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This isn’t such a simple question for me to answer. I really can’t explain concisely and without resorting to cheap autobiographical melodrama.
I like to think that I am an artistic person, at least in the sense that I’ve always possessed the desire to express myself. I can’t draw due to crap visualization and motor skills, and my musical ear and taste are non-existent. That mostly leaves writing as a possible artistic out. Add to that a natural affinity for language (I’ve been fluent since junior high and knew English grammar better than Russian by the time I graduated) and an off-and-on love for reading, and that makes the choice obvious.
I’ve had “writing streaks” since childhood, just embarking on projects whenever inspiration struck and abandoning them after a few beginning pages. But I always came back to the keyboard and kept a notion somewhere at the back of my mind that I was a writer. A silly notion, considering what I wrote back then, but the desire was there.
When I got into pony, somewhere around early season two, I became extremely interested in fanfiction. I devoured everything, with little care for neither quality nor popularity. Naturally, I also wanted to write my own fanfics, which turned into another one of those fruitless streaks (and that’s a good thing, too). I collected a couple ideas, wrote a few pages, and then blissfully abandoned everything.
However, I have a natural predisposition for planning and thinking ahead, so I lurked around the fanfic scene. Learned that EqD has standards, read the editor’s omnibus and Ezn’s guide. Found out about the usual mistakes beginners make. Got into FimFiction, checked out who the “big names” are, got some semblance of taste. By the time I got to /fic/, back when we all hanged out on Ponychan, my outlook on writing changed considerably. As it turned out, there’s a lot more to this writing shindig than I thought.
So I read some stuff about writing, got a plan, and wrote up the first chapter of my first fic. After bouncing it around a couple of reviewers, it became apparent that what I could give wasn’t enough. Now, I believe that if you truly want to do something, you should do it right. And as I dug deeper on the net, searching for the ways to do it right, an entirely new world opened to me. I’ve found so much about fiction writing and literature in general, so many things I never noticed or considered important before. Everything, from the construction of a plot to the art of crafting sentences. It all seemed so big, and I wanted to know it all. My interest in language and writing was renewed with a passion I never knew I had, and that’s probably enough of a reward in itself.
In time, it became apparent that learning to write with skill would take a lot of work. Doubt crept in. I’ve got a degree to study for and other skills to learn. And of course, there is an undeniable emotional strain involved. Then the write-off rolled around, the Thanksgiving one. I’ve never before written anything that was meant for publication, I had barely any skill, even with grammar, and no training and methodology. Also, I had nothing to lose. So I told myself that I’ll stick to it until the write-off, and then let the results inform me of my prospects.
Suffice to say, winning was an absolute shocker for me. Nothing can quite compare to setting a goal, making a plan, sticking to it and reaping success in the end. I was ecstatic. It felt as satisfying as getting a 100% on the math test that guaranteed my entrance into the University I wanted to study in since fifth grade. I got the approval of my new friends, a sense of confidence and a vinyl Rainbow Dash! It’s the only piece of MLP merch I own, and it’s probably the most beloved trinket I have. Writing turned from a question of “if” into a question of “how.” And that’s where I am today.
I’m taking this endeavor seriously. I write every day. I pour a not-insignificant amount of time, effort and, yes, money, in the form of books (thanks for the free University education, Russia!), into writing. I strive to improve and write the best stories that, hopefully, will be read and liked. I won’t deny: I love attention. So far, I’ve only received positive feedback on the stories I’ve submitted to the write-offs, but it was absolutely intoxicating. It helps that I tend to take both criticism and praise close to heart, so even a single person liking my story makes the pursuit feel justified, even if the story itself ended up ranking somewhere in the last third. And there’s a lot of joy to be had in perfecting your skill, in learning something new about the craft, in finding something worthy of stealing in someone else’s story. Sometimes, writing brings me anxiety and feels like wading through a muck of self-punishment, but I’ve got enough proof to know that writing is, in the end, awesome.
What do I hope to achieve in writing? Well, there’s the skill and self-improvement, of course. I may someday graduate to original fiction. I want to write the stories that I want to write, but more than that, I want to write them well. There’s also the prospect of popularity, but I see that more as a proof of ability (har har) than anything else. But if I had to choose one thing, I’d pick making friends. Seriously. I’ve never been a part of a fandom or anything like /fic/ before, and the people I’ve already met are awesome. I love doing things like contests and collaborations with you, or simply chatting and hanging out. I enjoy being around talented people whose interests I share, and I‘d love to meet the great authors and readers this fandom has to offer. For all our bickering and drama, I firmly believe that ponyfans are a bloody lovable bunch.
Sorry for the tl;dr and the general sappiness. Got into the mood. It also doesn’t hurt to have a written account of this little journey. I hope reading it didn’t feel like a waste of your time.