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The Strings that Control the System

It has been a very long time since I wrote anything here - more than a year.

So pardon my dust.

It is always weird coming back and looking at Livejournal - I was so active here, so very long ago now. In some ways, it doesn't seem all that long ago; in other ways, it was a very long time. I see all these names I recognize, and I was drawn back tonight because of someone's name that I did recognize... who was working on helping me edit a story.

For you see, I am fairly into the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fandom. That's right, I'm a brony.

And yet it is kind of funny, looking back at the long chain of events which lead me here. A very long chain indeed.

When I was young, I moved to Eugene, Oregon. I was always a smart kid, and I already knew how to read and write (and had for possibly several years even at that point). Now, Eugene is kind of an odd town, and it had some charter schools there, namely language immersion schools - schools where you spend half the day speaking (and learning) a second language. At the time, they had a Japanese, a Spanish, and a French immersion school. I was somewhat torn between the Japanese and French schools, but I believe I chose the French school because it was likely to be less disciplinarian and because some of my ancestors were French (as I have later learned, my ancestors were, in fact, amongst the very first settlers in New France).

Now, as you might imagine, going to a French Immersion Elementary School is incredibly nerdy, so the school was full of smart kids. I never had any conception that being smart was in any way bad, and of course we played all manner of nerdy games. The older brother of someone I knew played D&D after school, and I joined him a couple of times, which immediately hooked me. I had always enjoyed making up stories in my head, and playing made up stories was just too fun an idea.

I got the boxed set, then a 2nd edition Monster Manual, and, reading through it, noticed that there were lots of types of dragon - but no titanium dragon. This was wrong - titanium is the most awesome metal there is! I even know that as a little kid. So, naturally, I photocopied the blank monster manual page and made up a titanium dragon. I don't remember the details (other than that it was the best metallic dragon ever), but the name, for some reason, stuck with me - I had always enjoyed the symbology of dragons, and a titanium dragon was clearly the best kind of dragon, so I became the titanium dragon in my head, as a title of sorts - and later on, as an internet handle.

Many years later, circa early 2002, I created a free webpage on DigitalRice, back when having a free webpage was a thing. I suppose it still is, to some extent, but modern internet functionality has kind of supersceded such; I may someday soon have a webpage again, but it won't be free, and it won't much resemble what I had back then.

The webpage was called "The Titanium Dragon's Lair". For you see, even then, all that time ago, I was the Titanium Dragon. So, doing a vanity Google search on the first of May, 2002, I ended up finding Dracana's Lair, a website about being a dragon. "That's fascinating," my 17-year-old self thought, "someone who believes themselves to be a dragon must be interesting." And so I looked at her website, and found out about otherkin, and the Gryphon's Guild, and the people who believed themselves to be nonhuman. I hung out with these people for many years, though I have not spoken with most of them in many years at this point.
In that time, I learned about furries and the furry fandom. I didn't know much about them at first - indeed, at first I confused furries and otherkin, a mistake my present self finds amusing to this day - but I ended up browsing through various things, looking at art, and especially coming across various webcomics. I had always been a furry without realizing it, and thus having access to massive amounts of art and other interesting stuff was cool.

Over many years, I followed many webcomics. One webcomic leads to another, via ads on Project Wonderful, and on May 1st, 2010, I clicked on an ad featuring a cute cat and found a webcomic called Bittersweet Candy Bowl which featured anthropomorphic cats. I met some interesting folks there, and started hanging out with not only the creator of the comic but a number of other folks on IRC, Skype, and on their forums at the time. My many years of being a huge fan of roleplaying games ended up leading me to join into a game on their forum - a game called the Adventure Roleplaying Game, or ARG (very original title, to be sure). Everyone played a character in it who was based on a character from the comic, transposed into a fantasy setting, and the idea was that people would slowly die off at random over the course of the story - something which rather got derailed when too many roleplayers actually started roleplaying to a really ridiculous extent. People got invested, we ended up playing through the game, some folks did, in fact die, and we overcame the challenge... and had so much fun that we actually did it again, running another game with the same characters, set a year after the first game, on an entirely different continent. The original person running the game ended up having to drop out much of the way through, resulting in Bribri taking over said game and finishing it.

Who is Bribri? Well, I didn't know him very well at the time, byt he ended up started a community roleplaying game group set some twenty years after the original ARG. The idea behind the game was that everyone there worked for an adventurer's guild, and we would randomly get jobs and group up as a random group of characters to do quests, and the rest of the time sat around roleplaying. It was a great deal of fun, and I made many friends, but I particularly ended up bonding with Bribri and sort of becoming the second in command there. Bribri became my best friend, and we ended up participating in other roleplaying game activities together, and just generally hanging out, watching television shows and movies together, and generally having a grand old time.

Bribri, like anyone who read a cute comic about cats, enjoyed cute things, and when a show called My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic started to take off, he sent me (and some other folks) a whole folder full of pony reaction images, showing just how cute they were. I ended up starting to watch the show, and made it about ten episodes in before I gave up and turned away from it for a long time. This might have been the end of the story, save that a couple of years later, as season 3 of the show was wrapping up, Bribri started streaming the episodes again, in order… and I watched along with him, and ended up hooked, watching the whole series and then joining the fandom, primarily posting on the Ponychan imageboard. I visited TV Tropes as well, and from there, ended up coming across a few random pony fanfiction stories on FIMFiction.net, but was not really hooked until I read a trollfic there. Or, more specifically, a comment on the trollfic. The story wasn’t important; what was important was that the trolling comment indicated that the reader was not trolled enough by the story.

And I realized, at that point, that I was home.

And so I started hanging out on FIMFiction, creating an account there and reading stories I was curious about. I poked my nose into many disparate types of stories, and eventually fell to the dark side of fandom, reading one too many shipfics and deciding that I had to become involved in such. For those of you who don’t know, shipfics are stories about characters from the show being put in a relationship together in a work of fanfiction. I found out about a group called Intelligent Shipping Discussion, which existed because the ordinary Shipping forum was full of people making mindless comments and some of the more sophisticated writers wanted a place to talk which was more moderated for “intelligent” discussion about shipping. As you might guess from the statue icon and the renaissance painting used as a banner for the group, the group’s sophistication was somewhat kidding on the square – it was pretentious as heck, and everyone knew it, but it also really did exist for the purposes you would think such a group would exist for. And many good writers really did hang out there, and gave feedback on other people’s stories.

This eventually resulted in me writing fanfics – first shipfics, then regular old fanfics of every genre, leading to a massive and rapid improvement in my ability to write prose. Eventually I started hanging out with a lot of other good writers on the website, shipfic writers or no, and participated in random write-off competitions with them, wherein we wrote stories with only a very small window of time in which to write them. These stories were often less than perfectly polished, and after the competitions we would all work on polishing them, often with one anothers’ assistance.

All of this lead to tonight, when someone who offered to help edit my story turned out to be someone who not only knew Dracana, but who had written a website about dragon otherkin which very likely encouraged Dracana to profess their draconicity openly on the internet. Something they did in 1999 resulted in them editing my My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfiction about Celestia raising the Sun 15 years later.

Most of the time, we don’t really see the strings that control the system, but sometimes, if you pull long enough, and have a good enough memory, you can find that it leads back to someone you meet many years later. And it is funny how a few little events can result in you spending large amounts of time doing something you never would have expected you would spend time doing.

Every day, we influence people in ways, sometimes small ones, and sometimes profoundly. Sometimes, the little things we do can change the course of our lives, and we may not even be aware of all the ripples we have set off.

Comments

expandranon
Apr. 2nd, 2016 10:57 am (UTC)
Long time no see, and it's taken me quite awhile to stumble on this entry. It's good to see you're doing well out there. I'd kind of forgotten about you, but just spotted you on Reddit (assuming you're the TitaniumDragon there) and thought I'd drop by LJ and see if you've been active. I don't pop in here to LJ all that often, and I miss a lot in the "My Tweets..." spam that I haven't got around to doing anything about.

So what are you up to, of late? We haven't talked in many a long year.