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SMUT STAND REPORT: May 28, 2015 (Bath)

WHEN: 5.5 hours (5:30-11pm), May 28, 2015. WHERE: the Bell Inn, Bath, UK. OUTPUT: six pieces of microsmut and four full-length (e.g. half-page) pieces, covering everything from an improbable simultaneous orgasm (the young man assured me he knew how to reliably do it) to a deliciously softcore frolic in a pond after hiking.

I stepped in the Bell Inn, after approximately one year away, wondering who would be here. In my admittedly limited experience of bars, staff tend to rotate through quickly and I still don't really understand the concept of regulars and having a "local". However, within the first 10 minutes, I got really clear on all of that. I was greeted by a bartender who totally remembered me, and promised to let the new manager what was up. When I set up out in the back garden, the young woman at the nearest table turned and stared. "You're back!" she said. Yes? I said. "You wrote an amazing piece for me last year! I'm going to want another one!" Minutes later, an older woman walked up and said, "Good to see you!" I remembered her from last year; I wrote a nicely kinky camping story for her and her (now ex-)boyfriend. "Yeah, he dumped me," she said, and shrugged. "He doesn't know what he had!" And then my first customer of the night stepped up, a young woman with long dark hair and amazing green woolen vintage trousers. "I walked by you last year," she said, "and I didn't stop, and I always wondered what I had missed. Not this time!"

She was sitting with a group of friends, and her purchase set the ball rolling: three more of them ended up getting microsmut, too, including a birthday girl and a lanky young man who confessed to me that he was experimenting with channeling his sexual energy away from masturbating into non-sexual creative endeavors, like launching his own music label (I think that's what he said, I was still kinda stunned by the detail he went into behind the masturbation-channeling).

This peer pressure cascade effect is absolutely a thing in bar environments, and last night, wow. A little later, a friendly businessman, I think in his mid- to late 30s, peeled away from another table of friends and asked me what I was up to. He sprung for a full-length, and then when everyone else at the table wanted to see the result, he told them no, but that if they bought their own, that he would trade views with them. I AM TOTALLY STEALING THAT SUGGESTION, because four more of them decided to go for pieces. Toward the end they were crowd-funding a little bit, but they pulled it together.

In strange/awkward news, though, I ended up having to do a re-write last night, for one of the customers at that table. She had said in her interview that she liked to role-play sometimes, with older, more assertive guys, who knew what they were doing and would tell her what to do. I gave her a contained start of a scene, with a strong narrative arc, rather than a more in-the-moment, impressionistic piece, like the ones I had written for her colleagues. Nope. Didn't fly. They were all discussing their pieces while I was working on the last one, and I could hear her discontent. So I went over afterward and said, seriously, I have a money-back guarantee. I can rewrite for you or give you your money back, or give you a copy of my book. She was embarrassed, but I insisted on making it right. We did a follow-up interview, clarified a few points, and the second attempt she was thrilled with. I'm not sure what happened, if I lost my focus or was getting tired—it was approaching the end of the night—but that was a highly salutary and humbling reminder. I can NEVER phone this in, and I need to get my strategies in place to stay fresh and focused.

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