On my Mind

First of all.

Y’all this album is so fucking good.

This is my current soundtrack.

On my mind. Right now, y’all should check out this hashtag on tweeter.  And related read this. See also this.

Please note: I only use the word woman/women very loosely and to include Genderqueer/Femme presenting living folks.

How are these things related? Here’s what I’m thinking.

On the hashtag you’ll see it relates to Ebony which is a traditional Black publication. A lot of Black women write/have written for it. If you look at some of the responses they fall in line with the other link.

Everybody loves to ask or demand Black women do work. Whether it is the exhortation to get ourselves out there and hustle. HUSTLE and get those bylines to show the WHOLE goddamn world what we can do.

I’m here for it.

There is a trap in it. When the places that are supposed to be here for Black people, women in this case fucking fail. This is exploitation and as a larger issue, I see this constantly with freelancing. This is another reason why I hate it so much.

For me personally, living with my particular set of marginalizations I cannot fuck around with people who don’t pay what is agreed upon.

While there is an absolute cachet to scoring those home run bylines, there is peril. As with any industry, when you’re loud about how those in power fuck up, shit gets real. I’ve watched it play out time and time again from writing groups to twitter etc.

We say, hey fuck you pay me. Or say, this editor at X magazine will not respond to my need to be paid. And things can get so bad. Part of the reason for this is that nobody trusts or believes women, especially Black women.

If we say, I’ve been mistreated-BOOM suddenly we’re just being big ole meany face bully gossips. Echoes of rape culture and sexism and Misogynoir.

Y’all know.

Now, the person who started the dialogue about Ebony, has been subject to shitty ass trolling especially from other Black folks and from supposed professionals within Ebony. Ebony is not some little three person zine struggling for postage money. This is huge money, this is old money and like so many other things will celebrate Black women out of one side of their mouths and steal food off their table and talk shit about us from the other side.

This is from the big leagues. This is supposed to be the right way to be a writer or to be an activist. These are the people who’s nod we’re supposed to earn.

And they treat us like this.

So, some people like me decide, you know what?

Fuck your legitimate money.

nope
[image caption: A still from Godzilla. Lookng up at Godzilla, it looks like she is yelling. Underneath there is all caps white text that says NOPE]
Not that I won’t occasionally get me some but overall, nah.

For a variety of reasons.

So, as y’all know if you read me regularly, I have my donation area and my tipjar and my venmo. It is how a lot of people I know who put in a hell of a lot of work help ourselves survive.

For the type of work I do, for the type of activism I prefer and how I am able to create the shit I’m good at, patronage (YUP we’re going there again) is an ideal model. I have my dayjob and that mostly pays my rent and I have my art. When the mundane parts of my life are paid for, I’m a motherfucking artist juggernaut.

And a lot of the time, my tipjars and whatnot make up for the intense emotional labor I am prone to do in spaces where, a lot of folks don’t appreciate shit.

So then along comes this person who abused their platform to really shit on those of us who aren’t operating within spitting distance of legit money acceptability.

I’ll quote from the post I linked to above:

They discourage Black activists and organizers from Liberation, and inspire them to chase individual fame and fortune from white power. They reinforce respectability and funnel shared resources into their own crusty Black hands. They use us when needed, but abandon us when necessary.

This is why I will not and cannot fuck with people like this. And the person who started the bullshit about what is and isn’t acceptable in terms of the hustle and doing the work is the type person who helped drive me away from freelancing.

This culture of deciding that you ONLY count if you are acceptable. If you don’t tell, if you are a Good Negro, if you get by in an acceptable way is pure fucking garbage. There is nothing revolutionary or cute about replicating the macro world problems in a microcosm.

Nothing.

That said, there is money in aligning yourself with the “right” way.

I mean, that blogger is making some coin right?

Ebony is still making them coins.

I respect the hustle. Y’all know the old saying, don’t hate the player, hate the game. I hate the game.

Fuck that game.

That game and trying to play it really almost killed any desire I had to ever write another essay. These behaviors hurt me in what at times feels like an irrevocable way.

On the other hand, it does fire me up. Knowing that I am doing exactly what I need to do in order to be the best creator I can be is amazing.

Yes, these things are still exhausting and painful. It hurts me as a Black Femme/mostly womanish type person to see Black women shit on each other to get ahead.

It hurts my actual soul. It hurts my heart because these are the tools of White Supremacy and if we can’t stop using them against each other what chance do we have of expecting White people to not use them against us?

Now here’s the thing.

I have zero expectation of agreeing with or kumbayahing our way out of it.

What I hope is that at the very least we stop shitting on each other for cash.

I know, we ALL need to make money. Y’all know I am about that hustle and grind life. But not at the exposure of people who are also marginalized.

Let’s not. We can do better.

 

 

The Soundtrack of Magical Blackness.

I’ve been writing a lot of magical Black folks this week. Not just in the Daiyuverse but, another mermaid story, a high fantasy story about a cat woman and her female King lover.

I always have a soundtrack. I don’t write well without music. When I’m working on these particular stories, I feel both weight and lightness. I feel the weight of representation and the constancy of the fight to be visible in the lit world.

I feel the weight of navigating this world as both a reader and a creator. I hear shit from people like this, (seriously read that hashtag), I watch known abusers and rapists get airtime and still have to deal with shit like:

So, I detach and try to immerse myself in Magical Blackness because there, I don’t have to deal with this shit. I can write what I want to write and be magical as fuck and it feels okay. It feels comfortable. I don’t have to think about the pitches gone unanswered, the unpaid predatory “opportunities” extended to me, the attempts to exploit my emotional labor all of the things that make the industry part of writing hell for me.

So I escape.

I work.

I create worlds where me and my ilk don’t have to fight. Well we do but it’s not the sort that takes food off of our tables and out of our children’s mouths.

This is the world we POC and especially multiply marginalized folks navigate. And sometimes, I really just gotta get away from it.

I go to this place of safety even though I know I probably won’t sell a single bit of it.

I know and I go anyway because if I don’t, I’ll just be angry and my stomach will hurt and nothing will ever feel better.

So I keep doing it. I go back to this place and write in it and read in it. I daydream about living a fantasy Artist life and then I go pay bills and juggle and struggle.

So I’ll keep my soundtracks going and go back to my magical words because I have to.

She looked down at the purring cat in her arms and smiled.

“I love him so much. What is his name?”

Before Dr. Emryss could speak the cat opened his eyes, yawned and spoke.

“My name, my dear beauty is Bastien Chevalier DuPuis. I do love you too, you are so brown and big and warm. I never want to leave your arms my love.”

Her eyes widened and she tried to say something like, nice to meet you but nothing came out. She’d seen and heard of shapeshifters resting in animal shapes, heard of those with an understanding of animals but never, one that spoke.

“Bastien, bad cat. I told you not to speak to her. I was going to introduce you two eventually.”

“Forgive me old friend but, she’s just she’s so soft. And so tall. Why didn’t you tell me you had a giantess coming for tea?”

The cat put one of his huge paws on her cheek, when he met her gaze he rubbed his face across her nose and nibbled her cheek.

“Forgive me being forward dear Linda. I can’t help myself. I’m a fool for someone like you.”

I have my little escapes and days like today when I watch the perks of Whiteness elevate the work of a rapist and abuser, and watch folks use their privilege to make money off of shit that they don’t even experience- I need to escape.

I do what I have to in order to be able to write what the fuck I wanna write.

It’s not lucrative, it sure as fuck won’t make me famous but, it still feels damn good.

I’ll end with this. And please do enjoy my soundtrack.

Who to Blame for where we are now.

books
[image caption: Two books side by side. one cream colored called (close to the bone) memoirs of hurt, rage and desire. On the right a blue book title sarah by j.t leroy)
Okay y’all.

I decided to start a new project and it has to do with these two books.

Let me tell y’all a story.

When I was a babby writer, I spent a lot of time working to emulate other writers. I did that thing where I copied lines of things, everything from bits of Hamlet to Henry Miller, Anne Rice. Lots of stuff.

I would often save up for the month and take my 20-25$ and I had a few favorite book stores. One of them was owned by an old gay couple, I would prowl around until I found the perfect brand new book. I was so shy, I went there regularly for months before I was brave enough to have a conversation with the owners.

When close to the bone came out, one of the gents got down a copy and told me to read it. I’d read Permanent Midnight by Jerry Stahl already and his name caught my eye.

If you were to point to something that changed everything about how I was learning how to write and what I as a young Black, freaked out, traumatized weirdo was allowed to write- that book changed it all.

Y’all.

Y’all.

I read it and reread it and it opened up a whole new world of subject, tone and expression.

So if you want to point to some people who set me on a path, this is them.

I’ll explain how jt leroy fits in somewhere else.

I had a really visceral emotional reaction to getting these. I haven’t read the antho since probably 1999.

I’ll post more, but um, this is gonna be a big thing.

Musings on Patronage

After a really great month for my Patreon, Like the best month ever and I celebrated with some stickers for my planner, a couple of thrifted books and a double credit card payment. I also got a nice lil tip in my Venmo that netted me a couple of coffees and some time to sit down and make some plans.

This morning, I got a long rambly angry note from an anonymous person at a throwaway email address all about how they KNOW I take advantage of people and how I am a (this phrase is verbatim) Welfare Lady in Waiting and how I’m just fleecing people because my writing is not good enough to get the big bucks and shit from publishing.

Now, aside from the sheer saltiness and the fact that they cherry picked things I post about freely on social media as examples of how I’m rooking folks into funding my lavish lifestyle, I noticed that what came across was that this person is bitter as fuck but follows me closely.

Obviously their welfare lady in waiting thing is a racist as fuck, sexist as fuck and comes from what I think is probably a place of hurt that I, a Black person has dared to carve out an artist life of sorts.

Let’s use a super famous and successful White person as an example here. Now, I cannot stand her for many reasons, but Amanda Palmer is gonna be our example.  She literally makes more money per thing than I do in a year.

Cruising through the top writing creators, most of them make anywhere from 1200$ up through 12,000$.

The thing is, there is a very long and rich tradition of patronage to artists. All kinds of artists, writers, painters, singers etc. Folks giving people money to live so they can create is something that has gone on forever. What I find interesting about modern life is that in reality, often the argument I hear from people against my own search for patronage is wrapped up in age old stereotypes about Black people.

The uppermost layer revolves around the idea that unless you are extraordinary, if you don’t have ties in the world you work in you have zero access. If you are not the right negro, often the gatekeepers want nothing to do with you unless they are tickled by you.

If you can be an exotic pet for them to talk about to their friends. Or they will fuck you or display you or, at worst steal from you.

Some of those things have happened to me. Way back when, I had the “opportunity” to deal with some mentors who were older White men with money and pretty much they wanted a literate fuckdoll. They wanted to be the one to say they bagged the next Maya and I wasn’t having it.

I have read a lot of artist bios and in so many, patronage of one sort or another was the way through. It provided what we as humans need and what we creatives often need to make our work great.

Stability.

Less stress.

Time.

Now, Whiteness alone doesn’t necessarily protect an artist from being taken advantage of but often it protects against the insults and accusations.

You can even be an actual fraud and frankly, if you’re white enough a lot of people won’t ostracize you. Granted, some fare better than others, but, I think history shows us this is pretty true.

I think I’ve been painfully aware of these things since I was a baby potato writer dreaming of having patrons. I remember reading Henry Miller when I was 14 or whatever and after jerking off, I’d dream about mailing pages to publishers and getting wired money and having beautiful places to visit, having that life and writing wonderful broken things.

I outgrew thinking that was my path, but looking back, I see where Blackness became the thing I believed would keep me from having that access and support because I didn’t know about any living Black creators who had it.

I couldn’t have said it at that age, but I felt it.

I think that’s all. This topic/area has been on my mind because I’m writing about things that intersect with Blackness, patronage in the arts, fraud, etc.

So to wrap up, if you really follow me closely enough to know when I last was published by another person, when I bought new boots etc you know that I hustle.

So fuck off.

Before I go, later this week or next I am going to make some announcements about things. And for right now, you can read a free Daiyuverse story I posted on Wattpad. I will probably post more there as I write them if I don’t submit them places. You can follow me. Enjoy.

 

A Weird Lil Thing

I’m finally heading out of the holy fuckballs I am so sick I want to die.

I’m back on the grind, writing fiction and poetry and shit.

Tis the season for me feeling some type of way about too many lit world things that aren’t the outright usual fuckery of the lit world but enough to hurt my lil feelings. The events I can’t go to, the residencies I can’t even afford to apply to, etc etc.

I’m trying to tuck those feelings away so I can work but, I realized recently that I have to let myself go through it otherwise it festers and I wind up creatively and physically constipated and I can’t work that way.

I struggle with a lot of feelings and as I’ve said before, it is part of my process.

That said, the struggle always ends with me, figuring some shit out.

So here’s what this round has brought.

I felt like I was regressing a bit. I’ve set myself a goal of continuing to write whatever the fuck I want to write and accepting that my profits are prolly not gonna happen. I’ve been wrestling with it and frankly, it is just not worth the stress.

That said.

I want my Patreon to flourish so, I have some expansion plans. I’ll talk more about that next month. Now, I may still make my expansions a separate thing. Stay tuned for some Be That Shit University news.

I’m actually going to be talking about this a lot more in my next tiny letter. Y’all should sign up. I’m pretty awesome and shit.

Basically, I’m tryin to lay the groundwork that will enable me to do more in the lit world that I wanna do without the financial stress BUT also not freak out about said hustles.

There is one other thing I want to explore, a little coaching but I’m still researching it and trying to figure out how I could invest the time.

The big change I’m experiencing is that I am aware of and understand what skills I just don’t have/have difficulty learning and am accepting it.

So if I’m gonna be side hustling, it is going to be doing shit I love not shit I feel like I have to do.

So that’s where I’m at y’all.

Now probably next week I’m going to do some major nerding about some books and writers I love so come back for that.

AND lastly, If you have some money and need to learn to write the other. Please go take this class. The Writing The Other by Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford. Y’all. If you are not a marginalized person, please take this class. These folks are experts.

On my Mind

Yours truly is dog shit sick again and was flat on my ass for two days and I’m at work struggling to stay awake.

Very well meaning friends often send me listings to residencies and y’all I STILL have questions.

One of the very famous ones closed not too long ago and a friend was like OMG GO GO GO.

I added up the cost to basically take 3 weeks off of work and y’all. It would cost me (I estimated costs only eating once a day) more than I make in a month. Not including missed wages, my own travel anxiety etc etc.

For someone like me, breadwinner on a working poor budget, there is just nothing that would justify the cost and it makes me sad. Are there, residencies for folks like me? For single parents? For other folks with limited financial or other support?

Since switching shifts I’ve been looking into lit stuff locally and I run into a lot of the same issues on a smaller scale. I see some regular writer meet ups that are mid week, for me that’d mean during my work week, having to stay in the neighborhood with all my shit. Then either Lyft home (at least 35$) or take the bus and walk home carrying my laptop. Not really optimal because I’d not get home until late and have to get up early for work the next day.

It just feels so terrible. And honestly, if ONE more mother fucker talks to me about sacrifice.

What should I sacrifice?

My partners medication? Electricity? Eating? Menstrual products? My job and thus my home at some point?

Tis the season for poor folks to be salty I guess. I go through it a lot because I know that folks pressure me sometimes and think that I demur because of a self-esteem thing but honestly, I just don’t usually have the energy to math it all out for them.

It’s like trying to explain that while I know why some lit mags charge, I’m not all in it. Like, to give myself good odds to get something place in one of them, I’m going to have to spend like 80-100 bucks and nah son. I’d rather get some sushi or some underwear.

Being poor often feels like having to constantly explain that it’s not that I don’t feel like my work is good enough, or that I’m good enough or that no I’m not wasting all my money, yes I know how to fuckin budget etc- so I don’t give the FULL breakdown every time because it’s just so exhausting.

I feel like I have to say this quarterly but you know, when folks talk about being poor, please don’t poorsplain to them. Please don’t assume they just don’t know how/how much something really costs. I feel like I get down this way every few months when whatever residency folks think I should go to opens up and honestly it just makes me sad.

Listen to us when we say what we need or why we’re not doing something. I had an aquaintance insist she needed to know why I wasn’t applying for a residency and it got to the interrogation point where I had to really go ALL the way into the finances of my life and no I don’t think I suck as a writer and just y’all…

Shit is exhausting.

So if y’all will excuse me, I need to do some work.

 

Staying in my Lane- Patreon reprint.

Enjoy a reprint for free from my patreon. To get the file referenced, click here.

 
First, please have a look at this amazing blog post
I was directed to it by K. Tempest Bradford  and have had it bookmarked because the questions in it for non-native authors really got me. Inside my ongoing project the Daiyuverse, several of our main characters are native. I have yet to get into their personal cultures/where they are from because I have plans for it. 
That said, I also am very concerned with staying in my lane. I want to talk about one of the questions from that post. 
Why did you select this particular tribal nation for your story? 
Without revealing too much I want to talk about why I chose X people from the PNW as the tribe of my Crow family. 
First up, it took me sitting down and comparing dates and plot elements and quite frankly location. I have a bit of knowledge about Indigenous people from the PNW. I really wanted to focus one of the Coast Salish peoples because geographically, it works with my needs in creating this work. 
Now, specifically what are those needs? 
  • Representation in an urban fantasy setting.  
  • To explore the impacts of colonization and assimilation on magical POC.  
Those two are uppermost in my thoughts. While I was doing research on creating my native characters, I started to look at the late 1890’s and the forced removal of Native children from their homes during that time. I had read an article about Native boys being forced to cut their hair last year and something clicked for me. I want to go back to that period in time in WA and (we’re getting to it in the verse) follow the fallout from being a victim of that practice to the creation of a space to counteract it. 
I come back to the original question quite often. The way I am working with my native characters, I feel that because I am not working from the perspective of trying to be an expert or speak for these peoples, I can tell this particular story. On one hand, I worry very deeply that I’m on entirely the wrong track here. I in no way want to position myself as an authority or one of those bhole types who thinks just because they can, they should. 
That said, I do want to talk more about why a large part of my cast is native. I really felt like in this world, creating The Institute would play a vital role in the idea of reclamation I thought who that I might meet in the Meat World, would benefit from that here in Seattle. I thought immediately of native people. I was partly inspired by a man I met who is native and we had a really great conversation about how so many of his own relatives were still cut off from their culture and how so many of us Brown folks just don’t have our cultures and myths close to us. 
With that conversation in mind, as well as having followed a lot of the fails of (generally speaking) White authors who decide to write a culture and position themselves as an authority and knowing how terribly that often goes, I am treading carefully and working to stay in my damn lane. My goal with these characters is to have them going through the entirely human struggle of reconnecting with their own roots and using The Institute (in this iteration of the ‘verse we are JUST getting to it) as a counter to assimilation. 
Writing extra-culturally especially when it comes to my fellow POC, is something I am still not sure is the best idea. On one hand, my plot arc for these characters is (at least so far) human first and foremost. They are whole living beings who are not trapped by the Mystical Native (or Negro) tropes. They have some foibles, we don’t know the whole of their history yet but, it is coming. 
I want to quote further from the blog post linked up top: 
The Devil is in the details . . . and the overall tone. Authors can have all their facts historically correct according to accepted sources available. But it is the interpretation of the facts into a story that makes the book harmful or helpful. I’ve seen a number of books that get most of the ‘facts’ correct, but the overall tone is that of stereotypes (which may be difficult for non-Indian writers, agents and editors to see when that has been the prevailing mode of American Indian representation). I’d highly recommend that agents and editors read the Revised Criteria from How to Tell the Difference: A Guide for Evaluating Children’s Books for Anti­-Indian Bias. Reading a manuscript through that lens and thinking deeply about Eurocentrism and colonialism will make all the difference. You can find guidelines, suggestions, statistics and a number of resources here at Writing
About Native Americans. It is a long post (as was this).  
Bolding for emphasis. 
My decisions as I work in this ‘verse are deeply influenced by the bolded. I am very mindful that I have the potential to cause harm and am doing the work not to do that. As I get further into the lives of the Crow family, I will start to include more specifics. Where they come from, how they got their names, what the curse on their family is about. I don’t want to spoil things but, most of the hardship they have gone through is a direct result of one of those forced boarding schools. 
I’m being a bit vague because we’re not quite there yet in terms of the story and I don’t want to give too much away. I am getting into some of the back history (before our heroine Daiyu is born) and honoring my native characters and their histories and culture has been uppermost in my mind. 
I’ll revisit this again when we start going back in time some more.  
For now, how about a peek at who I’m talking about here? 
First up Papa. Who along with Daiyu is as far as characters go, essential and part of the backbone of this whole universe.  
I’m keeping a neato spreadsheet with my characters, their full names, associations, list of magical abilities and other notes. I’m not going to give you everything but here’s a taste:
Papa Crow- 
Magical Abilities (so far, subject to change) Cursed-Prolonged life. Powers: charm, tactical aggressive magicks including but not limited to: elemental control, telekinesis, low level telepath (possible mentalist)- 
Nick Names- Papa, Old Crow, Crow, Bird, Nathan
Misc- Daiyu’s God father, estimated age between 180-300 years old, very good liar
Father Crow-
Magical Abilities- Lesser prolonged life curse. Summoning, Apothocary, traditional herbal healing, elemental magics, seer, demonaic tongue
Nick Names- Crow Jr, Black Wing, Joshua
Misc-Papa Crows grandson, inheritor of the Institute
Maria Crow-
Magical Abilities- Demoniac tongue, World walker
Nick Names- Maria- TBA
Misc- Father Crow/Joshua’s biological Mom
~
That isn’t everyone in the family.  
To wrap up, I am still so excited about this world I’m creating. I am very mindful of the temptation to just write what the fuck I wanna write and damn what anybody else feels but that’s not really who I am as a creator.  I am challenging myself here and putting a lot of trust in my readers to let me know if I’ve fucked up.
Does this tickle your fancy?
How about a bite from the current iteration of the Daiyuverse?
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