It's not people reading my work that caused the pressures I experienced in my writing... It's ridiculous expectations set by me, based on factors I believed I could control.
To quote part of a reply I sent a friend of mine in an email:
"...[The pressures] all came from the avalanche of doubt I personally heaped upon the very unsturdy roof of my emotional lean-to. I went into this project knowing that, if I chose to fight the battles it would take to get my book into big-name retailers and onto big-name review lists, I was choosing certain defeat. When I experienced some very unexpected success, I let go of that fact and made one hell of an unfounded leap, assuming that doubling the efforts I'd expended from November 2005 - January 2006 would give me double the results, selling another 3000 books - and of course, by that stupid, stupid, STUPID logic, if I quadrupled the effort of those three months, I could sell another 12,000 books.
"It's just one of those silly things that makes sense all the way up to when you actually try it. It's like when you baked your first cake and read the directions and thought to yourself, 'You know, if I'm supposed to bake this thing for 60 minutes at 350 degrees, I bet I could crank this bad boy up to 500 and be eating tasty chocolately goodness inside of 30 minutes! Too bad it doesn't go to 1100...'"
I did it to myself. If I'm being kind, I'd say that I got caught up in the thrill of being exposed to more people and selling more books. If I'm being stone honest, I'd say that I got greedy. I got really into the idea of throwing my success back in the face of both the doubters and the industry, who said that a self-published author writing stories about himself on the internet and turning them into a book can't make it in the marketplace.
What I'd forgotten is that I've already made it. I 'made' it the moment the first person I didn't personally know signed up for MI, and I made it again when I sold books to people who didn't feel obligated (out of friendship or kinship, whichever) to buy one to support me. From those moments forward, it is no longer about ME. It's about the project and the community which it has spawned.
Who cares about book sales? Do they accurately describe the quality of the project itself? If so... Paris Hilton and James Frey are genious-level inspirations.
It's not about that crap. It's about having a great time with the people who join the site. The book isn't the next Great American Novel. It's basically a souviner - a trophy of completion of a very, very neat and fun project. It belongs to everyone who joins the site and votes on stories.
Blah de blah blah, so on and so forth. I talk a lot.
But in all fairness, I TOLD you the writer's block is gone... You had fair warning.