How to Fail at Patreon.

Hello my loves.

Sometimes folks have asked about how the writer financials are going now that I’ve pretty much divested myself of really trying to make money writing. I found a new toy to play with so we’re gonna get pretty naked.

Hang in. It is fixin to get HELLA nerdy up in this piece.

Okay so if this is your first time seeing one of these posts from me here is what I’m doing.

I am being transparent about my failures as an artist. I am not being “negative” it is just the truth of my experience so please no lectures. I’m not sad about it, I know what it is, when I do come across generally upset it is because I’m poor. Last thing, I spent a lot of the last half of 2019 ceasing the hustle.

I stopped trying to do freelance work. I closed down my Etsy shop where I had stories and poetry shit for sale. I stopped trying hard to make Medium a good source of income.

Currently here is how my hustle is set up. I post on medium when I feel like it. I share the free to read link and ask that if folks share they use the paid link. This only sort of works. However, in February I made a 8 month record high of $4.

I’ve been doing fiction again and the lit world has been a lil friendly. No, I am not famous enough to make money writing fiction. I just love it and will write it anyway so I’ve been doing some submitting.

Last thing before we get to some numbers. I fail at making my work financial sustainable. That is just what it do.

OKAY. So if you want to see what is potentially possible for writers on Patreon go check out this top 50 list. For context, every total listed is more money than I make in a month between my dayjob, patreonand the occasional bit of other work.

Now I know some folks on that list so I won’t use one of them as an example cause it’d be creepy. I couldn’t find a great example of someone doing what I’m doing so we’ll talk generalities.

My patreon is an ongoing experiment in writing Black, queer urban fantasy. I write a letter to my patrons that often includes writing advice, some craft nerdery and 3k + words of the story per month. That is the ONLY thing that has kept my patrons around.

For me in particular, this is the ONLY thing I can do on patreon and not lose money monthly. When Patreon released tiers, I suggested it and lost about 45$ per month in patrons. The trend is (and yes I have YEARS of correlated data for this) that if I offer more people are less interested.

Here’s the thing. This month I brought home $205.47. I support other creators so I don’t take home the full amount. I rely on patreon to fund things like, me repairing and keeping on top of my credit, I try to use it for my food for work. I use it to pay for things like having a web presence and things are pretty tight.

That said, I lowkey (not related to the pandemic) think that this could be the last year I do Patreon. My engagement and interest in the work I’m doing is at the lowest. Possibly because I embarked on doing a new thing with it. I understand a lot of folks are broke that happens. But over time, I’m seeing less and less folks interested in fucking with me on that level.

And that is really what my failure at Patreon comes down to. I’ve floated the idea to my social media about doing a Patreon for things like essay work like this and this, inside that particular plan, I also talked about doing some Patron only youtube stuff in the vein of For Harriet (whom I LOVE). A lot of people expressed interest when I just kind of blurted it out. When it came time to engage and actually do something…nah.

That is the pattern of my artistic life. I have a very wonderful core of dedicated reader folks. People who share when I ask, who read, engage etc etc. I understand that I am not great for a lot of people because I’m a big mouth asshole. That said I just cannot afford to do these things.

All this said here’s the deal. I am not an entrepreneur. I’m just not. I’ve taken classes, courses, been mentored and real talk I’m just not into it. That is not who I am. In the modern world that is to my own detriment but, I tried.

I am so grateful and in love with my core audience. I love all of y’all. Forever.

I am also going to write/make the shit anyway. I will share as I feel and I’ve FINALLY let go of tying my worth as an artist to these things. I still write essays. I still write craft stuff. I still am figuring out how to offer up some writing classes. I accept that occasionally I make tips or donations and they are amazing but as far as steady income beyond or better than my current Patreon is probs not gonna happen. And that’s fine.

I’ve learned that as a creator, I cannot pressure myself to make it financially sustainable. It is unfortunate that my failures financially mean I have to make a lot of hard decisions that make me feel bad. I may need to give up my website, I may have to give up more of my entertainment budget. And yeah, I would be really excited if I could make that second patreon and make it a thing.

But, I won’t punish myself for it.

I’m going to make my stuff. Write my shit and continue teaching myself what kind of artist I wanna be.

If you are discouraged or devastated about not being able to make money with your art, you aren’t alone and it doesn’t devalue you or your work. Capitalism sucks.

I love you all.

Comin soon, more reviews. Some publishing news and I’m working up some nerdy shit.

Thuglit, White dudes and Hella Gay Crime Fiction

Today is brought to you by the homie Todd Robinson on a podcast. Listen to that here.

So Todd was the editor of Thuglit. I read it a lot. I linked to the issue I was in cause I am V. Proud of that story. But I don’t want to talk craft right now.

Instead I want to talk about being welcomed with big open arms into a genre where, I did not see my ideas reflected and decided to actually dive in. Technically I think my first noir/crime story was actually published in the Flash Fiction Offensive (BIG CW for racialized violence).

I think (SHIT I can’t remember) but I was a lurker in the noir/crime area of short lit for a long time. Y’all know, I do love me some grimy fiction and the FFO piece was a very early example of where I’d want to go with it.

Of all of the areas of the lit world I have been in, this part has been the most open and welcoming. A genre of mainly white men, who have given me space to be Black and queer as fuck. Even when the stories weren’t queer necessarily. And when the stories were queer as fuck, not one concern was expressed.

What’s interesting to me is that, of all of my work over the last 20 years, these stories (more will be linked below) generated the least blowback from other people writing in the genre as well as fans.

When I did this flash piece that was accepted at Shotgun Honey I did prepare myself to hear the usual kinds of shit. I was ready to deal with people “just asking” why the character is Black AND gay. WHY is there a Beyonce reference? I expected to be grilled about it being unrealistic and zero of that happened.

Y’all…it was ZERO. Matter of fact, I remember very well getting a note on twitter from a rando white dude and he told me he was excited to find a Black author in crime stuff. Mind blown.

The reason I was so blown away by that reception is that, in other areas of my work this is not usually what happens. Outside of my ride or die readers, often the responses are a mixed bag of shit. People mad about something and honestly, it can be really exhausting.

Another great experience was when I was asked to contribute to a special issue of The Big click. Country noir. Honestly, this is one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever done. It was edited by the lovely Court Merrigan and like working with Big Daddy Thug Todd, it was a really good experience.

Being given the freedom to be Black and Queer and write a story like the Queen of Orla was really precious to me. There were a couple of references Court had to ask me about, but the important thing is he asked me and accepted what I had to say. In none of these instances have I been asked to tone it down.

Folks that read the Orla piece recognized that it was a tribute to the movie Bound. I say it in the story and some of the responses were so good.

There have been times in my literary career where, my Blackness and Queerness has been a problem. Not always in the context of the actual work I’ve done but in being who I am. There was the job I rage quit because the editor had googled me and was uncertain I could write not Black and not Queer in spite of him the day before having told me my sample was amazing.

There have been thousands of hate messages.

These men, really gave me an opportunity to do the shit I love to do and play. I’ve been treated with respect, I’ve been treated with care and my work has been respected and enjoyed. I can’t say that for a lot of the literary world.

ALSO I’ve been able to read and talk to some other fantastic folks. Two of my faves below.

Joe Cliffordof whom I VERY fond of.  He’s a stand up person and his work is fuckin solid man.

And Gabino Iglesias. Read this review, I have a review of his book Coyote Songs forthcoming. TL:DR while reading both times, I spent a lot of time going goddamn this mother fucker and wanting to either hug him or punch him. So, like it is really fucking good.

The moral of the story is this. Sometimes, we get to work with and meet people who defy all of our expectations about how we’ll be treated. The dudes I’m talking about here, (along with some others we’ll talk about later because reasons) really have a special place in my heart. Go read their work.

Talk Nerdy to me- The Origin of the Ghost story Gina Goes Home

Okay buckle up it is fixin to get nerdy af up in this piece today.

Today we’re gonna go all the way the fuck in about a story I wrote last year. Okay you can go read it first or just follow along in another tab, find the chonky baby here.

The Inspiration

I love a good ghost story. I love ghost stories inside of religious mythos, campire yarns. Music, movies, stories I love ghosties. I also love watching paranormal investigation shows. Ghost Hunters, I frickin LOVE Zak Bagins. I watch amateurs on youtube. Love it. That was the initial inspiration.

The other inspo was this. There are theories (no I’m not gonna argue with you if you believe in it or not so don’t) that if you are being haunted, ask the dead what they want. I’ve seen it in movies, referenced in American Gods when Shadow’s dead wife visits and Wednesday asks him if he asked her what she wanted.

The Story

The first thing that this story said to me was, the dead want something. They want someone. They want Gina. I felt like I wanted to tell a story of a modern haunt. Not a historic type thing like a Gray Lady, or even a haunting that would be on an Overlook hotel level.

I really wanted to start small. I call it quaint in the story. I was imagining the kind of hotel you drive by on a roadtrip through the country, not fancy, probably a little shabby but charming. I also wanted to give the reader a clear idea that shit was about to get fucked up.

We get there by the second paragraph, I wasn’t going for subtle. That said, it isn’t the scariest thing, it is if you’re a skeptic you could say that meh, not that bad. See below:

The quaintness of the resident ghosts lasted until 2015. The first report, in the form of a middle-aged shrieking man in basketball shorts and little else came hauling his half naked self-down four flights of stairs. “There, help, please-” Mariah at the front desk had experienced a jumpy guest or two, she had a spare robe behind the desk for such occasions and offered to the gentleman while assuring him she’d check out his room.

This sort of thing happens a lot in hotels. Folks will act up in all sorts of ways and I didn’t want to come right out the gate with the BOO GHOST!

In the next paragraph we have the first instance of what the dead want. If you’ve read me a lot, you know I like to play with repetition for varying effects and in this case, I want the reader to not only hear what the dead want but, at some point it does get unsettling. Who is Gina? Where is Gina? How do we get Gina? What do they want with Gina?

One of the other things I did in this story was get into the body. Horror gives us such a great opportunity to really do things that are not unsettling because they are traditionally creepy but, I think a lot of us have bodily responses to things and sometimes our bodies will duplicate what we’re reading or seeing in sympathy. Looky here:

The sexless whisper was clear as day and came from the still air. She felt no chill, no movement, no sense of another person in the room. Fear gripped her sacrum in cold, hard fingers. Her anus contracted, her whole body tingled, and turned to stone. It took all of her will to take a breath and turn her head to the right. She forced her eyes wide open and saw nothing. She scooted out of the room and stood in the hallway, “oh shit.”

This paragraph is where I get creepy. I didn’t necessarily want to use common ghost tropes to begin with, cold spots, woowoo chain rattling etc. But the body. Those are always my favorite responses when I watch my paranormal shows and I am fascinated with how our bodies do stuff. When your butthole clenches up because oh fuck what the fuck was that. I really LOVE getting into the body. Real talk, I feel like the best way to learn this technique is to write some real nasty erotica. I’m talking super explicit in order to expand your thinking as to how bodies work and can work.

We’ll talk more about that at another time.

Through the next bits I hit on some common ghost/haunting stuff I hear in my shows. Construction riles up ghosts. I was really thinking of something a friend told me about the hotel he’d been working in. They were refurbishing it and the ghosts went buck fuckin wild and caused at least three of housekeeping to straight up fled mid shift.

As we get into some more of the action, I leave little breadcrumbs that these are not white people. That is important to me and interestingly enough, I did have one white reader be not really here for it because the framing of how these non white folks deal with it, is not what we’re presented with in the paranormal stuff I like.

It starts with this:

“Well ma’am, there are unhappy spirits asking for Gina. We’ve done everything, the ofrenda is fresh, the sills and doorways have been protected. Evelyn even brought her Grandfather around to say a blessing.”

This is not for white readers to be honest. This is a headnod to other POC from me. We have an ofrenda, if that’s too much Spanish google it. Also FYI I do not EVER italicize other languages. Fight me don’t @ me.

SHIT I am long winded as fuck. Anyway moving along.

To speed things along, I added some bro type ghost hunters who wanted to provoke and then, I decided to get into the entities. I wanted to explore the maybe was once human but is not totally not type ghosty, along with some lesser ghosties and create a community so they could have a goal. To get Gina.

As they say, a broken clock is right twice a day and the leader of the ghost hunting group was right about one thing. There was something bad. Someone bad, the other dead called him Boss. While the crew gathered themselves, the dead congregated in the basement. While the camera in the corner rolled, the air roiled with orbs and zigzagging streaks of energy.

“Boss? Boss make them get Gina. Bring Gina home.” Some of the hobgoblins grouped together to whisper, “Gina. Where is Gina?” The chorus of Gina and where is Gina and bring her home wavered through the air. “Boss tell them. Tell them.” Something that resided in the crawl space let their high, thin wail out and spoke for them all, “we want Gina. Gina must come home.”

Now, to me it is a bit more frightening to have the ghosties decide to gang up. Then I went into some classic haunting stuff, the cold air, the more traditional type haunt we get to see on the shows.

In order not to totally spoil the rest cause I want you to read it. I really went in on the idea of after the investigators came, how the situation gets solved and as usual, I wrote a not entirely satisfying ending. it ends but I don’t tell you everything that happened because I’m an asshole. I don’t explain who Gina really is, why they want her or anything.

So the overall lesson is this. Try some shit out. I’ve never written a ghost story like this before and I quite enjoyed doing it. Below find some relevant links.

Zak Bagans Demon House lost footage.

Ofrenda altars, also to give an in the know reader a sense of the time of year.

DASSIT. Happy Women in Horror Month!

Tiny Fictions- Microprose From my Phone

I have been writing microprose on the memo function of my phone. Below find some plucked from my archive.

#1 We never left that golden moment. We knew then, how to be immortal. If only: for a minute.

#2 You’ll know them by the shadows behind their eyes and the blood in their breath. They are the quiet ones.  You’ll know. We all know.

#3 Through the heavy morning. The sun still wants what she wants. She wants I feel her own heat taken in and returned with glory. She wants to kiss my skin like the lover she will never know. She wants to know the sweetness of brown skin and hair that reaches for her too. I tilt my face up. Watch her burn the clouds and smile.

I’m hers. I am always hers.

#4 We see her, all of them. We know them, we Innocents who will not see, we Innocents who must not believe know how her. She walks with q switch in her hips and death in her eyes.

We know. We refuse. It is our right and our demise.

#5 He died.

He’s still dead and I’m still mad. He never saw me confidently reading poetry or heard me drunk and singing dirty blues. His hand still sits on mine sometimes, when I write things that hurt. He’s gone but not.

Occasionally when I write something a little lyrical I hear his shy voice, singing low the way he liked to sing to me on the phone.

But, he died.

~

Short writing lesson babes.

Don’t be afraid to play with microprose. Try a new voice, try a POV you don’t usually use. Try out vocabulary you don’t usually use. Try out, abandoning the traditional Western idea of a story and do something else. Make it like a poem.

Micro/super short flash is a really great way to do this. I also recommend doing it to limber up like stretching before you work out. Sometimes I also use these when I want to write a new story. So remember my loves, don’t throw that shit away.

Your turn, give it a shot.

Oh Uncle Steve..

Before I get going, let me give y’all some background.

I have loved Stephen King since I was 8 years old. The first adult novel I read was ‘Firestarter’. I thought it was verboten so I hid a borrowed copy and read it feverishly whenever I could until I finished it. I have been a lover of horror since.

As an adult I have struggled with my love of King. I wanted to excuse his Magical Negros and constant fallback to racist tropes. I tried.

My love of his oeuvre and the impact on the artist I am not withstanding, I gotta once again realize that Uncle Steve ain’t here for folks like me.

ohnobb
[image description: a tweet by Stephen King that reads: …I wound never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me to do otherwise would be wrong. Dated 4:20 AM Jan 14, 2020
Unky Steve tried to walk it back but look.

This issue is something I’ve spoken about for ages. I’m not gonna rehash. But let’s get a few things 100.

  1. This position assumes all things are equal. They are not.
  2. This position assumes that, things like institutional racism, sexism etc has no bearing in the arts. They do.
  3. It is just a goddamn bad take.

The main problem with people in Kings position making these type proclamations is that, he is in SUCH a position of influence. Like when I wrote about Phil Anselmo from one of my fave bands Pantera doing Nazi-esque shit as “jokes” I have the same issue here. Yeah, he might not have meant it that way but, there is an impact.

Like Phil, I fucking still love the dude. If I knew either of them, I’d probably just be like BRO WHAT THE FUCK IS U DOING….because I care about them. I enjoy their art.

Here’s the thing.

When people in positions of influene, like Mssrs. Anselmo and King, say and do dumb shit like this, there is a large part of their fans/followers and people they influence in their respective arenas who absolutely use things like this to back their own bias and put it into action.

The problem is that, it is #20-dingdang-20 and we HAVE to stop allowing White liberals to say shit like this and pretend like it is fine. It is not fine.

Had Uncle Steve been paying attention to his own industry for I dunno the last 15 years, he’d probably be well aware that in his most famous genre in particular, women, POC, etc have not been exactly welcomed with open arms.

We who are not cis white hetero men, don’t have the luxury of sitting back and resting on the quality of our work. We never have. Here in the year of fuckery of 2020 we still don’t.

As it is, right this minute. There are many white people in influential positions in horror publishing who are publicly neonazis. This is happening now.

How about a storytime? This is post Racefail ’09 and happened to me a few years ago when I decided to maybe start easing my way back into the horror area of lit life, I went to an event where there were HWA people.

It was some bucketlist shit for me. Many moons and out of prints ago, I was super close to making enough pro horror sales to qualify to be a member. That is all I wanted in life. Now, you may or may not know that in meatspace, I can be kinda shy and skittish. I’m a feral cat in a dress and easily startled. BUT when I wanna meet folks, I sweat and get it done.

I met some folks from the org and they were nice white folks. Generally welcoming, I don’t know if they were local to me. BUT, when we started talking authors, neither of them (and they were both older than me) had heard of not one SINGLE Black writer I mentioned. Most of the writers I tried to talk to them about were members in good standing, several of them were quite prolific and included Tananarive Due.

Tananarive Due.

……………

Y’all. It was enlightening to me.

The fact that they had NO IDEA of contempary horror writers who were producing work for big houses at that point, and weirdly they were all not White….

For a bit further sauce, around the same time I had been contacted by a small (no longer around) horror start up mag. They knew of my work from my porny horror I’d had published years earlier, they were nice White folks who said diversity a lot.

They liked a lot of the horror stuff I like. They solicited work from me. I may have the bones of the story somewhere but basically, it was a hood ass haunted house story. Very classic haunting and yes in the hood without the smirk. Hood kids, one of them with a root working Nana,

Their style of editing was quite eh, handsy. They wanted to work in a very collaborative, edit as you go type of way that they framed as “shaping” and “development”. I wasn’t a fan but I really wanted to be in their debut issue with a fat ass Blackity Black Black horror story.

As we worked, most of their inquiries were thinly veiled white folks being amazed that Black things exist. A lot of the story was hooked to 90s r&b and they questioned if their audience would recognize it. See also questions about if their audience would “feel” things like:

  • Mentioning braids or beaded hairstyles
  • Very light AAVE
  • Endless questions about things folks in the story did/knew about. Black biker gangs, passing mention of thins like Rodney King (remember this was very much placed in the 90s),

Etc etc. It became very clear to me that their discomfort was not the story itself but the absolutely unapologetic Blackness. That this story was not centered in the White gaze and thus was not “relatable”. They never questioned the quality of the work. They loved the idea but not the execution in that it was not, centered in the traditionally super whiteness of Horror.

I pulled out. I couldn’t take it. I felt so beat down and defeated. After that, I bounced off of horror for a long time. I didn’t read a lot of it, I didn’t follow the industry. I stuck to tried and true faves until the Anti-Blackness in those (UNCLE STEVE) was too much for me.

So look.

We can’t keep pretending that all things are equal in any sense of the word. Uncle Steve, please stop. This shit is exhausting. Read the link below and follow the links in it. Y’all can we fuckin not.

#StokersSoWhite: 2016-2018, the fall of tokenism at the HWA by Sumiko Saulson. 

2019 You Raggedy Motha Fucka.

I am real done with 2019. I made an ever growing playlist I’ve titled 2019 Girl. BYE. Hit shuffle and come climb in my brain.

SO 2020. What is gonna happen?

……….well. Okay I’m so sorry I don’t have a huge special announcement.

I honestly have no clue what is going to happen. For the first time in a while, there is no literary hustle.  None. I have no plans. I have no super secret book plan. I have ideas of course, like we all always got a fuckin idea but, I’m not putting the pressure on to try and write the thing that will bust me into some low level of the mainstream.

Can we have a lil real talk? I had one too many flirtations with said mainstream. One (or fucking a good dozen) too many situations where, my ideas and concepts were SUPER tempting for magazines and publishers but as a person, and the person doing those things was not.

I was let down, defeated and hurt.

That said, all of that and folks straight up plagiarizing me and and and..and my dry pockets took me to a place where I was sad enough to consider just, not doing any of this shit. I needed that. I needed to a.) realize if I wasn’t making any forward progress whatever I decided to do was kind of a moot point and b.) I needed to cry it the fuck out and be mad and get through it.

The way out is through.

NOW.

After a lot of upset and shit going down I realized the most important things:

  1. I am who the fuck I am. A lot of people, A LOT OF PEOPLE hate everything about me. They hate my fiction, they hate my essays, they hate my blog posts, they hate my fuckin face. And that’s fine. I side with Katt Williams on this, they doin they fuckin jobs.
  2. #1 being what it is, why should I break myself down in order to please people who are on a real tip, NEVER going to fucks with me on that level. Even people who know me/are in my community. A lot of people are not checking for me and that’s okay too. It is frustrating because I want to do so much but, it is fine.
  3. MOST IMPORTANT. I’m gonna do what the fuck I want to do.

……………….

So that is the energy I’m taking into 2020.

I will write what the fuck I want. Some of it might be published some not. That’s fine. I’m not going to keep up that lil flame of hope for the mainstream to notice me. I’m tired of that.

Will I write a book? Maybe.

I dunno.

The small plan I have is to get a new smaller computer. I gave the 15″ HP I got last year to my partner for Christmas. I can’t use that machine and yeah.

What else?

I’m doing my loveletters again.

But mostly I am writing like a mother fucker who fears no fucking publishing house.

Basically, I am no longer holding myself to requirements I didn’t make up you know? Honestly, the prescribed path to writer/creative success is not mine. Trying to walk in other folks shoes hurt me so bad. I’m not taking that into 2020.

Dassit babes.

Happy New Year. Please be safe. Use rideshares, don’t drink and drive and let us walk into 2020, like the bad mother fuckers we are.

 

What A Frickin Year bro.

OKAY so let’s do recent news then my annual navel gazing look back at my own fuckery.

First up. My last publication of 2019 is one close to my heart. This essay was solicited, rejected, submitted, rejected a lot. Here is a taste:

Cultures around the world covet Blackness. Our skin tones, our styles, our hair, our features until, those things are attached to an actual Black person. Many of us have lived through harassment, job loss and general public humiliation because our style is too ghetto, our hair is inappropriate. I was raised to conform. Keep my hair straight, not be, act or look too Black. Blackness and my expression of it was constrained by the White gaze.

I was not taught how to love myself or how to be a human being.

III

Nothing about my physical appearance has ever been “right” save for a time during an extended eating disorder relapse when I was thin. Most of my life I have been chunky or fat. I am not able bodied. My teeth are not good. My skin is not clear. My hair is, frequently a mess. What began for me as a shameful secret has become the key to my personal liberation. My morals are, abhorrent to American culture.

Read it here at Queen Mobs Teahouse.

What else? I’ve resumed my newsletter/creatives loveletters. I moved over to Substack so come check em out. The year end big ole chonk one will be out probably soon.

This leads me into a little bit about what I’m doing with my work, what I’m working on and stuff. So I won’t be doing any super deep essays for a while. No new shit about racism, Anti Blackness etc. Y’all I honestly just can’t. I’m burnt out. Uh here’s the thing. I don’t think I will make my writer bones writing that shit. I’m not the one and that’s fine. Yes, I am good at writing those things. Yes, it matters deeply to me but, my language and who I am as a person and how I write just tends to cause problems and I’m tired.

In my continuing quest to figure out how to be more sustainable in my art, this part of my craft is just too much for me right now. The publications that fuck with me, most aren’t able to pay a whole bunch and I’m not mad at them for that, indie media is a struggle. I am very mindful that the payment I can get, often doesn’t counteract the cost of the rest of the bullshit.

This is brought to you by the fact that an entry I wrote here a few years ago, STILL makes white people so angry I get shit about it. I wrote about the experience at the time here. 

Thing is, I’ve long stopped equating the idea of folks seeing my work being totally worth it. Frankly, for me seeing (shit pls do not take this as haterade) that, I can’t be or am rarely considered to be the type of Black writer to get the seat at the table and the cash without a heavy fee (as in, toning it down, blablabla) it just hurts too much.

My body of work is out there. I am free with link sharing but I’m not sure I will do more of that in an intentional manner.

So this is also part of me doing the work of finding my lane. Y’all been here, you know that this is important to me.

Freelancing=not my lane.

Resource creator for my community=not my lane. I’ve failed in that because I don’t think I have the trust of communities I’m in so yeh.

I think that for 2020 I need to focus on just being the little weirdo potato I am. In this long ass process of letting go of one version of being a successful writer, I’m stumbling along and mostly just trying not to be fully lost.

Essentially, I’ll post stuff where/how I feel like in the moment. I’m not going to go real hard about trying to hustle my Medium or Kindle links. I just don’t have the energy to do all that and get pennies in return. It is not only time consuming but also, y’all it just hurts my feelings.

So there tis homies.

I will likely not post again until the new year. So I love you. Thank you for riding with me through the years. We gonna be okay.

Love,

Shannon

 

Updates And Stuff To Read

Hello darlings.

Your problematic fave has some news and stuff to read.

An essay I’m terribly proud of finally found a home. Head on over to Queen Mobs Teahouse to read my ‘Make Me a Monster‘ essay. This essay which is, me at my rawest and realest got itself a lot of rejections included one that was from a solicited submission.

How about some hustle updates? Recently, Medium has changed how they calculate payment. I have put some new stuff over there and in absolutely non shocking news it doesn’t do well. I am trying to stop hurting my feelings with analytics but, frankly while yes I make about .60$ more a month or so, most people aren’t interesting. So on one hand, yay I made 1.87$ last month, I also offered up more than a few thousand words.

Other hustles, the holiday patreon drop off has begun. I’m not super worried about it. That is just what it do. Also as history has shown me, when I’m talking expansion that drives off patrons still so…eh.

On to Amazon. In the kindle publishing thing if you make your work available for Kindle unlimited you can make a bit of coin from page reads. I do not have any page reads since Sept 7. No sales of any of those pieces since Sept 25. I did one two week run of advertising to people I don’t already know. 600 impressions, 0 clicks, 0 sales. So I ate up my profits. I might make .52$ by new year. In total, for 2019 I made 35.46$ Minus advertising and when I tried FB advertising, my profit is about 4$. My two fave things I have available are the tiny horror collection Flashes of Discomfort. And the short story Bernie’s Warg. Those are affiliate links.

I think that’s it for hustling. I am trying really hard not to focus on it. It is so hard when you know that just a little more financial success would change so much. It is also hard because I know how I am and frankly, like I have said eleventy times before, I’m gonna write the shit anyway.

So I distribute stuff as I see fit. I’m doing really well at noting when things flop and why. I’m doing better at not getting bogged down in my financial failures. Emotionally, having my work not read/enjoyed etc isn’t the part that burns and that is so frustrating to me. It is a struggle but, we out here.

I think that’s all for now. 2020 is lookin up. I have one for sure thing that’ll be out third quarter. Maybe I’ll stop fucking around and write a real book. Another one. I dunno.

That’s all my loves.

OH OH wait..hold up.

I might be relaunching my creative loveletter thing. I am not sure yet. Stay tuned.

The End of An Experiment.

So this is gonna be the last post about this era of my writing career. If you’ve missed it check out here and here. Go ahead I’ll wait.

Now I want to warn y’all this is gonna get long as fuck and real raw about a lot of things. If you’re new here, put on your hardhat and athletic cup. If you’ve been here. Sorry boo.

OKAY.

For background, a few years ago I decided it was time to level up my career. Post a fairly brutal doxxing by other writers, I felt like I really needed to re asses, set some goals and get the fuck to work. When I found out I had a book of poetry coming out, that was my cue.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been in these lit streets since the late 90s. Like most writers, especially those of us swimming in the big ass ponds of poetry and short fiction, I’ve had ebbs and flows. I’ve rarely had a lot of success in poetry. There was a time period where I was a bit notorious amongst white poets because I’m a big ole mean ass Negro who hates free speech.

I was gonna link a bunch but nah. If you want to read my older stuff, links live in the sidebar.

I had a few minor moments, at one point my short fiction high my acceptance rate stayed up in the high 70s with about, 10-15 submissions per week so that was tits.

I got to know some poetry folks who made me feel great. I went to AWP (this is actually a hilarious story so I might try to make a video about it) I got to meet Roxane Gay at the first one and almost peed my pants. In the years between what like 2014-2016ish I was feeling myself in the, obscure but getting some great feedback area of writing.

In 2016 or so I decided that since I was armed with knowledge, a network of readers (a thing a writer I really admire complimented me on was how I engage with folks, that was just great) and I believed.

What I believed was that, in spite of my big mouth and all my shade at the lit community etc that I could carve out some kind of little financially sustainable writing life. I started with freelancing. After my first non-fiction publication I had a taste for it. I have an ability to write about things like racism, fatness etc in a way a lot of folks found good at the time. I had some experience from writing at XOJane. I’d figured out how to deal with things like:

  • Being told for years what a shitty asshole I am for writing things.
  • Being doxxed/harassed by angry racists, angry feminists and some other folks.
  • Being told explicitly (with pull quotes and footnotes) why folks were hate reading me and then why they wanted to make sure I know how much I suck.
  • Death threats.
  • Folks trying to get me fired from my dayjob.
  • Etc etc etc.

All those things continue to suck but I learned how to deal with it. My next plan for my glow up when I realized that to be a “successful” freelancer I’d have to eat a lot of shit, I decided to scale WAY back. Also real talk, dealing with white women in the sooper seekrit internet writing groups, fucked me up and in a lot of ways forced me out. That’s fine.

Some things I’ve been successful at in the last few years:

  • Figuring out I am not good on spec.
  • I am too stubborn to settle.
  • I refuse to eat shit for a byline.
  • I still write pretty ding dang good fuckin essays.

Don’t get it twisted. I am a fucking bad ass writer. I am. I cannot be fucked with and I continue to sometimes write some really bad shit. Overall. I’m a bad mother fucker.

I am Fat Laila. (MY FAVE INTERNET CHONKY KITTER DO NOT FAT SHAME HER THIS AIN’T THE PLACE BRO) Look at her. This is raw footage of my work and shit. No I just really wanted a giggle break. Stay with me.

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[image description: a fat black kitty mid run, she has airplane ears and looks like she is hissing. Text says, MOTHERFUCKERS!
So when I decided to level up, I felt intensely ready. I did some courses from places like the Void Academy.  FYI the links I share ARE good shit. They just aren’t the good shit for me in particular. When Medium launched their pay program. I put some stuff behind the paywall and pretty much failed hard. I learned SO MUCH from my beloved Milcah. I have held this advice so tight in my little hand. I very literally say it to myself a lot.

From my journal from the time, my number 1 goal was GET MY SHIT READ. Thus I embarked on the type of marketing and self-promotion folks say to do for years.

It didn’t go well.

I had a beautiful most amazing little poetry book come out. Buy her here.  Shit this part burns. But I did the thing folks say to do. I reached out to a LOT of people. I offered review copies and I think I got 2 reviews. more stuff I haven’t told anybody. I sent emails, queries etc to lit venues offering review copies, I answered a few very specific calls that put my book into their wheelhouse. Out of 60 emails of this nature sent, I got zero replies.

Zero.

Nada.

Fuckin crickets.

Privately I was fucking devastated. Part of how I experience anxiety often means I want to apologize to people for bothering them with my needs or whatever. It is just a thing. I was really tempted and so heavily triggered I almost asked my publisher to cancel the book.

I’m glad I didn’t. It is a good little book.

Now here is where I really started to see the pattern of my career at work and exposing a lot to me. Now, in terms of how people respond to my work, even here in Seattle people really love it. On a personal level, people tell me how much they like things I do. Some folks wrote me really lovely notes about how much they enjoyed the book.

After publication, I tried another round of promotion in the review angles and again, nothing happened. Nothing. The few folks who took review copies never said anything about it again. It has taken most of my self control to not email ALL of those people to ask if they just hated it. I don’t need to know.

I know enough.

Those months are what my career is at this point. I’ve realized these things:

  • The agents I’ve queried have all been either super interested and then once they saw more of my work *who I actually am* they ghost. Or their advice is to cut the social justice stuff, talk about racism less etc.
  • There is something about ANY of my work that does not keep the attention of people enough to really support it in any material way.

Again, I’m not talking about my ride or dies. I’m talking about the 5k+ folks in my social media, other people. I just ain’t it bro.

Superficially that makes my inner child wail. I want to lay face down on the floor. I want to suck out my personality and brains and everything and try to be more like the badass writers I’ve been compared to (or mistaken for in Ijeoma’s case) Roxane, Nikki.  All writers I admire deeply.

If I could in fact eat or otherwise ingest some of their successes and turn them into my own, maybe.

I am not them and that is okay. I don’t have to be.

I could honestly go on forever. I know a lot of super talented, successful amazing writers. I stan them. I get so excited when I see their names in the news and on best of lists etc.

And just this year I realize, that is probably not going to happen for me. I hate it and it breaks my heart into a million pieces but that is just what it is. Whatever it is about me, my work, etc is not gonna be the thing that gets me the big money or the big publication or probably a spot on any best of list.

I’ve accepted it and that my beloveds is why I’m closing my professional FB page. It is why I’m not doing a newsletter anymore, why I’m not going to bust my whole ass trying to get people to do the TWO things I need.

Action doesn’t happen for me when I ask. Unless I’m having a complete panic fueled meltdown and as I’ve said that is exhausting and humiliating and also doesn’t really work in terms of success I can link to it. When I do that, I might get a few bucks thrown at me on Kofi or maybe an extra 2 shares but folks ain’t reading, ain’t buying, ain’t sharing.

So that my friends is the end of this part of my writing career. When I publish on Medium I might use the paywall I might not. I’m writing a lot of fiction. I’ve got some horror coming out this year. I want to get back into noir.

My failure to not get famous, that wasn’t the point. The point was to move my life into a more sustainable model, maybe someday sell a book and keep writing and making some coin. I failed. There were a lot of reasons but I failed.

So like I been doing for 20 years, I’m gonna do what I know how to do.

Write like a mother fucker.

So that’s it y’all. A different adventure begins. Please stay tuned, next week I’m gonna talk about stuff I’ve got planned, we’re gonna nerd the fuck out about horror and weird fiction. It is gonna be lit.

 

Works in Progress and Whatnots.

State of the writer.

I’m drinking a pour over made with Kicking Horse Grizzly Claw coffee. Normally I drink their 454 but this blend is amazing. I added a wee bit of dark brown sugar and it really brought out the chocolatey flavor of this coffee. A fuckin plus.

What else is happening?

Well babes I’m still kind of really struggling trying to figure out how to write at home without a shitload of pain and not having to buy a desk because I don’t have the space. It is super frustrating. My body just cannot take not having some way to sit properly and work. Bummer.

But what’s good tho?

I am doing some new horror that I’m creating from my existing The World mythos. I’ve been wanting to play around and expand it. Also, y’all this is where I’m gonna plug Yeah, Write. I have talked a lot about playing and Yeah, Write is a great way to do that.

What else?

I’m not sure to be honest. My fiction writing is super damn slow for no reason and I’ve been writing essays that hurt my feelings. Like can I fucking not do that?

Also I’ve been poking at the self care book reboot and I feel some type of way about it. I dunno. On one hand, yes a good number of folks have said they want it but I am also too acutely aware of the toll writing it takes on me and given my recent performance in the sales dept, I don’t know if I can afford it.

I have reached the point with my Kindle singles experiment (I also had offered the work outside of amazon) where I’ll leave stuff there but that is also not really a viable method of both getting a little coin for my work and putting it out. Even with advertising designed by someone who is not me, nah.

So I’ve decided that there is not that much of a market for my work. That is fine. I won’t be dedicated myself to trying to make fetch happen. I’m still writing of course. I will submit to places when asked or if I see a juicy call but, yeah. I dunno y’all.

I will continue with Patreon. I average a bit over $200 a month and given that 90% of my audience in general doesn’t see value in purchasing my work, this is a huge deal. In the great big universe of Patreon that is bullshit ass money but, considering my track record with cash and my work it is pretty fuckin amazin.

So yeah. If I get a bug up my butt I might put out new medium content or Kofi or whatever. I might put more stuff on kindle. I’m not pressed about it. None of these things are remotely lucrative enough for me to put in more than a half hour a month at most. 10$ a month at the height (in June) of my side hustles just…nah.

Through this process I’ve been able to cement some things about myself as a writer.

  1. I am not great at on spec work.
  2. Sometimes I do what people who buy books want but, I am not the person they want the thing from.
  3. The writing I can sell, often hurts the most to write and I can’t do it full time.
  4. I’m not super attached to the financials at this point beyond working myself into a deficit of both coins and spoons.

I’m in a fairly peaceful place about this. Yes, I still get kinda really fucking mad when I see concepts I’ve written about extensively get picked up for $$$ when people who aren’t me write them (occasionally close enough to be plagiarism but whatevs) and I still am kinda sad that folks are just not that into me but I’ll live.

Thing is, I’ll be writing whatever bullshit anyway. I know myself. I’ve just really removed the pressure of making it sustainable for myself. Not happening. So yeah.

Stuff will happen. Things will be made to read. Dassit.