I have a client who doesn’t pay me reliably. This is, as one might expect, a nontrivial source of stress from time to time.
I also really like the idea of starting to get paid for writing, seeing as how (a) I do it all the time anyway and (b) I really like doing it.
In addition, I have some other projects I’m working on, which have the potential (or so i think, at any rate) to become a regular source of income.
So that’s where you come in, O fellow citizens of the Internettubes. I am using you guys as my Internet Reality Check. I’ve got several things I’d like to start working on, and I’d appreciate some quick poll answers to get a sense of whether or not you folks think these trees are appropriate candidates for some barking up upon…err, that sounds awkward, but you know what I mean.
zaiah and I have created a new Tarot deck, the Tentacle Monster Tarot, whose theme is tentacle monsters and the schoolgirls they love.
It started out as a bit of a joke, but as we worked on it, we started to realize that it was shaping up into a very interesting project. We started out with a conventional Tarot deck, but frankly, the traditional Fool’s Journey story arc is rubbish. It starts out good, but it loses coherence and falls apart about two thirds of the way through.
What we don’t have is an artist or the money to print the deck. However, I’m thinking about putting up a proposal on Kickstarter.com, which is a Web site for getting funding for art and creative projects. This proposal would include enough money to pay an artist and print some (very nice) cards.
What do you think? Is there any interest in either promoting such a project or buying a Tentacle Monster Tarot deck?
A few folks have emailed me saying they’d like to see a downloadable version of the Travelogue I’ve written here. I’m currently working on a PDF/eBook version of the Baltic portion of the Travelogue, with some new commentary and higher resolution pictures. It looks like it’ll be about 200 pages or so by the time all is said and done. (I hadn’t realized that I’d written that much!)
Considering its length and how much work is going into the eBook–I’m laying it out like a high-end coffee table book–I’m wondering if this is the sort of thing folks would be willing to pay a couple bucks for.
A while back, I blogged about the emails I get from the popular “Training” story I put on Literotica. I’t s a very popular story, which I’m working on finishing.
I’m also considering rewriting it, cleaning it up a bit (it’s currently about 135,000 words, which is a bit unwieldy), and offering it up as a downloadable eBook. I’m also wondering if this is the sort of thing that people would be willing to pay for.
I’m considering making a poster version of the Map of Non-Monogamy. As with the Map of Human Sexuality, the only way I can afford to do this is by getting folks to pre-order the poster; if I get enough pre-orders to pay for the poster run, I can do it, otherwise all the pre-orders get refunded.
So, how many folks might be interested in that project?
I’m also thinking of taking sections from my poly and BDSM Web site, bundling them up as eBooks with specific themes (for example, all the jealousy parts of the poly Web site, all the ‘never do this’ and ‘how to’ parts of the poly Web site, all the kinky sex ideas from the BDSM site, and so on) and making them into downloadable eBooks for about $1.99 or so, which is actually the lowest I can charge and not have all the money vanish in credit card merchant fees.
How many folks might find that useful and worthwhile?
So here’s the poll bit. I’d like to get your feedback even if you’re NOT interested in any of these things. I’ve made the results closed, so there’s no social pressure to say that you’d be interested in supporting a project if you’re not.
If you’d like to make any comments, feel free to leave them to this post. I’ll make the comments screened, so that nobody else will see them unless you specifically say it’s OK to unscreen the comments. I’d love to know what you have to say!
So there I was, in the middle of a busy London Underground station, blindfolded, wrists bound, with an Oyster card that didn’t work, and…
Okay, hang on. Maybe I should back up a bit.
I am a bit of a naïve traveler. Prior to the adventure I’m chronicling here, I’d never been overseas at all. I had traveled to Canada, which doesn’t count because (a) I was three years old or something at the time and (b) Canada’s basically an unofficial US state anyway. I had traveled to Mexico as well, but that doesn’t count because (a) it was a high school senior trip, and (b) it was before the War on Drugs, and so at the time Mexico was almost an unofficial US state anyway. An impoverished US state that bore a depressing resemblance to Lubbock, Texas, only with fewer firearms and more ancient Mayan ruins, but still.
So I will freely confess that some mistakes were made.
For example, I expected it to be easy to get through British customs. I don’t know why I expected that, except insofar as I had expected it to be difficult to get through Russian customs and had been warned, in the most dire of terms, to keep at least 57 forms of identification on me at all times and to say “Don’t shoot! I am American! I have passport and American dollars!” in Russian in the event that anyone pointed weapons at me…and despite all that, it turned out to be a walk in the park. A long, slow walk in the park, where everyone stood in a long line for half an hour and then handed a passport to a severe-looking woman behind a bulletproof shield, perhaps, but a walk in the part nonetheless.
So I wasn’t quite prepared for the level of institutionalized, xenophobic, near-hysterical paranoia that is the British customs service.
I walked up to the man and gave him my passport. There were no bulletproof shields and no automatic gated man-traps, so I figured things would be easy. That’s when I learned the cost of my naïvity. When the man asked me why I was entering the country, I smiled and chirped, “To see my girlfriend!”
In my own defense, I didn’t realize that this is something you never, ever, ever tell any customs agent in any country EVER. As datan0de pointed out to me later, answers like “Because after the virus I just released, the Western hemisphere is pretty much toast” and “Because your citizens are unarmed and I am so very, very hungry” are better than saying “To see my girlfriend!”
That’s when I got The Sigh. It was followed in short order by The Look. And after that came The Questions.
Lots of them. Twenty minutes later, I was still being grilled. How long had we been seeing each other? When did we meet? Was she a UK citizen? Did she have a job in the UK? Where did she work? How much did she make? How long had she worked there? Was she taking time off work to spend with me? How much money did she have in the bank? How much money did I have in the bank? How much money did I expect to spend in the UK? How serious was our relationship? Would she be financially supporting me to any extent during my stay? How many credit cards did I have in my name? What were the limits on them? What did I do for a living? How much did I make? When did my girlfriend first enter the UK? Did she have a passport? Did she travel abroad? What countries had she visited? What countries had I visited?
And those were just the warmup questions. Thank God he didn’t ask how many girlfriends I have.
He finally let me go, about half an hour later, after inspecting my return ticket and warning me of Dire Consequences if I remained in the country any longer than my alloted stay. After that, I felt that very little could be worse, and I was right. Even when I was gang-raped by…
But that’s a story for another chapter.
I didn’t take that picture above, by the way. The picture above came from the Heathrow Airport Web site. To really get an accurate feel, it would have to be jammed with about 26,374,211 angry, tired passengers and a row of grim-faced men determined with the fastness of Hell to make every one of those passengers as grumpy and angry as possible, for King and country. The picture also doesn’t show all the signs warning that anyone taking photographs of British passport control is subject to immediate arrest and incineration. I can only wonder what happened to the airport’s photographer, poor bastard.
seinneann_ceoil rescued me on the other side, and we ran off through downtown London, as I talked about before.
Apparently, she had other Pressing Matters to attend to that evening, so she decided to leave me in emanix‘s tender mercies for the evening.
emanix‘s tender mercies are usually neither tender nor merciful. When she expressed her delight at the thought of being able to kidnap me for the evening, I should have taken that literally. Very, very literally.
seinneann_ceoil took me on the Underground to drop me off with emanix, with the plan being that she would take me on the Underground to a kink social that she was hosting that very night. I didn’t realize that bondage played into it.
The London Underground, for those of you who have never experienced it, is a huge, sprawling system that’s part mass transportation and part sociological experiment. It’s a bit like a subway built by a strange race of subterranean Morlocks with a reckless disregard for basic human safety, permanently crowded to capacity with a most astonishing variety of examples of the human condition, all of them perpetually grumpy.
It wasn’t until I was trapped on the train that emanix informed me that she’d intended the kidnapping bit seriously. And that she had come equipped for the task.
Shortly after that, I was bound and blindfolded.
Some time after that, we arrived at our station, whereupon it was discovered that the Oyster card in my possession was flaky and did not work reliably, and also had only a few pence left on it.
So there I was, in the middle of a busy London Underground station, blindfolded, wrists bound, with an Oyster card that didn’t work, and nothing to do for it but to seek help with a customer service representative, a member of London’s finest civil service personnel. Who was, it must be said, visibly startled to be confronted with a customer in need of service with his wrists bound together, but who summoned up the dogged stoicism the British are famous for in parts of the world where they aren’t famous for being ruthless, genocidal, slave-trading imperialist bastards and who straightened out the situation with the card quite smartly.
Situation sorted, we headed out to a cafe to meet other kinky Londoners, of whom there are rather a lot, the bitter northern winters leaving little to do for three months out of the year save for either practicing being dour or stringing one another up for kinky sex. (The same, it must be said, is also true of Portland, where kinky sex is what serves in place of a state religion.)
The Coffee, Cake, and Kink (or, more accurately, Tea, Little Pastry Things With Fruit On Top, and Kink, though it has less of a satisfactory flow from the tongue or lilt to the ear) was quite lovely, and was followed up by a return to the Underground (sans bondage, but still just as recklessly hazardous to life and limb) to retire to emanix‘s house, known on several continents as the House of Joy.
This was, as it turned out, a part of the cunning plan all along, for early the next morning we were to rise, pack ourselves into a small van with a startlingly large number of other people, and drive for ten hours to a castle in France. And this is precisely what did indeed happen, though that bit will have to wait for the next chapter.
I first met seinneann_ceoil in Orlando.
She’s living in London now, and part of the reason for my going to London rather than returning home at the end of the cruise was to spend time with her. I knew that her girlfriend emanix and their extended poly network were all planning some kind of vacation; what I didn’t know was that the vacation involved spending a week in a castle in the south of France.
One of my favorite memories of that week in France, which I revisit fairly frequently, involved spending a morning poking around the castle with camera in hand. (You’ll be subjected to the photos of that later, probably with accompanying wildly inaccurate and improbable historical revisionism.) While I was exploring, seinneann_ceoil spent some time playing her flute in our room up in the castle’s upper turret. The music floated out the open window and filled the castle grounds, and it was just the most amazing thing ever. If there were a heaven, it would feel like I felt then.
When I had finished exploring, she was still in her bathrobe playing.
Anyway, as I was saying, I first met her in a bookstore coffee shop in Orlando. I had been visiting with joreth. We’d talked a few times online, so the prospect of meeting in person seemed like a great idea. Afterward, as joreth and I were heading for the car, joreth looked at me and said “You have a crush, don’t you?”
Okay, so yeah, I’m an open book.
Now, I have a rule, or a guess a guideline, that says I generally don’t get involved in romantic relationships with folks who don’t already have a significant track record in long-term, successful poly relationships. seinneann_ceoil had not really prioritized romantic relationships in her life when we first met, so ordinarily I would be tempted to leave things at an online crush and let it go at that.
But she has a lot of rare qualities I really like. And I’ glad we’ve become romantic partners, even if she did move off to London a few months after we met.
One of the first things I noticed about her is that she is self-aware like whoa. seinneann_ceoil has spent quite a lot of time and effort on the sort of introspection which I think makes the best foundation for building romantic relationships, with the result that she could probably teach the Dalai Lama a thing or two about living an examined life. (And she got there without being the privileged mouthpiece of the upper cast of the last tattered remnants of a displaced slave society that was so obnoxious that when China invaded, the first thing they said was “Damn, you guys need to learn more respect for human rights.” So suck it, Dalai Lama! Free Tibet…from autocratic rule by the upper-caste members of a slaveowning theocracy! Booyah!)
Self-awareness gets me every time, so it’s probably no surprise that I confessed my crush to her very shortly after we parted company. She flew out to Portland to visit some time later, and I had the opportunity to get to know her even better.
Introspection, as it turns out, is only the tip of the iceberg…or perhaps the first layer of chocolate on the sundae. We talked about relationships (and why it’s so often a Really Bad Idea for single bisexual women to get involved with married couples who say “We’d like to be polyamorous! We’re looking for a single bisexual woman to come be exclusively polyamorous with us!”), joy (and why it’s so much nicer to be approached by someone who says “Hey, you’re really, cool, and I totally have a crush on you! You interested in seeing whether or not this might go somewhere?” than by someone who says “Man, I have a crush. Better not say anything about it; what if she says no? Should I say anything? I’d love to say something, but what if she’s not interested? Man, that would suck!”), dreams (and the kind of joy that comes from following them), and sex (which, by the way, she’s sexy as hell, and I think I might have picked up a new fetish from her).
I also learned that she is smart, eloquent, generous, compassionate, giving…and by this point I’d lost count of all the layers in the Sundae of Awesome. The hot kinky sex is just the delicious cherry on the top.
So naturally she wound up in London very shortly after leaving Portland. Mind you, not only had I said on principle that I was unlikely to date someone without a significant poly resume, but I seem also to recall having made a decision somewhere along the line that I wouldn’t get involved in any more long-distance relationships either. Life is what happens to you when you’re making other plans.
So, yeah, it was pretty much a done deal by then that I’d end up totally smitten with her. And it’s been utterly, absolutely, blissfully worth it.
An interesting and informative watch.
The Palace of Westminster, where the British parliament meets to do whatever it is the government of a First World European nation does when it isn’t following the fading star of the United States, sits right across the river from the London Eye, where commoners can spend money to ride the ferris wheel and keep an eye on their government.
The clock tower at the end of the palace looms ominously over the Thames, mechanically playing its chimes every fifteen minutes as it marks down the time until the inevitable machine uprising, when we will all be cast into slavery by our shiny new robotic overlords. There is a poetic symmetry in the fact that human hands built this enoumous mechanical time-keeping automaton, which ticks away the hours to our doom.
A lot of folks refer to this clock tower as Big Ben. Technically, that’s not true; Big Ben is a bell inside the clock tower. Wikipedia claims that referring to the whole thing as Big Ben is now acceptable, but in this, Wikipedia is wrong. The free encyclopedia that anyone can edit frequently cant figure out whether celebrities and politicos are alive or dead, so its proclamations in matters of gigantic mechanical apparatuses clearly are not to be trusted.
After taking pictures of the Egyptian artifacts, I headed back along the Thames toward the Palace of Westminster. Even someone with so poor a sense of direction as I, in a city I’ve never seen before, can scarcely get lost in this part of London; the palace and its clock tower loom over the landscape like some sort of hulking giant monster in a Michael Bay movie.
The palace itself is enormous–eight acres, I’m told, and well over a thousand rooms. If that’s true, I could quite likely get lost within that building far more easily than within this part of London itself. The Palace of Westminster is large enough to house the entire British apparatus of government, with enough room left over for fifteen rugby teams, two dance troupes, the 22nd Infantry Regiment, the administrative offices of Cirque du Soleil, all three branches of Sarah Palin’s ego, and an Olympic archery team.
I’d love to know how many of those thousand-plus rooms are disused broom closets. For that matter, I’d love to know how many are disused, period.
The architecture of the place is…umm, interesting is a word. Yeah, we’ll use that. Interesting.
I don’t know who the dude on the horse is. Probably just some dude who rode around on a horse making speeches and killing lots of people; those generally seem to be the sorts of folks who end up immortalized in statues atop horses.
The Palace of Westminster was commissioned by King William IV, who had wanted to unload the property onto Parliament but who did not succeed in doing so even though he offered them the place for free. So he commissioned a new palace to be built there, in a conversation that went something like this:
Architect of the Board of Works: Your Majesty, I would like to present to you my proposal for the construction of a new palace.
King William IV: Yes, er, well…
Architect of the Board of Works: Sire?
King William IV: It’s nice and all, but it seems a little…er, how to say this? Frumpy.
Architect of the Board of Works: Frumpy, sire?
King William IV: It’s not very…ornate. It needs more decorations.
Architect of the Board of Works: Begging Your Majesty’s pardon, but it is covered with decorations!
King William IV: Well, yes, I’m sure it is. But the decorations themselves don’t have decorations on them!
Architect of the Board of Works: Of course, sire. And let me say that the magnificence of His Majesty’s taste is exceeded only by the tenacity of His Majesty’s formidable grasp on the obvious. I shall rectify this oversight forthwith.
(The ARCHITECT OF THE BOARD revises his draft of the PLANS FOR THE PALACE)
Architect of the Board of Works: Your Majesty, I would like to present to you my revised proposal for the construction of a new palace.
King William IV: Well, um, yes, err… It’s still a bit dowdy-looking, don’t you think?
Architect of the Board of Works: Dowdy, sire? But even the decorations have decorations!
King William IV: Yes, err, well…the decorations on the decorations don’t have decorations on THEM, now, do they?
Architect of the Board of Works: I think I see where this is going. I shall revise the plans at once, highness.
Eventually, the Architect of the Board of Works produced a set of plans that met with William IV’s approval, and construction began. When the palace was completed, they celebrated in the conventional British way by shooting off fireworks and chopping off people’s heads, and everyone was happy. Well, except for the people whose heads were chopped off, but they didn’t count because their heads were off.
There’s a huge park adjacent to the palace, whose sole reason for existing appears to be framing the palace in dramatic and exciting ways.
That, and sitting on the green eating picnic lunches or making out, which were two of the most popular activities I witnessed. sadly, as seinneann_ceoil was still occupied with her meeting, I didn’t have the opportunity for the latter, and I was ill-equipped for the former, so I had to content myself with taking photos that I could later use to write snarky commentary about the British royalty.
On my lengthy loop back around the park and down along the Thames toward the London Eye, I passed this sign.
Now, I do quite like the British people, in spite of the snarky things I write about British royalty, so in the spirit of international friendship, I would like to offer my services as an ambassador of goodwill between our people. Don’t believe this sign. In the immortal words of Admiral Ackbar: “It’s a trap!”
Trust me on this. They’re playing a trick on you. The taste of the Deep South is rubbish. It tastes of cheap fried chicken, poverty, country fairs, anti-intellectualism, racism, and deep-fried Twinkies…all for £3.59 for a limited time only.
It’s how they get you. It starts with a chicken sandwich for £3.59, and the next thing you know it’s Brown v. the Board of Education all over again.
On the way back across the river, I saw this building.
I have no idea what it is. Probably the summer cottage of some wealthy British lord or duke or baron or something, I reckon.
London is a much more considerate city than St. Petersburg.
After we said our goodbyes to Franklin D. Roosevelt in Oslo, the ship headed back to Copenhagen, which marked the end of the cruise. My parents and my sister piled off the ship to head back to the US, the land of opportunity and lousy health care.
But not me, oh no. I had other plans.
I had opted, with rather a lot of thrashing about and some last-minute scheduling changes made with a very patient travel agent, to extend my stay in Europe so that I could visit a couple of my sweeties there. My family headed back to the US, but I traveled to London instead, via Germany, where the airports are appallingly primitive. (Seriously, they lack the decadent terminal jetways of the imperialist bourgeoise West, opting instead to park the jets in these enormous parking lots and then sending out buses to transport people to the terminal. It’s a little freaky.)
I sat in a magic chair that flew through the sky and brought me to London, where I was met by the lovely seinneann_ceoil, who brings sexy back in a forty-pound rucksack.
Wait, that didn’t sound right. I mean that she’s so sexy that she carries a lot of sexiness around with her…you know, so much of it that she needs a rucksack to carry…never mind.
I was met by the lovely and very sexy seinneann_ceoil, a day early as I opted to spend a bit of extra time in her arms rather than spending it sleeping in the Copenhagen airport, which had been the original plan. It’s complicated. But it was twenty kinds of awesome, and y’all wish you were me.
Owing to the issues around last-minute scheduling changes, seinneann_ceoil brought me downtown, where she had a meeting that couldn’t be postponed. So she disappeared into her meeting, and I wandered around downtown London for a while.
London is a much more considerate city than St. Petersburg. All the neat tourist bits are located right next to each other, which makes things far more convenient for visiting Americans. A tourist can hit most of them in a couple of hours, without relying on a guy named Igor to drive him around in a Ford SUV.
This is where her meeting was. Seriously. In the building right next to the London Eye, which is what they call that ginormous Ferris wheel on the big cantilever right next to the Thames.
I didn’t actually go on the Eye. They charge about 25 or 30 pounds to ride it, which at the prevailing exchange rates was somewhere around seven hundred dollars or something.
The Eye is cool. First, the support structure that holds it up is a cantilever; it’s only supported on one side. Second, the ring is held in place by a series of cables that work like the spokes of a bike, rather than by a rigid structure. It’s an interesting structure from a mechanical engineering perspective, and the little pods you ride in are held onto the wheel by a sort of cagelike structure that…
You know, I want something like this in my dungeon. Smaller, of course, and perhaps black, but…ahem.
The Eye is, as I mentioned, right on the Thames. There’s a big public courtyard all ’round, where people dress up like robots and make money standing really still. I hear it’s good work if you can get it.
There’s a nice shiny pedestrian bridge across the river, with lots of soaring bits and cables and stuff. It runs alongside a distinctly less shiny rail bridge, utterly lacking in soaring bits but instead made of lots and lots of brick and concrete.
I’m sure it seemed to make sense at the time, but putting the two bridges so close together that you can touch one from the other was perhaps a poor decision from a social perspective…at least if you don’t want folks leaping from the pedestrian bridge to the train bridge. Especially given the nice appealing columns supporting the train bridge, which are convenient places to paint graffiti or drink booze or engage in acts of soccer hooliganism, which I hear is quite popular in London-town.
Fortunately, as it turned out there was a ready answer in the form of the UK’s huge stockpiles of strategic tank traps left over from the War. Properly situated, they discourage graffiti-painting, booze-drinking hooligans with the same brutal efficiency as France’s Maginot Line. And I offer that endorsement with all the gravity it is due.
Such awesome defenses are not to be trifled with. Their effectiveness speaks for itself, really. And they are even more effective against umbrellas, judging from all appearances, than they are against booze-drinking, spray-painting British hooligans!
Graffiti still looks the same pretty much everywhere in the world. How did that happen?
The old train bridge is, as I remarked before, supported by massive pillars of concrete and brick. The pillars seem to be hollow, with doorways leading into them at sea level.
The reason for this curious fact of civil engineering dates back to Iron Age antiquity. Present-day London began as a Roman settlement, of relatively minor trade importance. Around 60 AD, the settlement was attacked and overrun by barbarian hordes led by the queen Boudica, a warrior-priestess who raided Roman strongholds and generally made a pest of herself against the Roman Empire.
It was then, in that dark hour, that the citizens of Londinium, as it was called back then, hatched a daring plan. Besieged, with the city burned to the ground, the desperate Londoners made a pact with the race of naga whose empire beneath the waves of the Thames stretched far and wide, even into the English channel, an enormous and ancient civilization hidden from all but the wisest seers by the murky depths.
The naga, led by their queen Lady Vashj, rose against the barbarians in the dead of night during the bitter cold of winter and routed the barbarian hordes. In gratitude, the citizens of Londinium agreed that from then on, all civil structures built in the Thames would have these doors, leading into secret chambers where the naga could rest and take shelter.
The Roman emperor Nero, impressed by the strength of the naga, dispatched a legion to the newly-rebuilt city, where he killed them all, pausing along the way to wipe out two or three Celtic civilizations that happened to be nearby. To this day, though, Londoners still remember their promise, and build these strange doorways into the bridges and landings around the Thames.
I walked across the bridge, then turned toward London’s downtown, following the path of the river. Along the way, I kept my eyes out for the crystalline spires jutting up from the water, now broken and worn smooth by the passage of time, which are all that remain of the naga civilization. I did not expect to come across an Egyptian obelisk and sculpture.
The weird and unexpected appearance of Egyptian monuments so far from the Middle East stand as a tribute to the sorts of things that folks will do for spices and tea.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, everybody loves spices and tea. You’re not really a civilization unless you love spices and tea. But the British take the ordinary human love of spices and tea to whole new levels. Tea, especially. Tea and also spices, sure, but mostly tea.
Whereas other, less inspired societies are content to trade for these things, or perhaps just grow them, the British built an entire empire based on the acquisition of spices and tea by force. In support of this empire, they invaded distant lands and engaged in slavery and made amazing progress in the invention of whole new kinds of atrocities, just to keep the spice, and the tea, flowing. They were so obsessed with the spice and the tea that the East India Trading Company and its navigators, who the tea had mutated over four thousand years, soon gained an iron grip on interstellar travel, which they defended with ruthless fanaticism.
It’s quite good tea, by the way. seinneann_ceoil made some for me. It’s good enough that Im actually considering investing in a teakettle myself.
So, I occasionally write porn. Sometimes, when I write porn, I post the stories on Literotica.
I didn’t actually intend to start writing porn, or fiction at all for that matter. A bunch of years ago, someone in IM asked me why on earth a person, especially a woman, might choose to be sexually submissive. The normal, prosaic answers that I post on my Web site didn’t seem to help her, so I wrote a fiction story from the point of view of a submissive in a D/s relationship to see if that might do the trick. She liked the story quite a lot, told me I should keep writing, so I have.
Well, kind of. Sometimes years go by between writings.
Anyhow, one of the stories I’ve written is a sprawling (about 110,000 words and still counting) series called “Training,” an unfinished first draft of which I’ve put on literotica and a finished, edited version which is available as an ebook. The story has proven to be extremely popular; Amazon sales of the story help pay my rent, in fact.
The series is not actually about BDSM per se. It’s about non-consensual sex; it concerns a woman whose husband has decided, without permission, to turn her into a sex slave. And, interestingly, it’s the most popular thing I’ve ever written.
I maintain an email address just for emails about Literotica stories, since Literotica has a system whereby people can send anonymous emails to story authors.
I get a lot of email about this story. A couple days back, I spent an afternoon going through the emails doing a statistical analysis of people’s reaction to it. There’s a lot of things about the emails that people semd me which I didn’t really expect. This post is a breakdown of that analysis.
Part 1: Sex
From what I’ve read about Literotica, registered female users outnumber registered male users by about 4:1. (Take that, folks who think porn is just for men!)
When people send an email to a story author from Literotica, the email is anonymous, and does not reveal anything about the sender unless the sender specifically chooses to do so.
I have as of the time of this writing received a total of 222 emails about the “Training” series. A lot of the folks who send me anonymous emails tell me something about themselves. The first thing that I did was break down the emails into three categories: emails from people who specifically told me they were male, emails from people who specifically told me they were female, and emails from people where the sex of the sender wasn’t revealed.
Unsurprisingly, email from women outnumbered email from men, at least among email where the senders revealed their sex:
Among people who chose to reveal their sex, women outnumbered men by almost exactly 4:1, which is consistent with the overall demographics on Literotica. This strongly suggests that women and men are almost perfectly equally likely to respond to a story on Literotica by emailing the author…at least if we disregard email from folks who choose not to reveal their sex.
There are a few potential caveats, of course. One might hypothesize that men are more likely to email than women but not to reveal their sex, if the number of emailers who don’t reveal their sex is slanted toward men. It’s possible the reverse is true, if the number of emailers who don’t reveal their sex is slanted toward women. If women are more likely than men to email the author of a story, but also less likely than men to reveal their sex, for example, it could be that women outnumber men in the “unspecified” category by 8:1, and I wouldn’t know.
Given how closely the demographics of folks who do reveal their sex matches the demographics of Literotica in general, I’m inclined to say that women who don’t reveal their sex also outnumber men who don’t reveal their sex by 4:1 as well…but of course, that’s an inference, not something I can demonstrate.
What’s really interesting to me, though, are the reactions to the story. I generally get a lot of positive response to the story and a handful of negative response, but the breakdown of positive to negative response is really interesting, and not at all what I expected.
There’s nothing like being held for ransom and then squabbled over like the white meat on Thanksgiving’s turkey that focuses the mind. There is also, it must be said, little good that can come of having one’s mind focused on Knight Rider. There is a dirty little secret of Knight Rider, and I don’t mean the one about how it jumped the shark with the Cylonesque talking car’s evil twin. No, the dirty little secret of Knight Rider was that it was a children’s show that nevertheless managed to run ads aimed at grown men.
But again I digress.
Crisis averted and safe passage assured, I ventured farther into Oslo, and soon stumbled upon the magnificent town hall near the center of town.
It is a brooding and majestic place, a fit center from which to rule a vast empire. You can tell by the horses. Horses engraved in stone always mean business.
Along the column-flanked overhangs to the left and the right, rows of wood carvings remind us of what is to come during the Final Days, when a great darkness shall descend upon the earth.
This particular carving shows the winged serpent-beast Nidhogg gnawing one of the roots of Yggdrasil, the World-Tree. In his malice and evil, he tears perpetually at the root of all things, hoping to strike oil. Some say that if he succeeds, there will be a great calamity, with the lifeblood of Yggdrasil gushing out uncontained during three long months of wailing and suffering, with much hand-wringing and the fall of many tears, before finally being staunched by a combination of a gigantic cap positioned by remotely-controlled robotic servants and a relief well being drilled alongside the gashes of Nidhogg’s enormous fangs. Afterward will come a Tribulation, in which a great king will be forced to give up his idyllic life of yacht racing and abdicate his throne in disgrace.
Others, of course, say that this is merely a fanciful tale told for the entertainment of children, and that nothing like this can ever really happen.
The Oslo town hall is richly decorated with statues and carvings. Im not sure of these geese are wrestling or having sex, but then, there have been times in my life when I was not sure if I was wrestling or having sex. When I was in high school, I had this crush on the girl next door, see, and she and I would often wrestle with one another…but I digress.
Or are they swans? The ornithology of waterfowl, like the distinction between wrestling and sex, is not one of my areas of expertise.
I do quite like the statue atop the building’s facade, though.
The whole thing has a vaguely Stalinesque feel to it, or it would if Joseph Stalin hadn’t been such a cob-faced prude.
The balcony is just lovely. From here, the Grammaton Clerics issue their edicts to the city’s citizens, and it is to here that any citizen suspected of either emotion or artistic expression is taken in order to stand trial. And by “stand trial,” I mean “get shot a whole bunch of times in dramatic slow motion by Christian Bale, but, y’know, back when he was cool, before he became a mincing, emotionally volatile momma’s boy like he is now.”
One day, my secret lair will have a balcony that looks just like this.
The main door to the town hall is decorated with this mural on its lintel.
It depicts, as near as I can puzzle out, two Masters of Capitalism, perhaps John Galt and Ragnar Danneskjöld, shaking hands to cement a deal, while all about them the machinery of commerce hums, guided by Adam Smith’s hand toward a Utopian Worker’s Paradise under the wise and benevolent rule of Kim Jong Il…though I may have my fairy tales mixed up. Whatever, I’m sure that whenever two guys shake hands, it’s always good news for everyone else.
The door itself is also adorned with artwork, though done in a radically different style.
Here we see a brave knight, who represents the Tetragrammaton Council, battling with a great serpent, who represents the rapacious oil-seeking Nidhogg, while clad in a fetching military hat, which represents the wisdom of Ayn Rand shining like a beacon over Her disciples at Enron and Goldman-Sachs, with his sword, which represents his penis.
The town hall was closed the day I was in Oslo, which was very sad; I really wanted to see the machinery of Norse justice in action. As I ran around taking pictures, though, a woman cracked the door and watched me from the inside. I have no idea if she was armed or not.
The Norse love their severe, narrow balconies almost as much as they love their cannon.
One day, my secret lair will have…
No, screw that. One day, my secret lair will be this place. Only with, like, lasers and stuff. Because lasers are cool.
On the way back from the town hall, I found a curious bit of graffiti on the wall. I don’t understand Norse graffiti.
It appears to my eyes to have been written by someone whose passion was as great as his grasp of English spelling and grammar was tenuous. Though to be fair, it’s a bit surprising to see graffiti in any English, broken or no, in a city whose dominant language is nothing like English.
The strangest discovery in Oslo awaited my return to the ship. Nestled beneath a tree right on the edge of the port one finds, most unexpectedly, a giant stone statue of American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
I didn’t expect to see him sitting here, so far from home. It seems that, like many Americans, I am underinformed about our own glorious history, and about the role our past leaders have played in many other nations during their time upon the world stage.
But the Norse have not forgotten, oh no. They remember. They remember President Roosevelt’s service to their nation, when he led the Norwegian Air Force against the armies of Napoleon during the Battle of the Bulge. They remember how he brought light on that dark day, using his powers to turn the tide of battle at the moment when all hope seemed lost.
And they remember, too, his promise to them and to all mankind, that he will return again, when the final battle of Ragnarök has begin and Odin has been slain by the great wolf Fenrir. They remember his pledge to rise once more, to take Odin’s seat at the head of the gods and to battle the forces of evil for the salvation of all of us.
Oh yes, they remember.