You all know the deal. I’m going to be talking a lot about the contents of Mutual Benefits Chapter 11 a lot in this blog post. If you want to read it spoiler-free, go read the chapter first. It’s a lot of fun, I enjoyed writing it.
First of all, sorry for the lack of a blog post last week. A lot of stresses mounted up all at once and I couldn’t afford to spare the mental energy to write a blog. Plus, a blog in that state would have just been “I’m stressed, woe is me” and that’s not fun to write. Is a pity party fun to read? Yeah, exactly. I did promise a chapter per month and I haven’t missed one yet this month so I was determined to finish and edit the chapter within the month. I even sacrificed my Halloween to do it in time. You’re welcome.
I say that, but if I had more time on me and I wrote faster, I wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place, so I reap what I sow.
When you get into the business of writing sex stories, you start to explore a lot of ways for sex to arise. The trouble with not making chapters and chapters of backstory is that you’re, pretty consistently, writing characters that clearly don’t have too many hesitancies about jumping into a sexual relationship. This is not a problem… for a lot of people.
While editing Being More Social, I noticed a comment from a reader on a posted chapter of Being More Social from a third-party website. The comment largely says they enjoyed the story on a whole, but the ending, specifically the fact that “Adam allowed Nicole to sleep with other people,” ruined the whole story for them. Ruined. The entire story? Moot. Worthless now. We tried, but we failed. Etc.
Critiques about my writing don’t bother me that much anymore – most of the time they only give me valuable insight into what could have been and perhaps should have been, plus, you can’t please everyone – but this was clearly not a critique of my writing. Not really. This person took issue with the fact that my male protagonist “””allowed””” his significant other, the one who stated her boundaries upfront, to feel comfortable in her own relationship. Their issue wasn’t with my writing, it was with the mere idea that the woman who was uncomfortable in monogamous relationships got what she wanted. This is the same story where the man in this relationship has penetrative sex with three different women, and with all three, there is at one time some element of cheating going on. Not even consensual polyamory; cheating. And yet, weirdly, that aspect never seemed to bother this commenter at all, let alone ruining the story for them.
I’ll level with this commenter – if such an ending bothered you, I’m glad. Look inside yourself and see the hypocrisy.
This obsession of possession and ownership in relationships is already grossly present in our day-to-day culture, and I kind of thought erotica would be a form of escapism in that way, but I see way too much disapproval of women in particular owning their sexuality whenever that’s present in these stories. Certain people don’t really care if a story is practically built around the idea that Nicole is uncomfortable with monogamy; they don’t even notice it. To them, the “good ending” is the one where Adam claims her as her own, regardless of her wishes. Unless I’m presented with evidence proving me wrong, that’s just… that’s just sexist, isn’t it? Especially in a story where the guy gets to fuck as many women as he wants. Who knows, maybe this commenter also wanted to see Adam settle down and be monogamous too, but… call me cynical, but I doubt it.
Monogamy dominates erotica as it does relationships. Quinn demonstrates how he feels about multiple sex partners in this chapter more than ever. In Being More Social, I wanted to challenge the habitually monogamous to live in another world and see things from the perspective of another. Some people, like that commenter, utterly failed. In Mutual Benefits, at least in this chapter, I’m attempting the opposite. A shy nerd gets every high school kid’s dream – he gets to fuck multiple girls, popular girls, the hottest girls in school! And both of them are okay with it! What guy could turn down this dream opportunity?!
And yet… Quinn does. Why? He doesn’t need a reason, or at least, he doesn’t need a reason he can articulate to others. He knows it makes him uncomfortable. That’s good enough for him, and that’s good enough for the people that surround him. Ideally, that should be good enough for the reader, too. My stories love turning tropes of erotica on their head – Being More Social takes clichés and tropes and plays them out a little more realistically, and The Good, The Bad and the Molly takes a hot blurred-lines scenario and pulls back the curtain to reveal the worst possible outcome. I didn’t know where Mutual Benefits was going myself, but now I see the trope it’s decided to subvert is the idea of the dream opportunity. What do you do if you get that opportunity but realize you don’t want it?
So many people would kill to be in Quinn’s shoes, even popular kids. Does that mean he needs to take that opportunity? No, it doesn’t. All of us (hopefully all of us) know that. It’s not always the more the merrier. It’s not always about fucking more people, and on the other side of the coin, it’s not always about settling down with The One. Sometimes it can be about either – maybe some people want more than one sexual partner. Maybe some people want The One. But if you think a character is subject to your own personal morals, and if they fail to uphold them the story is “ruined,” especially if your morals seem, frankly, sexist, then you’re only punishing yourself.
If you’re only reading stories to confirm your own worldview for yourself, that makes me sad. That sounds like the least exciting reason one could have for wanting to read stories. I can’t imagine you have much fun reading.
What a downer. On the flipside, if you find yourself going, “oh, interesting!” to anything in a story, I hope you enjoy them. I hope that the twists and turns I make in this story not only challenge readers, but please and delight them as well. I love the comments that tell me, “I used to hate Morgan but now I like her.” I love seeing the journey readers go on, and I love seeing people’s opinions change in real time as the words do. It’s lovely to see, and it makes me feel like the luckiest person in the world for getting to write for you all. Thank you. I hope you all had a happy Halloween. I’ll talk to you all next week.