First draft funsies. CW VIOLENCE. SERIOUSLY.

No really. Violence, allusions to sexual violence. Murder.

This is some srs business.

If you’ve known me for a long time, you know I love a good Dark Violent Femme revenge crime story. The first one I ever wrote way back in 2011 is here at The Flash Fiction offensive. Yes, for real content warning. That shit is violent.

What I’ve put below is a pure first draft. I was noodling and wanted to play.

I had some very specific aims here but, to find out about it you’ll have to wait until Saturday where I will do a follow up and deconstruct what I was doing, how I might edit it, etc.

SO AGAIN

LAST CHANCE BRO.

THAR BE VIOLENCE AHEAD.

About 1600 words, unedited. Right from my brainpan.

#

Two things. Had he been smarter, there would be no story. Second thing, the wrath of a woman with ideas about behavior modification is truly a beautiful thing. Let’s set the scene, shall we? 

Our players: 

She: Brown. Braids. Lip-gloss. Booty shorts. Books. Cigarettes and a mysterious coffee cup. 

He: Brown. Bald. Tragically unaware. Lacking game. Doomed. 

Setting: Quiet street in the hood, around 3 AM. High summer.  

~ 

She always sits on her stoop late at night in the summer, a book in one hand, coffee cup at her elbow and a steady chain of cigarettes until she’s done or tired or whatever she does. She knows He prowls. He’s new, not one of the hood dudes. Not one of her neighbors or somebody’s cousin. Not the him she waits for at night. 

He skulks. 

He creeps. 

She knows. 

She ready. 

He makes his approach She sitting in her usual spot, in her usual cute booty shorts, her Timbs unlaced, cigarette dangling from the corner of her mouth, lookin’ like a whole ass snack.  

“Hey, how you doin’-“ 

She shakes her head, not bothering to look up from the book in her hand. 

“Nah man. Go on.” 

And so, He is curved and salty about it but, like any apex predator he’s patient. He can wait. He’ll shoot his shot another time. 

Days and nights pass.  

He is swift enough to understand that She is a night owl. He can see that his opportunity will come.  

He skulks. 

He creeps. 

She knows. 

She ready. 

He knows from asking around that she ain’t strapped. A few men give him vague warnings about her being crazy but, it doesn’t matter. He knows how to handle a woman.  

Tonight she’s posted up, no Timbs this time, pajama shorty shorts on and flip flops. She reaches to her left and her long fingers grope, then flutter on a soft pack of cigarettes. That drags her attention away from her book and she looks down at the empty pack like it insulted her Mama. 

“Fuck.” 

He smiles. 

He waits. 

He is ready. 

She rises, leaves her coffee cup and book. He watches her walk, her booty almost claps and he wants her right now. He waits. Nobody is around, the bar is closed, the baseheads are all off having basehead dreams. The only light around the corner is the little bodega, the mouth to the alley is ready.  

He is ready. 

The thing about not being from the neighborhood is that, you don’t know shit. Not where the drop pieces are, not where the head stash is, not who might be up and who might not be.  

She knows. 

She ready. 

He sees as she exits the bodega, she throws a peace sign over her shoulder and calls back. 

“No fuck you Gordo. You still owe me ten from the last time. Man, don’t make me tell your Mama.” 

The whisper of profane Spanish and Gordo’s laughter trails her as she walks back up the block. He waits in the mouth of the alley, rubbing his fingertips together. He can smell her, cocoa butter, smoke, coffee, Black girl deliciousness.  

He is fast, not basehead fast but fast enough to grab a handful of her braids just as she passes by. He holds the knot of hair at the back of her neck like a guide and turns her into the alley. 

“Don’t be so rough.” 

Her voice is raspy tonight, husky. Her breath is warm, she likes her coffee sweet and it makes him feel good.  

~ 

Two things. Had he been smarter, there would be no story. Second thing, the wrath of a woman with ideas about behavior modification is truly a beautiful thing. Let’s set the scene, shall we? 

SETTING: Alley. The witching hour. She is looking up at Him. If he were a smart man, or a film man he would recognize the look. The villain emerges through a downturned chin, upturned eyes and the prettiest wet pink flicker of plump tongue. 

He sees the wet on secret wet and thinks, yes. He turns her loose and she walks further into the alley. 

She doesn’t turn around while she tucks her cigarettes into the waistband of her shorts and peels off her tank top. She lets him admire her back as she walks deeper into the shadows.  

He is hard. 

He ain’t ready. 

He is too busy following the idea of a tramp stamp riding her lower back to see what she’s doing when she bends over and reaches under a pallet.  

She moves like a shark. This is her night, her hood and the bat in her hands feels like home. She is Queen Bitch and she plants her feet and swings from her wide hips.  

By the time he registers the low arc of the bat, his right knee explodes and he folds like a paper bag. The pain is enormous, it radiates from his knee to his hip to his balls and he howls.  

No one comes.  

She ready. 

She smile. 

“Listen baby.” 

She licks her lips and lines up for another swing. He swears he can hear the bat whistle as it goes over her head and crashes down onto his hip. He can see her bounce of her pert, chubby little titties and the titanic jiggle of her thighs as she hits him.  

When the pain registers, it is a raging ball of fury that takes his breath and makes him cry for the devil. The pain obscures her fine titties and the idea he started with. The pain rolls through his pelvis like lava, dripping into his balls and making his bowels loose and his asshole clench. His teeth chatter and he can hear sound coming out of him but can’t identify it. 

He is watching her watch him, her head tilted, glossy lips screwed up. 

“You an old head, you know what they say.” 

She swings again and his ribs, dear Jesus his ribs. The breath runs out of him as if fleeing the pain. He can’t breathe, he can’t speak and all he wants is for someone, anyone to save him. 

We could have saved him, had he been a wiser man. 

“Don’t start none.” 

Another blow, she breaks his arm.  

“There won’t be none.” 

She steps back and her pretty face is lit from within. Glee and malice give her a glow under the fuzzy dim light. He sees her teeth, she’s smiling. Everything is going to be fine. 

For her. 

While he writhes he manages to get through his pain and tears to speak. 

“Please, I got money.” 

He paws at his pocket, he’s got a roll. He had planned on treating himself to a bottle after they were done, maybe breakfast later. A little for rent and a few other necessities. She nudges him onto his back and he wails, she squats with her thighs wide open. 

Her shorts pull tight into her crotch and the plump outline of her pussy is clear and close.  

“Go ahead and look. That’s what you wanted.” 

He looks, even in his state of extremis he has to look. 

“Listen, I ain’t gonna kill you.” 

His relief is shaky and he starts to cry.  

“Thank you, I ain’t mean nothin, I was only playin.” 

She laughs, sweet and high and joyful. 

“Oh I know. But, I still don’t like it.” 

She straightens up, drops the bat and pulls her shirt back on. Grimacing she rolls her left shoulder, lip curled. 

“Softball injury. Well, bye boo.” 

He relaxes. He knows once a little bit of shock sets in he can crawl to the bodega and maybe get some help. That is not to be. 

We know what her whistle brings. 

It is late, but not late enough for all of the night creatures to be in bed. We know that the worst of the worst of night dwelling. She knows him, everyone knows him. He is fucked up, a walking burn mouth corpse but, he is from their neighborhood and knows his place. He eases out from behind the dumpster, jiggling foot to foot. 

“Hooo boy you fucked with the wrong bitch boy, I tell you what.” 

He whimpers, confused and uneasy. She looks at the stranger. 

“I was nice once. You got this?” 

The man, the new man, the scabrous oily creature with the perverse gleam in his eye nods.  

“For real?” 

“For real.” 

They smile at each other.  

We see that the man with the evil smile, is the thin burnt version of her. Her smile is not quite that evil, hers has an edge of fun. Mischief. Prettiness. 

“Yeah. I can keep the money?” 

“Course. Get rid of this shit and I’ll see you at home. Come home today. I’ll make you chicken and waffles.” 

She opens her cigarettes and they smoke together while he begins to understand. Let’s watch him, he knows he has met his death. He should have stayed home. What we know, he is learning. Too late, of course.  

She walks away, her booty almost clapping. Holding her dirty hands away from her still clean tank top. The man on the ground looks up at the Grim Reaper. 

“I-“ 

The Grim Reaper shakes his head, we shake our heads, around the corner Gordo shakes his head and she walks into her house smiling. 

“That’s my fuckin’ sister man. My. Sister.” 

His eyes close.  

Our eyes are open. 

What he should have known, we know. 

~ 

Two things. Had he been smarter, there would be no story. Second thing, the wrath of a woman with ideas about behavior modification is truly a beautiful thing. Let’s set the scene, shall we? 

Our players: 

She: Brown. Braids. Lip-gloss. Booty shorts. Books. Cigarettes and a mysterious coffee cup. 

He: Brown. Bald. Tragically unaware. Lacking game. Doomed. 

Grim Reaper: The one she waits for at night. 

Setting: Quiet street in the hood, around 4 AM. High summer.  

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I Made a Mistake.

I’ve got a story in the works that is as I said on facebooks:

A thing i’m working on is a little post apocalypse, a little sf (very soft) with a little sauce of horror. I feel like it is spec fic. Perhaps even a bit Afrofuturist ish. A thing that I’m almost done with and after that will likely have ZERO idea where to submit because I’ve never read anything quite like it AND it has cis people upsetting things like gender fluidity as the norm and as indicated with spelling and punctuation, disabled people and no portal to or from Whiteness.

Now this is a departure from stuff I normally write but I had this wild ass idea I wanted to play with. I started with the question, what would some working class brown queers do in a post (unspecified) apocalypse where capitalism had resettled itself? I wanted to present a world where there are monsters and things are dark but not one where humanity has been regressed to clubs and grunts and learning to poop in the woods.

I also wanted to play with this idea of a sort of future tinker. But tinker not in a disparaging way, more in the holy shit you are amazing way.

There’s some other stuff but that is the gist.

NOW.

Y’all……….

I fucked up. I did something I have not done in a long time. I joined a small loose crit group and sent over the WIP in the post your WIP conversation.

Shit went fucking sideways.

The cis hets were pretending like it is impossible to understand gender fluidity being signaled by language and punctuation.

The white people (most of them in the group) couldn’t understand that these are Black people because I didn’t put neon signs and AAVE in it.

None of the crits I got were based on weird punctuation I was using, nor was it based on me signalling my main characters using ASL and me denoting it with special punctuation, none of it was based on my hella soft sf and non disclosure of what the monsters are exactly.

It was entirely gender and race.

*Insert the longest sigh here.*

None of them commented on my use of language, or remarked on me asking about the use of X punctuation vs Italics or something.

…………….crickets on literary shit.

Lots of opinions on why my scenerio is impossible that don’t involve shit like zombie references.

THIS is why the fuck I stopped joining such groups. I left a note for the mods and left.

I am close to done with the piece and would like to see it pubbed somewhere good. For to steal a Deadpool phrase, dick kicking revenge.

I dunno. Shit is exhausting y’all.

However-

I am reminded that there are reasons things like VONA exist even if I can’t participate.

Want a bite of the thing?

Here ya go:

“Let’s retire and have some babies. Bae, really? You want to make babies with me?” They hadn’t really discussed the idea, people in their position in life generally didn’t. Babies were a time sink and not really something people who grew up in the Dirty districts of the cities thought about. Sure, they happened sometimes but it was never something to be planned, never something to be cherished. Khalid/a smiled, feeling Viola rumble and yammer her pleasure. Their head turned slightly, one slim brown hand gesturing. “Sweetie, I can’t hear you.” 

PS

My move is still full of fuck and terrible so, posting shall remain erratic until life is less bullshit.

Art Life Musings- Be That Shit my Dude.

Let’s talk about some stuff on my mind today.

Looky here.

So if you’ve been here a minute you already know but for the new folks, hi. I am a self taught human. By traditional mainstream markers, I’m pretty uneducated. I barely graduated high school, was a near drop out, did not go to nor do I intend to go to college. I know, let it sink in.

Very early on, probably by the time I was 16 I saw academia for what it was/is and nah son. It ain’t for me. At one point, I fully intended to go the academic route. I got accepted to some really great schools with programs i was into. I was leery but had decided on one when my financial circumstances (basically my parents were like LOL good luck paying for that) changed and I was entirely unable to do financial aid on my own (it is complicated) and had no other real options.

I only wanted to go that route because I thought I was supposed to and it is what my friends were doing. What moved me at that age, I wasn’t being taught. I had to go outside of what was available to me in my immediate community (remember, I’m old there wasn’t really internet and I barely BBS’d) to learn about actual Black history that wasn’t tainted by anti-blackness, to learn about womanism and feminism, to learn about sexuality and gender, to learn about sex, and most importantly how to write.

Until someone handed me the term autodidact, I just thought I was smartish for where I came from but too dumb to do anything else.

Now with that as background, understand that at this point (WOOWOO almost 41) I realize, that this is just how I function and trying to teach myself how to do something I want to do is gonna make me act weird and feel weird and I’m going to go through this repeatedly because I love teaching myself new shit.

This is on my mind because I’ve been dabbling in memoir. I think I mentioned that a while back I dunno.

The memoir I’m putting my butt in, is more in the vein of my lit Dads than it is, the ciswhitelady healing journey to look at poor people or whatever memoirs that are ubiquitous. Grimy. Not really verifiable in that I ain’t a snitch and I don’t know a lot of legal names and I have a bullshit memory. So I’m trying to weave these stories in a very intimate way.

Intimate and really dirty. Not dirty like crotch tingling dirty but, dirty in the grimy hood/street shit happened.

This is grime in winged liner, queer as fuck etc.

One of the reasons I’m struggling is I’m trying to balance out how hard I code switch, how much I want to tell, and not trying to polish it or soften it for publication. I’ve not read a lot of things like this, of course there were the gay books/memoirs I read in the 90s that were by and large by white cis men.

As I mention in my tweeter thread, I learn a lot by seeing and then shaping what I want to do. Baby see, baby fuck it up and do it their own way.

Hard as this type of learning is, it is the most rewarding for me. I believe in my ability to fuse the grime, femme, queer, etc into something that someone will read and feel me. But I also hate it because it is fucking hard.

I’m also trying *SO FUCKIN HARD* to teach myself to write about art. I’m working on a thing that is about (might be my first braided essay) art, outsider art, being shaped by what I thought that meant, and the included Whiteness and having my heart broken and having to smash my own little niche out of the world and shit.

This has been so hard. I am angry and upset about it because I admire people who can write about art so much. I LOVE reading esoteric and academic shit about art, I don’t understand it but I love it. And I want to get this out so bad, I just can’t find the way.

I’m almost there.

This is also why bloggin has slowed down. I’m really deep in figuring some shit out.

Honestly, if I’m not blogging as much as usual this is probably what is happening to be honest.

What else?

Oh smol side hustle update.

I made a whole sixteen cents on Medium for Feb. For up til now for 2018 across various platforms, I average about 2-5 views. On Medium if I put up something new I get a fairly low read to click ratio. Doesn’t matter the content.

So I’ll likely be putting less behind the paywall because frankly after that initial bit of cash, it is turning out that I don’t have a paying audience there. Or no, actually I don’t have an audience who already pays who is willing to support me in that way. We’ll talk about that cause i have theories.

So yeah.

That’s all.

I will be putting out a new loveletter tomorrow babes. Check out the archive here and sign up, I promise you’ll like it.

Hustle Report And Whatnots.

Hello there.

My life is chaos soup with a stress bomb salad right now so let’s talk hustle updates.

So it is now about the end of Feb and I am in the process of changing my hustle yet again. Here is where I was at new year.

I’ve been experimenting with my side hustles. Namely Steemit and paid content at Medium. Starred items at medium are behind the paywall.

Let’s talk stats and whatnots.

Medium first. At Medium I’ve experimented with humor, feminism and reprints.

I started the experiment Sep 24, 2017. For three pieces posted behind the paywall that much I got $1.61. One body image essay, one much rejected literary essay about diversity and one racial pain pornish essay. The only one that earned was the race essay.

It had: 107 views, 29 reads and 5 fans and 144 claps. For medium speak, that is fairly average for my stuff.

My highest earnings were in Oct 29, 2017 through Nov 26, 2017 I earned $28.29, one of my humorous but serious Dear Sir/s pieces earned the most at $26.71. Everything else was either 0 or neglible. At the time I had 5 total pieces available behind the paywall.

For the last two months I’ve had 11 total pieces available behind the paywall at Medium and made about $2.

On the advice of someone, I have a fairly varied selection. Some shorter things, a little humor, some literary, some body image, some race stuff. But, most of it either goes entirely unread or performs very poorly.

For Steemit, after my first month on a good day I average 2 views of things from poems to photos. So after an initial run of some okay tips on fiction and poetry that has bottomed out.

Now if you’ve been here a while, you know this is fairly common for me and has been for years.

The more interesting thing to me is this.

I have posted hundreds of thousands of free shit to read. For at least a decade. Fiction of many flavors, essays, how to, photos, poems, body image shit ALL THE THINGS.

I’ve been experimenting with some concepts that are popular for artists/creatives and the bottom line is this.

The advice has revolved around creating content and varying it etc.

Here’s the thing, there are barriers. Some of those, I cannot force my way through. I can’t make folks do shit. I can ask and at this point I don’t expect those needs to be met through my side hustles.

I am wrapping up this experiment mostly. I just don’t have the energy to do that much work for no return.

This quote:

I had a mantra in my head. I said, I may not be the best writer out there, but I’m going to work harder than the best writer.

By Morgan Jenkins in interview with Jennifer Baker at Electric Lit. Go read it.

We know I do need the hustles but I am rearranging them. I’ve got an amazing opportunity I am considering doing. I’ve had some editors from mags I really really love reach out to me to suggest I pitch them.

What else?

I am still doing the most at Patreon. I even have a new free post up you can check out here. My expansion at Patreon is going. I’m dropping an extra post or so a month for Patrons and that has been good.

The other important thing going on is that, I’m getting out of my feelings about the things that don’t work for me.

I can’t lie. Sometimes I read through some of the higher earning stuff on Medium etc and I just get depressed. I feel like, I work so hard to give something to my community of value and hear crickets and some silly 400 word thing folks are dropping kudos and cash on. The worst is when I get to thinking about the failed etsy store etc etc.

Add in the resurrected and new traumas from doxxing and losing some really precious resources and whatnot, shit has been rough. Trying to rebuild that sense of community without exposing myself to a certain type of lady writer has been hard as fuck. I don’t like it.

Part of this experiment has been me trying to work out those bad feels. A large part of me working out the feels is diving straight into how I tend to feel them. Hence my analytics and shit.

I really had to go through it so I could get a clear idea if I was just being overly emo or if it was some real shit.

The bottom line is the following.

For me, offering things from me as in me posting stuff etc, doesn’t work. It isn’t just funky FB algorithms, etc. This has been a thing for more than a decade across many platform and encompasses all the shit I like to do.

To tell y’all the truth I’ve been working on this for a long long long fuckin time.

Collating the data on how much a lot of people don’t care has been real hard on me but, I did it.

I am free..

SO that said. I’m off on some new hustles, I’ve let go of needing and/or expecting the community to provide.

That’s all for now babes.

Thoughts on Expensive Lit things

Or why no I’m not applying to ALL of those conferences, residencies and whatnots.

Before I get into it, understand this is no shade to those who can. I’m going to talk specifics to me and my lived life.

Ookay. We’re going to talk about why the famed residency etc type things that you apply for with work samples and cash are not really going to be a thing for folks like me. When I say folks like me here’s what I mean:

  • Poor
  • Breadwinners
  • Caretakers
  • etc

Now when I’m talking cost here, I also have to take in the following:

  • Do I have paid vacation time from work?
  • Can I use it?
  • Do I have sick time accrued in case I get sick?
  • Can I -get- that time off?
  • How long would it take for me to save to cover costs if a scholarship isn’t granted?

We’ll assume that for the spots I’m mentioning, I get into them.

So let’s start with four of the most famous that I know of. Breadloaf. Hedgebrook. Clarion West. And a personal holy grail Vona. We’re going to pretend I’m applying for all of them.

So all in, just to apply I’d need to have available:

105$. (+if after an early deadline an extra 25$ for Clarion)

Now because I’m a practical kind of potato, I’d also only rest easy if I had the deposits available for potential acceptances:

I could only find deposit info for Vona which would be another $200.

Now. In terms of work for me that is almost half a weeks worth of wages. At a total of 330$ is more than a month of groceries for my family so it is a significant chunk of change.

Now let’s say I get in in the same order as above here are my fees:

$3,395 BL

$0 for H for a residency.

$4,200 for CW

$1100. V.

Except for Hedgebrook each of these is more than my two week take home pay paychecks. So for a base just me getting to do the thing, is in general about a month of wages.

This doesn’t include transportation. Hedgebrook is in WA but, to get there I would spend at least another 100-200$. Getting a Lyft from my front door to where I work costs me about 30$ not including a tip and that is ten miles. Hedgebrook in Freeland WA is more than 40 miles from where I live. To take buses that far north (I know from experience) can take up to six hours. It is 3-4 in a car.

If we calculate travel for things not in WA, it’s going to be at least $300-400 bucks.

Now I’ve been told in the past that great success requires great sacrifice. I have also been told that to get myself to these things, presuming I got accepted I should do the things, fundraise, save money, side hustle. The community will have my back.

In reality, not so much.

Let’s use my trip to AWP2016 as an example. That year, I was named as being part of some bully squad because I loudly and frequently objected to AWP giving primacy and promotion to racist poets. I was supported in this. A lot of people really wanted me there. About 9 months prior I started fundraising. As is my habit i was very clear about needing help and support. In almost a year I raised about 200$. The ONLY reason I was there was because of donated membership and a lot of scrambling and debt.

The fact of it is, even to move I’ve been fundraising for over a year and just recently got to about the quarter mark. My side hustles including things like dollar stories, sold nothing. My merch shop sold nothing. The community does not support me or my work in a material way historically. There is a very small number of people who do, including folks at Patreon. This number has remained the same for about five years or so regardless of what I’m offering or why.

So I’d have to rely on my day job.

To go to let’s pick the most expensive and say Clarion West, that would be more than 2 months of my wages. That is without paying rent, buying food, providing my partner his medication, not buying my own medication just straight paychecks.

if you’re new, I am the breadwinner in my tiny famfam. My partner is completely disabled and gets the least amount of assistance available. I make less than 25K a year take home including my side hustles. I am a working poor person.

Now in order for me to attend a few weeks of something I would have to be able to save vacation time for more than two years. However, only 40 hours carries over yearly where I work. So I’d be able to use that to pay for 5 days. My sick time accrues more slowly and this instant, because I got sick in January and had to miss a couple of days, that would give me another 8.42 hours.

So five days and 8 hours.

So I would have to go without pay or income for the time of the workshop entirely. I would also have spent about 2 months of income to do this.

Even with a scholarship to cover tuition, that would not change missing time off of work for which I could lose my job. I would still go without income.

Some folks say, do the one day workshops. These cost $150. Let’s say I want to go to the one Nisi Shawl is doing. April 8, 2018, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. So it would cost me, 8 hours of vacation time, the equivalent of about 9 hours of wages. In transportation the location is approximately a 2.5 hour (first part during rush hour) ride for me.

Outside of the initial layout of cash, let’s estimate that the real life cost would be about 3 times the cost of just paying to put my ass in the seat.

I say all of this because this is the reality of telling folks that these programs are radical and accessible. Financial accessibility is a thing. This is why, I don’t enter chapbook contests, why I closed my etsy store, why when I say I can’t/won’t do this stuff.

On one hand, fuck yes shit like Vona is amazing. I know alums, many of whom have gone on to huge success and that is fucking awesome.

Unfortunately, banking on a future maybe success is not enough for me to starve my family. I’ve said before, poverty ain’t romantic. Food insecurity, not romantic. I have fiscal responsibilities that mean, I can’t in good conscious put a maybe success ahead of putting food on the table.

There you go.

Happy Women in Horror Month- Post 1.

Some meandering thinky thoughts.

Hi homies. I’m having a day and y’all know that means I’m just gonna dump my brain until I can focus.

Sooooooooooo horror.

I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned it but, I’ve been working on some new horror stories. As I’ve mentioned before, my fiction work has become the slow deliberate I have a fucking mission type work that my non-fiction used to be.

My new shit is different than what I’ve done before. If you’ve been here a while you may know that my first professional level sale was yonks ago and I made my bones writing a lot of erotic horror. Not sparkly vampire twinks but rough trade I want to rip off your head and fuck your neck monsters. I wasn’t into more classic horror at the time and found that my personal aesthetic was very at home in the porny horror.

Fast forward and I’ve been writing/working on some more classic type horror. Ghost stories, demons, etc. However, these are without a doubt Black stories.

Now I have to confess some things.

I don’t read a lot of horror anymore except very specifically because, frankly I am disinterested. A lot of my disinterest is in a vein of conservatism in horror. For me it started with horror mags for a few years having very eh, narrow ideas of what is acceptable. I don’t know how many guidelines I read that prohibited sex of any sort, naughty words, etc.

At the time, it felt kind of silly to me. I mean, some supposedly scary shit is going down and nobody says fuck? Okay. Upon rear-view, I realize what made me uncomfortable was that we couldn’t have anything too sexy, too cursebirdy but, the anti Blackness and anti womanness and anti non white dude was fine. Totally fine.

We could have booboo ass scary witch doctors and have storylines with suburban white kids going into the scary ghetto and gross outs because zomfg periods!! FAT WOMEN but, don’t have sexytimes or say fuck. I hated it and hate it now.

This is not a new feeling. Here is an excerpt from an essay I put at Medium about being a horror nerd. (Also peep the awesome photo of me screaming)

As an adult I think about some more of those stories and realize I was trying to see myself in those very White worlds. I didn’t have the language to express my hunger to see Black people populating the fictional towns or saving the day.

When I wrote my first novel in high school, it was a vampire epic in a very Anne Rice style, my vampires weren’t pale and smooth as marble. They were dark and smooth as my Mom’s living room table. They didn’t come from France they came from Egypt, not movie everyone is White Egypt, they came from the Haitian Revolution and from Zululand. Their history was my history told and learned through the lens of the vampire mythos.

This is what drove me/drives me out of horror. I feel like I’m disinterested because any bit of Blackness is King style magical negro or white kids triumph or or or…it is just so fucking boring.

So what AM I doing?

First thing is I’ve bit the bullet and changed how I write genre fiction visually. For a few years, because of how I like to space things, I just couldn’t stomach trying to re-format to manuscript format. Aesthetically, I tend to use line breaks etc as part of how I’m telling the story. That has been rough for me. I’m trying because so many places that publish genre fiction in print or online still use it.

Second thing, I’m being very deliberate in what I’m making up. Being that it is women in horror month, my stories (I’ll give you a taste soon) are women heavy.

Black women specifically.

Here is a taste of a ghost story I’m working on. Central to this is to understand this is happening in The Hood. This is a Black Ghost Story. For reference, somebody in this passage is dead:

At home my wife and I sat with our horde of cats and dogs going over the events. “I guess we should probably tell him.” I knew she was right but, we’d only just started working with the guy. “I know but I don’t want to. You remember what happened with the last two. I mean, he was crying babe.” She turned her big dark gaze on me, I bravely resisted the urge to cower. “Don’t start with that super masculine shit Pablo. The first time something reached out and touched you, you couldn’t speak English for an hour and you cried. Don’t.” 

She was right. I didn’t want her to be, not that I wanted to keep secrets but some things are just too much to explain. Something walloped me on the back of the head and two of the dogs looked behind me, tails wagging. The voice was loud and clear as always. “I heard you was talkin shit.” My sister Letiticia was the most irritating and amazing dead person. She had the uncanniest timing, she made herself comfortable on the floor with the big dogs and I sighed. “Hi Letty, so nice to see you. Oh, what no come in. No bother, it’s not like I was trying to get some alone time with my wife.” 

What I want to point you to here is that we are not using the Black body as the vehicle of fear. Blackness is not the mysterious scary other. It just is. This is the intimate vernacular the way (something I LOVE about Daniel Jose Older y’all know) folks talk to each other. These are people I know, if you are also a POC you probably know them too. I’m taking the haunted house trope away from the burbs and the seemingly always Victorian or whatever ghosts and bringing it into my community.

In terms of how I’m writing the women. In a lot of horror, the women are either fat ugly and scary (unfuckable and therefor support “the scare”) or they are super fuckable. She’s pale as milk with a long graceful neck and sweet brown eyes with a narrow waist and hefty titties and OH she speaks forty languages and is innocent and horny and shrieks with terror when a thing goes bump in the night.

Y’all know.

And if you are the writer, suddenly the question is are U FUCKABLE? EW NO U R NOT SO UR STORY IS UNREALISTIC.

We’ll talk about that shit more later.

My women are the heroines. As the maker of this myth, I’m giving them the power that women tend not to get in these stories. And yet, they aren’t ass kicker barbies.

I want to say more but I don’t want to spoil it also I’m not done yet.

This story is Black y’all. It is Blackity Black Black Black. It is a love note to my fellow Black fen. And to women.

Ahem.

I’ve babbled a lot.

I’ll do more through the month.

For now how about some of my other woman centric, WOC centric horror?

From my Yeah Write Archives a few favorites from my experimental horror series.

Beautiful Pit Vipers.

Black Pharaoh in the Morning. 

Down home.

Starveling.

I Dream of Doormen. 

AND

How about my Wifey’s fave?

I can be funny bros.

Puppy.

Next time we’ll talk about things I want to see more of in  horror and how race and gender can be included in how we view what is or isn’t horror as a thing.

Be That Shit: My Hustleverse

*This appeared in a longer version at Patreon*

Let’s talk about how my writing hustle breaks down by readership, interest and earnings.

First a snapshot of my follow counts across various platforms.

WordPress as of the end of 2017:

631 followers.

7769 Views

143 likes

23 comments.

My most read post was my where to read my work post. https://shannonsdreams.wordpress.com/where-to-read-my-work/

At Medium:

1.1K followers.

At the end of December, I had a total of, 498 reads views, 248 full reads (on Medium views means someone clicked reads mean they spent time and read the thing).

In general, my Medium nonfiction pieces get about a 20-30% read. My fiction or fiction related work on Medium is lucky to get 1-3 reads a month and zero interaction.

So being that I’ve used those the most in 2017 let’s talk about what it has shown me.

In trying to work out how to make my artistic life more sustainable, what to do with my Self Care Like a Boss concept and work and trying to yanno live, I’ve been keeping steady track of what works where, who reads what etc.

Now I am not fishing for compliments here so please don’t, this is what the data has shown me and reinforced over the years.

When I collect up the hard stats on what happens when I do stuff, a lot of the time it doesn’t look good. My fiction and Self-care stuff does terribly across all platforms. My poetry on occasion performs well at Ink Node. Overwhelmingly, when I publish or post work myself, the support of folks who have often asked for said work is nil. No retweets, no shares, no clicks, no reads.

I’ve tried a long list of methodologies and there’s the usual FB fuckery in terms of what shows up when but, there is legit a circle of about 20 or so people who click, read and/or share. The same group for years now and who have mainly been the ones to keep me from ragequitting.

The thing I spent most of 2017 trying to make sense of is this.

If a large number of folks tell me, HEY PLS YOUR WORK PLS MORE!! Or are gassing me up in public but, the actuality of numbers shows me the opposite, what do I do?

This has extended a bit to Patreon. When I was polling prospective Patrons or trying to rather, nobody really answered except to literally on my survey tell me to stop begging. The thing that was really fucking me up for a while was this huge discrepancy in what has been asked of me as a creator and what has been given to me.

For a lot of 2017, this discrepancy left me feeling both used and unseen. This doesn’t even touch the free labor I’ve been asked for in terms of things like FB arguments, random dm’s from white folks demanding I teach them how not to be so racist etc. This feeling comes from my own community at large.

I had to learn to accept a few things.

First thing is that this is a real thing. Years of analytics from way back when I was a semi-popular fat blogger and got a book deal dangled in front of me to the occasional agent related hey I like your work –but- notes from social media etc to these days when I’m sort of methodically shotgunning what I do with work I don’t necessarily believe will sell that, I’m just not gonna be the one if I put it out myself.

After feeling shitty about it, let down and just uh, wrong as in the wrong sort of Black person I decided fuck it. However, as fuck it as I feel sometimes, it still gets me down.

I think for the work I in particular do, this is just going to be a thing.

I’ve accepted that in this particular timeline, my most idealized dreams about what I do with my writing will likely not wind up being sustainable. The biggest component I need for that to happen just is not there for me at all. At least not on the level I need in order to be both sustainable and be able to spend the time, spoons and money on stuff.

So here in 2018 I’m spreading my hustle a bit.

The big thing is I decided not to go ahead with my plans for Self-Care Like a Boss. The main reason is that the level of work it would take for me to get it all the way I want it, and the cost of hosting and paying folks for guest blog posts (another thing we’ll get to why I don’t do so much anymore) was just too much for me to foot the bill.

That decision took months of crying, writing, cryng some more and a lot of bitterness because when I started publishing and talking about self-care, well people went fucking in on me. My first self-care book sold a good number of copies, I still have folks who talk to me about it. The second version wasn’t my best work and I failed at it and thus the book didn’t go well.

That said, when I got the blog going and other things and I wasn’t asking for money the support I was counting on, that I was told from various sources was just not there. Not for merch I designed, not for me presenting that work as an independent creator. Real talk, it was devastating and really made my vision for SCLAB (and the domain I bought) just unfeasible. It was a hard decision but, I had to make it.

Beyond the feasibility, the thing is this. I’ve had to not only acknowledge but embrace the fact that I do not possess the spoons to produce work on the scale that I used to. I have had to really take in and live with this. I may want to provide my community with ALL OF THE GOODNESS I have. But I can’t do that without support. Well let me put it this way, support that doesn’t evaporate when I ask for something.

In terms of production, I’m still doing okay. I write a LOT of shit that never sees the light of day because it sucks. As I mentioned in my blog, I have a roster/short list of editors I’m comfortable with and will be doing some more freelance work this year. I have a pretty clear idea of what I want to pitch/sell and what I want to put out myself.

Some of that work is going to be Old Queer Yelling at Clouds and I’ve accepted that. Some of it may earn me some coins behind the paywall at Medium and any coins are good coins. I am gonna write what the fuck I want to write regardless and I have to adjust my expectations of what that looks like for me.

This is where I want to talk very specifically about y’all.

 

[redacted Patron only section]

As bad as I want to be the high dollar mega super star, I want to write what the fuck I want to write.

I’m learning to work with my output. What’s amazing to me is that unlike in years past, my fiction writing is much slower and more deliberate. Less in the planning way and more in the, I have a goal with a story and am thinking carefully about how to get there way. My non-fiction is kinda flowing far easier. I’ve got subjects on deck to tackle that I’ve been afraid to previously.

2018 I am setting myself free artistically speaking.

I’m going to work the fuck out of my Weird Voice. I’m gonna write and make some ugly shit, some of it will shiny up nicely other stuff well….some stuff just gets put away.

I’ve got a lot of stuff I want to try out creatively and I’m going to because yanno, life is too goddamn short for me to be torturing myself because I fail at being a “successful” artist.

That’s how it is going down.