Category Archives: writing life

Some thoughts on Genre Fiction, the reader who also writes edition.

Okay for my purposes and thought processes, when I say genre fiction I’m including Horror, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, SF, Spec fit etc.

I started reading the last in the Borderland series of anthologies this week. The whole reason I wanted to read it was because I heard Nalo Hopkinson’s piece in it via Podcastle and wanted more of that world.

I also did some research and whatnot and I’m having a problem with this book already.

I learned a bit more about the background of this world and everything and was really looking forward to it.

Going from the impression I got in Nalo Hopkinson’s story, I thought there would be more POC. Four stories in, there aren’t really.

I realize this is supposed to be YA but I had to stop at one point while a White character was giving a character from India the ever charming “but where are you really from” type speech.

I’ve also been sighing with the number of white coded halfies/elves with dreads.

And just like every other fantasy related thing save for the story I already know, everything is White coded for the most part.

I’m sad.

I’m not saying any of the stories are bad. They aren’t really. I also (four stories deep) see that within this framework of interconnected stories and locations, I have yet to see any of the other stories characters interact in a meaningful way with the characters from Nalo Hopkinson’s characters and that feels low key gross to me.

Again my ability to enjoy a fantastical world is pretty broken up because I do feel like there isn’t anything ground breaking about White Elves, with Blonde Hair who are super slim and beautiful and wait REMEMBER THEY ARE WHITE.

Now I have been expanding my reading a bit and doing some study on “Urban” Fantasy.

I’ve been comparing some of the feedback about my own urban fantasy with what I know about the genre.

Several people have said that one of my stories ‘relies too much on horror’ (though it deals wit mythos, Gods, and yes some violence) yet, when I read about the history of the genre and read about the conventions used in the literature, I see a lot of vampires and distinctly horror conventions being included.

Further, I don’t do romance. So there is that.

I thought that writing Urban Fantasy means for me that I can explore the way culterally divergent mythos can blend, how I can use mythos and conventions in a way that is not so firmly rooted in the European/Norse/etc canon.

When I hear the same type of feedback from various sources, I tend to work on whatever it is by researching, reading, rewriting etc.

What I’m finding as I’m doing that with my genre fiction is a pretty strong message that a lot of genre fiction can stand stepping outside of the conventions including those Euro/White roots only so far.

Even when I have conversations about what I’m writing about with a few folks, I have felt the discomfort surrounding my ideas and execution of those ideas.

Also a bit of pushback because this is genre for grown folks. Strippers, street life, in cities, unitalicized Spanish (watch the linked video it is great), etc etc.

I have been spending some time asking for recommendations to read here and there.

Out of four spots with different readers/authors I’ve asked for SF/F/Horror/Spec fic recs for books, magazines and writers.

Every list of recommendations I’ve gotten is the same.

The list of recommended authors is the same give or take one or two. They are all authors, magazines, books I like and some I love.

But is that really all?

My parameters are as follows:

  • POC friendly
  • Not necessarily romance focused
  • Queer focused/friendly.

That is pretty much it.

Given that what I’ve been writing does not really fit into what I’ve been reading in the genre world, as time goes on I am pretty sure I will put some stuff out myself because granted there are a few literary oriented magazines I know of who like the slipstream and genre flavored but most of the literary world shits itself if something is too genre.

I don’t know.

The other side of this problem is that as a reader, I’m just so disappointed so often. If  I’m rolling my eyes because all the Whitey White White WHITE creatures have dreads or give a nod to brown people, or every time there is the Most Magical of Negroes, or whatever it is that just reinforces the idea of the box that genre likes to sit in like an angry cat, I’m just not really reading as much as I want to.

Shit is hard.

I’m disappointed and tired.

That said I am going to keep working on my genre shit. Playing with Gods who step outside their Pantheons (somehow totally okay when Gaiman does it right?), Elven mythos that is not tall white and skinny.

Black fairies.

Shapeshifters trying to live in the modern world.

Yanno.

That shit I like.

Okay that’s all. I’m tired and want to write more.

 

 


Dear Former Fan.

I’ve mentioned before that I occasionally get long missives about my work and awfulness.

Over the weekend I got one that is very long and from a lot of the “critique” this person is at least superficially aware of my work and they are now as they put it, a former fan.

Put your goggles on I’m going in. I’m not quoting the whole thing because it was hurtful and I rage deleted it but some key phrases have stuck with me.

Consider this an open letter to Former Fan and anyone else who believes that if I’d just be a good Negress I’d succeed.

Dear Former Fan,

First of all, I appreciate you having some knowledge of the body of my work. If as you said you’ve been a supporter since my first ventures in getting published online, most of those being erotica thanks. I do appreciate the ride or die type.

However.

Your objection to the changing of my voice and the tone of my work is fucking bullshit.

Given that you went to some lengths to conceal your identity and used a fake no longer functional email address. I’m going to assume you are sitting back reading my blogs through an anonymizer and that’s fine. So listen because I’m talking to you.

How dare you put your racist feelings on me. How. Dare. You.

You took the time to quote me some passages of my own work as examples of how “brain washed, ” I’ve become in terms of how I talk about race, racism etc. You quoted this piece as the penultimate example of just how far I’ve fallen into what I can only assume is a type of Blackness and Black expression that makes you uncomfortable.

One of the things that I have learned about the nonfiction I write is that when people are the most uncomfortable or buck the hardest are probably the people I’m talking about. You are the people I am talking about.

If the only way you can find value in my work is if I am expressing a type of racialized pain, or erotica that is just queer or non white related enough to seem exotic to you-you are a fucking racist.

Let me explain you a thing.

As I have mentioned in this very blog previously if you cannot look beyond your own Whiteness (and don’t front like you didn’t lead with “I”m White and I think”) to understand that Whiteness is just not ever going to fit me or my expression and that is okay it is natural and real; I am not for you.

If you “agree with other commenters on XOJane” that my writing is terrible and harmful, it is not for you.

If I am not the kind of fat bitch you fucks with, don’t fuck with me.

Don’t contact me again.

If you are really serious about making sure that folks know that my work is “against White People” as you put it, go ahead and leave me the fuck out of it.

If your goal is to somehow shame or hurt me into silence. Nice try. You tried but that is just not going to work.

Let me confess something here. I have a terrible need to accept people at face value for what they have said. Including when people don’t like my writing. In the case of some of the commentary on my XOJane series I have taken the time to talk out some of the points that folks have had because I couldn’t see it and find a lot of the constant cherry picking and nit picking disheartening and hurtful.

I had a few very important realizations after talking to others about it. In spite of how invested in being of service especially in terms of that particular subject matter, I can feel about the useless commentary the way I feel about it in my real life.

I don’t have to explain things that are pretty clear to a lot of other people.

I don’t have to sit and be hurt because I feel like regardless of what I do or don’t say, the same three points are going to be made over and over again.

Also as this article says about trolling:

“Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others. Sadists just want to have fun and the Internet is their playground!”

This applies to you Former Fan.

You seem to be deeply concerned for my well being but only if I behave and write in ways that make you feel good about how racist and shitty your behavior is.

Wrong. Negro.

As I have gotten older, I am exploring being more vulnerable in my writing. It’s fucking hard. It hurts. And knowing that there are “fans” who wait for me to be vulnerable and then use that vulnerability to attack is fucking awful.

You are fucking awful.

So 800 some odd words later it boils down to this.

I will say again.

Don’t buy my shit.

Don’t read my shit.

Don’t fucking contact me again.

Don’t contact my friends/peers.

Don’t come here proffering your hurt fucking feelings couched in, I was just trying to help.

Understand that I do not ever want to be in a position where my “success” is defined by my proximity to and acceptance of Whiteness as rightness.

Not. Fucking. Ever.

If you want to hold that against me, tell potential publishers on me or follow me around so you can have proof of my malfeasance come the fuck on.

I’m fucking tired of you and your ilk.

Find a new hobby or just don’t talk to me about your shit cause ain’t nobody got time for that.

And no, lastly I will not cease code switching in both my speech and writing.

You have fucking google.

Okay that’s all.

There is your response Former Fan. I hope it hurt your fucking feelings.

 


What I’m reading and some thoughts.

I have been thirsty for other worlds lately and trying desperately to not hate some genre fiction.

First I want to talk about the Sandman Slim Series by Richard Kadrey.  So outside of the fact that I just love the character Sandman Slim and these books are populated with low lifes, drunks and assholes as opposed to pure sweet magical folk is great.

BUT after reading (I’m up to the fourth book I think?) the last one I read I have some things I have got to say.

Now during the first book when he introduced a woman of color as a speaking/thinking character I was, let’s say skeptical. Frankly I figured this character would be dead/maimed/used as a prop and that I’d just have to deal with it.

So okay.

I got to the second book, there she was.

She is written like a real whole human being with thoughts and feelings that don’t revolve around some derivative Mammy or Jezebel stereotype. Her beauty is mentioned. Her heart is mentioned. She is important to the fucking story.

Coming on the heels of trying to read ASOIAF and raging out for five books straight. And then another fantasy series where anything within shouting distance of black was just pure evil.

The erasure of the POC on a couple of shows I had wanted to watch, the Whiteness of horror and everything else I have been desperate. Y’all I just want my goddamn escapism maybe with a smidge less Whiteness.

And then Mr Kadrey.

Is it the most? Naw. Still a lot of white people but the difference between this and say that magical negro nonsense both King and Straub do, this is a whole character. Whole. Not a caricature of mashed up tropes, an entire being.

I want more because he does it well. We know I’m a greedy reader.

This series is fulfilling an important role in my reading menu. Sometimes, as conscious as I am of everything in the fucking world that sucks. I just want to read something that makes me happy.

Mr. Kadrey’s work makes me happy.

Now I would advise those who can’t seem to figure out how to make a Non white person be a real person in their work check it out.

There is also that gritty, grimy quality to this series that really satisfies a particular need I have.

Now recently I on a whim got a copy of Jhereg by Steven Brust which is the first of a series.

Someone who knows my taste for crime and noir and suspense and shit recommended the series to me. I am just about done with the first book and it has yet to just scream WHITENESS WHITENESS WHITENESS WHITENESS at me in the language or mythology so far.

I will remain skeptical for another book or so but for now something I am very into is that I don’t have to really reach to picture some of these characters as non white people.  There is actually room in the prose for me to see myself in that world and that’s great because I love the world so far.

Intrigue, murder, spying and shit.

While the world is just terrifying to me right now on a level I can barely put into words, having some bit of escapism that doesn’t cause me pain or bug me to the point I can’t stand it is really valuable.

I can’t tell y’all how nice it was a few weeks ago to be finishing the second in the Sandman Slim series on a day where four of my social media inboxes were full of racialized hate and threats of one sort or another. And I spent the day watching people shit on my work because they don’t like me personally. It was rough. I felt pretty terrible and then I had a world I could go to and escape for the hour and a half it took me to get home.

That is why I’m such a lover of books and why I find it so hard to deal with the Whiteness of everything sometimes.

I feel like the couple of hours a day I can escape while things are changing and happening for me is so important and finding stuff that doesn’t boot me out of that has become vital.

So hats off sirs.

Well played.


So many things.

So hey.

Outside of everything in merica being real fucking terrible right now some good stuff is going on in my writing life.

Ready?

So firstly new publication news.

I have flash fiction in Ex Fic. A tiny story about a prostitute that does not invoke Pretty Woman nor is it anti sex worker nonsense. Go forth and enjoy it here.

AND I have tiny prose poetry in Urban Graffiti (I think I told y’all?) my type of romance between cutters. Enjoy. Also the art the editor chose is really beautiful. Kinda NSFW.

AND one more little flash piece in Black Mirror Magazine. Get it here.

All of these acceptances came in a little succession and as I was organizing my rejection list/submission list I realized that traditionally for at least the last five years, June-about now is ALWAYS a dry season for me and I don’t know why.

The next new thing is in anticipation of a super special thing happening, I now have an author page on the facebooks for writing related stuff. If you have one too, drop me a link and I can like it. Here you will find mine, it’s kind of naked right now but that will be changing soon.

What else?

OH I got a new to me laptop. It is a little (not so little) used Dell and I make a little nest in my bed, with my bulldog puppy lapdesk and go. It feels pretty good to have my technology handled.

I have been writing like a mother fucker and nestling in this feeling of having a very special community of other women writers I’ve found who are ready to yell and talk about pooping and make up and thing.

And to still have the support of women I love and admire. To have them tell me yes. Having them tell me when I have ideas WRITE THAT SHIT.

Writing life feels right.

I could be getting published more. I could be submitting more. My output could be bigger but things feel nice and right right now.

Now I should probably eat some food because I am exhausted and in need of something

That something is going to be rewatching Carnivale (someone remind me to go blog about the one Cooch dancer in my other blog alter) and I will get through the remainder of my shift at my dayjob without falling or goig to sleep.


On freelancing research and whatnot.

Okay first thing.

To the person coming in to tell me to “stop whining” about white people, fuck off.

You come in trying to cheerfully do something, anonymously grow a spine or stay the fuck out.

Okay now new business.

I have been doing a lot of research on getting myself more freelance paid work.

Given the subject matter I like writing about generally speaking mingled with uh, the dearth of writers of color at a lot of the venues I have been introduced to I’m feeling a little uh, unsettled.

I’m not awesome at writing on spec all the time and that is a skill I am working on.

And I’m not great at pitching but I am working on that as well.

I feel like until I get my tech situation worked out, I should just write some shit and keep on keeping on.

This stuff is daunting but I am ready I think.

What else am I working on?

I am working on lightening up in my non fiction. I don’t know what it is precisely but writing the shit that just guts me comes too naturally and I dont’ know how to deal with the emotional depletion and often following racialized bullshit. Recovering takes a lot out of me and I’m still trying to figure out what to do with all that beyond shut down.

Since I got a new phone I have been writing tiny flash fiction things on it while I wait for the bus.

One of these recently got published, see it here in Black Mirror Magazine. The most amusing thing about that is mainly that I wrote it standing at a bus stop, while a homeless woman was calling me satan. I see her every now and then, I gave her a cigarette once because she was staring at me while I was smoking but now she calls me satan every time I see her.

I’ve written about four other tiny flash pieces. I’m calling them experimental horror flavored retellings. Brief. Non specific. Experiments.

I am getting back into the swing of submitting fiction.

After my initial freak out about things happening for me that I hadn’t foreseen I am ready. Well maybe not ready but I am at least working it out.

That is all the news. I have work to do.

 


On Ambition and publication news

First the publication news.

I wrote a poem about/inspired by my dear friend Haddayr and it got picked up at Leaves of Ink. I’ve known Haddayr around the intertubes for years now and there is something about her that just touches me in my soul area and I love her so much I want to hug her until she farts and then we can laugh and yell and probably fall down. This poem was inspired by something she said and I am so so honored it got published. ALSO she is a kick ass fucking writer. Seriously. Essays, fiction. Read her.

Next I had an essay edited and published by Antonia Mother fucking Crane. I admit I freaked out a bit when she asked me for a thing about kink and the first thing that came to mind was the topic of my failure to fulfill the pisser portion of being a piss queen. Read it here at The Weeklings. There are few things I love more than having a good editor and Antonia is a fine editor. She coaxed better timing out of me, writing in a world that is very stuck on quick fast and in a hurry she encouraged me to get back to a slow burn.  It was also my first serious try at being on purpose funny. I am a funny person, but never when I am trying to be funny.

I am also cruising along at Xojane with my self care series. Some folks hate it and hate me and that is kind of great. So many other people have left comments there and elsewhere telling me that they need to hear this stuff.  This is my first thing I’ve been paid for on the regular and had it be such a serious affirmation of things that make me feel like a better human. I have a lot of feelings about it.

I am still working really hard on figuring out how to balance writing freelance things, submitting things, writing fiction and working my day job and managing my fucking feelings and holy shit it is all so much.

OH I also relaunched my personal blog. You can see my new spot here.

Watch me segue really smoothly here.

As I am doing these things and gaining exposure to new audiences and doing so while feeling like an actual part of a writing community that accepts and loves me for who I actually am and what I actually write and not my potential to be the next Alice Walker, I am realizing that my ambitions are changing in ways I did not anticipate.

At one time, maybe six years ago I would have said that my ambition was to write novels, get them published with some critical acclaim and to ease off the teat of the dayjob.

Right now honestly all I want is that spreading readership, my writer homies backing me and maybe enough spare money made to get some tattoos, replace my electronics and whatnot.

Some fun money and an awesome readership is what it boils down to.

I am still only semi invested in mainstream publishing and that finally feels okay to me. The more I learn about big deal “serious” publishing the less I see a place there for myself.

I feel like I am learning to put less pressure on myself to be the Big Bad Black Trailblazing Negress. I do it when I feel like it. When I can but I’m not going to eat myself up trying.

I think that’s all for right now. I should update my website but I don’t feel like it. Instead I’m going to eat something tasty and do some work on something close to my little heart.

Later taters.


20 Years.

I realized a few days ago that as of next month, I have been trying to get published/getting published for 20 years.

20 years.

My first publication (I lied) I was 17 and it was a long angsty poem about an older lesbian with auburn colored armpit hair and a very sweet smile.

While I am so full of angst about trying so hard to figure out where my work fits in with the literary world, I’m taking a minute to remember back then.

It was the mid 90s and when I could afford it I would buy copies of Poets and Writers or I would sit with them at the library and copy the names and addresses of literary magazines. I would then go to my high school (while I was in high school that is until 95) computer lab and furiously type up poems and stories in secret. This was of course after weeks or months of rewriting on paper.

Nobody ever really wrote back. I remember crying because I’d spent a quarter of a paycheck my senior year on having nice paper, envelopes and postage. With SASE and nobody wrote back to tell me no even.

That first published poem I submitted under a pen name I told nobody about. I was ashamed and proud. Ashamed because I didn’t feel like I was allowed to be a writer. I should have done better in school, I should have had a better body, I should have been a better daughter, a better person.

I had one little copy of the print zine, I had gone downtown Seattle to Left Bank Books and bought it for a quarter. I may have whispered (I was very shy) to the guy at the register that I wrote a poem in it, or I might have imagined that.

After that when I could afford it I bought literary magazines. Or I bought Poets and Writers. I tried really hard to write what I thought people would want to publish.

I wrote, I cried. I obsessed.

I remember having this obsession with Muses and the nature of them. I wrote about shoveling coal into a furnace. I wrote about my Muses getting naked and fucking each other in my head.

I masturbated while reading Henry Miller and On Our Backs.

I had the seeds of what would later become my love of writing weird syncretic mythologies.

I wrote observational freewrites while I sat on the sidewalk outside of Nordstrom Rack at 6 AM waiting for a but home.

I wrote about a boy who smelled of sweaty boys skin, leather and smoke. I slipped it into his pocket and walked away.

I did not get published in print again for a few years.

At one point I “retired” from trying to be a writer. I was living hard scrabble with a friend, working a minimum wage office job and doing phone sex. I had my first foot fetish for pay thing. I let a man give me money for looking at my cunt.

I started feeling incredibly crazy. I started to journal again and as I listened to men jerking off on the phone I started to learn how to write erotica. I wrote little stories about Puppy training and humiliation. I learned about forced feminization and how much I wanted to do those things.

At the same time I was reading amazing Queer erotica and had a terrible crush on Patrick Califa.

I wrote.

I did not tell a soul. No one.

A while later I got internet access. I found other writers. I posted on Literotica, I posted on other websites. My dear friend Anthony posted my first finished horror erotica piece in his print magazine.

I got paid to write lesbian erotica.

I got lectured by an editor not to be so Queer in the work I was going to be paid to write for him. Not because I did that but because he read my personal sex blog. That was the first time I stood up for myself and my writing to an editor.

I wrote and saved my work on floppy disks I carried in a tiny purple accordion looking thing. I lost work. I cried. I hated computers.

I learned how to submit things via email.

I wrote.

I wrote so much.

I got rejected a lot.

I got published sometimes.

Now in the last ten years I started to stop giving a fuck about what I thought people want to publish. My writing has changed and become something far more indicative of the writer. I stopped forcing myself to adhere to Whiteness. I get published a bit less often.

Around four years ago I made the decision that even if it means I will never have “commercial” success, I will talk about racism in the industry and name names when I need to. I will talk publicly about my experiences and how I feel about them.

I decided to publish things myself even though I’ve been told it will ruin me. I published imperfect work that I am proud of because I made it and I have learned from it. I am not ashamed of that. I have (don’t ask me how) made myself a small niche where I feel good. I feel like I am doing this shit on my fucking terms and it is okay.

Sometimes I am still pretty scared that I will never be published again because I like being published. On the other hand, some days I don’t give a hot fuck.

I write.

I am still doing this and I believe in myself.

I feel good about the shit I write that gets rejected by everyone because it’s not absolutely perfect or because it’s not a “story story” or it’s too dirty for literary magazines, or it is not racial uplift.

It is painful sometimes but I am still doing the damn thing.

Sometimes I help some people.

Sometimes I make people really angry.

Sometimes the scribbles in my notebook are poetry to me and I feel like I’ve shown a bit of my soul even if every editor hates it.

So 20 years in the industry, no fame, no fortune.

20 years and hardly anybody knows who I am and that is okay.

I feel like I am right where I am supposed to be.

Happy Anniversary me.

Happy fucking anniversary.


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