I can sometimes be a sensitive person, and in particular, when things in my “real life” get hard, a lot of my walls come down. I just want to say upfront that this week’s topic is largely a complaint that likely doesn’t mean all that much to me when I’m doing okay, but weighs on me at this moment.
About a week after publishing a chapter or piece to this website, I’ll distribute that chapter to a few other free erotica websites. Today I did just that, and on one particular site, a comment came in pretty quickly thereafter, maybe an hour or two after posting. It said just this.
Get ready to wait a whole month for the next chapter everyone
Given my situation, this sentiment is common from commenters. I do take longer than people that either do erotica as their full-time job or have more free time on their hands; it’s a reality of what I do. However, this comment particularly angered me for a few reasons.
Reason number one was that it was the first response to my post. No mention of the quality of the work, the joy or agony of the characters, not even really a solid criticism of my work. It’s the equivalent of a shy kid finally leaving their room to hang out with the family during a family gathering, only to have the family members laugh and say, “Wow, look who’s out of their room? I wonder how long it’ll take you to disappear again.”
You know what that makes the kid want to do? Go back into their room and never come back out, that’s what. This was the most upset I had gotten at a comment in a long time, and to be frank, that was the closest I’d come to doing anything about a piece of criticism like that. In that moment, I had a strong urge to pull Mutual Benefits entirely from that website entirely and just keep it here and on the other websites. I don’t care too much for the entitled “I’m writing this FOR FREE” argument a lot of writers give, but… at a certain point the “you take too long” complaining just reeks of reader entitlement.
This feeds into the second reason this particularly irked me. I posted my last chapter to that website a little late, so in terms of that website in particular, there was a 13-day gap in between the two chapters posted. That’s literally less than half a month. To my own dismay, in that moment, I had a kind of moment of despair. A moment of, “It doesn’t matter how frequently I post chapters anymore. People will always be upset with me. It’ll always be ‘a whole month’ even if it’s less than two weeks. I’m never good enough.”
I love writing these stories, I love posting them for free so that even the poorest among us can enjoy stories, that’s what art should be. I even enjoy receiving feedback, like on my editing skills (which need work), on my pacing (which I think/hope has improved over the course of the story) and on anything that needs improvement. But, in this moment (and I have to stress, to my currently-already-upset brain) this is just entitled whining designed to deflate me, and it’s doing it’s job well. I feel zero motivation to write right now, because the only feedback I got from people not on this website have been, “wow, I’m so happy I’ll be waiting a whole month to get the next chapter out.”
I set time aside today after this blog post fully to dedicate to write chapter twenty. I have no idea if I’m going to do that now, because from searching for jobs and doing odd gigs to keep myself afloat, I’m emotionally barely holding on. My primary release of happiness is in writing. When that turns into a demanded obligation where I’m never good enough, that just feels like work. How many of you immediately hop on your computer and do overtime for your work as soon as you’re home because you love it so much? …Exactly, same thing here. I don’t want to see my erotica as me being chained down. I want to see it as me being set free. That will also be the best way to get me to write more frequently, in case you don’t care about these emotions of mine (fair enough) and just want me to hurry up.
Even if you want someone to change, constant negative reinforcement won’t work. Honestly, even someone commenting, “Wow, this came out earlier than usual! Thank you. I hope future chapters will be this fast too!” wouldn’t have bothered me nearly as much. It’s hope instead of entitlement. Still, in this moment, I wish that one reader no access to my stories. I wouldn’t want to enact that, but I did have that jamais vu of taking the story down. Clearly, entitled whining doesn’t even get them what they want. So what did they want? To complain? To rally people to berate me for being too slow to write? I’m not sure. It makes me sad, that much I know for sure.
These comments will always exist and I need a thicker skin about it. This blog post isn’t so much “never give me this criticism” as much as “these are my emotions right now.” Again, once I’m happier this will seem like I’ve been complaining about nothing. I also don’t want to make it out like if I don’t finish chapter twenty, this one commenter is to blame. My levels of stress and financial situation will have been to blame. Paradoxically, the best way to help myself in this world is to write more so that my Patreon support is more stable and believes in me more, so I honestly don’t quite know how best to manage myself.
But hey, I’m trying. That’s all we can ask of anyone, right? Anyway, if there’s anything to take away from this, myself included, I want it to be this: if you can help it, practice gratitude more than entitlement. It’s the same for me; I get support via Patreon and commissions, and I get your time. Just because I write for free doesn’t mean I deserve any of that. I have to care about you all too. And if anyone in your life is being kind to you but slips up or does it kind of poorly, still let them know they’re appreciated. If you’re reading this, odds are you’ve let me know I’m appreciated, since the comments on this website are sometimes more kind than I deserve. I do appreciate that. And for the record, I appreciate all of you too. I’ll talk to you all next week.