A new commissioned short piece is now out! It’s called First Impressions. It’s a brief lesbian story, and it’s a lot more *ahem* to-the-point than most of my stories are. If you’re fan of stroke stories, you might like it. If you prefer more buildup and dialogue, you may not like this story, and that’s okay – I’m me, so odds are a more dialogue-heavy piece is always going to be in the works.
I may have more words about the new piece at some point, but for now, I still want to talk about Mutual Benefits. I’ve also been writing some of chapter nine as well as this commission piece lately, and a lot of its themes are on my mind. I remember that when chapter 8 dropped, I got two comments really early on, both noting the building drama in the story – one read, “Ooh, I can feel the drama rising, I love this shit” or something like that, and the other going, “I liked this story because it was more tame and had less teenage drama than Being More Social. I hope you keep it that way.”
The sucky thing is, I can’t please both of these people. Not after leaning so heavily into the story as I did. I feel like if it were early on enough and all of the comments across the board called for less drama, I’d be a bit silly to not respect that. Granted, this is my story, I can write it how I wish, and all of that “I’m writing it for me” feelgood garbage, but, reality check (for myself more than anyone else), writers write for readers. I beat this drum a lot, but I’ll say it loud and clear:
Any writer that posts their writing online and yet claims “I’m doing this only for me” is lying. If they were only doing it for themselves, they wouldn’t have posted it online. They want the attention from posting it, but don’t want to react to others’ opinions. They basically want an army of yes-men praising their every move, without ever having to think critically about their work.
As you can probably tell, this is one of my stronger and less popular opinions. I mainly hate the dishonesty – saying “I’m doing this for me” as if it’s some noble self-love endeavor while also conveniently leaving out the part where they’re writing that exact statement for someone else to read. If you’ve ever spotted an author saying this, note that they’re never saying it in response to praise – there’s never a comment that says “Um, thanks for the kind words, but no need, I’m doing this for me” – it’s always in response to criticism.
I have no delusions (about this in particular). I write to please others. I want to give people joy with my characters, and the support and praise I get in return makes me feel good. But a big part of this contract is pleasing people, and… it never really gets easier, realizing that you can’t please everyone. It gets bitterly discouraging at times. I know that chapter nine is going to disappoint people. There’s going to be at least one reader who reads it, scoffs, and goes, “It started out so good, what a shame.”
That’s likely already happened for a past chapter of mine. I know that someone emailed me lamenting that my story was so good until the story had a trans character in it, but that person’s a transphobe. Boo hoo. That, I don’t care about. But when someone emails me saying, “Your first chapters were so good, but then you wrote X in chapter Y…” …it hurts.
Most of the time, it hurts because it’s like they’re peering into my soul. A lot of their criticisms, I entirely agree with. Yes, this scene was rushed, I just couldn’t think of a way to word it better. Yes, the sex in this chapter was out-of-nowhere and this scene was just shallow and this character is underdeveloped. And knowing that if I took my sweet time, someone else would be just as upset, just as disappointed in the story… it can make writing frustrating at times.
Never lose sight of your preferences, of course. If you don’t like drama or want more drama, either way, know what makes you interested in a story. Just know that a story may not go in the direction you were expecting, or even want. I hope that, either because of that fact or despite it, I can still make an entertaining story for you. I’ll talk to you all next week.