The Support I need Right Now

At the suggestion of some fellow poor artists, I figured I’d update some stuff and tell everyone in the world what support I need right now.

My current situation:

  • I have a slight cost of living (not fancy living just living) increase that I can do nothing about.
  • Partner and I are both in dire need of some basic shit that we just don’t have money for right now. I’m talking underwear that fits, socks. A few pairs of jeans/pants each. Camis/tanks/tees. Basics.
  • We need to stock our pantry. Non-perishables, heavy stuff, because my partner has mobility issues and getting a good stock up has been impossible between that, my schedule and the cost.

So really what we need is help. We need a chunk of cash to explicitly use for this shit.

I also have some creative projects in the works but have decided on putting them away for now until I can get our household a little bit more stable in our current situation.

So that said.

What I need right now is signal boosts, paying work that isn’t like a job (I will talk about that in a second), and donations/tips/sales.

Here are the many things:

My Gofundme. 

Venmo. Cashme.  Paypal. Etsy.  Patreon.

If you aren’t down with cash and want to do something material. Here’s my amazon list. I have some stuff I need but most of it is for funsies stuff.

Now the job thing.

I have a full time job still. I make just barely enough to cover bills if we eat poorly etc. I was considering (again) a part time job but, just recently I’ve worked 6 of 7 days in a row a few times and I am paying for it heavily. I just physically can’t anymore and there’s that.

Also, real real talk. I really want a chance to have some stuff just taken care of so I’m not spending my little savings or just having a chance to feel secure enough in that we have a bunch of shit we need so I can continue to work as i have been.

And that’s it. That’s what I need. Like my Gofundme says, my lil family just needs a leg up.

Musings on Default Whiteness.

This post is brought to you by me having to navigate the Default and Correctness of Whiteness in my literary life this week.

A few things.

I’m very low on spoons. I will not link to any of the trash I discuss, you’ll have to google first. Also if you don’t know what I mean by default Whiteness, or Whiteness as a concept and destructive construct, do not comment and be mad. Either google or go watch this puppy video cause shit is about to get real.

brace-yourself-shit-just-got-real
[image description: photo of character Ned Stark from the TV show Game of thrones, text says Brace Yourself Shit Just Got Real]
There are a few articles going around that are anti-sensitivity reader and I’ve been involved with three very distinct (as in zero overlap) conversations about it with White people who have all made the same assertions that sensitivity editors/readers are:

  • Looking to profiteer off of censorship.
  • Will change the voice of the original author.
  • Don’t know what they are doing.
  • Are “forcing” identity politics into writing.
  • Are actively trying to as a whole rook poor White people out of money basically.

AGAIN for the cheap seats. Some things are censorship other things are not. Things that are not censorship*:

  • Being told no.
  • Being critiqued and dare say I fucking DRAGGED and publicly read for filth due to writing, editing or publishing fuckshit.
  • Being told that you’ve written, said, produced or published something actively harmful.
  • Being called an asshole (taken from a real comment to me by someone RE: the Paris Review post/s I made way back).
  • Not being given primacy in writing about a thing.

These are things that come up constantly in my lit life. Most of the time cries of censorship begin when White authors feel threatened by POC talking to them about their use of their Whiteness when it is a problem.

By that I mean things like, saying hey just because you can write about something, doesn’t automatically make yours the voice. This is what I was talking about in this entry. And in saying it, I spent months being harassed and often the first “criticism” was that I a writer am pro censorship because I said they could have used the opportunity to feature a Black Poet during such a time of historic Black action.

Here’s the thing. I am against censorship. Censorship as enacted by religious concerns and the government.

Publishing is not magic, it doesn’t happen by vote and publishing companies are not the government. Nobody is entitled to publishing. Nobody is entitled to be the primary voice on an issue just because they can talk.

I go on at length about this because over the past, let me be generous and say five years specifically, it is only White people who apparently lose all ability to think critically and if I a Black person, dare to correct or instruct them, or even just talk about Weaponized Whiteness (and by extension using Whiteness as both Correctness and the Default) suddenly, it is censorship. That is not how censorship works.

Now in the context of a sensitivity reader, the conversations I was a part as if the very idea that they, Paragons of Correct Whiteness they were, could ever fuck up writing something.

Um.

Okay look. I fully believe that you and everyone else in the world can write what the fuck they want, when the fuck they want.

I also believe that is you say, write a children’s book that portrays a slave child as a happy little worker yeah, you deserve to get dragged.

Now, what amuses and frustrates me in these things is the assurance that oozes from the assertions of how terrible “identity politics” are and how, if only those people could see, Whitey Whitepants writer didn’t mean to write a racist polemic that would give Lovecraft a boner, GOSH.

Of COURSE a White writer or a straight writer etc who is trying to create or delve into the world of marginalized peoples is going to likely not always do a bang up job. No wait let me put it into a different context.

If you are a nerd like me, you probably see stuff in TV or movies are like, WHO THE FUCK GREENLIT THIS SHIT, THAT IS NOT HOW THAT WORKS…

That’s reasonable right? It’s reasonable to expect that something presented as a professional thing, was researched beyond wiki.

So why would it be any different than writers who are writing say Black folks in their stories to check in with real live Black people to see if they are doing things wrong?

If your voice is so fragile as an author, it can’t withstand something like:

Hey Whitey Whitepants writer, here in chapter 4 you have X character seeming to have an “urban” meltdown calling the one Black character homie over and over again and doing their MTV showed me what Negroes be doin schtick and it is not great for these reasons:

  1. BLA
  2. BLA
  3. BLA.

That is how it works. This is a professional service, that is not designed to censor or ruin your precious work. It’s to help you uncenter yourself and your experience and have a moment to connect with your readership on a far deeper level.

The other problem I have is this.

Ahem.

Aside from perambulating around for about 40 years in a Black Queer body, I have been studying, writing about, talking about, dealing with racism for about that long. Depending on who I’m talking to, sometimes (as y’all know if you read me regularly) I use very academic language, sometimes I don’t. I code switch like a mother fucker.

That said, for the last two weeks or so here’s how those conversations have gone. Without rancor on my part.

Person posts link to shitty article about the terrors of Sensitivity readers/editors or posts a link to a blog post by a semi famous White lady writer: OMG They are going to censor us and ruin our work! How terrible! We can’t stand for this.

Me: That is not what sensitivity readers/editors are for. They do (insert examples of stuff they do) nobody -has to use them- dude you’re fine.

Random other White people: fall all over each other to “correct” me (not that they use or have acted as sensitivity readers), explain to me how having this option is automatically censorship, how it is an attempt to co-opt or otherwise fool innocent White writers into being SUPER PC.

Me: ………..no it is just like asking an expert in a field you’re writing in.

Them: NO IT IS NOT.

Me: *retreats*

The problem isn’t the arguments. The problem is that even in instances where I am/have shared my work/thoughts on these things, Whiteness is always given the immediate trust that they are correct. Even when they are loudly proclaiming something that is dead ass wrong.

Then, regardless of what I say or how it is said, it takes another White person to come along and occasionally repeat what I’ve said verbatim and then, OH WOW I NEVER THOUGHT OF IT THAT WAY.

I’ve spoken with MANY poc about this. 90% of the time, we are thought to be wrong. People say things like: knee jerk, bullying, mean, trying to “turn” someone PC, that we’re silencing, pro-censorship.

If the people speaking up happen to be Black women, the language is carefully not overtly racist but, the impression is always either that Black women are mean and aggressive or liars or otherwise are the perpetrators of violence even when what’s actually happened is that folks have been given some high level major education on anti-Blackness.

Intent and impact are vastly different and White folks, men especially if your first instinct is to “prove” someone wrong, maybe it’s time to examine that. More so if part of your remarks are to say that you don’t actually know about the thing and don’t use it.

Now, I could have posted this in the spaces I was talking about but it is easier for me to leave them. As I’ve said many times in the last year, y’all I have written about this shit so fucking much.  And you know what the actual worst thing is?

It’s not the Default and Correct Whiteness.

It is the fact that it doesn’t matter how I talk about these things, because I am Black and use words, I’m put into the ANGRY NEGRO corner and then White folks who don’t like what I have to say can be like, oh well you’re so angry I can’t listen to this/take it in.

Tone policed to fucking death.

And I’m not mad. It’s painful.

It hurts to be dismissed out of hand because White is Right.

It hurts because writing and literature have been my driving passions since I read a book about a pregnant dog when I was 3 years old. It is my blood and my bones. It gets me through bullshit ass days at my dayjob. It has led me to meeting some of the most important and most wonderful people I’ve ever met in my life. It has led me to my chosen family and to a place in my actual soul that feels free. It is my passion and my companion and the work of my heart and I love it so much.

And my love of literature and writing is the only reason why I keep talking about these things. I don’t try to change shit I don’t care about.

And yet, all this passion and there have been moments where I’ve literally said hey, person you are causing me harm right now or I’ve said that I’m hurt and you know what?

I’m not a White woman so White folks are relentless. Harm to me doesn’t exist because I’m always perceived as angry, aggressive and scary.

And after so many years of trying so hard to be a good literary citizen and use my knowledge about these issues to help- I’m just kinda done.

This entry wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have a migraine and need to keep my brain busy at work and I needed to get out some hurt without yelling at folks.

The take is this.

When used as the only measure of calm, competency Whiteness will fail. Not only will it fail but in the context of the literary community, will drive folks out and if that’s the point hurrah! If that’s not the intended consequence, then think about how you interact with POC before you decide they are wrong about the thing you don’t even know about.

That’s all.

woosah
[image description: Photo of Martin Lawrence from the film Bad Boys rubbing his ears, the words say “woosah…woosah” on top and WOOOSSSAAAHHH!!! on the bottom.
*There are times when these behaviors are rooted in the spirit of censorship and are actual censorship as in done by the government but we’ll talk about that later.

News!!

I’ve been sitting on some news for a while now and I am so excited to announce that my first poetry book has been born and will be available for purchase at the solstice.

I’m so pleased to be published by Lark Books. Come see the page here, 

poetry
[image description: black text on a white background: Sometimes I wonder if my genders are calluses against the rub of excellence expected from me every goddamn day]
Y’all.

I don’t know what kind of fairy poet magic I expected but writing this book was so hard.

Also these poems are different from the work I’ve been producing for the last couple of years. They are actually intensely personal and not the purposefully intimate seeming but about other Femmes and women work I’ve been doing. I’m going to be writing about the work and the process a bit.

I talk about gender, love, my body, my fears. Everything.

There are so many things I don’t know how to do surrounding books I’m probably going to whine a lot.

I’m scared shitless but yanno…imma roll with it.

What else?

OH I have officially relaunched my Self Care Like a Boss Blog. You can read here on wordpress or at tumblr.

I’m teaching myself how to write about literature. I’ve got that Jt Leroy related thing going and I’ve got a response piece going about something I saw on Lithub.

I’m not publishing a whole lot but I am working on creating some shit that I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

Brand new stuff is up at Patreon and I’ll have a post about what is going to happen in the Daiyuverse.

So that’s what’s up.

More soon.

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

To answer an age old question, often I get my ideas from tidbits of things.

I tend to refer to it in my head as my fly on the wall inspo.

I get a lot of inspiration from tiny pieces of things, day to day happenings on facebook friends statuses, tidbits of conversations I overhear when I am commuting, the sound of an accent on a particular word or a voice. I notice and remember the hitch in how someone walks.

I tend to get specific inspiration from particular voices, I hear them as the narrators/characters as I write them. It’s almost like I have an audiobook while I’m writing the thing. The voice often just starts yammering and I need to write to keep up.

The other thing that happens is a full story just craps itself in my brain. It is like, what if this, this and this and then this, GO GO GO GO GO GOGO.

When I was a young potato writer, a lot of the time I thought that was the end of the game. Voice(s) poop out the story, I catch as much as I can of it on paper and then it is done. Now, I realize that often the initial poo is just the framework. It is the uh, well, we know I’ll murder a metaphor so let’s go with continuing the poo theme.

The first rush of getting the story down is like having gas. First is the bubble guts and then, PFFFFFFFFFFT.

So initially it is super exciting and feels amazing. I mean, is there anything more satisfying in life than having your belly blowing up or having bubble guts and FINALLY, whoosh. You fart. You feel your belly deflate. Maybe it makes a hilarious noise, maybe it is just such a relief you want to lay down. That is how that first expression of the big idea.

Okay, I’ll stop with the poop.

There is a physical component to this particular type of inspiration for me. I feel pressure in my body to get it out (like a fart), then the relief of getting that part done and then often I feel like I HAVE to get to the tinkering, the rewrites and the remolding of the story until it is what it wants to be.

I feel the pressure in my belly (like right now I’m constipated as hell) and while I work on these stories, I squirm around, trying to get into that magical comfortable place where I can find relief. The act of writing becomes a mix of the intellectual and the physical. I ride the space between bodily doings and brain doings.

It isn’t really a dignified state. I feel very animal and out of control in this state. Whatever alien voice or thing that the story needs to be, takes me over and I obsess about it until it is what it tells me it wants to be.

This is sort of how I used to imagine it felt to be taken by the muse. In all the flowery, purple prose I read as a kidlet, this is what I thought it meant. Except not as gassy or poopy, I thought it would be more sexy.

It’s not sexy.

It is pleasurable in the very base sense of the filthy body and the noisy brain doing something together for once. Co operating rather than my brain playing forty seven radio stations while my feet go numb because I ignore that I have a body.

I store so much in my body, when the moment happens that I can move some of that onto the page,  I feel like I’ve done something right.

So there you have it.

Ideas, come from having to fart and or poop.

 

 

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.

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.

 

On Rejection and Returning to the Lit World

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, but I’ve been doing a little slow step back into the lit world. By that I mean doing a little submitting here and there.

So pardon me being in a really navel gazing mood here, but I’m in need of reflection.

If I look back 20 years, what was I submitting?

I had about ten “done” stories (done as in I could only ruin them) I printed them out for five cents a page on paper I was ashamed of at the library. I bought expensive envelopes and hand addressed them to various magazines. I probably had about a 20% answer ration. Zero actual publications. I recall hiding my few rejection slips because I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it. I wish I’d have kept them to be honest.

My stories back then were sort of erotic horror mainly, a little slasher, gore and a few that I thought of as literary. Not one character was Black or queer. They were all nice White folks who were attractive and I was very careful not to reveal or infuse any Blackness because, the places I was submitting didn’t really publish a lot of Black stories aside from the occasional racial pain porn or paean to Maya Angelou penned by White women.

I was also deeply reticent about the literary because I bought into the idea that in order for me to be a writer on that level, I had to be in a writing program.

My earliest publications on the internet were all porn or horror. My favorite early publication was Gay smut and that story is still one of my favorites. If I can find it, I’ll reprint it.

After a couple of years I went for it in the lit community but, I kept my stories either pretty White or unspecified so White by default. I was a very nervous submitter. I probably ruined more stories editing and trying to hone them for specific publications than I did submissions sent. Looking back, I have to laugh a little bit. I wanted so badly to get published, I pushed my instincts and real desires down and tried so hard.

Fast forward another few years and I read this piece on the Rumpus. It low key changed my entire writing life. I mean as far as writing advice goes this:

So write, Elissa Bassist. Not like a girl. Not like a boy. Write like a motherfucker.

Now um, y’all.

That set me on a whole new trajectory.

I hit literary fuck it.

For the next four or so years I wrote and submitted like a mother fucker. Sometime in HA I found it 2011 I stumbled on a thing by Brett Elizabeth Jenkins (who is a badass poet) and it took me a while but I got there. Proudly. I wrote Blackness into my work purposefully and with zero fucks given.

It was liberating and telling.

All these years and submissions and rejections have served to teach me some invaluable lessons in how I submit.

Lesson one: If I find guidelines too confusing or too twee, fuck that publication.

Lesson two: Write whatever the fuck you want to write. Regardless of whether or not you think it will be published. Really, write that shit.

Lesson three: Every now and then, it is okay to pushback against a rejection. For instance: once upon a time yours truly got a sweet job writing custom porn. I passed the initial writing test magnificently, the editor was all about it. And then he looked me up and read my personal online diary (anyone remember Diary-x?) and decided to question me. He wanted to know if- because I am Black and Queer and Out in my personal life) I was capable of writing not those things. I was fucking livid and though I desperately needed the money I read him the riot act and flounced from the job. Sometimes, you just gotta tell somebody they done fucked up. That said, do not be the asshole who emails editors back wanting all their damn time or telling them how stupid they are for not publishing your brilliant treatise on whatever bullshit.

Lesson four: Do please read, the places you are submitting to. That said, if you want to blaze a trail for representation, don’t stop get it get it. On the other side of that coin, you are under no obligation to blaze the trail. Remember, care for your heart y’all.

Lesson five: If you can’t be a certain type of writer, accept it and do what you can do. Don’t be like me and punish yourself for years because you suck at quick turnaround work. Don’t be me. Do you boo.

Lesson six: If you write some bullshit, be ready for blow ack. Also, understand that if you write something offensive or deadass wrong and people call you on it, question the editor this is not censorship. This is what’s called consequences for maybe showing your ass. Don’t be a douchebag about it.

Lesson seven: Trust your Weird Voice. Read all about what I have to say about that in the archives of my newsletter here.

Last, cherish the great rejections. I got one earlier today for one of my weird essays and it was wonderful.And when they say we like your voice or something, submit again.

Now that’s all for now. I’m off to get rejected some more.

You go do you boo.

Do. You.