Tuesday, March 13, 2007

In spite of the fact that I’m a big ole sadist in my dungeon, I generally try be kind and helpful to people that I encounter in life. I don’t always succeed, but I do make an effort.

However, balanced against my altruistic kindness is my very strong sense of personal boundaries. I’m quite good at telling people I deal with what they can - and cannot - expect from me. I’m about to do that now.

I've started getting a fair amount of email from strangers that begins, "Don't publish this, don't put this in the blog!” And then the person in question proceeds to tell me all about some problem they have, usually kink or poly or sex work related, and ask me for help and advice. And I mean, they tell me all about themselves, and all about the issue, and all about all the things that they might do, but haven’t, and all the things that they think I might tell them, and why those things aren’t the right answer…. Length is a big feature of these emails. And to answer them in any reasonable fashion, I would need to write an equally lengthy letter in return.

Look, I have sympathy for people who are struggling, and I'm not trying to be mean here, but - no. Forget it. I do not spend my very scarce and very valuable free time writing long personal emails to people I don't even know. At any given moment in my life, there are thirty-seven extremely pressing things that I ought to be doing. I’m not about to blow them off to do unpaid social work via email. That is not my job. It’s not my idea of a good time, either.

What is my job, among other things, is being a writer. I write things, and then I publish them. I get paid for that by The Stranger, although not bloody much, and I publish this blog because it’s good exposure for me as a writer and it also helps my career as a pro domme. When I publish letters and answer them, that’s a win/win. The questioner gets information, and I get a piece out of it. When you write to me and say, “You can’t use this professionally, but I want to you to devote a lot of time to helping me anyway,” – well, that’s unreasonable. There’s nothing in that for me.

One aspect of these emails that always puzzles me is: there’s never anything striking unique about the situations. I can’t believe anyone would recognize the writer just by the question, even if they knew them. It’s always something fairly common: coping with a partner’s infidelity, unhappiness over a partner who is unwilling to explore kink, someone who is toying with the idea of sex work, or someone who’s feeling isolated about being kinky. So why does the writer feel so panicked about the idea of me publishing the letter? That I don’t know.

Maybe I should set up a Paypal thing where someone can pay me a fee - say, twenty-five dollars - and then I'll write a personal reply to those give-me-advice email. But short of that, if someone writes to me and asks me any question that can't be answered in five words or less, and says "You can’t publish this", that email is getting deleted.

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