One of the things I am discovering I’m terrible at is being my own student.
Over the years I’ve developed a particular style of learning in order to teach myself how to write about things I want to write about. For years, I blogged about a lot of personal shit and then I figured out how I like to write a personal essay.
I will read the fuck out of a type of thing, write hot garbage about the thing, rewrite, read more rinse repeat until I feel like I’ve learned about it enough to confidently write the thing the way I want to write it.
This has mostly worked out very well.
However, I am an impatient ass asshole. I have been taking notes. I have pages in my Pash Planner dedicated to my bucketlist of writing related shit. Most of my bucketlist writing shits are things I’m heavily interested in and also heavily invested in writing about them my way. I want to find ways to use my lil voice to talk about subjects/things I traditionally might think are over my head.
I am really excited but, I want to be done with the learning. I want to stop writing hot shit about these things and get to the good stuff.
It is very frustrating to me.
And I have to laugh a little, when I was a baby potato trying to learn stuff I was the same way. I’d have baby potato rage because okay good example.
When I was in the fifth grade, I tried to read Romeo and Juliet. I couldn’t and it made me so angry I studied Willy Shakes for a FULL year teaching myself the syntax, the vocabulary etc. I did it out of spite and then out of love.
I’m at the point where at least one of the bucketlist things has been tentatively begun. A memoir flavored story about how JT Leroy and that whole thing fucked me up, a bit of a reader memoir, a bit of me questioning why it is that POC especially Black folks are never allowed a certain flavor of confessional work without being expected to finish it out with a connection to the world/issue and some teaching.
I’ve started it five fucking times and I think this last start was probably the best one. I have to sit back and laugh a little. I always ask, WHY AM I LIKE THIS….
This is how ambition functions in me and how my human competition streak goes. I’m not fighting y’all. I’m not trying to outrun y’all. I want to satisfy myself. And I am the hardest person to deal with.
That said, I am enjoying how it’s going.
I think that’s all I have energy for right now. I’m fighting some intense nausea and just not barfing is pretty much taking all my energy.
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.
Not be a sweaty weirdo when I meet writers I admire (HI ROXANE)
Not creep on writers I really like (pretty sure I creeped on both Daniel J. Older AND some other folks at AWPLA. Sorry y’all)
Legit submit chapbooks.
So I’m almost done with my second book of poetry. Unlike Gasoline Heart this one is not on anybody’s shopping list as of yet. It just sort of happened. I’m just about at the point where I start pulling the poems from my phone and put them into Word for formatting and then…yeah y’all I dunno.
The other thing I don’t know how to do is figure out what technology exactly I need to make the most out of my time.
My little cheap older tablet with the keyboard is kind of okay but, unfortunately is just a little too weak to deal with how I work. I’m looking at saving up for the Sentio Superbook. I want the deluxe version. What sold me was that I can work from my phone and that is super ideal for me. Also you can work windowed which I can’t do on my other tablet and my laptop is just too much of a beast to lug around.
The Windows surface was close but I just can’t afford the one I want so ya know.
Real talk I’m having a situation that will fuck up my whole July.
So if you’ve got a few dollars burnin a hole in your pocket, come buy some lit. Want to get lit from me on the regular? Come get into my Patreon. Just want to help? Paypal,Venmo, Cash me.
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:
Me: writes story with magical negroes all in and through it. Them: UM ISN’T THAT A MAGICAL NEGRO TROPE #WhatWoCWritersHear
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 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.
Yours truly is dog shit sick again and was flat on my ass for two days and I’m at work struggling to stay awake.
Very well meaning friends often send me listings to residencies and y’all I STILL have questions.
One of the very famous ones closed not too long ago and a friend was like OMG GO GO GO.
I added up the cost to basically take 3 weeks off of work and y’all. It would cost me (I estimated costs only eating once a day) more than I make in a month. Not including missed wages, my own travel anxiety etc etc.
For someone like me, breadwinner on a working poor budget, there is just nothing that would justify the cost and it makes me sad. Are there, residencies for folks like me? For single parents? For other folks with limited financial or other support?
Since switching shifts I’ve been looking into lit stuff locally and I run into a lot of the same issues on a smaller scale. I see some regular writer meet ups that are mid week, for me that’d mean during my work week, having to stay in the neighborhood with all my shit. Then either Lyft home (at least 35$) or take the bus and walk home carrying my laptop. Not really optimal because I’d not get home until late and have to get up early for work the next day.
It just feels so terrible. And honestly, if ONE more mother fucker talks to me about sacrifice.
What should I sacrifice?
My partners medication? Electricity? Eating? Menstrual products? My job and thus my home at some point?
Tis the season for poor folks to be salty I guess. I go through it a lot because I know that folks pressure me sometimes and think that I demur because of a self-esteem thing but honestly, I just don’t usually have the energy to math it all out for them.
It’s like trying to explain that while I know why some lit mags charge, I’m not all in it. Like, to give myself good odds to get something place in one of them, I’m going to have to spend like 80-100 bucks and nah son. I’d rather get some sushi or some underwear.
Being poor often feels like having to constantly explain that it’s not that I don’t feel like my work is good enough, or that I’m good enough or that no I’m not wasting all my money, yes I know how to fuckin budget etc- so I don’t give the FULL breakdown every time because it’s just so exhausting.
I feel like I have to say this quarterly but you know, when folks talk about being poor, please don’t poorsplain to them. Please don’t assume they just don’t know how/how much something really costs. I feel like I get down this way every few months when whatever residency folks think I should go to opens up and honestly it just makes me sad.
Listen to us when we say what we need or why we’re not doing something. I had an aquaintance insist she needed to know why I wasn’t applying for a residency and it got to the interrogation point where I had to really go ALL the way into the finances of my life and no I don’t think I suck as a writer and just y’all…
Shit is exhausting.
So if y’all will excuse me, I need to do some work.
A moment of solidarity and well y’all, the gif says it all.
So let’s talk about some of the hard stuff first.
I learned that mainstream/monied lit world likes to flirt with me. It likes to tell people they know my work but nothing follows. That’s been hard and I haven’t really talked about it in depth, but yeah it was a thing.
I came to terms with a fact I’ve known about my general readership for years. And before I talk about it, understand I’m not grabbing for sympathy or trying to be shady. It’s just the facts.
I’ve known on some level for years that my audiences, let’s say for the past ten years are hard pressed to extend their support to buying my stories or whatever. I’ve talked before a bit about my essentially failed etsy store (2-5$ stories), my other money things. And this year I feel like I’ve finally started the work by making some peace with this.
It has been a hard process. I’ve been through bouts of questioning my very existence as an artist to rage and back. Real talk, sometimes I still get very salty when I see folks I know who are easier on the world than I am sell ALL the things. I really do.
That being what it is, I went through some things. I had a thought of going old school and just delivering ALL the content for free since whatever nobody is tryin to pay me. Nah.
I tried to freelance again to fill the gaps. Noah, son. Like super hella nah. It was a failure. I studied, I wrote pitches that mimicked a lot of what I saw get picked up and….crickets. And as any writer will tell you, crickets is way worse than rejection. That fucked me all the way up.
So I’m not okay with it, but I get it. I guess.
I also realized in the realest sense that, I’m just not going to be one of those writers. And it’s sorta okay. We can’t all do that. I know some kick ass amazing writers who can and I admire the fuck out of them. I just can’t be them.
During these months of strife and anxiety, I also had some shit happen. I had some huge data losses. Like a lot of work just gone. I was able to recover some but some not so much.
I went to AWP and felt terribly gross about it. From my anxiety, to feelign snubbed at the bookfair (which I STILL haven’t written about) it wasn’t awesome. I got to see Roxane super briefly and remembered not to fling myself at her, but I had to run away because I had to pee. I was too shy to say hello to writers I recognized. But, I had a stellar reading and got to spend time with my bestie.
And other stuff.
Let’s talk some goodness.
I got to teach about writing and it was amazing.
I finally shook off my feelings that I am not a real poet and am working on my first to be published poetry book.
I did some other stuff but I want to tell you the most important thing to be saved from the 2016 trashfire.
I am finally comfortable with the creator I am.
I am not an entrepreneur, artist. I’ve tried to learn how and do a lot of things I thought I HAD to do in order to make my work a bit more sustainable and frankly, I’m just bad at it. Promotion, not my thing. I like to share but doing the damn thing overwhelms me and makes me feel bad. My self-esteem suffered because I was trying so hard to follow the advice and lessons and ecourses and everything.
What wound up happening was that I ran out of energy to actually create. My brain was so full of fuck that actually making/doing the things I was trying to hustle was impossible for me.
A big part of this has been that I’ve had health problems all year. The ones I’ve had since I was a kid have just been extra and I’ve learned I have to be very careful as to how I ration my energy. I can’t just burn until I break down anymore.
I’ve had to work through a mountain of guilt and shame about this. I’ve really started to brush it off and not feel less than or like I’m being some weirdo poseur.
One of my goals last year was to make my creative life sustainable in 2016. At the time I was only thinking about the financials.
This year I realized I have to not only consider the cash, but consider my heart.
I kept my little patreon going and it has been a joy and actively makes my real lived life better. There were points I wanted to close it because I felt like I wasn’t providing anything of value and thus didn’t deserve the patronage. Fuck that.
I started what was supposed to be my official writer newsletter. But, it has turned into a weekly love letter to my fellow creative folks. I don’t just talk about my work, I talk about art and it is my real heart. It’s where I give encouragement and talk about my creative failings and wins. I’m pretty into it and look forward to writing it every Saturday.
I started blogging again for me. As with my fatty blog, I’m using my blog to teach myself how I want to write about things like fashion, aging and beauty. I raised enough money during my fundraiser to go pro with it so at some point I can fully customize it.
I also have felt incredibly supported through this process by my people. I have a mother fucking literary squad.
I have people who understand me and my processes and my foibles and help me get along.
Realizing that while I’m a very solitary type of creator, I don’t have to go it all alone has been the best thing.
So, to wrap up.
2017 is gonna be mother fucking lit.
I’m scaling back on my political posts and essays so I can finish my poetry book and get SCLAB going the right way. I’m settling in and will post work when I feel like it. And feel okay with that.
If you want to get a peek at what the new Self-Care Like A Boss is gonna be, sign up for our email list here. Wanna see me read a tiny bit from the old version? See here. Also check my channel there for longer readings by me.
That’s it for now. I’ll come back with more stuff here and there through the remainder of the sparkle season.
Thanks for being here. I hope you have a good whatever you celebrate and that 2017 brings you what you need.
Behind the scenes I’ve been doing some submitting, I got an awesome acceptance. It was a big swing for me and a fuckin home run. I’m so excited.
I’m also facilitating a horror writing thing. See details here.
I’m so excited and nervous. I know at least four people will be there so I’m ready. My handout is about done. And I can’t wait.
One of the other things I’ve been working on is another little germ of an idea I have. I don’t want to talk about it overmuch, but I see a need and I want to figure out how to fill it in a way that is satisfying both for my soul and my bank account.
I have a tradition of reprinting my first and only zombie story I’ve ever had published. You can see it here at Medium. I was going to put it on Etsy but, yeah no.
I’m working really (really fucking hard) on letting myself have these dreams and not fall into a hole because I know my overall stats on shit I try to do. Part of that is my depression/anxiety manifesting but part of that is also the real shit of my analytics and statistics. I struggle with it.
I struggle really hard feeling like/knowing that the small ride or die support I have is rock fucking solid and then reconciling that knowing/feeling like outside support is just, steam. I get really gun shy about sharing/asking for anything because one part of me always knows it’s not gonna happen.
And please I’m not soliciting for butt pats or ego stroking.
I’m keeping it 100% with y’all.
This is the reality I live with doing what I do. It’s been the same for a long time. I spent a whole lot of time at one point studying the secrets of going viral and marketing and whatnot.
I put a lot of energy into learning those things and utilizing them.
My results weren’t great and it put me in a pretty deep depression about it to be honest. Part of me returning to submitting more in the lit world is a direct result of these experiences. I know how to navigate that rejection, I know what to expect for the most part and it doesn’t hurt.
What hurts were my attempts at drumming up clicks and likes and shares and at some point cash and failing hard enough that it cost me money and time I didn’t have. I spent a lot of time just wallowing in buyer’s remorse after paying for stuff like ecourses and informational packets and whatnot because I learned it but I’m not good at it if my results are anything to be believed.
I was really bitter about this for a lot of this year. I mean the kind of bitter that turns your stomach and makes you feel constipated. Not just bitter but also I was really disappointed in myself. I really wanted to believe that I could reclaim some bit of trailblazing AND also have it be lucrative.
In the context of say freelancing, I just couldn’t and it really fucking hurt. I really was depending on the concept and what other folks have told me that I would be able to find paid space for my voice and have a little bit of a happily ever after.
I don’t think it’s going to happen and that’s been a big dry pill to swallow. I really wanted to know that experience that so many of my friends have been having of having that success roll in and being (rightfully because I know some BOMB ass writers) in a position to pay them bills and write and everything.
Fact is, a lot of the interests I have I will not write fluffy. Beauty, fashion, style, make up blablabla. I’m getting my feet writing about that stuff and you know what? My voice is political as fuck. And that’s just me doing me. A lot of stuff I write about, I’m just not successful in toning down my voice enough for big bucks.
I’m not famous enough for that.
I’m not crying right now and that is progress.
I can accept these things as they are. I have cared myself out of the deep shame spiral about this.
All this said, I’m also experiencing some really great wins because of the reasons why I don’t make it in freelance life.
I also have something else that had I not gone through so much failure I wouldn’t have.
I have been able to ask for help, for myself and my projects.
Self Care Like A Boss lives because I told my literary partner Milcah what I need in order to work and he has worked damn hard to help me. His help has meant that I am cautiously dreaming again. I’m giving myself space to learn and work.
I mean, my other blog is where I’m figuring out my voice in fashion and beauty. Granted my voice caused me to lose a lucrative review thing but fuck it. Imma do me. Blogging is how I learned to do non fiction my way in the first place so, I’m into it.
Um, wow this went off the rails.
BUT I really was tired of trying to hold most of my feelings about what’s been happening in my career in. I don’t like that. I’m really invested in being vulnerable even when it puts me in not a great light. It’s important to me.
So that’s what it is right now.
I’ve got lots of literary pots boiling and I’m working it out.