Friday, May 4, 2012

Chromosome's White Box

Memory - or the lack thereof - is a powerful thing. But then again, so is imagination.

[Tragedy] • 8,300 words
My name is Canvas. I remember because I wrote it in the corner of the white box. It takes twelve steps to get from the cot to the wall. And the lights hurt my eyes.

Hit the break for a few pretentious words from our pretentious author, and links to White Box on the ponynet. There's always ebooks on the Downloads page if your reading tends toward the offline side of things, too!

A note about special formatting: if possible, read White Box in the original Google Docs version; failing that, use one of the ebooks here in the Vault; failing that, FIMFiction. Color plays a special role, and not all hosting locations support the originally intended formatting of the work. Now get to reading!

Where do you live?

I live in Singapore. Prior to that, I've done a lot of hopping around in the U.S. and Europe.

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

I'm a student.

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

I bumped into the show in the same way most people did: on the internet. I'd known about the existence of ponies for a very long time, and I'd always dismissed them as ridiculous, blowing them off and mercilessly taunting those that enjoyed the show. I don't like admitting that sort of thing, but it's true: I was a hater once. Eventually, my hate for the cartoon was replaced by scientific curiosity, questioning why it was so popular. So, I kid you not, I made a vow to watch the first three episodes while taking detailed scientific notes. I realized I was a fan when I thought: “Well... one more episode can't hurt”.

Do you have a favorite episode?

Hmm... Bridle Gossip is my original favorite, but more recent episodes have made me lean more in favor of Hurricane Fluttershy.

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)?

Fluttershy is by far my favorite character. No other character on the show is capable of making me feel so emotional (aside from maybe Rarity), and the number of times she's given me diabeetus from sheer adorableness is too hard to count. If I considered fanon, I would say that Sweetie Bot is the superior organic life-form. But only by a marginal value.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

I wanted to think of something quick, snappy, and easy to remember. I failed on all counts but the last. Since I'm a humongous biology buff, I eventually thought of “Chromosome” for some reason. Too late to change it now!

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

Yes, I have. I've been doing a lot of original content writings completely unrelated to ponies for a very long time, and My Little Pony is the very first kind of fanfiction I've ever attempted. I can't remember when I started writing, but I was quite young. I've always been a very expressive child with my ideas.

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

When I'm not mashing my keyboard fruitlessly, I enjoy stepping outside and practicing my parkour. I like to think I'm pretty good at it.

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

I don't really have a favorite author, because I don't read that much fanfiction, to be honest. I'm very picky, for better or worse. However, if I had to choose, I'd say shortskirtsandexplosions is by far my favorite author, the crazy marsupial that he is. As a favorite novel, I'd say The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster. I read it as a kid, but each time I look at it again, I find something new.

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?

That's a tricky question. I would say “no” outright, because I feel like the writing I put out is more to get ideas out of my system rather than please a certain demographic. But I suppose the people I write for are those that are willing to humor some artsy pretentiousness and stay along for the ride, just to see what the story can say for itself.

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

Absolutely. Never, never, ever give up. Writing fanfiction for the masses is like digging through a cave searching for jewels. You can't tell what's on the other side of that cave wall, and when you give up, you could literally have been a few more swings of a pickaxe away from hitting the mother lode. Never give up, keep trying new things, and as Twilight Sparkle would say, “Read a book!” Learning the tricks of professional writer and adding new words, phrases, and methods of development is essential to expanding your writer's toolbox.

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

Usually, I prefer to write my story first with minimal interruptions and outside influence. Then, I show it to my group of un-official pre-readers, and they tear me a new one for it. Editing is a real trial, but it's a labor of love that takes a story to the next level.

What inspired you to write White Box?

White Box... oh boy. That story wasn't really inspired as much as it kind of fell into my lap. After a while of being interested in the fanbase, I wanted to contribute something to it. So I started writing a fanfiction. However, turn after turn, I found myself falling into dead-ends and flat characters. Nothing I was doing was working right, and so I kept changing my approach and storyline. To make a long story short, I eventually came to fast-forwarding my story to a later point, where the character is in an institution. After staring at a blank page for about half an hour, I typed the first sentence: “The lights hurt my eyes.” I don't really know how to explain what happened after that. It all just sort of... clicked. The entire story, the characters, the images, the words, they all just sort of appeared in my mind. It was just a matter of writing it.

Did you run into any tough spots or challenges when writing White Box?

Yep. That tough spot was called... the Equestria Daily pre-readers! When I sent the first draft in, I waited a week, and when I finally got a response, it was a page-long story of what was wrong with my story. It was incredibly disheartening at first, but then I read the whole thing. At the end, it came down to one thing: my concept was borderline perfect, but my execution was terrible. And so, grueling, grueling hours of completely revising my approach occured. In fact, it was thanks to this pre-reader that White Box looks anything like it does now. Had it gone out then... it would have fallen into the pile of other mediocre stories that evaporate into oblivion.

When you set out to write White Box, did you have any specific messages or themes in mind?

Not particularly. I wanted to create a story written through the eyes of a greatly disturbed OC that has suffered trials greater than anyone could imagine. Writing about this broken mind learning about something that was once his greatest reason for existing was like writing about an infant discovering the world for the first time. My main goal was to make the experience that Canvas was going through as vivid to the reader as possible, so that they share his grief and his loss. I like to think I managed to do that. Things like motifs, symbols, and themes just fell into place on their own.

Where can readers drop you a line?

They can PM me on my FIMFiction, or email me at

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I never expected in my wildest dreams for White Box to explode as it did. Everything in the fandom seems to be oriented around series, rather than the lone one-shot, and seeing White Box take off has given me hope for the future of my writing. More importantly, I think it's given hope to others once like me that have yet to take that first step.

If one of said people is reading this, do it. Type that first word, write that first idea. As a wise, little green man once said: “Do, or do not. There is no try.”


  1. Yeah, I remember the pre-reader White Box discussion. It was one of those heated and divisive fics; those don't happen often.

    I'm really surprised to see this up on the Vault so soon! :D

  2. I think at some point this story topped "The Old Stories" as my favorite one-shot fanfiction, and is possibly my favorite pony fanfic overall (besides Paradise). I remember being so excited when I first opened the doc, because I could tell this one was going to be different and interesting. Not gonna lie, I've got a strong taste for artsy, drama stories and fanfics do it so rarely that when I find one I jump on it and eat it up. It's table-flipping good.

  3. I had heard about this one a fair bit, but didn't investigate until it went up here. It really is a brilliant piece of work, and I'm happy to have something new on my list to recommend to people looking for stories of the highest caliber.