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A Lesson in Grammar and Obscurity

by TheBandBrony

Chapter 1: Accepted!

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Accepted!

"Spike, get down here! It's almost up!" Twilight Sparkle stared anxiously at the white light of the computer screen, the only real source of light in her basement wrapping around her in a harsh, electronic embrace. A myriad of parchment and empty ink containers messily surrounded the unicorn as she gazed at the screen. The words,

Waiting Que --- 1

stared back blankly.

"I'm here!" A puny purple scaled dragon appeared next to Twilight, gasping slightly from the run. His enthusiastic grin was highlighted by the glaring light of the computer screen as he addressed the lavender unicorn. "What do you need?"

A purple hoof gestured at the computer screen. "That, Spike."

He leaned forward, squinting against the harsh light as he looked at the words on screen. "...FiMFiction.net? What-" The cogs in his head suddenly whirred to life, producing an audible ding. "Is this related to the show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic?"

An overexcited nod from Twilight confirmed his suspicions. "Wait, you actually like that show?" he practically spat.

Another nod.

"Twi, you know that show's for little foals, right? Hay, I still watch it."

Another nod.

"And... you're on a website dedicated to-"

"Fanfiction!" Twilight cut him off. "I just submitted my first story a moment ago. It's about to get put up on the front page!" She squealed again. "It's just so exciting!"

"Does this mean that ponies actually read this stuff?" Spike looked at her with clear apprehension at the uproarious amount of crazy-talk she was sputtering.

"Oh, sure. There's actually a rather large adult following to the show. We call ourselves-"

Spike cut her off. "I don't really want to know, if that's okay with you. It just seems... a bit weird. Grown mares watching a foal’s cartoon and all.”

his words were met by an outright perplexed look on his purple sister’s face. “Wait, what do you mean, weird? There’s nothing weird about older mares watching a show originally created for younger ponies.”

“Uh - yes, there is. It’s not bad, but it’s certainly not normal.”

He momentarily pondered his word choice, but soon found himself unable to stand, much less think as he was hoisted into the air in front of Twilight. She gave him a furious glare as she hissed, “It’s perfectly fine by my standards. I think it would be best if you left my basement.”

“But-” Before he could sputter a reply, he found himself soaring through the doors leading from the basement to the foyer, tossed by Twilight’s magic into the unforgiving walls of his tree home like a ragdoll.

With an uppity huff, Twilight returned her gaze to the screen in front of her, scanning over the glowing page for any sign of-

Her story.

There it was. In her argument with Spike, she had completely missed its glorious arrival onto the front page. Her story, her work of art, her beautiful crowning achievement, the pinnacle of her creative prowess sat proudly on top of the “New Stories” feed like a glorious, shining jewel. Her heart swelled with pride as she stared at her masterpiece, tears of pure joy threatening to spill over and onto her cheeks.

And it already had one view.

One whole view! One glorious, angelic view! It blew Twilight’s mind that somewhere in the massive land of Equestria, one single soul had the intrepid spirit and audacity to go onto FiMFiction and read her work. Somepony she didn’t even know and would probably never even meet taking the time out of their day to read her story - it left her absolutely speechless. The throes of ecstasy gave her a warm, fuzzy feeling that traveled up and down her spine in comforting waves.

As she gazed at the screen, a small red bar in the upper right hand corner caught her eye. No, she suddenly went pale as the fuzzy feeling inside her was banished by an icy tingle that crept and crawled into her mind. That can’t be right. It just can’t be!

Staring back at her was the blood red bane of her existence, the one thing that tortured her soul with satanic glee.

The thumbs-down bar.

It sat there on screen, silently tormenting her. Written within its pixels were the words, nopony likes your story. You’re a failure. You’re a disgrace to the FiMFiction community.

“I am not a disgrace to the FiMFiction community!” She shouted vainly at the screen, hurt clearly etched into her face. But alas, no amount of shouting or begging or pleading could change that vote of dissatisfaction from her anonymous viewer. She had failed. Even if she had only failed one pony, she still failed her mission as an author.

It was only one pony, she tried to tell herself. Maybe others will like it better than they did. But the encouragement fell on deaf ears. Her sworn duty as an author was to create something that the average reader could enjoy, something they could cherish, if only briefly. With this single downward-pointing thumb, she realized that she had failed that duty miserably.

She refreshed the page disparagingly. Maybe I should just delete the story. It’s nothing but a waste of space anyway.

12 Views

The number caught her completely off guard, nearly sending her tumbling backwards off her chair. More people had bothered to read her story? B-but, nopony likes my story! It’s just a worthless jumble of words! She scrolled down, looking for anything in the comments section that might clue her in to her her story’s sudden popularity.

Hee hee me gusta

One comment. Four words. It was such a simple arrangement of letters, yet they somehow managed to incomprehensibly brighten Twilight’s miserable mood. Somepony... liked my story? Tears of sadness were eagerly replaced by tears of joy once again welling in her eyes. Somepony likes my story!

Twilight Sparkle was in no way an egocentric pony. She didn’t live her life to be recognized or put in a spotlight - she just lived because she was alive. But to see that her creation had brightened another pony’s day sent her ego soaring to heights that rivaled that of The Great and Powerful Trixie. Elation mixed with joy mixed with pride coursed through her veins in a rushing tide of happiness that put a head-splitting grin on the young unicorn’s face.

To know that somepony had put faith in her to put out something worthy of reading and then have that hope realized was the greatest sort of joy. She was so overwhelmed with glee that she could hardly refresh the main page again to see where her story was at-

Fifth.

Her story was fifth. Once the shining gem of the entire website, it had suddenly dropped like a stone in a mineshaft to the middle of the page. Gone was the regality and poise of heading an entire webpage. Only the mediocrity and shame of the “middle” forced its way through Twilight’s thoughts, creeping into her brain and forcing her to blink back tears of indignation.

How did this happen? She turned desparagingly to her clock, searching for answers. As she took in the slowly ticking analog hands, she recoiled a bit. I-I’ve spent twenty minutes rejoicing in one comment?

Indeed, she had. In her unmistakable joy and elation at her sudden newfound popularity, she had unknowingly flitted away nearly twenty minutes reveling in the anonymous pony’s complement. She didn’t even bother to realize that her story was slowly but surely descending the “New Stories” list. Slowly but surely falling into obscurity.

My story... no! It was all going so well! Is it so quickly reduced to filler? Filler indeed. The two stories sandwiching her were both racking up views at an alarming rate while hers was stubbornly stuck at 15.

This calls for drastic measures... With a swift clickity-clack of her mouse, the distraught unicorn made her way back to her story page, locating the thumbs-up box with a sigh of regret.

I can’t believe I’m doing this... it feels so wrong of me. But I have to make this work, no matter what the cost. She looked away, resisting the urge to throw up as she thumbed-up her own story.

I shouldn’t be doing this! her mind reeled. This system is for others to rank my story, not for me to shamelessly plug my own work. Yet even as her mind accosted her, she felt the slightest wave of relief wash over her as the daunting red block receded slightly while a green wedge inched out, taking its place.

Well, let’s hope I don’t have to do that again- Her thoughts were interrupted by several quick chirps accompanied by a small block of text appearing at the bottom of the screen.

3 New Notifications

Oh, more notifications! I hope somepony favorited my story! Her mental state through the entire ordeal had gradually slid from pure unadulterated bliss to gnawing hollowness that tugged the corners of her lips downward. Oh well, here goes nothing. She scrolled to the icon and clicked.

Starfall has favorited your story!

Starfall has commented on your story!

Starfall has commented on your story!

A tiny, rejuvenating spark of hope flared in her heart. Whoever this Starfall is, I hope he has something good to say. Twilight wasn’t a stupid pony - she knew that some ponies would abuse the complete and encompassing anonymity of the internet to say terrible, horrible things to complete strangers for no other reason than to inspire conflict. She only hoped she wouldn’t become another such victim.

She clicked the links, and within a moment she was back at her story page, blinking her eyes at the new comment that adorned the page.

Lulz it was funny but you’re grammer is kinda shitty :eEyup:

Oh, this is just great. If there was one thing that irked Twilight Sparkle, it was pointless comments. Stupid wastes of space like these made the unicorn want to rip out her mane and scream endlessly at the computer screen for a short eternity. It wasn’t bad enough that this Starfall pony was uselessly commenting on her story. No, he had to go ahead and insult her grammar.

If there was one thing that Twilight Sparkle prided herself on, it was grammar. Being such a bookworm, she took great joy in learning the innate intricacies of the Equestrian language. By the time she was four, she had already memorized most of the dictionaries that were housed in the royal library. By seven, she was tutoring ponies twice her age in advanced Equestrian. It sufficed to say that she loved grammar.

But to have somepony blatantly insult her grammar while they themselves didn’t even bother taking the time to proofread their comment drove Twilight to the ragged edges of insanity. With righteous anger rivaling that of a rampaging zealot, she waved a mighty cursor over the delete button and clicked.

Watching the pathetic waste of space disappear into the oblivion of nothing where it rightly belonged gave Twilight a small but filling feel of satisfaction. That’ll teach them to post on my story - wait...

As she scrolled down, she spied another comment from the same pony she had just deleted. Panic flooded her mind. Oh no! They saw that I deleted their comment and now they’re going to hate me forever! They’ll tell on me for being rude, and the Princess will intervene and I’ll get sent back to Magic Kindergarten!

With maddening intensity, she scrolled downward to the comment, silently flinching in preparation for the unceasing verbal beat-down she was undoubtedly about to receive.

Lulz it was funny but you’re grammer is kinda shitty :eEyup:

“What.” The word hardly came out as a question and more of an exasperated huff. Is this pony really so stupid he would post his comment twice?

“Apparently so,” she answered herself. Not bothering to delete this one, she scrolled up again to read the thumb bar. Mercifully, the red block of metaphorical hatred had receded slightly, now only dwarfing the green box by a fraction. Her view count had miraculously continued to inch upward, now resting at an abysmal 31 views.

Oh, this is going just terribly! Why doesn’t anypony like my story? I poured my heart and soul into it and what do these - these ignorant foals do? They stomp on it like a bunch of immature teenagers throwing tantrums! How dare they?

Angrily, the mare retraced her steps back to the homepage, eager to seek out those that wished to do her story harm and eradicate them with the utmost amount of violence-

Second to last.

Her story was second to last.

“No, this can’t be happening! It was just up there a minute ago!” She stared in disbelief, unable to comprehend how her masterpiece had so quickly moved from the crown jewel of the site to nothing more than a deposed rock.

She glanced at the clock for some confirmation, anything at all that she could grasp onto for support. The blank look of the quietly ticking analog face stared back at her plight apathetically. As she registered where the hour hand was, it finally dawned on her that what felt like a minute had somehow turned into an hour.

My story’s been up for a whole hour and it only has 31 views? The sad fact sunk in, filling her head with numbing dread like water filling a sinking ship. H-how is this possible? I spent so long working on it. Everypony was going to love my work!

“No.” She growled the word. “I can still make this work.” With a look of righteous determination on her face, she set her hooves loose on the keyboard, digging into the poor, defenceless keys with reckless abandon.

She tried every sneaky, underhanded trick into the book. She wrote several very personal messages to all four of her followers asked them politely to check out her new story. She spammed several very popular stories in the vain hope that sompony might take the time to read her masterpiece, she even went so low as to favorite her own story.

“I can save this yet! I just need to try harder...” her voice trailed off into indecipherable mumbling as she refreshed the main page, eager to see how all her tricks had worked. She scrolled down to the bottom of the page and-

It was gone.

Her story was gone.

Her mind shattered like a tiny mirror being dropped on cobblestone, the fragments showering around her and reflecting the light from the computer screen in a sickeningly nauseous display of color.

Her masterpiece, her work of art was gone from the front page, cast aside and forgotten like it had never even existed in the first place. Too eagerly was it replaced by another story, somepony else’s work of art, somepony else’s masterpiece. Her story was not unique. It was just filler, generic garbage that ponies would rather cast aside and forget than take the time to enjoy.

“Oh, what’s the use?” she managed to choke out in between sobs. “Nopony likes my writing. They don’t even care!” With a thump, her head dropped into her waiting hooves. “What’s the use of writing a story if nopony is willing to look at it? I might as well just give up.”

Little did the disparaging unicorn know that her sobs of despair had alerted a certain purple dragon upstairs. Having somewhat recovered from his impromptu flight earlier, he peered down the flight of stairs to see his adoptive sister sitting in front of the harshly glowing computer screen, sobbing into her hooves.

“Twilight... is everything okay?”

Giving her dragon assistant a hopeless look through her tear-streaked eyes, she replied, “No! Everything's not okay!” in a wail. “Nopony liked my story, and I’ll never good popular, and I’m a terrible pony!”

Spike had to rush down the stairs to catch her as she finally crumbled under the immense stress that were weighing her shoulders down like an anvil. “Twilight, what the hay are you talking about?”

A lavender hoof pointed at the screen, still stuck on the homepage of FiMFiction.net, blissfully unaware of the pain it was causing. “I-I posted my s-story,” Twilight stammered between wails, “a-and nopony read it, and then it got f-forgotten, and I don’t want to write fanfiction anymore!”

As she let more tears fall onto Spike’s scales, he began to rock her like a mother would a crying foal, despite the rather daunting size difference between the two. Sad to say, this was not the first time the dragon had to comfort his unicorn caretaker after one of her emotional breakdowns.

“Twilight, you need to stop worrying about what happens with these silly stories.”

Two massive, flooded orbs stared back at him. “But - but-”

He shushed her with a claw. “No buts. No matter how popular you may get with these stories, they’ll still be just that; stories. They don’t really matter. Don’t keep stressing yourself out over something so trivial and meaningless as... fanfiction.” He shuddered at the last word. “You shouldn’t let something that doesn’t matter dictate your life!”

Finally, she managed to stop crying long enough to sniffle away some of her tears. “R-really?”

“Yes! You could be doing something so much more productive with your time!” He made a sweeping motion with a stubby claw at the vast array of scientific equipment around them, eyeing the impressive array of machinery. “You can do amazing things that have nothing to do with writing stories! You could discover something new, or help out a pony in need, or just go out and enjoy the day with your friends.” He returned his gaze to the unicorn in his arms. “And I guarantee you that it’ll be a lot more fun than just sitting around here all day writing.

Maybe... maybe he’s right. It’s not like I’m getting anything out of writing this anyway. “Okay,” she finally relented, nodding her head slowing in the dragon’s tiny shoulder. “you have a point. I guess I did lose it a little with the whole ‘fanfiction’ thing.”

The stubby dragon once again pulled her in for a hug. “Don’t worry, Twi. No matter what happens, you’ll always be number one to me!”

Lifting her head, the two shared a tender smile before standing up off the dusty old floorboards beneath them. “Thanks Spike, for snapping me out of that.” Twilight ruffled his scales playfully, making both their smiles even bigger. I know now that-

Wait a minute...

The duo stopped in front of the stairs, the larger one falling ominously silent as the cogs in her head began to whir at lightning speed. “Twilight? Uh - hello? Equestria to Twilight?” Spike waved his claws in front of the mare to no avail. “This can’t be good-”

“That’s it!” The unicorn’s sudden outburst nearly toppled the startled dragon. As she rushed back to the computer, hooves frantically pounding the keys, Spike gave her a confused (and slightly irked) look of indignation.

“What now, Twilight?”

Without tearing her eyes from the feverishly glowing screen, she replied, “It’s so simple, why didn’t I just see it before?”

“See what before? Twilight, are you having another episode?”

Finally, she turned to face him. Her pupils were nothing more than shrunken dots, her irises contracted at odd sizes. She wore the disturbingly crazed smile of a deranged madpony. “I’ll just send my story to Equestria Daily! They’ll have to appreciate my genius there!”

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