Monday, June 2, 2014

A Critical Eye

I've taken a good long look... and I don't like what I see.

So I started up this little rant on "INterchange", but here's the gist of it:

Why am I still making caps?


Seriously, I'm asking.  Because I can't think of a single good reason right now.  I can think of three reasons to make caps.  You want to please yourself.  You want to please others.  The subject matter is personal to you and you feel yourself making connections deep inside of yourself when you do.

Now, I've made caps for all three of those reasons in the past.  Many of my caps are made for the first reason... I wanted to please myself.  I wanted to push myself graphics wise, and I wanted to push myself story wise.  Throughout successful and unsuccessful caps, I've almost always pleased myself.  I wanted to please others.  Seeing someone's appreciation, or dare I even say Joy, at seeing a cap made for them is a wonderful feeling.  Seeing others add in their enjoyment of the cap pushed me over the edge on more than one occasion, leaving me with a big goofy purely happy grin on my face.  I guess in a way, at least for me, that also feeds into the first reason... I was pleasing myself by pleasing others.

And then there's that third one.  The personal connection.  I've never firmly felt that I was transgendered.  I've had plenty of sexual fantasies lived out through the caps I've made, but when push comes to shove those fantasies aren't about changing sex.  They're about playing with power (gaining it or losing it... they both appeal to me).  They're about playing with humiliation and shame.  They're about being forced.  A version of those fantasies still exist, and yes sometimes those fantasies still involve me being a woman... but the vast majority of them now are just about the core of the fantasies.  The power.  The humiliation.

That personal connection is something that I was comfortable playing with.  And when it all but left me, I wanted to keep playing with it.  I mean... I still had the first two parts.  I wanted to please myself, and manipulting images, working on a design, writing out a clever story... those all still pleased me.  And I still want to please others... I want people to be happy with what I make.  But I can't get there any more.  That last part has soured the first two.  I may have brief moments of happiness in creation... a good story idea... a good twist... a good description... a fancy design.   But the end results are always disappointing.  I can't keep that frame of mind long enough to maintain a story.  I can't get that voice in gear long enough to even coast to an ending.  And if the story isn't up to snuff, then what's the point of a good design?  Pretty paper and ribbon's can't cover up the fact that the gift itself... the story... is a big turd.

I've had this feeling on and off for a long time, and I thought I could put it behind me when I wrote "epilogue".   But then I wrote this in response to a comment:

...the caps I’ve created since Caitlyn left me haven’t matched up to what I intended them to be. And for the most part, those caps have been well received.

Like many of my comments on other blogs, and writings here, I wrote that fairly quickly.  I didn't put a lot of thought into it and just let my heart pour out.  So when I re-read that exchange the next day, it was like I reached through the screen and slapped myself.

They didn't match up to what I intended them to be.

It really doesn't matter what my secondary motivation was.... sexy, happy, sad, hawt... because it barely matched up with the primary goal.  To write TG fiction.  Yes, they all did involve a transformation... some just cross dressing, some into sissys, some into full womanhood... but in the end that was the secondary part.

Take "Parting Gift" for example.  I wanted to make a 'hawt' caption.  Something sexy and steamy.  On the surface it succeeded.  But when I read the story now, I see it taken from such a different prespective that it hardly qualifies.  The actual story (emphasized both in the writing AND the layout) is of the two guys tasked with changing Jeremy into Jennifer.   Sure, you get Jennifer's take on it, but I pushed that to the background.  That story concept... being changed through re-living a dream like sequence of events... has been done and I didn't really add anything new to it except for the over story of the two guys.

As I look back on all the caps I've made since Caitlyn left me, they all feel the same.  I'm biting around the edges of a good transformation story and focusing on less than TG aspects.  "Man's Man" is about submission.  "Fun Loving Girls and their Fun Loving Wishes" is about transformation, but it's more about someone changing into a pet.   "Curiosity" is about domination.  "Dawn Noir" is about writing in a different style. "Everything Is All Right" is about friendship.  "Big Long Boners" is a setup for a fourth graders joke.

Yes.  All stories are about something else.  Many of my favorite captions involve these subjects.... but I made them with the INTENT of playing with those subjects.  The caps I've mentioned all  had different intents, and the only reason that I'm even partially happy with them is that they've accidentally bumped into another subject.

This just doesn't extend to my own cap making.  If I'm fully honest, I'm not getting a lot of enjoyment out of other people's caps either.  Simone, Dee, Jennifer, Samantha deSavory, Nikki, Candy, Rauk.... all of my faves... they just don't interest me.  I hate saying that.  I mean I REALLY hate saying that.  But unless the mood is just right, I read these caps and don't get them.  I can't put myself into the role of the transformee, or the transformer.  And that's even coming across in my comments on their blogs.  First and foremost, I'm not commenting as often as I want.  And when I do, it's most often with a "Great Cap!" style comment.  I try to dig in and explain what got to me (design, a turn of phrase, a secondary subject...), but a lot of the time I can't even do that.

Recently I commented on one of Dee's caps.  It was a Dee standard.... toss the ball up and knock it out of the park.  But I didn't get it.  I even said so in the comments and I was dead wrong on my assumption.  You can read the post, comment, and reply to comment here.

So what does this all mean?

Well... for starters, I'm hanging up my photoshop.  Because at the end of the day there aren't three reasons to make caps.  There's only one.  To please yourself.  Pleasing others is only a good reason when it also pleases me.  Expressing a personal journey only works when it's MY personal journey.

I thought that not making caps was slightly more frustrating than making caps with great difficulty... but that's just not the case any more.  Making caps has stopped bringing me joy.  All I see in them are failures.  If you have enjoyed the caps I've made, then there is a small part of me that's happy, but that part is drowned out by the sadness of having someone enjoy something that I look upon as a failure.

I'm going to write out a personal message to those that I owe caps too.  I've written notes similar to this before... when I've gotten to far behind in paying back caps, when I've gotten myself into a funk, when I had to step away and force myself to study for the NCLEX.... but I've always finished those notes with the promise that I would eventually pay them back.   It might take months or even a year, but I had every intent to pay them back.  Now... now I just don't see a path that will get me there.

Is this goodbye?  I don't know.  At this very moment, I don't see how it can't be a goodbye.  How can I still hang out and expect to maintain friendships when the thing that brought us together... TG cap making... no longer holds my attention?

If this part of my life doesn't work any longer, isn't a goodbye in my best interest?

I just don't know.


  1. Caitlyn or Calvin, I have always heard that you should do the thing that you love. As then you will enjoy it. If you don't enjoy capping, maybe move on.
    You blot will always be here. And you will always have friends that will welcome you back. I have always enjoyed your caps, it is evident that you put time in and do a wonderful job. I started my blot because of your encouragement. When I see mine and compare it to yours, I feel I 'm not doing very well. But I enjoy it. I don't get a lot of comments. But I feel that I'm doing it for me. Expressing a part of myself that I can/will never be able to share with anyone else. I also see myself doing the same thing as you. I will have go on.
    I wish you the best if you go on, and would love to buy you a beer if and when you come back.
    till whenever.

  2. Well if this is goodbye, I'd like to to say that it's been an absolute pleasure. You have easily been one of the biggest influences on me and consistently drove me to push my caps to a higher standard, both in terms of storytelling and design.

    I've been thinking a lot of these same things lately as my production levels have dropped. I'm pretty much relying on reader requests to spark my creative drive as I feel like I've told pretty much every story I want to in the world of tg. I still try to check out other cappers' work, but I'm finding myself more drawn to the other aspects that you mentioned (domination, submission, humiliation, shame) than the actual transformation elements.

    So along those lines (and as a selfish fan of your work), I certainly wouldn't complain if you decided to break away from the tg world and make captions exploring new kinds of stories and fantasies, but I also know that I'm not a typical member of the tg audience either.

    As much as it sucks, I think you're making the right decision. If you're not enjoying your own work anymore, what's the point in doing it? So if your capping career has come to an end there are two things I'd like to say to you. First, thank you for everything. Words will never be able to convey how big of an impact you had on me and my work, and your presence in this community will be sorely missed. Second, I hope you find another outlet that let's you chase that frustrating and addictive high that only comes from creating awesome shit (and if you ever decide to share this new awesomeness with the internet please let me know).

    Good luck out there in the real world!

  3. It's been a good journey since we first met when we role played together. It was fun seeing you r beginnings and how your caps developed into something that was quality wise truly above anything out there. Hope our paths cross again in the future.

  4. How dare you NOT go through the motions and appease everyone else that comes to see your work on a consistent basis!

    You've always been too hard on yourself and I had gotten the feel that you didn't really have any challenges left in the TG captioning realm, and that is what you fed off of, that knack of doing something you hadn't done before. "Been there, done that, wore the maid's outfit and heels." was not on your agenda in the slightest.

    If its not in you, why bother trying? I don't really want to add Calvin to the list of people I "used" to know, since I already placed Caitlyn on that roster quite a few months ago. Each name that gets added makes me feel even more like a relic.

    I can totally make peace with the fact that you might not make anymore TG captions. Hell, you've carved out quite a legacy already, and if you feel like you are a 'Jeter'ing it now, then you have every right to stop. You've been true to yourself every step of the way since you found our little TG captioning niche a few years ago, and laid it out for your readers each and every time.

    Please do pop in once in awhile though, just to say hi. I may miss Calvin, and Caitlyn, but I'll probably miss "C" most of all!

  5. I can't say i didn't see it coming but I'm glad I got to know you over the process. There will never be another Caitlyn - as a captioner or as my friend. You've been an incredible influence on me and I've been a fan of your work forever now. Thank you for spending your time with us all here and I hope you can still pop in and say hi when you feel up to it.

    As Dee said, you left a lovely legacy. As always, I'll leave the light on for you!