games. Mostly RPGs and strategy. I have a nostalgic soft spot for JRPGs (Final Fantasy 7 is not only my favorite game, but like haunts my imagination to this day) and I ADORE Rome and Medieval Total War. Play them all the time, up the Julii! I also like shooters a lot. I’ve enjoyed the Call of Duty games since the very first one, an’ I actually don’t play multiplayer much. Most recently I’ve been into Bioshock. And of course, my great love—Fallout 3.

I also play music. I’m actually a recording artist of a sort. I has an EP as the Spring Nostalgic on the interweb iTunes of my mix of alternative and folk, all acoustic. Fun fact: one of those three songs is very pony, and one of them was mildly pony. But my music has always had little secrets built in like that, just like my stories do.

Who is your favorite author (published or fanfiction)? Do you have a favorite story or novel?

Stephen. King.

He is hands down my favorite writer of the modern age. I think he’s one of the best of all time. (That’s right y’all I’ll fightcha, haha) but seriously. The Dark Tower books, man. Gosh but those are beautiful, same with Lisey’s Story. I also love love love Tolkien, who has been with me since I was young and whom I treasure. My copy of the Lord of the Rings is kinda tattered and well loved. C. S. Lewis in space trilogy and popular theology, Doesteovsky with Crime and Punishment and of course, my fellow Mississippian—William Faulkner, tell god thankya. Read As I Lay Dying. It is one of my favorite books and I think everyone should. It’s just... it’s beautiful. Yeah, Mississippi has changed since, but not all the way. Darl sucks. Cash and Jewel for the win.

Fanfiction-wise! Shortskirtsandexplosions is my hero, hands down. I’ve never read an SSE story I didn’t at least like. (Background Pony is heartbreaking, but I also recommend I Met a Pony in Hell and We Kicked Ass Together.) Followed swiftly by Cold in Gardez, that pretty rad human being who wrote Naked Singularity and one of my all-time favorite stories (gosh, y’all, but the first version made me cry a little. There’s this one scene with Rainbow reading this poem...) Salvation. It’s why I ship Raridash. And last but not at all least, my friend, RazedRainbow, who is and shall ever be the better craftsman. I love Not All Who Wander Are Lost to death, I’m its biggest fanboy by far. And his contribution to white and blue pony ship is probably the most popular! And I likes it.

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?

My ideal readers! Oh boy I get to talk about this.

For me, it changes. I write each story for someone. I wrote Absolution and Great Heart for my friends LonelyBrony and Razed and Nothing is Constant. My ongoing epic thing, The Night is Passing, I wrote with Razed and Nothing in mind. In general, my friends of the inner circle are my ideal readers. The profile there is someone who is well read at least in a popular sense, who will try to at least look for little secrets and references, who likes introspection and who likes dialogue. I write with them in mind, wondering what they would like! What would make them happy. If I can make my friends who also write happy, then surely a story will work with others. Curiously, the story that you are about to read or just read, “This is a Story You Will Never Read” was written with only one person in mind as an audience: Me. I’ll get to that!

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers, or writers who are struggling with their own stories?

Write. Write a lot. Write a ton. Experiment but also study. Read masters young and old, new and classic. Read Stephen King but also try out Faulkner or Hemmingway or Fitzgerald. Pay attention in your college Lit Surveys. Study every shred of prose you find and judge it. And then write. The only way to be better is to do it more and more, to always write, to write in Pauline fashion—unceasingly.

Don’t get stuck writing one thing forever. Write stories about people, not about genres. Stories are about people which is something SO many writers forget. You know why Barnes and Nobles is full of bad romances and mediocre military sci-fi (it can be good it just almost never is, sadly)? Because writers get caught up in what KIND of story they are writing, or in the EVENTS, and they forget what I came for: the characters.

Also, you could do worse than to read poetry. I suggest Donne, George Herbert, T. S. Eliot, Vergil, and Merwin. And I guess Longfellow, Tennyson, and Rumi too if you like them. It’s a diverse bunch, but poetry helped me a lot.

What is your typical writing process? (Do you work through multiple drafts, do you have any prereaders/editors, etc?)

With fanfiction, I usually just bang it out into a Google Doc with happy abandon while listening to music (sometimes with friends for company in the doc, but usually with company; either on Skype or on Omegle of all places). Then, when I finish, my proof-readers wander in and we work on it together. This usually ends up being pretty fun and I enjoy camaraderie in the GDoc! q97randomguy is my usual editor/proof guy. Razed will sometimes wander into a doc to keep me company as well. Once that is done, I’ll read it again and fiddle with it a little bit more and then put it in a story thing and post it.

More detailed—I start with titles, actually. Almost always I start with titles, and then build a story around it, like over half the time. I also write to music of various kinds. Stories, for me, have soundtracks. This story’s soundtrack was a liquid dubstep mix by the Going Quantum podcast, which I love a ton. Sometimes it’s old country or Iron and Wine or Bon Iver. And in the case of that one rather saucy fic, it was Foreigner. 80's rock is forever weird to me now.

What inspired you to write This Is a Story You Will Never Read?

I was sad! No, seriously, I was kinda feeling down about the whole writing thing in general at that time and I wandered into a coffee place on campus called Jazzman’s to sit at my accustomed table. The Table, you could say. And I opened up a Google Doc because it’s what I always did when sitting there and I had this “What am I doing?” moment, it was quite unfun. I had just poured my soul into this super sad Rarijack fic a few days before and I guess it had gotten to me. And so I stared at this Google Doc and just cracked a bitter smile, thinking to myself that no one would read whatever I wrote anyhow. It would be a story that they would never read! I literally started writing what I was actually doing—sitting with my coffee, observing the world around me. I say a lot that I basically am Twilight—and in this story, I really am. I project a bit, but it worked. Mostly. It’s full of little secrets and references that I wrote for myself. Twilight shipping two random ponies because I ship ponies all the time... one of them was based off of a friend. The book he is reading is a book I was reading. The name of Twilight’s stalled epic is from a Milton translation of an ode of Horace I love, and her story is kind of actually a real story made into ponies—To the Stern God of the Sea is actually entitled at the moment Norpak and it’s original fiction. As her epic weighed on her mind, so mine did on my mind! So I just... wrote about me. As Twilight. It was actually really cathartic, and I was happy that people liked it.

Did you run into any tough spots or challenges when writing This Is a Story You Will Never Read?

Surprisingly, no. Just about none. It just sort of happened. I wrote the whole thing in a little over an hour while chatting over PMs and Skype and I think in the Google Doc itself, as well. I write distracted. It was probably one of the easiest stories in my gallery on FiMFic to write.

When you set out to write This Is a Story You Will Never Read, did you have any specific messages or themes in mind?

Loneliness. I kind of wanted to write a story about being lonely. I often feel lonely at college, and I think it’s an emotion and an experience worth codifying into prose. It’s a part of being human, to feel the absence of connection, and I think it makes connection when we have it better. Twilight is lonely in this story, but it’s not a permanent sort of loneliness. She sees Spike and talks to a stallion and thinks about her friends. I guess I wanted to say that loneliness like that is like the night: it passes.

And I guess part of it was kind of wanting to write about writing. About how it’s kind of lonely sometimes. And about how it isn’t always a happy thing. Sometimes it can be not fun and you sit at a table in a coffee shop with your laptop and wonder what on god’s green, bright, and beautiful earth you are doing. That’s natural.

It is very important.

Where can readers drop you a line?

You can send me a PM on! I adore PMs and almost always answer them super fast. I can also be reached at my email: and if you really want to I suppose you could send me an ask at my tumblr,

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Blue rainbow birdhorse loves off-white shiny-rock hornhead horse and that is all there is to it.

Tell god thankya and Raridash.

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