Nine Years Ago? Really?

Idly I clicked on the WordPress shortcut in my browser, and distractedly I selected the notifications, though there was no indication of new notifications. Another spam blog liked my main page and followed me (I don’t understand the function of spam blogs, churning out recipe reviews without rhyme or reason—is it a form of data mining?), but WordPress generated an automated reminder that I started this account nine years ago.

If you would’ve asked me when I started this up here, I probably would’ve said four years ago, though a moment’s thought would have cleared that up. That can’t be possible, if I’ve been on Size Twitter for six years. Not with my current account: I deleted my first account in a pique and have been, believe it or not, playing it low-key ever since.

What a journey it’s been in nine years. I bulked this place up when I discovered Undersquid’s blog, which was full of phenomenal stories about women craving tiny men, and as a tiny man desiring to be craved by a woman, I reflexively had to do something to earn her attention. I started cranking out a story every day for three months, figuring that would be the foundation for this site, that it could build some momentum. A lot of useful stuff came out of that, several popular series and characters, and it even prompted the creation of another blog and my Patreon account.

It did enjoy some momentum for a while, and then it tapered off. The Fairview blog hasn’t been added to for a very long time, and I’ve neglected my four or five Patreon series for a couple months. I took a few commissions on at once and that worked for a few months and then I burned out, and I haven’t seemed to recover. It got harder to write as time went on, burdened by self-imposed expectations, tying my identity to my productivity. What can I say, I’m a child of capitalism.

Then my mom had a stroke and I dropped everything (except my daytime job!) to live with her and commit to caretaking. Not only am I the only of four siblings positioned to do this, it was important for me to step up because typically caretaking falls to women, no matter what. When we talked about our aging parents, my wife was pretty sure she would take over caretaking for my mom, her mother-in-law, because “I have the ovaries.” It’s women’s work. She’s already helping to take care of her own declining father. That was unacceptable to me: I’m a fully functioning adult, my job enables me to work anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection… so what if I had a historically problematic relationship with my mother? Why couldn’t I do the needful, just because she was self-centered and critical? Who said I’d necessarily feel suicidal within a week of close proximity?

Well, that happened, but I also learned of aspects within myself to help me cope. I learned tremendous patience. I was able to place her grief within a context and give her room to explore and express that. I learned how to dismiss her irrelevant personal attacks and focus on what was important, and slowly our relationship began to heal. I knew who she was and what she was capable of, and I was able to make sure she was safe, fed, and empowered as much as possible, and eventually her therapists and social worker evaluated her as almost completely independent, so after two months of caretaking I went back home.

In December and January prior to this, I’d drawn up a to-do list for myself, because I was languishing in ennui and all those other fancy concepts for being bored shitless. Time was slipping away and I wasn’t achieving anything. Everyone who knows anything about self-care insisted it’s fine to not be productive during a year-long pandemic, really. It’s enough to stay alive, to wake up and see another morning through. The bar was set really, really low, but other people’s standards are not mine. I always dressed up in regular clothes regardless of whether I had an online meeting. I made a to-do list of things I wanted to achieve and work toward: French lessons, piano lessons, exercise, playing with the cats, staying in contact with friends, stuff like that. Some were long-term aspirations, others were reminders to stay healthy and connected. I fulfilled them in December and January and felt pretty good about my progress on them, and then it all went out the window in February.

And you know what? It was fine. I didn’t even look at my list during caretaking. There was no piano, I didn’t bring my kettlebell, and my journal went largely untouched… and it was fine. I was no longer beating myself up for not doing anything useful or working toward my goals. Weeks went by where I didn’t even attempt to lie to myself about sitting down at the keyboard and write the shortest and crappiest of stories, just to stay in form. I didn’t attempt it, and I didn’t hate myself for not trying. I was completely comfortable with having abandoned all my personal goals. There was never a sense that I should be doing something better with my time. Granted, caretaking is a lot of fucking work: many weeks, I worked late into the night on my job because all day was medical appointments, meal preparation, training my mom to learn two-factor authentication so she could access her own medical records, etc. But there were also long stretches of downtime, too, and there wasn’t the least shred of feeling like I should be doing something productive with that time.

That was a new sensation. I had given myself breaks for a day or two in my regular life, but in two months I easily accepted doing fuck-all, with zero guilt. That was completely new to me.

Oh, and before that, I ran a successful and popular short story writing contest for four years, filled with eager writers who to this day continue to show gratitude for how creative and productive they felt, working in a group of peers toward a clear deadline. A lot has happened in the nine years of the life of this blog.

I came to WordPress from Blogger, which I’d left because of a puritanical censorship policy they attempted to impose. They retracted it, in very dark and begrudged terms, but I wouldn’t deal with Blogger anymore. As well, I had a Tumblr account I’d attempted to put more energy into, and when Oath/Verizon purchased Tumblr and, again, imposed puritanical censorship policy upon its users, I deleted my account in a show of solidarity with a group of creators who later turned on me and have tried to blacklist me within my own community. So it goes.

Yes, a lot has happened in nine years. Constantly I worked toward greater aspirations, like getting my Size Fantasy published through legitimate, mainstream channels. Just as constantly I questioned what the fuck I was doing, trying to write conscientious, socially responsible porn that by its nature objectified women in a heteronormative context. And no sooner would I complain about hitting a low audience cap, most of which was struggling to earn a living in the first place, than someone would toss my own words back in my face about how the most important thing to creativity was that you were having fun with what you were writing. You did it because it’s a passion, not because it can be commodified. I mean, I never expected to make a living off this, but I hear stories of people who are doing pretty well by it, so I necessarily turn the harsh and critical lens upon myself and how I’m stuck writing about tiny white men with big white women and the scene at large has raced off in all and sundry directions to explore increasingly daring and transgressive identities and relationships, so what do I have to offer anyone? A few old people remember who I used to be. Many younger people were grateful for the writing contest, which ended this year. So what do I have to offer?

That wasn’t a question I had for two months, residing in a cozy little townhome in a quiet second-tier suburb. I didn’t give a shit what I had to offer and, in failing to do so, what that meant for my identity. My only questions were what goes with baked salmon and how to make pan-seared brussels sprouts.

I consider the first Size story I’ve written to have occurred in 1996. Probably off by a couple years, but that’s my number, and that means this year I’ve been writing Size Fantasy for 25 years, nine of which were on this blog that can’t possibly be this old, except I turn 51 in a couple weeks and one thing I’ve seen is the acceleration of time if you don’t fill it with activities to pursue (and even if you do).

So what am I doing now? I have no idea.

I’m playing with an AI text-generator called Sudowrite that pulls from resources ten times greater than InferKit’s, and I’ve been putting it through the paces to see how it does with Size Fantasy. Surprisingly well, it turns out: the machine and I are cowriting a story in which a man reunites with a childhood crush, whereupon she shrinks him down and ravishes him in her mouth. I’m astonished that the machine can understand, keep up with, and meaningfully contribute to a sample story like this. But will it be another gimmick that works for a while until my body develops a resistance, like Calmly Writer and Pomodoro and Rainy Cafe? And if it doesn’t provide the magic pill I’m waiting for, then what? Do I plumb deeper within myself with The Artist’s Way or some other creative program? Do I retreat to some misty mountaintop and practice my poetry and jade carving, developing my craft for its own sake, bereaved of audience? Or do I watch the riotous anime party of Size Twitter receding ever-deeper into the horizon and choose some other path?

What actually matters?

5 thoughts on “Nine Years Ago? Really?

  1. My sincerest condolences on your mother’s afflictions. I live in dread of a similar emergency befalling one or both of my parents, who both turn 77 this year. We’ve already had some practice runs, but nothing like the drop-everything situation you had. It’s no exaggeration at all to say that I’m proud of you for giving yourself the breaks you need, and you should be proud too.

    Readers and feedback are nice, but if improving your craft is itself rewarding then that’s all the reason you need. If it’s not, then move on without regret. Also, it’s not on you (or me) alone to improve diversity in size fantasy. All we can do is read and write and listen and welcome. If all we accomplish is to provoke new voices to tell us we’re doing size fantasy wrong, well that’s more new voices heard from.

    You owe yourself, not “the size community,” and certainly not the Twitter churn. Your words stand on their own and your blog is worth paying to maintain, but there’s no reason to yoke your hobby to a timetable.

    I thought your “Crossroads” image was a still from Paris, Texas, which, criminally, I still have not seen. Even though I was mistaken, the Wenders film has now jumped to the top of my watch-queue. That’s accomplishment enough.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The concept of debt/obligation keeps coming up, and I keep scrutinizing it to find out where it comes from and how to get away from it. Am I burned out on all this, after all this time? Do I downshift in the genre or try something else entirely… or do nothing at all? The same questions are exhausting in every loop. Ultimately, yes, I owe no one anything and if I fucked off until I died like seven billion other people, that would be perfectly fine. Maybe it’s not worth examining where I thought this was going or living in (or mourning) the future that never was.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy nineversary, my friend. I’ve told you already, but I was very sorry about what happened to your mom, and also glad to know how well she’s doing when compared with all the fears that invade the mind when a parent suffers a stroke.

    I remember those every-day stories. We had started our friendship then, and I’m always going to be glad we did. No matter what the real or online ups and downs, our blogs will remain. Probably. I don’t really know. I have a couple of backup blogs and half-constructed websites to which I’ve paid no attention in years. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. The same as you, I don’t give a shit at the moment.

    Everything you cooked looked awesome. Maybe you should start a recipe [review] blog. : P

    Liked by 2 people

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