You are a fine student, but there
is a bitterness in your heart.
(Looking at the moon)
I’ve seen it before and failed…
Sharif is the Poetry Editor for the Southern California Review and a Masters of Professional Writing candidate at USC. He became aware of the reboot of My Little Pony while working on a fiction piece called “Unicorn Hunting” (still unfinished) in 2011. Because of this story, his roommate showed him the pony memes. He used...
Everfree was such an amazing weekend. I’m so glad that so many people came to my panels. The turn out was amazing and I loved everyone’s questions at the end. You guys have made me feel so loved!
Also, yes, I have gotten your e-mails…probably. I’m a little surprised how many of you had questions and wonderful things to tell me.
I am worst pony. I’m swamped trying to pitch a TV show. The first pitch meeting is tomorrow at 10AM. I’ve had to spend the past several weeks putting my materials together and writing and rewriting a lot of small details.
I’m so touched that some of you have e-mailed me. I swear I want to be able to sit down and write a thoughtful response back. No, I don’t hate you. No, nobody said anything stupid or did anything wrong. I’m just at a critical point of my life and career. All of you were super cool and awesome. I’ll get back to you soon!
-Iambic HexameterRead More
The definitions I’m using in this post are from the book “In Sheep’s Clothing” by Dr. George Simon, a psychology book that is sometimes dismissed as being more of a self-help book in that the definitions used have not been accepted into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), and it’s designed for people to help themselves regain control while within an abusive relationship. While terms used here are similar to those in the DSM, the definitions and criteria for diagnosis may be different. Do what you will with using this in your daily relationships, but in terms of writing, this is a good framework.Read More
Depression is hard, but I’ve always bounced back, but this time I’m not. And I think the problem is in an odd spot. I don’t think I believe in God anymore… So that’s a thing. I don’t really think it’s much of an issue to go from religious to agnostic. You can believe that God is in Heaven, and all is right with the world regardless of if you’re gay or eat shellfish. If the religion is ignorant, contradictory, or hates you, then you’re just like “Yeah, I don’t believe in that part.” In fact, being agnostic can be quite freeing. Though when you’re raised with a religion, it’s hard to fully escape. I often just felt like a shitty Muslim that God hated.
I’ve been transitioning into straight up atheism, and this is a problem for me. There is no God. You have no consequence. There’s no magic in the world. I think the last one has been the hardest for me to accept.Read More
I parted ways with a friend awhile back. I was her friend because I was drawn by her clear talent. Sometimes I check in on her work. I’m surprised to go “Wow, with all of your talent this is all you could do?”Read More
Update: I now have two panels at BABS Con! The kind people at Bronyville Live (Bronyshow.com) had perhaps one too many panels. When they heard that I was wanting for a panel, they gave me one of theirs. Because of my expertise in writing, they thought it was best if I did a live interview of G.M. Berrow, the author of the My Little Pony novels, on their behalf. This will be Friday, at 4:30 in the Hall of Magic.
In the mean time Karen Padilla, (former?) head of Equestria LA, saw what happened with my panel on Twitter or Facebook or something and advocated for my behalf.
Olivia Daniels from BABS Con contacted me. She was not too thrilled with my “nasty” criticisms, but graciously decided to find a space for the Writing Is Magic Panel on Sunday at 11:15.
I have a lot of prep work to do after all these people advocated for my behalf and juggled things around. I can’t let anyone down.
Last fall I gave a pony celebrity a ride from the airport. They encouraged me to send info about my panel to different conventions and see which ones were interested. BABS Con sounded like a perfect chance to improve my presentation and get a new recording of it*.
On New Years Day I got a message saying that my panel was approved for BABS Con. While a lot of my friends had very shitty starts of the year, I felt guilty since this seemed to be a very promising year for me. Spoiler Alert: It’s not.
The theme of this year has been opportunities shutting in my face right before I can get them. Everything going horribly wrong after it’s too late to do anything about it. Last night I learned that despite several rounds of copy editing, the Southern California Review made a few small, simple but disastrous mistakes.
Along with this theme I got this e-mail today:
Dear Potential panelists for the BABSCon 2014 Season. I regret to inform you that due to limited space at our hotel we had to cut a panel room and thus, had to reduce the amount of panels we were able to schedule.Since this was by no means your fault, BABSCon is proud to still offer you a free three day pass to the Con for the Main Panelist.
…Warmest Regards,Olivia “Obsidian Winter” DanielsVice Chair\Head of EventsBABSCon 2014
After making a $400 investment for air travel and hotel stay, I am glad that I will see no return on investment. You have made a commitment to me long before you had made a commitment to many of the other announced panelists from the fan community. You made me confirm that I would definitely do the panel so that way it would be of no inconvenience to you. It’s dishonorable that you would break a Pinkie Promise after I’ve paid out of my own pocket to do this panel. Your mismanagement and disorganization has cost me $400 I wouldn’t have spent otherwise.
I know that you’re trying to provide the best convention experience by packing it with the most horse famous people. Some of your panelists were at Equestria LA, and I assure you that my panel filled more of the room and received greater praise than many of the “celebrities.” This is because my panel actually offered bronies a chance to do something for themselves. The appeal of celebrity is “How do I be like ______?” Except this panel actually has instructions.A con isn’t just about celebrity. Even Comic Con has panels like mine which teach story telling craft. It’s an essential thing for a creative fandom to have professional level skills applied to their fan art. It’s what drives a community like the brony community. It’s what gives the fan celebrities their fame. If anything it’s something that could be life changing to the attendees.I hope all your panels are packed and the fan celebrities do more than just talk about themselves. I know it’s too late to reprint your materials, and I know some fan celebrities on your list don’t do conventions unless they have their travel and hotel comped. I understand that you’re not going to cancel the people whom you’ve made the most investment into. But it seems disgraceful to cancel the panelists who have made the most personal investment into BABS Con. Simply giving free admission that the panelist was already going to receive seems like little compensation considering they’re losing the opportunity to present. From my point of view yesterday I had something and through no fault of my own I now have less.I’m not saying to comp my hotel and air tickets (though that would be nice). But you do have show celebrities and are probably charging for autographs or one on one time. There’s a way to better compensate us so that we can still enjoy the con without you taking any hard costs. Because for me $400 is actually a life changing amount of money. I paid it to have a recorded panel in a large professional venue that could help my career.Thank You For Your Time,
Southern California Review
*My Equestria LA video being trapped in the collapse of the Brony Clubhouse and while I own my presentation, I do not own the recording of it. Also there seems to be a problem with the person who actually owns the video not being the person who legally owns the video and the two of them not agreeing. So 1, 2, and…poof. It’s gone.Read More
I’m not afraid of the white space. I’m not afraid of the blank space. I’m not afraid of the blank page. That’s what other writers do. I’m not doing that. That is not what I am doing. That is not what’s going on here. I’m not afraid. I’m not worried or concerned or anything else. There’s anxiety, but I’ll be damned if that’s the fault of the white page. I defeat the blank page. I dalmatian poka-dot the shit out of the white page. Final Draft and Microsoft Word cower in a combination of awe and fear when I write. I’m not worried. Lesser writers w-worry, because they don’t know what to do. They n-never learned what to do. They treated workshops as a means of fixing a particular piece of writing instead of learning an aesthetic with which to write. They play a short game. They’re like Le Mons drivers who do the quick fix. Fixes “just for this race” and keep doing it until their entire racer is a piece of shit. My aesthetic is strong. It isn’t perfect but every part and every repair has been evaluated and reevaluated. The journey’s been hard and has had no shortage of haters. But I’m on my way. I’m not a-afraid. I don’t see the road ahead of me. It’s been so far so good. I’m still on the road, but that doesn’t mean that at the very end I won’t crash. This is the start of the end. I’ve made it this far. I don’t remember if I was competing with anyone, but I don’t see them in my rear view mirror. It’s just me now. The typing of my keys makes an engine noise, but a sputtering engine. A blown engine. I might not have what it takes to make it across the finish line. I might be told that I’m not good enough. That I need to be better. That I’m not what they’re looking for. I can live with myself if that happens, because I can become better. Because I have heart and vision and knowledge. For a writer that’s a hell of a lot.
But if I don’t try. If I let this anxiety get me, and I give up. Then I’ll know that I’ll never be a writer who can cross that finish line. I might miss the deadline. I might do poorly. But if I don’t try, then that means I’m not the person I want to be. Maybe I don’t have heart. Maybe I don’t rip apart the blank page with typography. Maybe I’m just stubborn and misguided in a foolish dream that has cost me any chance of living a happy life.Read More
I had a friend at UC Irvine who constantly talked about “The Writer.” The idea of “The Writer,” as I understand it, is a creation of movies and the media. It’s a cultural stereotype of what writers are, and aspiring writers tend to take this and romanticize it. This makes sense; if one wants to be a writer, they might try to adopt the traits of a writer.
But many of these traits are not even related to writing. Sometimes it feels like bad marketing in practice. Going “Real writers like wine. So if I want to be a writer, I should drink wine” feels very similar to “LeBron James drinks Sprite. So if I want to be a basketball player, I should drink Sprite.”
Some of these aspiration fantasies are downright destructive if emulated: aggrandizing dysfunctional relationships, symptoms of mental illness, and substance abuse.
I don’t know why my friend was so obsessed with conforming to this stereotype. It might have been because he transferred to being an English major from something completely different and did so late in his academic career. I don’t know if he became infatuated with “the writer” because he was insecure around all these more knowledgeable English majors or if it was his infatuation with the writer image that made him transfer to begin with.
Now my friend is by no means alone. I’ve been to three schools now with three very different writing communities, but all of them had this same common feature. There were students who had a view of “the writer” ethos. I see this either used as a goal, “I need to start doing drugs to become a great writer” (Do not do this). Or it’s used to justify a present lifestyle “I do so many drugs, because that’s what writers do.”
Now I’ve been friends with many writers throughout their entire careers as they’ve unfolded thus far. They’ve changed their mind about certain things after gaining new experiences about the literary world. The friend from UC Irvine went on to work at an agency. Before this job he used to be someone who cared about quality and personal truth. Then he redefined what “the writer” does. According to a phone call I had with him, he said “the writer” keeps track of market trends and writes what is needed.
I don’t think most writers whose name you actually know have ever done that. It’s usually the insecure bottom feeder authors with no vision who do this. But this tells something about the nature of worshiping the image of “the writer.” We make the “the writer” in our image to reaffirm our identity, but also to put ourselves in a status above others who do not fall into our arbitrary categories.
The problem is everyone actually is a scholar of literature to some degree. Everyone enjoys some media of storytelling and poetry somewhere in their lives, whether it is advertisements, conversations, TV, movies, blogs, books… But when everyone is a scholar to some extent, a writer might feel that they have to do much more to separate themselves from the rest of the world, make themselves stand out and be special.
I try to avoid generalizations about what “the writer” does. It is damaging to the art form. We get all these wonderful and diverse people from all walks of life coming in to give their experiences of the world, but what do we do? We encourage them to conform to a hipster douche bag who drink a certain type of liquor and has terrible relationships. If someone is suggesting you’re less of an artist for being who you are, that person knows nothing about art or sex they couldn’t read in any trendy, New York, underground, fashion magazine.
I’ll admit I stole that last line from Say Anything (the band not the movie).
While I don’t believe that there’s a particular way that writers must be, I think there are definitely attitudes and behaviors that, if adopted, would greatly benefit a writer. Some of them are as follows: be eager to learn, accept criticism, learn to get the message despite the messenger, learn other people’s perspectives (including people you hate and who have wronged you), be open to new and different strategies, be open to the idea that even though you think you do these things that you might not actually do them as well as you think…
I have received criticism for this blog saying that it wasn’t very literary because of the ponies.
These people are well-meaning. They’re trying to look out for my career, but I feel like they don’t quite understand why or how I write. I don’t want to put a fake smile on and try to write about writing in a very general sense, blindly reposting writer porn, challenging nobody, making no original thoughts, and any angst or pain should be packaged and exploited for the sake of “seeming real.”
If other people think that acting out a crafted character and pretending you are this person on the internet (Wow, I never realized how much writers have in common with furries), then more power to you. I do not believe this is a behavior that should generate a real fandom nor should it generate respect among your peers. But it is what everyone is told to do in writing school, so I assume it is safe.
I’m taking a different road. I do not see writing a fake blog where I pretend to be a version of myself who is more like “the writer” and less in love with My Little Pony as a proper use of my talents or my time. I will stand out by being myself. Let’s see how that turns out.Read More