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.

But what now?

HI Space Babes!

Things are gettin kinda cool again?

So post writer hustle life, I’m finding the joy in writing fiction and non fiction that I’m pretty sure nobody wants to publish. Waaaaaaaaat? I know right? Here’s the thing. I don’t go into the lit streets assuming that everyone wants to publish my genius words. A lot of folks don’t and that’s okay.

Once upon a time during my most prolific and successful (in the context of how much I got published) eras, I was in the headspace I’m in now.

I am writing whatever I want. Might it get read? I dunno. Will anyone but me like it? Dunno. Don’t care.

Thing is, I write a LOT of things other people don’t like or don’t like enough to expose their readership to. I always have.

Currently I feel like I can write my stories and fling them at the lit streets and see what happens. So what is happening?

GOSH y’all. I’ve been just scribbling away, stretching my fiction muscles. I’m playing and when I can play I write some cool shit.

One of the things I’ve learned through this HELLA painful trying to make money as a creative thing is that, I have a tendency to restrict myself when I really want to try and make money. I get deep in my own head about the ways in which a lot of the work I enjoy producing, doesn’t sell.

On a deeper level, I have also had to learn to navigate real trauma. As I’ve mentioned before if you’ve been here a while, I’ve been plagiarized many times. Concepts I started writing about a long time ago have been lifted sometimes verbatim. I’ve seen my pitches ignored only to read that thing in a magazine two weeks later.

This is real and having to learn that it was really happening and not just happening to me fucked me up. I have also had to learn to deal with being gaslit about this by (lezbereal White women in writing groups), other writers and whatnot.

SO.

In my retirement from that fuckery, because god damn it it IS FUCKERY, I am at play.

I am as I said previously, as free a mother fucker as I can be. And it is good. SO how about a lil bite of something I”m cooking up?

Fuck. Fuck fuckfuck fuck, fuck fuck; I didn’t realize I was muttering until my phone dinged softly in the pre-dawn darkness, “yes Melissa?” My voice assistant calls me by my real name, I was also startled when it piped up. “Shut up Binky.” I named it Binky, I liked to pretend I still had someone to bitch to about dumb things. Binky shut themselves down and I sat on the edge of my bed in the dark sweating and muttering, fuck. Fuck fuck. Fuck fuckfuck.

Soon my loves, we’re gonna have some new fun shit here. So enjoy babes.

Why It Ain’t Working. Part I.

It is me.

Hi folks.

I’ve been doing a lot of long term work on my whole indie author shits. I’ve come to some conclusions. I don’t know how many posts there will be. I am going to talk about my failed hustles. I’m gonna talk about myself, my work and what it all means.

I am not gonna name names. Or divulge ALL the details of some things because y’all don’t need to know.

Yes this is negative. It is. It is also part of me being transparent and showing (representation y’all!) failure and figuring out what to do next. Let’s get started.

First let’s talk successes.

Back in 2017, I had two of my most reshared, read, hated and loved pieces published. Well most hated since I wrote at XO Jane but whatever. I also that year wrote a poetry review that was not what the publisher asked for but I was really proud of. –

Actually you know what. I’ve been done this analysis a lot.

Here is what it comes down to.

After many years of the same patterns repeating themselves this is the conclusion I’ve come to.

There is something about me, my work or something that causes folks to think twice about coming through with help. One of the few rules of self promotion that I’ve adhered to for more than a decade at this point is the call to action. If we wanna be a little more woo about it, I ask my community (in this case my readership) for what I need.

Now. I am a very self aware creator. Having cut my teeth in the porn mines I know that not every word I write is for everyone. That is great. I have beloved ones who do not read porn ever and have not read a lot of my work. I have other friends who don’t understand poetry and don’t read my poems. That is fine.

What I have come to understand is this.

I have a little crew of hard core dedicated ride or die supporters. There are about a dozen of them, most of whom have been reading me from my fatty blogger days, from my porn writing days. I can literally name my top ten buyers who have in the last five years been ALL the same people. They are also marginalized people. They are poor. They are disabled. They are just like me.

The level of love and support from them is amazing and continues to be. I’m not talking about them.

The thing is, when I had one serious uh courtship by an agent for a big house, the thing that stuck with me that they told me is this. I can’t believe I remember this so clearly.

Shannon, you are a hard sell.

I feel like I’ve spent all these years trying to “overcome” that.

At this point I don’t have the energy and honestly I feel really terrible knowing that my support system who have the least resources do the most for me and that is devastating to me. Every time I see it I’m thankful and I’m also mad at myself because I’m the asshole I am and people who HAVE money or resources don’t fuck with me like that.

So look y’all.

I’m closing my author FB page. It takes a lot of my spoons and it has put me into the negative as far as profits from my work go. I’m probably going to make a single page store with links to my kindle shits and other formats for that work but I’m retiring from self promo mostly.

I don’t think I will ever create an image that folks with the means can publicly and materially support. That’s who I am. I am not the one and I’ve known that for a decade.

Also real talk. It hurts my heart so bad every time I do the call to action, every time I say please PLEASE and nothing happens aside from my ride or dies. It hurts. It makes me feel shitty and I hate it. And realest of real talk. The only time there is a swell or upswing of support is when I do the public poor person panic (even then meh) or when I’m metaphorically bleeding out about some racist bullshit and that is too much.

I won’t be returning to regular freelance work. Racism, plagiarism and that last major doxxing really killed that for me. I have maybe 2 editors I trust.

Please don’t take this to mean I am not writing. I am. Like a mother fucker. What am I gonna do with the shit I’m writing? I dunno. Maybe I’ll dive back into the delicious obscurity of short fiction where I was most successful but not noticeably so. Or I’ll continue being ain’t shit and flinging stuff into the world.

What I’m not going to continue doing is putting myself in the hands of a community that don’t want me. And y’all, i’m not fishing so lets be real. The community at large has spoken. I hear it. I am not gonna keep trying to make fetch happen.

So for now I will continue with Patreon because at about 220-265$ per month is is the most successful thing I’ve done. Funny thing is, the work I’m putting up at Patreon is work other agents told me was also a hard sell.

I might start putting some non fiction there too? I dunno. Last time I tried to expand patreon I lost a lot of patrons and I can’t afford that.

So yeah. Dassit y’all. It comes down to after years of being told I have ALL THIS MEGA support and not seeing any fruits of it after a decade and innumerable projects, nah.

Craft Talk: When things are not going well.

Hello my darling friends.

Today we’re gonna talk about when creating is hard.

I’ve been struggling with my Patreon story this month. I’m struggling getting from point z to point 7.87 and feeling fairly uninspired about it. I’m at the point where I stare at it, mutter fuck I hate you bro and close the doc. That is not really productive so I want to share with y’all some of the things I do to get going.

First thing, I remember this. If you’re an OG here you know how much I absolutely adore Daniel Jose Older. I have his essay bookmarked because I need to absorb the message often. I came up with the very shitty advice that to be a real writer one MUST write every day at a special desk, at a special time of day, with the right coffee cup blablabla. I spent a lot of time in my 20s punishing myself for being unable to work two jobs, take care of my home AND dedicate writing time. That was not good.

Shit happens. I think a lot of the YOU MUST WRITE every day thing comes from the idea that more of us have the privilege of doing that. I put it into the same category as the idea that everyone can and should just quit their dayjobs and follow the stars. Some of us cannot for a lot of reasons. That is fine. What actually matters is that we find ways to fit the work into our lives.

Second thing. I allow myself to do other things. For many years I’ve had a habit of having a good number of things I can work on. Blog posts, my other blog, Amazon releases, other stuff. The way my brain works, if I have a thing I need to figure out I can’t fight myself. If I let the thing simmer in my backbrain, most of the time I figure it out while I’m doing other stuff.

Third. I read a lot. I’m literally currently reading three books:

Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias. Second read before I do a review. Y’all know I fucking stan for his work. Honestly, his book Zero Saints (prev link is my review) STILL has literally the best fucking ending.

Naked: The Rhythm and Groove of It. The Depth and Length to It. By  Nastashia Minto.  Also on my second read ahead of a review. Spoiler alert this is a really beautiful book. Just…gut punched and held and seen and it is so good.

AND my first read of On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking Up, Living Real, and Listening Hard by Jennifer Pastiloff. I really love Jen. Like she is very good human people. Seriously, look here where I featured her. The book so far is I love it. More when I finish.

I also will read any and everything that catches my eye via social media. I read some lit mags. I read.

Fourth. Sometimes I do other writing biz stuff. Update my bios (pro tip, save a doc with a short and a long bio so you don’t scramble to make new ones), take care of any things like invoices, updating my submission spreadsheet.

Last, sometimes I just don’t write. I’m very paranoid about disappointing my patrons so I will sorta force it but sometimes I really just don’t.

Now some tips for jumpstarting your brain:

  • If you are working on something long, copy the last say 500 words you did and open a new document. Paste those words and go from there.
  • Write a flash or other stand alone part of the story. Tired of your main characters? Write a scene or something with a minor character or expand on a small event.
  • Let yourself screw up.

Let’s expand on that last bit. A lot of the time what I could call writers block is actually me being afraid to fuck it up. It is a lot of pressure to want to do the thing and just knock it out of the park. That will happen probably at some point but a lot of the time we’re gonna fuck it up.

Art is not a finite resource. You can’t use yours up. It is okay to fuck up. What matters is what you do after said fuck up. For instance, when I was almost to the end of the Daiyuverse Cycle 2 I literally trashed the whole thing. Now, I’m not under like a publishing house deadline so I don’t know how folks deal with that but, I was terrified that the change would screw my patreon forever.

It didn’t.

Also, I’m a write when I can how I can type. Sometimes that means I write on the memo pad on my phone, in microsoft word. Sometimes in a text doc. Or an email draft. I do what feels right and sometimes just gotta calm the shit down and do the thing.

I also have learned that I have to let myself have feelings about the work I’m doing. I will complain on social media, cry to my bestie about the essay I’m writing giving me bubble guts. Sweat, flail, sometimes I get the anxiety shits because of stuff I’m writing and I’ve come to accept that is just part of my process. I can’t do the work and not let it happen in my body the way it does.

OKAY my darling friends.

That is all about the work today. I’ve got work to do. Stay tuned, I’ll have some exciting writing biz news coming up in the next couple of weeks.

Stay Frosty.

 

Why My Side Hustles Fail.

I’ve been doing a lot of deep analysis after some rounds of advertising in different ways. And we all know that looking deep into my statistics usually hurts my feelings but, if I’m gonna do this indie shit it is my job to do it.

So let’s get into it. My official FB author page.  My Amazon page where you can buy some stories and a couple of little collections (new one coming soon). Also note, the FB page will be where I do a LOT of my sharing and stuff. So for real it is best to follow there for the most up to date info.

Let’s talk about the performance of some things.

First thing. The general trend I see through analyzing both engagement with and action on things I share across social media (counting tweeter, tumblr, fb all in I have about 5-6k followers across all the platforms) is that I get shares and clicks when I share other folks work.

Now, I don’t grudge the other folks because I love them and want to share their work. I share things I care about. The part of the trend that bugs me is when a large number of those shares of other folks work, come from people I know rather than rando followers. I actually had a sample group and ALL of their interaction with things I’ve shared has only been the work of other people and was heavily skewed towards white women.

The subject matter also matters. I will get shares if I post something where I am exposing my own racial pain, performing poverty by ranting about my cash situation (however it doesn’t translate into action but we’ll get there) or if I’m just being my ain’t shit self and saying something shady.

Those stats are mainly from my actual following.

When it comes to randos, I see more interaction, more shares, of my work. My little kindle books, my Ko Fi.

These are two groups of people responding to the same marketing shits. The call to action, my pleases and thank yous.

Looking deeper at my FB page stats, the trend I’ve talked about for the last decade is made very very clear.

Like a lot of other Black women and femmes, when I ask for action directly folks don’t wanna do so in public. In private I’ve had many offers of boosts, help, sales etc and the numbers don’t lie that it doesn’t happen.

There is no outright public refusal which would be easier to deal with. This constant factor in my life (and the lives of MANY in my community) baffles some of my friends. When I’ve told them stats on things they are boggled.

For instance, my most read public piece (I won’t link to it right now) this year so far involves very deep racial pain. It has the most shares, the most reads. That one thing, flawed as it is has more reads and shares than everything else I’ve put out this year. From that one piece I’ve gotten DMs and notes from folks holding out the offers of whatever I need. Support etc and none of it has materialized.

Now I look at twitter and the most staunch advice I’ve got about using it as part of my publicity/marketing is the imperative ask to RT. On average, I have to RT myself and ask 3 times to get on the whole about 2.8 (some weird number close to this) shares.

The more interesting thing about tweeter is this. When someone who isn’t me or who doesn’t use my name shares something I’ve done, even if they have a significantly smaller following than I do, RTs galore. Clicks. Sometimes sales.

I’ve also seen this happen on FB.

Now let’s talk supporters. My most staunch and constant source of sales has been the folks with the least. The marginalized folks. The other poor people I know. Not the privileged folks I know. There are a few but I’ve also seen the issue of when they tag me or mention my name, that post goes silent. I watched it happen with a friend who is way more famous than me. Their posts generally get HUNDREDS of reactions, the one with me got about 10 and no comments and no shares.

My friend Dom said this the other day and it really strikes at the heart of my continued failed creative hustles:

When people offer help publicly on social media, yet don’t follow through, it gives the appearance that a person has support, when they really don’t.

This isn’t about one person or incident. It’s happened so much, for many complex reasons, and surely happens to others too. It’s just sad that this stops people from getting care they need.

Bolding mine.

I think what Dom is saying here is a large part of my ongoing problems with getting my work seen. A lot of the time if I mention I’m working on something, a good number of folks will be HYPE about it and saying they will share it. But, when the thing happens crickets.

I’ve tried a few methods of doing this. Returning to the original thread(s) to post the link, doing the random FB tricks and well…meh.

One of the things I am very conscientious about is giving folks options. If you follow me on FB or tweeter, you know that I am very specific about the actions that are helpful.

As I’ve mentioned many times, I have an entire community of folks like me who have this same problem. Folks (especially more privileged people) LOVE to get all in our stuff cheering for us. And yet, when we ask specifically for what we need, well…..

All this said.

If you are in a position where you can’t drop a couple of bucks on a book or magazine etc, you can still do the work to support the artists you care about. That is what I do. I share links when asked when I can. I pay attention. Right now, I’m stoked to say that my Patreon is “successful” enough that I am supporting three other folks. Not much but it means a lot.

I also want to be very clear.

I’ve been told that me talking about these things in this way is “excuses” and “negative”. Look. If you really believe that, I got nothing for you. The only way that the going advice will EVER work is if all things are equal. And they are absolutely not.

I also want to say that I am very grateful for my ride or die magical space babes. Y’all know who you are.

I am not alone in this. My community suffers from this. Folks tell us how much they want to see us do X thing but do nothing to help us get that thing done. I watch a lot of my community rage out about it because it is fucking hard. A lot of us don’t get action unless we’re doing long ass twitter rants about how broke and scared we are. Or we rant about these issues and get some pity likes.

It is exhausting.

However, I’m gonna keep doing me. I guess. I have reservations but, I gotta do the shit I do.

Dassit.

Don’t Throw That Shit Away

HELLO my favorite Space Babes.

Let’s talk about holding onto your stuff.

I write a lot of shit. I have tons of scraps of stories, bits of poems, lil snatches of research and whatnots. From one of my fave books about writing, the classic On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King,  one of the lasting lessons for me was to stop throwing stuff away. Way back when I was a baby potato, writing in absolute secret I was terrified of anyone finding out and I was so embarrassed by how bad I was at writing, I’d write stories, read them once and tear them up. If I was feeling particularly upset, I’d burn the pieces.

Very dramatic.

Once I started using computers regularly, I did about the same thing. I wrote stuff, decided I was too shitty to live and deleted them. I did this for probably the first decade (from let’s say age 13 through about 24) of me becoming a writer.

After my first reading of On Writing, the first thing I put into practice was not in fact keeping what I wrote. I still had a bad habit of just deleting anything I didn’t believe in immediately. Back then, I was very vested in being published in very specific ways. I was mainly writing a lot of erotica and copy for a few adult sites. I occasionally got a horror publication here and there.

My criteria for what I’d keep or not keep came down to being held hostage by the Literary Canon. Cis, white, hetero unless it was queer for hetero eyes. That was what got me into the industry. I didn’t believe that my secret work (the baby versions of a lot of what I’m doing now) was worth keeping because I was taught otherwise. On occasion, I ventured into literary Black territory and was usually not rewarded in any way by doing so. There was a time when, I had the audacity to be very Black and Queer on the internet and I lost a really lucrative job because after my employer checked my personal stuff (a blog and whatnot) he sent me a very worried email that I couldn’t really write “normal”.

Fast forward to earlier this morning. I was casting about looking for an older story I was thinking about reprinting and I found a treasure trove of things I tucked away in my cloud storage. In the past five or so years I’ve suffered some catastrophic data losses and computers dying and taking years of work with them so, stumbling on things I wrote in 2010/2011 feels so good.

I spent some time reading some of my early noir, I have the first 60 pages of a super natural/werewolf buddy detective thing I wrote way back in 2010ish. I know that much of the going writer culture is to be terribly embarrassed by your old work. Hide that first novel in a drawer, be charmingly embarassed in interviews when asked about your early work.

I reject that entirely. I am not embarrassed that once upon a time I didn’t know how to walk and routinely shit my pants. Now, I can (well I’m not great at it but) walk and I learned how to use the toilet. I’ve evolved. I’m proud of my growth as a human. I am so proud of myself for learning and changing.

From being confined to writing explicit work featuring a LOT of white people to now I have tucked away in a folder erotica that transgresses gender, race, and a few very creepy kings with impunity. It was purchased by a now defunct publisher so I might go ahead and publish it.

Look.

You cannot step back and appreciate your own growth if you hide where you were. I don’t believe in shame about how we become the artists we are. That is why I’m rarely ashamed to show a first draft. I’m rarely upset that I have a snippet of a story that just will never ever work. I’m proud that I’ve found my voice and having this back catalog of stuff that shows me the way I got here is fucking amazing.

Don’t be ashamed.

Keep doing what you’re doing.

Play. When I say play I mean just fuck around. Never written sf? Give it a shot. Try stuff. Let go and play on the swingset and write a crappy ass horror story or a super cheesy love story. As I’ve said in my creative loveletters, make something ugly. Paint something, put together a puzzle, just do something. Get a weird idea and see where it goes.

Don’t throw it away.

Okay below, find a good chunk of the weird buddy werewolf thing I started and may yet finish.

Continue reading “Don’t Throw That Shit Away”