I’m not fishing for compliments, I’m not being humble, and I’m not trying to make myself look good here – I genuinely thought Mutual Benefits was bad and no one was going to like it. I figured this would be a possibly year-long affair of me writing a book that no one liked, and my 3 or 4 patrons left would be begging me to finish it so I could write something good for a change.
I had reasons for this – the first chapter had very little sexual activity and it was all in a dream, and the main character was a self-doubting unpopular non-white character that didn’t have a clear redemption arc in the first chapter. Trust me, a lot of online sex websites in the past hated every aspect I just described. Either I have a more cynical view of sex story websites than deserved, or things have changed in the ten-ish years since I made up my mind on sex story sites, because Mutual Benefits seems to be almost as enjoyed as my first series, Being More Social.
I don’t think any story will reach BMS though, given I still get emails about that story and about Nicole every so often. I have said that in the future, I would return to the BMS storyline, so it and Mutual Benefits now have something in common – I have the potential to absolutely screw it up.
Every time I release a new chapter of Mutual Benefits into the ether, I get nervous and giddy, and not the fun kind of giddy. I wonder if this is going to be the time where I receive an email or something that says, “hey, so I loved your last few chapters, but frankly, I didn’t like this one at all.” I think that actually happened with Being More Social at one point, with one reader either really disliking chapter 14 or 15. I can’t remember which one. When I released chapter five of Mutual Benefits, every time I opened an email and got a compliment, like, “thanks for making the story deal with teenagers without being condescending,” my first thought is always, “Well fuck, now I need to make sure my next chapter isn’t condescending, or that reader will really hate it.”
I realize I should have an attitude of, “I’m writing this for me so I’m just gonna do my thing and if readers don’t like it, they can move on.” For the life of me, I can’t. I’m not going to lie, of course I write for the readers and not me. If I cared only about myself when writing these, I wouldn’t read a single email and I would charge for every single story I wrote. That comes with gratitude for my viewerbase that I think a weirdly high number of online erotica writers don’t have, but it also comes with a lot of paranoia and overthinking. I’m still scared of the inevitable screwup where I write a noticeably bad chapter, or worse, making an irreversible decision in my story that everyone is going to hate and it’s going to change how everyone views the story.
Honestly, I’m expecting that to happen with Being More Social’s sequel. At this point I know how the majority of the story will play out. I’m aware that a lot of readers will want more of the same of what Being More Social was, but it’s not going to be that. IT’s going to be a completely different story. The Adam of that point forward is going to have all of the experiences of the Adam of Being More Social behind him. He’s going to be a different person than he was at the start of BMS. I know that sounds like the most obvious thing to say in the world, but I would bet money that readers will be seriously upset with me, if not by the first few chapters, definitely by the end. It won’t be the same story with the same themes, morals, and characters. Being More Social was already that.
But, if people hate BMS’ sequel, I get to tell them, “Well, you still have Being More Social. Go read that. I haven’t taken it away from you. Pretend the sequel doesn’t exist.” Mutual Benefits is going to have changes. Some people are not going to like them. What am I going to tell those people? “You still have chapters 1-5, go read those and pretend it ends there”? Seems weak. So, as nervous as I am of The Screwup, I suppose not risking a screwup of a chapter would make the story bland, weak, and overall worse than if I hadn’t risked a screwup in the first place.
At the end of the day, I do want you all to enjoy my stories, but I also want to tell those stories faithfully to how I know they’ll play out. Writing what I think the majority would like instead of what I know “happened” seems dishonest, and would have meant a lot of the moments you potentially really liked never happened. So, I’ll keep on with what I got. I’ll talk to you all next week.