Metawriting: Straight Town Notes #3

I suppose now would be a good time to take a moment and survey where this story is, now that we’re a little over halfway through it. Pick out some things I’m not happy with, sort out some of the feelings I have about it, and talk a little bit about my writing process in general, since some people have been asking questions about it lately.

I write very fast, and I write a lot. I generally shoot for a minimum of 1000 words a day, on whatever project I might be focused on at the moment, which doesn’t count administration, editing, posting stuff on various platforms, etc. There are good things about this model–it means there’s a lot of content I can pull from, and it means that I’m able to put out stuff fairly consistently–but there are problems too. Nothing that I put out, really, is edited to the full extent that I would like it to be–what you are all reading, constantly, are some decently constructed first drafts of stories that could all be a whole lot better if I took the time to rework them–but reworking them takes extra time, and extra time is not a thing I have very often, and most readers don’t seem to mind that I sacrifice some quality for quantity, so I’ve made my peace with it. However, when I’m writing something of this size and of this emotional complexity, this is the moment when I start to wish I could go back and start it all over again, but do it better this time.

This isn’t to say I’m unhappy with the story as it is turning out–it’s going reasonably well, for something that is largely being drafted on the fly, which didn’t have an ending at all, when I started it. But as is always the case, the story I started out writing–that I imagined when I started chapter one–is not really at all the same story that I have now, after chapter six. Initially, I had the first four chapters planned out pretty well in my mind, with some vague gestures at some possible endings down the road. Steve and Kevin would arrive in town before they are split up and transformed. One chapter each to explore their new realities, and then they collide again in a jail cell. Beyond that, I just knew I would figure it out once I got there, and once I got to know these characters and the setting a bit better.

This story was always going to be a tragedy, of one sort or another. Most of my thinking, as I barrel towards the end here, has been focused on trying to sort out just how tragic of an ending I can handle here. The sheriff, in particular, as taken turns lately which I am still unsure of–turns in his character that I can’t quite tell are good for the story, or me caving because I want to cushion some of the stuff I had initially thought of, in the beginning. But this is part of the problem, really, with every story–there has to be a balance somewhere, and this balance is harder in erotica than a lot of other things, I think, because the audience comes with so many expectations–and I think it’s safe to say that this story is going to confound them more than people might readily enjoy, if they’re just popping in for a good wank.

But this story was never really about getting off. One of my favorite comments I’ve gotten thus far, under chapter four on GaySprialStories from an anonymous someone, was this one (comment is lightly edited for clarity):

“Damn, it’s not like I can wank to this because it fills [me] with confusion and emotions. And that isn’t really sexy – I think I’d need more ‘silliness’ to a story for it to be actually a wanking material, even though i am into [the] gay-to-straight theme. Maybe when they leave this town together, still being all no-homo etc., being all rough and manly, then yeah, I guess it’ll get me hard.”

There’s something about the expectations here–that erotica shouldn’t be confusing and emotional, that there has to be some ‘silliness’ that allows us to dissociate ourselves from it. That anything too real or complex is no longer enjoyable in the same way. I’m also chuckling at this comment for a different reason, but that will come clear later, as the story progresses. But comments like this make me second guess myself as well–is anyone really enjoying this? Do I even want people to enjoy it? Who am I even writing this story for, anyway, besides myself?

Every story in this genre has to find a balance between being a story, and being a fantasy. I think, when that commenter mentioned ‘silliness’, part of what that implies is a certain wink at the audience that says, “It’s ok, this isn’t real–you can jack off to this, you’re safe, it can’t hurt you.” But this story is about safety–and giving it that sort of tone, that nothing that happens inside this world is particularly serious, would sap the story of a whole lot of meaning, and also of the power I’m trying to pump into it. But another thing that seems to be frustrating people, is that the story is confounding. It isn’t moving in the direction people are expecting it to go, following the rails of comfortable tropes we all know, and some of us love. Pushing people out of their comfort zone can be good, but it can also be alienating. I don’t know where the right balance is, but like everything else, I’ll be muddling through it all the same–but this is why, I think, chapter six is a bit…well, disjointed. Like two slightly different stories were joined in the middle of the chapter, and the glue that holds them together isn’t quite fancy enough, or well enough applied, to disguise the joint.

It feels like I pulled a punch in chapter six. I looked at the story I had been thinking about writing, and I flinched–and I don’t know if it was the best choice yet. I can’t be more specific than that, since it hasn’t been fully released, and that would probably make some people annoyed, given spoilers and all. It changed the story I had in mind somewhat–not so much in the eventual outcome, but it its tone, I think. But there’s always a chance to do things differently, later. Already, there are lots of things I would have done differently with this story now, if I was going to rewrite it from the beginning. Chapters one through three would hit the cutting room floor first, and the story would start from a revised chapter four. But I don’t know when I will have the will to go back to this, when it’s over–I know I won’t be ready for a while, but I feel, at some point, I’ll have to come back to it–because the story isn’t really about, Kevin and Steve. They started it, sure, but, well, we’ll get there soon enough. In any case, thank you for your patience with this beast of a thing. I think it’s important that we sit with our discomfort on occasion, that we explore the more difficult things about the world we have to exist in. Things will be more fun soon, I promise.

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