Hello friends and readers. How’s your quarantine going? Mine has been complicated.
I’ve been thinking a lot about writing, erotica, social media, isolation, feedback, money, and most of all, validation. For me, writing erotica online started (more than twenty-five years ago!) as a way to communicate feelings and desires, publicly figure out my identity, and get some validation and attention both artistic and sexual. I’ve wrestled with each of those needs for a long time. Those things were further complicated about a decade ago when I started publishing stories for money, both traditionally and through self-publishing.
I’ve never made a lot of money with my writing, for many reasons. In the heyday of self-publishing erotica, right when 50 Shades of Grey came out, and Amazon wasn’t that interested in censoring work, I made enough to pay my whole rent with my royalties twice. Since then, it’s gone up and down, but I’ve never made more than one or two thousand dollars in any given year, and the last few years, it’s been far less.
So a while ago, I took money out of the equation. Promotion, cover design, keeping up with the various mechanisms of self-publishing hasn’t been worth it for me, and it has been more and more stressful over the years. I realized I would happily pay a few hundred dollars a year not to deal with any of it. So I stopped.
At the same time, I started writing a non-erotica novel (two novels?) in earnest. I had been working on the idea for many years, but things started to gel maybe two years ago, and it’s been a long and challenging journey. I’m learning how to write something other than erotica. I’m learning to write more seriously and more authentically, and it’s really fucking hard. Eventually I’m also going to want to get it published and that’s going to take up a lot of my brain and heart.
But, I still love writing smut. I like knowing people are reading my smut and getting off and feeling feelings and laughing and whatever. I like knowing I am affecting people with my work. I’m also pretty much always writing it, I just don’t know how to put work out there. It’s all tied up in my head with money and time and value and shame and weirdness.
So what should I do? Honestly, I’ve asked myself this question over and over through the years. I’ve deleted everything and took all my books off the sites, and that very much didn’t work. I tried to sell everything I could and bought ads and did promotion, and that very didn’t work at all. I got into a nice flow, and then Tumblr ruined everything.
So, where do I go from here? Well, I think I’m going to try and chill out. I’m going to try and look at this site more like, I don’t know, Instagram or something. I’m going to post little stories, fragments, things I’m not sure what to do with, old stuff, etc., while I work on my novel and some larger pieces. I’m going to try and think strategically as little as possible. I’m going to put things up that I want people to read and that I want to show off. I might pester people for feedback more and keep links up for tips because I’m now also funding a photography equipment fetish, and I have to pay for various site things and so on, and in the end, getting money for my work feels really good.
And… I’m going to keep examining my need for validation? I mean, I’m in therapy. I’m trying to figure out my brain. You know, trauma and stuff. It messes you up. I’m going to keep using erotica (and other genres) as a means to figure myself out. I’m going to use it as an artistic outlet. I’m going to use it to flirt with people. I don’t know, I’m just going to post more stories, is what I’m saying, and I’m going to stop trying to monetize it in any real way because the energy to money balance is pretty abysmal.
Does that make sense?