As I was updating my website I realized that counting print stuff when I was 19 through now at age 35 I have been published over 40 times.
With my birthday fast approaching I sat back and thought about that.
Had you asked me when I was 19 about my publication credits at 35 first I would have laughed because I did not expect to survive beyond 25 honestly and second I would have probably cried.
I had no idea I would get read ever at all. I pictured myself dead and having family or friends discovered the burnt remains of paper notebooks with bits of my writing. By the way, burning them while cathartic was a terrible habit and please don’t destroy your work even if you are a baby writer and you suck.
My 30s while strange have been really beautiful in terms of me growing as a writer.
A few highlights and low level bragging.
In 2010 at the Legendary my first piece of non fiction was published. And it was about writing which, I have been told no one ever publishes from non famous authors ever.
In 2011 Junk nominated my essay Cracked for a Pushcart. Am I even saying that right? Let me confess, at the time I didn’t even know what the fuck Pushcarts are or why anyone would do that.
I was in the final issue of The Battered Suitcase with an essay about how much Riot Grrl culture broke my wee heart in the 90’s.
I got rejected pretty kindly by Pank and Word Riot and Wigleaf.
There have been rejections from editors who know my fucking name and my work and while not taking pieces, told me they dig what I do.
That is pretty fucking huge to me.
Authors I fan girl for have talked to me like I am a peer. I suppose I am but it still feels very weird. Authors I don’t know have sent me notes about my work.
I sit back and think about it (after emergency cleaning my poor old keyboard) and holy fucking shit.
I have made money off of my raw and unedited little Self Care book. It is deeply flawed and on reread I should have waited to release it until I could edit it properly BUT the major point happened. I helped people. I got notes from teary readers thanking me for being in their ear and setting them straight.
And there is so much more for me to do.
This year I am aiming to make at least 65 submissions. I’m still on the road to 100 rejections/withdrawals. I want to finish the essays Sarah edited for me and have them published or release them myself. That last one is super important to me, I need to ride out the fear and fucking deal with it.
I remember when I thought that my writing would never feel like the art of my truest self. I was afraid. I was kowtowed by Whiteness as a thing. I hid a lot in my work because I cared too much about what anyone might say about it.
At this very moment, I don’t give a fuck.
Not in the sense that if I write something that sucks I will say that it is brilliant and anybody who says otherwise is a shitface, in the sense that I believe in myself.
I believe in my voice and that yes, my voice is necessary because only I can tell my stories in my way.
That is what I think has been the biggest shift in the years. There have been years I’ve been published more, but these last few years have felt the most meaningful because it is not just bullshit easy stories. The work bleeds, even if the reader doesn’t see it.
I believe that while I may not understand a lot of the tempests in the lit world, or the movements/genres what have you, it’s just not important to my voice.
I can think critically about other authors, arguments on the internets but I don’t have to internalize them. For years I took a lot of shit I see in the lit world to heart and very personally. It made some of my writing really hollow because it wasn’t my bag.
So there we are.
Now I think I’m going to start submitting again next month. I have things that are done and some whoppers. I have some things that need more help. I have things to write.
In celebration of things, I’m reprinting here my very first attempt at some Urban Magical Realism. That is also on my list, I want to revisit fantasy and magical creatures.
Enjoy Witch Work.
Nothing indicates what I’m pretty sure is about to happen. No stormy night, no thunder, no rain, no haze of spectral evil lurking. Matter of fact, it’s pretty nice out. Three quarter moon, the air is warm and smells like the ivy tumbling over the fence to my left. If I was anyone else I’d probably do something silly and witchy like stripping off all my clothes and cavorting.
But I’m not.
Time to get to work, I take my jacket off and shake it out. Check myself, gris-gris check, protective talisman in my pocket check, charms written on my palms in ash and blood check, I think I’m ready. No wait, I’m forgetting something so I pick my jacket back up, patting the pockets and keeping an eye on the globular darkness moving towards me across the parking lot.
Fuck, oh fuck what am I forgetting? The mass of darkness is picking up speed and I can’t just go haul ass-ing over there with- oh right my mouth guard. Can’t do battle without the right equipment right? I shove the thing in my mouth and turn to face my enemy.
I take a quick series of hard breaths to hyperventilate myself, clench my fists and let it happen. The change is always quick and brutal, the power rolls up through my feet and into my soul. It feels so fucking good I wish I could live in it but right now I have a job to do.
I open my eyes and palms, chanting and willing the darkness rolling at me to stop. The power throbs pulses out of me, the darkness ahead boils to a stop and let’s loose a multi voiced snarl.
“Move bitch. We will devour you.”
I laugh and raise my arms.
“Come and get me mother fuckers. I bet I taste like candy.”
I can feel the indecision in the thing, er things. They want to take me but they are afraid. They aren’t smart enough to connect my job with my face. They always expect a dude. Even the humans always expect a dude. They read too many comic books.
I start to chant, I know with the mouthgaurd in you can’t really understand a word I say but that’s not really the important bit. I bring my hands together to symbolize a mountain, fingers steepled and pointing at the now cloudy uneasy sky.
“Ina qitrub tahazi maxkim xul.”
I use the Sumerian because I know they never expect it. Again, too many books and movies, they always expect Latin or even Gaelic. Light begins to burn in the points of my fingertips and I raise my arms, screaming.
What I’m screaming isn’t important. They get it. The roiling cloud of nasty comes at me so fast it’s all I can do not to squeal and take off. I gather the light in my palms and throw it outward, screaming again as I take off to meet them.
The impact throws me on my ass and I have to scramble to get back to my feet. I have to make it to the center of the writhing dark mass of gross to kill, rather to banish and get them out of my fucking realm. You can’t really kill something like this if you’re not on their home turf.
What feels like sticks grab at my clothes, tearing my shirt and other things, dark slimy shadows with the weight of negative energy try to worm into my skin. I can feel them sliding along my skin, searching for an orifice big enough to get into. When they come across my tattoos, the protections inked indelibly into my skin they fall away hissing in pain.
I’m making progress and when I feel like I’m near the center I stop and throw up my arms, I let the shadow things and the stick things and the other nasties tear away the remains of my shirt.
I always wear one of those martial arts sports bras, it has shields for my tits and bares enough skin for my tattoos to get to work. I can feel the ink moving across my skin purposefully, on my belly arcane symbols melt then merge over my uterus, I lay my hand there and I’m ready. I take another big breath and let fly, feeling the heat shimmer around me as I bring the lightening.
“Baraqu baraqu, barra utuk xul barra utuk xul!”
The small pocket of air around me stills them all hell breaks loose. The evil darkness starts to scream, blue electric light sizzles cool across my skin out from under the hand on my uterus. It gathers, rolling over my body with a feeling like TV static on my skin then, boom.
I kind of wish someone could video me while I’m doing this, I want to see how it looks when the power explodes out of my eyes and from my center. And explode it does engulfing the screaming roiling darkness around me. They are screaming, I am screaming, the air is solid with their pain until the real boom comes. There is a split second of silence and a whoosh.
The blast knocks me ten feet and I land heavily, sparking like some unhinged electrical wire. The darkness glitters for a moment hovering between being devoured by the light and overtaking it, but it’s a losing battle. Coughing as I spit out my mouth guard I roll over to watch it happen. The dark cloud falls in on itself, shrieking and wailing. I can see the contorted faces in it and have to look away.
I get to my hands and knees, gagging and trying to puke up the bit of them that had gotten into me. After I’m done I feel a presence and look up to find a very tall very white man looking down at me.
“Well done. We will expect you at the meeting in two days.”
He turns and walks away into the slowly clearing smoke. I am singed in places, sore, my throat hurts and I don’t even get a fucking thank you. I make my way to my feet and walk to pick up my jacket.
Oh well. It’s the only job I’ve got and in this economy who am I to be picky?