I'm a conformist by nature. Most of us are. It's safer to conform, to follow the crowd, not stand out, not be noticed for good or bad. In my vanilla life, I'm a very conciliatory person. I want peace and harmony. I don't want raised voices or disagreements. I'm pretty much the same way in my dark chocolate world, too.
That being said, I'm making decisions nearly every day about what my purpose is here on my website, on Twitter, on Facebook, on all of it. The moment I stopped writing "just for me" and began to write for my readers as well, I had decisions to make.
In my vanilla life, I work in communications, marketing, and public relations. Over the past several years, I've formed fairly strong opinions about what works and what doesn't, regardless of the specific industry. One hard fast rule in the world of marketing, especially online marketing, is authenticity. A company, or a person, has to be real in order to gain and keep an audience.
I started this blog by writing about my sexual thoughts and my inability to orgasm. As many of you have seen, I've grown and developed on a personal level since the beginning. I look back over the past year, and I'm light years away from when I first started. And yet, at the same time, I'm still me.
I believe, professionally, in something called content marketing. That's a very fancy term for "blogging." When I decided to make a small business out of my writing, I looked at it as professionally as I could - which isn't easy when the writing is your own personal thoughts, feelings, and sometimes pieces of your own soul. I forgot myself for the first few weeks, concentrating only on book sales. Be shocked, the world did not flock to buy my little piece of BDSM erotica. I realized, very quickly, that I wasn't being authentic - I was simply trying to sell to people who had no reason to care about me or my writing.
I quickly switched gears. I went back to what mattered - writing good blog posts that had meaning for me, and hopefully resonated with readers. I went back on Twitter with the purpose of connecting with like-minded people. I've followed fellow writers. I've followed fellow kinksters. Hell, I've happily followed smart-asses because their tweets made me laugh. I've tweeted things that matter to me, knowing that somewhere, someone will laugh or smirk or whatever right along with me. I'm purposely trying to build a community of people that I have something in common with - not to sell them something. I want to create connections, real connections, with the world around me.
Every blog we write is content that we're adding to the internet for someone to potentially find and hopefully connect with us. There's a great responsibility in that. Nate has this amazing idea about communities. I agree with him in theory - the real discussion lies in the nitty-gritty details. With every post I write, whether it's my own masturbatory experiences, sexually explicit scenes that live in my head, or just my thoughts on Dominance and submission, sex in general, or whatever, I'm adding to the plethora of words out there in the world.
I take pride in what I do, and I take pride in how I do it. Others write and blog, tweet and market better than I do, and I'm okay with that. I have a lot to learn. But at the end of the day, I have to be true to myself as well.
What brought all of this on? For the first time since I began writing, a near-stranger took me to task for being "too explicit" in a tweet request I made as part of an author's group I belong to. I give her credit - she approached me privately, and we were both very polite to one another. I calmly explained that I am "explicit" because I would rather have people know exactly what kind of link they're clicking on than to be fooled by what I'm offering and become upset when in the first three sentences someone has cum, someone has a cunt, and someone is getting finger-fucked. (Think about the shock to someone's system if they weren't prepared for that!)
She was polite, and I think I was too, but I would be lying if I didn't tell you I was angry when I read the message. Apparently, I'm the first member of this particular group to be so explicit. And my explicitness was causing her to leave the group. Actually, her own choices are causing her to leave the group. I take responsibility for my actions - not other people's actions.
I thought about other writers I know that are a part of the group, who write sexual material as well, some more explicit than my own. I almost never see a tweet request. I wondered if they simply didn't join the team because they knew these objections were out there, or if they'd received the same comments.
My first thought was to take my toys and leave the sandbox. My second thought was, "Oh hell no!" I have just as much right to participate as the next person, as long as I follow the rules. I thought about ways that I could tone down my messages, and it all felt false. Think about it - would you really classify me as "romance" or simply "sexually explicit?" I have a certain (and not unexpected) sensitivity to criticism about the BDSM world - shouldn't I warn people that they're about to read BDSM? If the title of my post contains the word "masturbation," shouldn't I tell you up front and not let it be an unpleasant surprise? Of course, I want my writing to be a pleasant surprise for everyone, but I'm not a complete Polly Anna - I know what kind of world we live in.
I believe in my heart that I know what's true and right for me. I absolutely respect that others will disagree or feel uncomfortable with my explicitness. I will NOT falsely advertise to total strangers. And I am purposely trying to build a community of people who, while they might not be in to my brand of kink, at least have a curiosity about what I may have to say. The bonus is when they learn something from me, and I learn from them. And the extra-special bonus is when I turn my readers on with my words.
What I'm being reminded of is that the moment I took myself out of my safe, cocoon of a blog that was just for me and the people who willingly follow me and read my posts, I opened myself up to criticism. I'm not so arrogant that I can't and won't take constructive criticism and try to improve myself. At the end of the day, though, I have to be true to myself.
I make no apologies for being a sexually explicit, sexually submissive writer who adores writing BDSM-themed erotica - both fiction and non-fiction. Regardless of the people who don't understand what I write or find it distasteful, I will not run and hide in an effort to make sure no one is uncomfortable. Frankly, I hope my readers are uncomfortable - in the best possible way. If you aren't squirming in your chair because my words had a physical or mental effect on you, then I'm doing something wrong.