On My Mind

Before I get into what’s on my mind right now I have to tell y’all the most exciting thing.

My passion, my real hearts work is making a come back. Milcah and I are re-embarking on the best thing I do.

Self Care Like A Boss is coming back. We’re relaunching. We’re doing it together in a whole new way and I’m terrified and excited because this is really, REALLY important to me and what I want my life’s work to involve.

So y’all, please head on over here to check out our poll on our new merch and if you’ve got a mind to, sign up for our email newsletter. More news is coming soon, this is step 1.

Next.

I’ve got other stuff on my mind.

I started what could become a small series of essays about living in the mouth of the beast that is gentrification and my terror at being swallowed up by it. This is a subject that is constantly on my mind because I’m living it. I’m a little hesitant to write about it deeply for a few reasons:

  • Obviously given my body of work I know -how- to write personally. I’m a bit reticent about writing about this in particular. Mainly because if I do, I’ll need to do it for The Stabby maybe where I don’t have to deal with comments.
  • Emotionally it will be a lot of labor.

Okay on point 2. Here is sort of where freelancing and I disagree. I like to write first then pitch. It takes way more time and is generally a larger financial risk for me because do I spend the hours on the thing and hope I can get paid or do I try harder to pitch then write?

I find both incredibly stressful.

That stress has made me want to turn back towards the lit world. I feel more comfortable in a large way there. I know how it works. I can work the way that means I’ve got a self satisfying output, and when I’m really on that shit a fairly good acceptance/publication ratio.

That said, that also leaves me as poor if not more poor than I already am if we factor in the whole time is money thing.

That said, a lot of my non-fiction work lately has been weird and likely unpublishable anyway, so I’m mostly worried about future work or stuff I have going all ready.

This is an area of the intersection of art and commerce that I do not negotiate very well. What I want isn’t always the best for my bank accounts nor my art. Being in a position where I’m both really too poor to be doing anything for free and not wanting to have to only write saleable material is a hell of a thing.

The other thing on my mind is how difficult it has been for me to just be glad to be read. On one hand it has always been such a deep and wonderful thing for me to know that I have an audience. From the early days of having a tiny 10 person devoted readership of a long dead online journal to here, it is a miracle and wonderful to me to be read ever.

Inside that thankfulness and joy, there is also the struggle of knowing that most of the time mine is not a paying audience. Poverty strikes again. And the minute I have those feelings, I also feel terrible for feeling upset. I don’t want to feel bitter or jealous or whatever.

At the same time, I still need a new pair of pants and have bills to pay.

It’s hard to write from that place of conflict and fear and just general shitty feelings.

Real talk, the most fucked up thing about this is that having this problem/these feelings is somewhat of a personal artistic milestone. The fact that I have the belief in my work to say I should be paid and paid well for this is pretty huge. Ten years ago, I would have the smallest inkling of these feelings. They were nebulous and unformed.

Back then, I didn’t believe my work had real value other than maybe some entertainment. Not even when I had some writing jobs. Not even when on occasion lit mags gave me money.

Back then I didn’t really know how to write non-fiction of any flavor. I didn’t know that one didn’t have to be a journalist necessarily to publish non-fiction. I thought that the arty essays were strictly for “real” writers who were absolutely not me.

I felt bad about not making money writing, but didn’t feel like I deserved it.

Funny ain’t it? I mean now I know that my work has worth, but getting that proves to be fucking really hard for me.

Like, I FINALLy allow myself to view myself as an artist and legit creator.

I allow myself to understand that my work has worth.

And suck at making it work.

I am only laughing because otherwise I’ll cry.

Okay, that’s it for now. I have stuff to do and write.

Updates and whatnots.

Hello People.

Or robots.

So I’ve been a bit AWOL. I went on vacation and while I was on vacation, I had grand plans for celebrating my partner’s birthday, a day out including dinner and movie and some writing time.

Instead, I got dog shit sick AND got a bit of shit news and paid one large bill that rendered us too broke to buy a pizza for a number of days. Thus, I got very depressed as well and anxious.

Shit was not awesome.You can read more about it here, this is my author newsletter. I call it a love letter and it is a more intimate rambly type thing with the occasional announcement. I promise no spam.

The other thing that’s going on right now is I’m trying to recalibrate myself and how I’m working. I’ve been trying the method of see a call, start a thing, pitch-wait.

That ain’t working.

I’m coaxing myself back into doing things the way they were working (if not in a profitable way, but in a less soul killing type way) write the things, peruse the calls, maybe pitch, submit.

To that end I’ve got myself a few new spreadsheets. I started a new submission tracking one for both fiction/non fiction, whatever.

A maybe I’d like to pitch these ideas/write these things doc.

This is not the most profitable. However, I have to stop punching myself in the heartballs over it. I keep trying to force some seismic change in how I work and what I do and it just never fucking works out. I always wind up feeling like shit.

Y’all, I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself.

No that’s bullshit I do. Because money and poverty brain and my small financial ambitions.

Currently the reality of trying to survive and take care of my family in a rapidly gentrifying area when my income is not going up at all is so stressful. Reality is that we could very well be priced out of our home come next March and that could mean having to move another hour away from my job.

A lot of bad things are right here in my face.

That said, I’m trying very hard to trust that I will get through and be able to keep writing the shit I want. I want to trust that the work I’ve done on myself around these issues won’t keep me from achieving what I want.

Now that my panic has passed a little bit. And I’ve allowed myself to cry and be bitter and be angry I am poor- I’m back to a bit of calm.

I’m struggling to balance my artiness with my need to, you know live and whatnots. I’m trying.

Now I’m off to work on Patreon stuff.

If y’all could be so kind, feel free to check out my Etsy because I’m gong to be taking everything down in a week or so. Also I’ve got my teespring shop up and running so check that out and get u a poetry sticker.

And again (I may say it too often) seriously if you know folks who might be into what I’m up to, please share my links. I know a lot of y’all are poor like me and getting more eyes on my stuff matters pretty heavily.

Thanks for coming along y’all.

(I’ll be x-posting this to medium.)

 

When it Burns or rather I beez in the trap.

Lately, as I’ve been working on The Poems (current name of my untitled poetry book thing) I’ve also been working on some fairly emotionally intense non-fiction.

Today I finished an essay thing that is about how I experience anxiety. It’s not really something I necessarily want people to read, I feel a mix of shame and ridiculousness and like it is a risk I don’t know if I can afford taking. Writing it hurt. I talked a little bit about it on twitter, but the truth is I feel flayed.

I am feeling the mix of feelings where I’m very keenly aware that I have a not entirely unexpected expense (I need to buy a new phone soon) and I know I should write something more saleable and that’s what came out. That piece in particular is like a piece I have out already in that it doesn’t end on a note that really engages with bigger issues. It is intimate in that at the end, we (reader and writer) are face to face, nose to nose breathing the same tainted air that came out of me.

Neither of these pieces (and at least one other that is in progress) is what I intended to write. I wanted to write something bigger, something that engages with the big issues. That at the end comes out like a powerful telling and calling to The Issue at hand. That’s not what happened.

For years, I have avoided writing intimately this way. Mainly because, I don’t always have the wherewithal to cut that deep in that way. I can write about being harassed and being a Black person in the world and what that is really like in this age. I tell myself this is because I’m good at Big Issues. I’m good at making the connection from my lived experience to racism and sexism etc. I know how to do that.

I also lie to myself and say that I’m not good at intimate. That showing my scars this way is not in my wheelhouse. Leave it to the famous lady writers who lead workshops on writing dangerously and writing from the body. I explain it to myself in terms of profit. They are already famous enough to do this and make it. Their bills are paid, mine are mostly but not comfortably. Their risk is as risk goes, not the type of risk that takes food out of their mouths. The risk for me is food off the table.

I tell myself, this is stupid. Why are you doing this? Why can’t you write to sell? Why can’t you write on spec? Why can’t you write something about lipstick that doesn’t involve Blackness or intersectionality? Why can’t you write something that will titillate just enough, but won’t burn? Why can’t you write timely? Why? Why? Why?

Rational writer me understands that these questions are part of my anxiety brain and will pass. That I know why, it’s just not what I do and logically that’s okay. There’s room in the big bad world for all of this and what I do. I know. Sometimes, it’s okay.

And then I poke around in my drafts and I see blood. Part of me sees it wasted, not profitable because I have bills to pay. Part of me sees freedom and my naked heart on a page in a way that baby me would have cherished. That part of me knows that while I have an aversion to pain porn it is important to be a vulnerable, sad, anxious, fucked up Black person with problems. That part of me knows that vacillating between being proud of me for saying HEY I AM FUCKED UP and being ashamed is natural and saying that I do vacillate between those things, is valid and necessary.

I know that.

I feel that, fuck it, I don’t know it, I feel it. That is the level of importance that representation means to me. I know that right now my 39 year old fucked up baby self can be conflicted about this and work on it and express it because that is part of who I am.

I am conflicted and wounded.

I beez in the trap.

I don’t say all of this to engender pity. Don’t feel sorry for me. Understand that my honesty about my situation in life, whatever it is and how I talk about it, isn’t’ about your  out eyes it is about mine. I have to remember that yeah, I’m poor and I’m terrible at ambition in the proscribed ways, and I’m bad at even nodding at journalism and I’m not palatable to a lot of people and it’s fucking great.

It’s not pleasant. It’s not lucrative. It’s not even easy 99% of the time.

But really, if I’m honest-

it is satisfying.

I think baby Shannon would maybe be disappointed that things like dayjobs and bills have an impact on the work but, baby Shannon would read all of this and feel it and feel seen and validated. So right now, I’m okay.

I’m anxious and a jittery shitbucket of terrible feelings-

but I’m all right.

The work hurt but I’m okay.

 

What had happened was.

So officially I’m working on a legit poetry book from Lark Books. No for real like they said my name and I feel like I can tell people, that’s one of the things I’ve been working on really hard.

Lily from Lark peer pressured me into it and it’s pretty fucking great. I find it really scary due to the fact that I still wrestle with considering myself like a real actual legit poet. I don’t know why I resist that so much, it scares me. My poems are not as, uh low key as I make them out to be.

I don’t know. It is the same kind of tension I feel with myself when I think about/talk about being an artist.

It’s scary because it’s vulnerability on a different level than other things. In my head poetry is art and art is being entirely not naked, but armorless.

So this his huge and scary. It is what I’ve spent 80% of my time writing.

The other 20% I’ve been writing some new essays. I’m working on one about all the shit White people say about diversity, inclusivity and whatnot in the literature and goddamn I’m sarcastic.

I’m also uh, working on the Daiyuverse and some fiction here and there.

So blogging has slowed all down, but shit is happening. I’ll post some stuff for funsies soon.

I love y’all.

Also, seriously, this coming month will be a great time to go throw down a buck a month for some Daiyuverse action. Shit is starting to heat up. I will likely release some of the new chapters/rewrites in my Etsy store down the line if folks aren’t keen on Patreon.

Okay, that’s kinda it for right now. I’m in the midst of a major energy crash that is a combo of perimenopause and a migraine that can’t decide if fuck my brain or fuck my brain twice.

Goodnight loves and stars. I miss y’all.

Arty Dreams, Costly Dreams. And the Hustle.

I’ve been allowing myself bigger artistic dreams. I have a whole emotional uh, issue around doing art. I am very uncomfortable calling myself an artist but I’m working it out.

That said, I’m realizing very strongly just how much I’ve denied myself these dreams because of a lack of resources and access.

I sat down and made a list of the stuff I want to mix together to make a Shannon Created Art Thing.

  • Experimental film
  • Poetry
  • Self portraiture
  • Field recording
  • Spoken word
  • Make up

So those are some of the things swirling around my brain in the form of dreamy ideas about ways to present myself/my work to the world that belong only to me.

The thing that I’ve found that gets me stuck is cash. I don’t have a good camcorder, I don’t have the time to create the stuff to make the portraits. I don’t have a good digital camera.

I started doing Patreon to help myself save up for that stuff but, my Patreon cash has mostly been swallowed up by life. I’ve been trying not to kick my own ass over that. I don’t control gentrification and cost of living increases. Logically I know I’m hustling as hard as I can but fuck y’all, shit is fucking hard.

And I’m not the sort of person to just let it go and hope shit will turn out for the best. I’ve done that and honestly the stress is too much for me.I’m not a single person with no responsibilities. I can’t just up and wander off like dandelion fluff.

I’m just not about that life or that method of funding my artistic life. No shade, if you can let go and let the universe do what it do, get it booboo. Do you.

Y’all, I’m so at a strange place.

I have all this desire burning in me. I have ideas and spend hours jotting down things I want to try out. Things I want to say and do with visual/audio art. I don’t know how to carve out that cash.

So I’m doing what I know how to do. I’m saving up Amazon affiliate money, Bing search amazon gift cards for a camera. One I can use to shoot photos and videos. Nothing too complicated. Just enough. By the way, I added a ton more books to my little amazon store. Check it out if you would please.

Uniballer my partner is researching video editing software that is less complicated so I can learn it.

I’m not freelancing as much as I could be but, we know that is better for my actual heart if it hurts my wallet.

I’m letting myself learn to write about art without the weird shame/embarrassment I have surrounding it.

I’m on that grind y’all.On that hustle.

I will be/do the art I want to fucking do. I will make that shit happen. Trust.

Things. Failure. Brokeness.

Let’s talk lit world stuff I’m into right now.

The first thing is that Yeah Write is doing something great. The Super Challenge:

The yeah write super challenge is a prompted challenge, where writers compete to complete the best work of short creative nonfiction in a single weekend. Prompts are released on Friday, and the completed work must be turned in by Sunday night.

The competition is run in three rounds. Half the writers will move to the second round of competition, and approximately ten writers will advance to the final round of competition. All competing writers will receive feedback on their work at the end of each round from the judges. The final ten writers will compete for cash prizes for first, second and third place.

Go check it out here. I think if you want to learn about flash essays, this is a great way to do it. No, they didn’t pay me. I just really like them.

What else?

So I’ll be unpublishing my chapbook The Motherfuckess Manifesta here soon. If you’d like a copy head here. It is 3.50 and all proceeds go towards keeping yours truly housed and fed.

Also one other thing before I get hella emo. Over at Patreon I posted a free Daiyuverse story you can get here. It is my first try at a romantic YA flavored thing.

Okay, I’m gonna put in a read more because I’m having feelings about being a failure. Being poor and unable to do all the things necessary to make my art/writing life more sustainable.

Continue reading “Things. Failure. Brokeness.”

Be That Shit University In Session

Okay, so I was thinking last night about my whole data situation and how this happens at least every two years or so.

This whole problem could be avoided if I lowered my output. If I stuck to my hour-two hours at night after the day job and catch as catch can on weekends, this wouldn’t happen. All my stuff would be safely sitting on my laptop Gertie.

I did try that.

Unfortunately, I do my best work when I have multiple streams of creation. My moods are shifty and my brain power tends to wax and wane. I think a lot of that is a result of my formative baby writer years were all about me churning out EVERYTHING because I was still working so hard on figuring out what I really wanted to write.

So while I know how to make this not a thing I’d have to deal with outside of hardware failure, I don’t think I’d be doing my best work if I limit how much I write.

So I take the chance.

In other news.

While I am recovering I’ve hit a couple of personal writerly milestones recently.

I’ve had some donated/sold work about body politics sent off into academia. In a you are my expert, let me give you money kind of way. That is pretty great.

I have two pitches out to big swing magazines.

I have tentatively worked out how to get out my first writing lesson/class.

The main hold up with the writing instruction is that most of the sites people use to sell their classes I just don’t have the start up money. I don’t have a good camera for video. I just don’t have the resources to do things in the way my research has found that it is done.

I thought I had a shot at teaching through another site, but I think because of my day job schedule and inability to do phone meetings that went off.

I am working on it. I think I have it figured out.

Setback or no, I am on that mother fucking grind.

This is Be That Shit University.

This is Write that Shit.

This is how I survive.

Now my current plan is to get my pitches together to send to the big swing things. Write like a motherfucker.

Work on writing classes.

Perhaps, submit some fucking poetry.

Be That Shit University is now in session.