I think my blog posts have been a tad unfair on the value of feedback in recent months. Even though I always have the caveat of being grateful and eager to hear feedback, I feel that my defensiveness and overthinking nature have undermined the sheer value that comments, including needlessly nitpicky or negative comments, can bring.
Literotica has a wonderfully opinionated community. Part of the reason why I feel Mutual Benefits will at some point disappoint virtually everyone is because of the comments I get on that website. Whatever you liked or disliked most about Mutual Benefits, someone on Literotica has openly disagreed with you. My comments there are a veritable battleground of opinions. Some people hated Taylor from the beginning. Some viewers are blown away that I took a great story between Taylor and Quinn and made it this dumb lovey-dovey story between Morgan and Quinn, and the only thing that can save the story is having Quinn eventually dump Morgan to keep having sex with Taylor. Some people hate Lexi, and some like her. A lot of commenters will usually have a comically pushy or even threatening tone to their comments, like, “If you’re a good writer, you’ll know I’m right and do the right thing in the next chapter.”
After reading comments like that, you have no idea how tempted I was to make Quinn spontaneously gay and introduce some boy love interest in the next chapter just to see what the heck people would say.
It’s handy to get a wide range of the different possibilities of what people think. Oftentimes, especially with more popular stories or different media like YouTube where the most liked comments float to the top, a lot of the top comments can look like echoes of each other. There are a few outliers but largely there’s a kind of consensus. But for a variety of reasons I get to see the entire breadth of my comments from start of finish, and it’s incredibly valuable. It lets me know not just the most common thoughts, but also the scope of them. If literally every comment was about how my readers were glad Taylor was dropped for Morgan, I’d almost feel weird keeping her around in the story, for example.
In this way, I’m incredibly glad that no character I’ve ever written was irredeemable. People have sympathized with May (from Being more Social), with Phil (same story), even with Randy (from And Ophelia Blinked)! I write highly intense emotions and highly specific people. Whether they’re written “well” is up to you and not me to decide, but in the meantime, you can’t dispute they’re written to be very specific. And specific begets specific. Having an audience, especially a vocal and unafraid community like that of Literotica (which does that with most stories, not just mine) helps to act as a finger on the pulse of my following where my opinion, no matter how niche, is left behind. And even if at their worst the comments temporarily discourage me, that kind of feedback is such a huge motivator for me to keep writing, and it’s important to show gratitude for that. I’ll talk to you all next week.