Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Horrible Torture of the Story Writer

I am now infamous.

As many of my fans might be aware, I've been active on the BDSM Library website for almost a decade. My first story, "The Chapel In The Woods" was posted there in 2003. One of the reasons I have liked the BDSM Library is that it has a rating and response system that I have found valuable over the years. Most of the commentary on my work was worthless, but occasionally I received critical feedback that benefited my writing. I also occasionally got comments that suggested I stop. Obviously, I have ignored those. As part of the community of authors at the BDSM Library, whenever I read a new piece of erotic fiction, I take time out of my life to write a review. I try to alternate criticism with compliment, making sure to focus on both the positive and the negative. No doubt I've hurt some feelings, but reviewing is not just about patting someone on the back, but providing the information needed for them to become a better writer.

Recently, a new story was posted on the BDSM Library. I almost missed it in fact. It is entitled "The Horrible Torture of the Story Writer" by Bitter Betty and basically is a simple narrative of a woman who writes her "erotic masterpiece", submits it to the Library, receives no congratulations, and then only two reviews which skewer her submission and self worth. I review under the name "Michael247" and my "screen name" is listed at the end of her story along with a slew of other prolific reviewers.

As she read the biting words of criticism she could not really at first believe them. The words struck her with the impact of a branding iron.“Why would they say that,? “Why???” And thus ended the short career of the woman with a dream to share her stories on the website she so once enjoyed. The entire experience served only to bring her discomfort and pain. It was a torture greater than any she could have previously conceived.

I leave this website so you can enjoy all the great work of, Dryhill, Michael247, wistan, tjlewis132, JimmyJump, Major Littman, Azrig17, Snark and all the other story reviewers. May they continue to entertain you.

Many of my fellow reviewers had their own responses encouraging her to come back and try again. My response however, was more... intense:

Ah, hell hath no furry like a woman scorned. How have I wronged thee dear lady? Were my words harsh upon thine ears? Wouldst thou have me lie? Of what value wouldst my opinion be should I hearken to those who find value in mediocrity and cast thine standards to thy winds?

My name is Michael Alexander and I am no mere critic, but an author myself. I know what it is like to have your worked chopped to bits, to have it examined, pulled apart, insulted, and even condemned. And while my work today is usually given high marks, it has not always been so. I did what every true artist does: pick myself up, learned what I could from those who destroyed my work, and started again.

Writing is an art form, and one of the most difficult. I have reams of hand written doggerel I wouldn't show anyone else for the life of me. When I started, I wrote for myself. Now I have a paying audience who ten years ago wouldn't have bought a single paper from me.

For the life of me, I can't tell why you penned "The Horrible Torture of the Story Writer". Was it to castigate the readers for not leaving messages of congratulations, of orgasmic completion, of sexual oneness? Was it to tell the few individuals who frequently review, providing feedback and (what I hope) is helpful critique, that you did not appreciate their candor? Or were you merely blowing off steam because you're hurt?

I've noticed that some of my fellow reviewers have taken a single road in response to your chastisement. All have encouraged you to continue writing. I will not do so. Writing is a natural imperative and either you will continue writing because you must or you will abandon it. In either case, I care not.

I feel your pain. I can empathize. But if you can't stand the heat, get out of the water.

Yours Faithfully,
Michael Alexander
( (10/10)

Some might think me harsh. Some might think me callous. But Frank Black once said "But the truth is that critics are by definition critical. That's their job."

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