A few years ago, a friend of mine expressed surprise at the amount of fiction I gave away for free on my blog. As an artist who paid his bills with his art, he thought I was far too generous and was short-changing myself.
I politely disagreed at the time, but then I published my first interactive fiction story on Kindle. My royalties from that book were easily ten times what I was making on my other works combined. I went from using my royalties to pay for a nice meal or two to using my royalties to being able to spoil myself with expensive books and porn memorabilia.
All of a sudden, it seemed like non-interactive fiction wasn’t a good use of my time.
I have put out four interactive books since then and have another book almost ready to go. They have all done extremely well and I am very proud of them. It is not enough to make a living from it, but being able to buy a plane ticket with my earnings is a nice feeling.
The problem is, interactive fiction takes a lot of work. Picture the last erotic story you enjoyed reading, and imagine it being three times longer. Once you add options to a story, the story multiplies in pages. Now take that huge story and then edit it. Now edit it again. Then proofread it again.
As much as I enjoy writing and getting paid for interactive fiction, it can be a lot of writing before you get the fruit of your labors. To help with this, I still write a monthly Vaquel story. Revisiting Vaquel is a nice little break most days, but some times it feels like another deadline I have to squeeze between writing more choices for my interactive story.
I always make sure that my interactive stories are subjects I enjoy writing about, but even the most beloved task becomes work when you do it long enough.
What I need to do is add more play to my writing. I have returned to short fiction to do this. Fiction Bites are my self-mandated breaks. Tiny self-contained stories that are over and done. Or maybe I will turn some of them into a series as long as the short lengths remain the same. It is up to me. I will treat them purely as recreation like I would watching movies or playing games. The act of creating something to amuse myself with no commercial application is incredibly freeing.
Speaking of games, I am carving out more time for journal games, especially erotic ones. I used to avoid random prompts but games like “Alone Among the Stars” changed my mind. Lately I have been playing my own game, “Traveling the Planes of Desire,” as well as Hyvemind’s “Hunger.”
It is fun to rediscover how to play with writing again. Writing has always been a coping mechanism for me. It helped me through some of the worse times of my life as well as help celebrate some of the best. I will always publish erotica for money, because hey, I do like money, but in the future I will also remember that writing can be the best self-care.