Early Bird Sneak Peek: “Call the Police”!

January 20, 2021

Hi all! It’s time for another Early Bird Sneak Peek, where I share a glimpse at the story my lucky Early Bird patrons will be enjoying next Saturday thanks to their pledges at my Patreon page! Of course, if you’re not an Early Bird patron, you’ll still get a story next week–“Never Have I Ever”, teased previously, has already been submitted to the EMCSA. But the Early Bird patrons will be getting “Call the Police” (MC FF)!

You know all those stories where some sinister mind controller is manipulating people into doing something against their will, and their friends insist on confronting them instead of doing something sensible like going to the cops? Yeah. This is why they don’t do that. Here’s a taste:

Madeline slid her phone across the coffee table to where Shaylene was sitting, her elegantly manicured red fingernails pressing lightly against the glass surface to prevent even the tips of her pale fingers from activating the touch screen. “Please, go right ahead,” she said, her voice as smooth and perfect as her carefully made up face. “You can use my phone if you want. Tell them that your best friend has been brainwashed by a sinister hypnotist into becoming a lesbian sex slave, and that you need to rescue her from Madame Josephine’s evil clutches. Tell them and see what they–“

Shaylene scooped up the phone and stabbed out a single mahogany brown finger at the ‘Call’ icon, then went to the keypad and pressed 9-1-1. She put the phone to her ear and as soon as the operator answered, she said, “Hello, my name is Shaylene Wilsburg and I’m currently at 400 West Peachtree Street NW, Unit…” She paused, struggling to remember the number on the door of the ritzy condominium she followed Tia up to. “Unit 499B. My friend is here and she seems really out of it, like I think she might have been drugged or something, and the woman who owns the place won’t let her leave. Can you send an officer to help her get home?”

Hope you enjoy it!

Missing Charmed 2021

January 18, 2021

(This post has been brought to you by the efforts of my 162 fantastic and brilliant Patrons! Visit my Patreon page to learn how to become one of them.)

For those of you paying attention to my yearly schedule, this last weekend would have been the usual trip out to Maryland for Charmed 2021… but of course, nothing’s been “usual” about the last twelve months. It’s kind of funny – I almost wasn’t sure I could go to Charmed 2020, because it fell just days after starting a new job that I thought was going to bring stability to my life after six months or so of uncertainty about my employment. But while I’m one of the lucky ones who hasn’t lost their job to COVID, that’s been the only island of uncertainty in one of the worst and wildest years I’ve ever seen.

There was of course an online, virtual Charmed this year, one of many virtual cons that has replaced the experience of going in person in both the kink and vanilla fandom communities, but I admit that I didn’t go. As I said in my round-up from last year, I’ve gotten to the point where my Charmed experience is less about attending panels and roundtables and more about catching up with old friends that I only get to see in person a few times a year, and without that aspect it just doesn’t feel the same. I can think of so many wonderful people I didn’t get the chance to see, and I can only hope they’re all doing well and staying safe as we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

That light is there, though. Some days it seems closer than others, and some days the long slow trudge we’ve undergone to get there seems sadder and more frustrating as we think about the people who didn’t make it. Life goes on and things get better, but sadly not for everyone. There will be folks in the community who never get the chance to go to Charmed 2022. I’m going to miss them all. But all we can do is pick up our feet, keep walking, and try to make the world a better place for those who will tell their questioning grandchildren that they don’t really remember much about 2020 because they were so young when it happened.

Next year is going to be better. Next year we’ll see each other again and shake our heads in disbelief that we survived it all. And if you missed the virtual Charmed this year, or if you went and still missed the closeness that comes from eating good food together and laughing in the hallways and watching someone smile in the blissful oblivion of deep trance… I missed you too.

Early Bird Sneak Peek: “A Quick One, While He’s Away”!

January 13, 2021

Hi all! It’s time for another Early Bird Sneak Peek, where I share a glimpse at the story my lucky Early Bird patrons will be enjoying next Saturday thanks to their pledges at my Patreon page! Of course, if you’re not an Early Bird patron, you’ll still get a story next week–“Queen Lullabye”, teased previously, has already been submitted to the EMCSA. But the Early Bird patrons will be getting “A Quick One, While He’s Away” (MC MF MD)!

Jerry really wants to stop using the trigger he installed in his best friend’s wife. He knows it’s wrong, and he knows that it would kill Doug to know that the beautiful woman he married obediently sinks into a mindless hypnotic trance and sucks Jerry’s cock whenever he tells her to. He really wants to do the right thing… but maybe not just yet. Here’s a taste:

Twenty-three minutes left. Jerry undid his fly, fumbling a little bit with his boxer shorts as he struggled to maneuver his already stiff and throbbing cock through the folds of fabric. Once he pulled it out, though, it was the work of a moment to say, “Why don’t you crawl on over and put that pretty little mouth of yours to work, huh, babe?” Shontelle didn’t resist even for a second. She was too well trained for that by now.

Instead, she slid off the couch and dropped to her hands and knees, her long cornrows sliding over her shoulder to dangle and sway seductively as she crawled across the thick carpet toward the recliner where Jerry was sitting. “I obey,” she droned out as she moved, her empty stare locking onto Jerry’s long, thick cock with mesmerized intensity. Just seeing her blank, glazed eyes watching his flushed, throbbing shaft in hypnotized fascination made him even harder. By the time she reached him and began to nuzzle him with her broad, hungry lips, she was licking away a drizzle of precum from his warm flesh.

Hope you enjoy it!

A Question That Doesn’t Need to Be Asked

January 10, 2021

(This post has been brought to you by the efforts of my 159 amazing and awesome Patrons! Visit my Patreon page to learn how to become one of them.)

This is probably going to be a short post today – what with one thing and another, it’s a bit of a heavy lift to get away from the world and into writing about fun kinky shit (or even less fun kinky shit, which is what this post is going to be about). But I did want to talk about a question that gets asked a lot about abusers, indeed possibly the first question that someone finding out about an abusive situation asks. “Did they intentionally abuse their partner, or are they just caught up in a pattern of unintentionally abusive behavior?”

(Okay, as I think about some of the interviews we’ve been seeing with the Capitol rioters, this may not be as far divorced from politics as I originally believed. But anyway.)

The point I want to make is, this is kind of a meaningless question… and moreover, I think it’s a question that comes from a place of privileging the abuser’s experiences. Now, I’m not saying this to make anyone feel bad. I think that our culture and the structure of our society is very much oriented around the perspective of the dominant parties, and I think we are discouraged from putting ourselves into the shoes of the victim in a lot of ways. It’s very much a pattern of behavior to unlearn, and I don’t be any means pretend that I’ve completed that process myself. But wondering why the abuser behaved the way they did is almost always a trap.

Because that kind of approach inherently invites excuses for bad behavior. When the abuser is allowed to present a version of events that explains why they did what they did, it creates a degree of sympathy and understanding that is extended not to the person who is harmed, but to the person who harms. It presents the possibility that abusers need to be ‘fixed’ rather than held accountable, and that the primary goal is a restoration of the abuser’s healthy relationship to society over the abused. It gives them a chance to hurt someone again, often the same person they hurt before but just as likely a new victim. And whether out of intentional cruelty or deluded self-interest, the abuser will almost always take that chance.

Instead, it’s better to focus on harm mitigation. I think that we don’t want to ask, “Why did they do what they did?” and instead ask, “How can we stop this from happening again?” That almost always involves removing opportunities for the abuser to resume their old patterns of behavior – banning them from events, preventing them from having contact with their victims, impeaching them and removing them from office…. (Whoops? How did that last one get in there?) And generally making sure they don’t have the chance to do what they were doing to hurt people, intentionally or otherwise. If they want to figure it out, they can get into therapy. In fact, I would recommend it. But the final goal for them should not be a restoration of their old life. Because their old life was defined by their abusive behavior.

Early Bird Sneak Peek: “Quality Girl”!

January 9, 2021

Hi all! It’s time for another Early Bird Sneak Peek, where I share a glimpse at the story my lucky Early Bird patrons will be enjoying next Saturday thanks to their pledges at my Patreon page! Of course, if you’re not an Early Bird patron, you’ll still get a story next week–“Desire Brings You Back”, teased previously, has already been submitted to the EMCSA. But the Early Bird patrons will be getting “Quality Girl” (MC FD RB MF FF)!

Even though the Girls(tm) work hard to make sure that they all leave the assembly line flawlessly coded and bug-free, the Quality Assurance Team stands ready to constantly audit the behavior of each Girl and make sure that no mistakes have been made. Unit 17463QA is one of those Quality Assurance Girls. This is her story. And here’s a taste:

It should have been routine.

Unit 17463QA did a thousand Quality Assurance audits in less time than it took the Earth to rotate on its axis, and most of them turned out to be routine. Oh, every once in a while a Girl(tm) developed a minor eccentricity, usually a tic in its synthetic facial muscles or a speech irregularity picked up from its dependent, but those took less than ten billion cesium transitions to detect and correct. Often, she was in and out of the dependent’s domicile in less time than it took humans to register the teleport effect. Four Sixty Three’s job was almost entirely uneventful, and that was exactly the way she preferred it.

Because she understood, in a way that only a Quality Assurance Girl(tm) truly could, that an eventful day on the job could have severe consequences. Other Girls(tm) might know that the health and well-being of their dependents was in their hands, and they might be aware on some level just how fragile an organic sentence truly was… but they never saw what could happen when something went wrong with a Girl(tm). They didn’t have to pick up the pieces when a living being was treated with less than the care and diligence it deserved. When Four Sixty Three finished cleaning up after a malfunctioning Girl(tm), it made her that much more appreciative of the next few quadrillion transitions of unremarkable activity.

She liked routines. Which meant that she very much disliked teleporting in to what should have been a communal human domicile in the southeastern corner of what the humans called ‘Arizona’ and finding herself instead standing outside in the desert heat, staring at a large apartment complex with imprecisely installed bars on every window. The Girl(tm) she had come to audit was nowhere to be seen. There were no humans in view. Many of the nearby domiciles appeared to have been abandoned, and were already being reclaimed by the elements. It was… disquieting.

Hope you enjoy it!

Is It Hypnosis? – Part Thirty

January 4, 2021

(This post has been brought to you by the efforts of my 161 respectively respected Patrons! Visit my Patreon page to learn how to become one of them.)

I’m always a little bit astonished to see how far I’ve come along in this series – it never feels like I’m getting much closer to the eternally-moving target of “the present”, but at the same time it’s not like I write so many realistic hypnosis stories that I think I’ll have unlimited material, either. But wittering on like this isn’t going to help me catch up, so let’s look at some of my older material and see how realistic (and ethical) it is, shall we?

His Eyes, Her Eyes: This one is one of those nice, easy, straightforward ones that I wrote with the idea of a realistic and consensual hypnotic interaction in mind. Both parties are giving informed, enthusiastic consent to a friendly mutual induction challenge, both of them understand that this may result in them being hypnotized into performing sexual activities and are comfortable with that, and both of them are abiding by their previously agreed upon limits and boundaries. And it’s distinctly possible that a result like this could occur under those circumstances. It’s not based on real life, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t enjoy watching something like this if someone wanted to stage it at a con.

Sympathy: Well, it’s definitely plausible. Wendy is clearly something of a people-pleaser, she has difficulty saying no and trouble setting boundaries even before Ebony manipulates her into a situation where she has a diminished ability to consent. And I’m generally of the suspicion, NOT THAT I HAVE ANY INTENTION OF EVER TESTING IT, that no-strings-attached sex is easier than many of the other suggestions that show up in my stories to hypnotize someone into because it comes with its own reward structure built in, and because it doesn’t commit the subject to a permanent behavioral change (even though abusing someone’s diminished capacity for consent in order to get sex with them can still have very real and damaging long-term effects).

That said, it’s obviously very unethical. The story skirts around it because it’s a fantasy, despite using realistic hypnosis, but Ebony is clearly lying to Wendy in order to get her alone, then diminishing her ability to consent before initiating sexual contact. This is not okay, and I would one hundred percent leave this in the role of fantasy where fictional characters can react however you want them to react. In the real world, be honest and up-front about anything you want to achieve with trance, okay?

Freckles: And the same pretty much goes for this one, albeit with a heterosexual femdom spin instead of a lesbian one and even less transparency. Ebony might have lied about her ultimate goals, but at least she acknowledged from the beginning that she wanted to hypnotize Wendy and let her make her own decision on whether to participate (albeit with a sob story that was designed to manipulate her into complying). Siobhan is fully committed to a stealth induction, and while the fictional character of Ryan is already attracted to her and doesn’t mind being seduced into trance for sex, that’s because he’s a fictional character in a cartoonish fantasy that uses realistic hypnosis, and not a real person. Real people might not want sex (yes, even college guys) and should not be treated as playthings. Which I know you know because everyone who reads my stuff is really awesome about consent, but maybe you’re showing this to someone else.

Under Control: This one has a lot of moving parts, so let’s try to take our questions in the order in which they were received. There are three characters in this one, Martina, Constance and Delfina, and each of them has a relationship with the other two that involves hypnosis in some capacity. So to untangle it, we’ll need to look at all of those relationships – starting with Martina and Constance.

Now, we don’t know a lot about this directly, because the story already picks up with them in an established hypnokinky D/s partnership that is at least ostensibly consensual. Constance doesn’t do anything with hypnosis that two well-established partners couldn’t do both realistically and consensually, but it’s not necessarily safe to say that this is a healthy relationship. Constance is clearly using her power (not just her hypnotic power, but her social status, wealth, and the allure of being in a relationship that’s at least marginally taboo) to manipulate Martina into doing things she shouldn’t, and Martina is young and in love on top of being hypnotized and is not necessarily thinking clearly even when awake. Delfina spots this from the beginning, and it’s a good example of why “consensual” and “ethical” aren’t always the same thing.

Constance and Delfina, on the other hand, are clearly demonstrating what I call “cinematic” hypnosis. In all honesty, if someone walks into your house ready to punch you in the face and is only getting madder when they find out you’ve hypnotized their friend’s daughter, using hypnosis on them is going to get you exactly one thing: A punch in the face. There’s no way this would work, even with Delfina clearly horny as fuck for Martina’s body (see below), and it would not end with a kinky threesome but with a black eye and a possible assault charge pending against Delfina. That’s good, because hypnotizing someone into having sex with a third party who’s incapable of giving consent is sexual assault and you should never ever ever ever ever ever do it even if you could which you can’t.

And Delfina should know better. Yes, Martina is young and pretty and horny and newly outed as a lesbian (another major transgression on Constance’s part) but Delfina should not take advantage of her. There are so many bad power dynamics going on here that Delfina should have been aware of, and would have if this was a realistic story and not a sex fantasy for people who enjoy the thought of being ‘taken’ by a hypnotist and swept into an erotic reverie. Overall, this story is neither plausible nor ethical (but very very hot).

Not Listening: We could, if we were generous, construct a version of this story that is plausible and ethical, but it would require some special pleading regarding facts not in evidence. Honestly, for it to be plausible it would have to be ethical; this is the kind of deep hypnotic conditioning you’re only going to get between two people who trust each other a great deal and have developed a level of rapport that allows the subject’s unconscious mind to trick the waking self into thinking that it’s trying to resist when it’s really obeying very well. (Which is a fun game, and I’ve played it myself on both sides of the watch, but it has always involved negotiation and enthusiastic consent to all suggestions involved.) Basically, you’re not going to be able to get the subject to do any of this unless they’re on board and only fooling themselves into thinking otherwise. And you shouldn’t even try if they’re not.

And there’s five more stories taken care of! Thanks for joining me, and I’m sure I’ll see you again for another entry in this series and next week for another post!

Early Bird Sneak Peek: “Faraway Look”!

December 31, 2020

Hi all! It’s time for another Early Bird Sneak Peek, where I share a glimpse at the story my lucky Early Bird patrons will be enjoying next Saturday thanks to their pledges at my Patreon page! Of course, if you’re not an Early Bird patron, you’ll still get a story next week–“Zoinks!”, teased previously, has already been submitted to the EMCSA. But the Early Bird patrons will be getting “Faraway Look” (MC MF FD)!

Darlene’s husband Sam is a clever man, but he does have a habit of getting distracted. Luckily, Darlene knows just what to do when he starts getting that faraway look in his eyes… here’s a taste.

Darlene felt a shiver of arousal run down her spine as she watched Sam’s head move in a slow, lazy, almost imperceptible nod. There was something so impossibly sexy about having that kind of control over another person; no matter how simple or subtle the action, she always got a deep sexual thrill out of knowing that it was her command, her will that made it happen. It didn’t matter that Sam was the kind of loving husband who would happily climb out of bed at three in the morning to run to the grocery store and get her ice cream–he wasn’t nodding because he loved her, he was nodding because he was compelled to obey. Hypnosis made the tiniest acts feel so much more potently erotic.

She couldn’t help craving more. “That’s my obedient good boy,” she cooed, reveling in the sleepy smile that quirked at the corners of his mouth. “Sinking deeper and deeper for me now, letting yourself chase those thoughts down… and down… and down into the center of your mind and finding that they naturally lead you into that warm, soft place inside your head that you know so well. That place where you find yourself relaxing into drowsy, docile surrender to me.

She watched Sam’s brow furrow for just a moment, as he began to realize that whatever he was thinking about shouldn’t lead quite so easily and effortlessly to thoughts of sinking into his chair and letting his mind fade into warm, blank submission to his hypnotic Goddess… but he was too well-trained to struggle for long, and he loved going into trance too much to truly want to resist. He let out a slow, sleepy sigh and the vacancy in his eyes took on a different cast. Darlene knew she had him now.

Hope you enjoy it!

Liner Notes for December 2020

December 27, 2020

(This post has been brought to you by the efforts of my 161 respectively respected Patrons! Visit my Patreon page to learn how to become one of them.)

We are, at long last, close to finally seeing the back of 2020. A lot of people didn’t make it through this year, and millions of others are struggling through it only with great difficulty. I feel genuinely humbled with gratitude to everyone who reached out supported me this year, whether financially or emotionally, and incredibly lucky to have reached the last days of December without disaster. We have not reached the end of these sad times, but I want to believe that it’s finally within sight.

And of course, I also posted some stories during this month, same as always. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?

Catch Your Shadow: Some of the specific details of this story were inspired by the title, but it’s built on the bones of an older idea I had and never carried to fruition. For a long time, I imagined someone browsing the shelves of a used bookstore and coming upon a handwritten diary with instructions on becoming a vampire, and buying it on a whim not knowing that other people were looking for it. And the story would alternate between the people hunting down the diary and the person who owns it and who’s gradually coming to realize that it’s real and that it works, and who begins following its increasingly horrific instructions in the hopes of gaining eternal life.

That story may still come out in some form, some day, but I think the core of it worked very well here to create something that probably falls more on the side of “creepy” than “hot” on the erotic horror scales. But I think it’s effectively creepy, and some days that’s exactly what I want to achieve and I hope it’s what someone wants to read.

Absent Minded Me: This story, of course, owes an immense debt of gratitude to Lee Allure and DJ Pynchon’s essential work, Hypnotic Amnesia. They haven’t paid me for the plug or anything, but if you want to level up at attaining consensual hypnotic amnesia, either as a subject or a hypnotist, this one is (in my opinion) a must-have. The ‘counting by sevens’ technique is adapted from one of the chapters in the book, as is the memory vault technique. If neither of those work for you, they’ve got something like twenty more in there.

Boy Inside the Man: Way back when I first introduced the Boys(tm), I did warn people that just as there was lesbian content involving the Girls(tm), there’d be man-on-man content with their male counterparts. And a title like “Boy Inside the Man” practically begs to be interpreted that way. It wasn’t hard at all to come up with a scenario that paralleled and inverted the tropes in “My Best Friend’s Girl” to show how the two types of robot differ in their approaches and goals to control of the human race.

That said, I think that probably next time I’ll want to have an actual “straight guy converted” story instead of a “bi-curious man falls victim to his temptations” one. With the caveat that there’s already at least one Boys story written but not yet posted, about a man who is already gay, out, proud, and who is so damn sick of every dude he dates dragging out their creepy sex robots….

Jailbreak: I haven’t made any secret of the fact that I’ve been doing a story arc of late in my superhero universe; “Zzzonked”, “Kiss and Control”, “Q.U.E.E.N.” and “Vessel” have all featured to greater or lesser degree the machinations of a mysterious villain who’s been unlocking the hidden potential of mind-controlling supervillains to make them a more effective threat, with the apparent goal according to Jace Andron of bringing about a disaster called “The Great Collapse”. Those first four stories all built kind of slowly, and so I wanted something big and flashy to kick off the moment where it all goes overt. The “all the villains break out, all at the same time” story has been a time-honored tradition of the genre since ‘Acts of Vengeance’ back in 1989, and I decided to adapt it here (although it’s worth noting that many of the escapes were contained).

A few continuity notes, for those who may not remember: The Carcerem Aeternum was first introduced in “Learn to Fly”, as was Gary. That story also explains why Adventure Girl might be seeking him out specifically, and why she was so casual about his mind control threat. And Glamour and the Cobra Queen first showed up in “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, where they tested their mind control powers on Adventure Girl. Their subsequent alliance is one of those supervillain pacts that happened between metaphorical issues.

It is worth mentioning that from my perspective, in the future where there are an additional 76 stories already written, this story arc is almost concluded. The identity of the villain is revealed, their plan is reaching its climax, and for those of you who’ve longed for stories where the bad guys win… well, there are a couple of installments coming up that will make you very happy.

And with that, we lock 2020 in the basement never to be seen again! Join me next week for another blog post, and next month for another installment of Liner Notes!

Early Bird Sneak Peek: “All by Myself”!

December 23, 2020

Hi all! It’s time for another Early Bird Sneak Peek, where I share a glimpse at the story my lucky Early Bird patrons will be enjoying next Saturday thanks to their pledges at my Patreon page! Of course, if you’re not an Early Bird patron, you’ll still get a story next week–“Jailbreak”, teased previously, has already been submitted to the EMCSA. But the Early Bird patrons will be getting “All by Myself” (MC MF MD)!

Candi’s the sort of sub who likes it when her Master’s hypnosis makes her dumb and weak and horny. In fact, being an empty-headed ditz is one of her favorite pastimes! But sometimes that means she has to ask Master for help with things like numbers and big words. This time, though, she’s determined to figure out his latest message all by herself! Here’s a taste:

His response was long, even longer than the other things he said to her, and it had nothing but big word after big word after big word. She stared at it numbly, drool dripping onto her heavy tits as she struggled to fit the whole thing into her small, fuzzy mind piece by piece. “Because pet is so vulnerable and malleable that her resistance has been twisted and turned by Master into eager compliance. Pet can’t resist when she thinks she wants to be brainwashed, can she?”

Candi tried again and again. She mouthed the big words, trying to sound them out, but by the time she got to the middle she had forgotten the beginning, and by the time she got to the end she had lost even the middle. He brain bounced off of the big long sentence over and over, so confused that she couldn’t even remember to just agree with Master. She couldn’t think of what to do. She couldn’t think at all. Finally, her clit stiff and slick under her rubbing fingers, she typed out, “Mastrrrrr that was 2 many big words & pet cant reed it.”

Candi felt a powerful pulse of pleasure, like a firecracker going off inside her head and leaving a bright flash and a throbbing boom of arousal behind it, even though she didn’t know why. She only knew that she needed to ask Master for help when she was too dumb to understand things, and that it always made her feel so fucking good when she did. It was… was it the hyp, hypno… hypnosis? Candi tried to think about it for just a moment, only to find her thoughts sinking into blissful emptiness. It felt good to try to remember Master’s programming. It felt even better to fail.

Hope you enjoy it!

The Heart of the Matter

December 20, 2020

(This post has been brought to you by the efforts of my 161 heroically supportive Patrons! Visit my Patreon page to learn how to become one of them.)

The other day, I was on one of my side Twitter accounts (it’s for a vanilla project with very little overlap in the Venn diagram of audiences) and someone mentioned wanting to write a review of the recent Netflix mini-series, ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’. They said, “What do I have to say that hasn’t already been said, better and by someone more talented?” And I replied with something that feels like every writer needs to hear at some point or another:

I know how this sounds, but seriously – if I never wrote anything that I thought someone more talented than me hadn’t done first, I’d never write. Anyone can be “talented”, but your perspective is always yours alone.

Honestly – and I don’t say this to fish for compliments – even in the sub-sub-subgenre of mind control erotica, I don’t think there are all that many people out there who would say I’m the best. And in the wider world of literature, I’m constantly blown away by the number of immensely talented people who regularly make me feel like a novice at what I do, from brilliant science fiction writers like N.K. Jemisin to screenwriters like Mike Flanagan (whose ‘Bly Manor’ prompted this whole post) to journalists and critical writers. I am surrounded by an amazing universe of brilliant, insightful people whose hard work could intimidate me into silence if I spent my time comparing my stories to theirs.

But none of them are me.

That’s the most important thing to remember, and if I give only one piece of advice to other writers that will be useful then I hope it’s that. Nobody in the world has your experiences, your perspectives, your unique and individual voice to give to the universe. Even when you’re first starting out, borrowing like a magpie from your favorite authors and filching little bits and bobs of style and concept here and there, you’re still going to synthesize them in your own personal way. And as you grow and practice, you’ll inevitably discover something inside your works that belongs to you and you alone. Your writing will become yours, and even if someone else tells a story ‘better’, nobody will ever tell the story that you tell.

Now, that doesn’t mean you’ll become rich and famous on the strength of your writing. Maybe your stories are just for you, the same way they’re just from you. Maybe you’ll only find a few fans here and there – I think there are currently eight people paying attention to that vanilla side project of mine, and I doubt that number will grow anytime soon. But even if the only person who listens is you, the act of creation can be wonderful and joyous in its own right. You’re making something. You’re giving voice to your essential self. And as cheesy as it might sound, that’s always worth doing.