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.

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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”

Ay listen.

Hi babes.

Can we talk about some shit I’ve been learning lately?

First thing I’ve not learned but we’ll say that has been reinforced to me is that, a lot of general promotional advice is woefully out of date. It doesn’t account how a lot of us have our links on platforms like FB throttled so hard, even our “close” friends don’t see them.

So I kinda am trying to make a deeper peace with that. I’m working on it.

The other thing is that, I’ve noticed that even with me taking pains to reduce how much stuff I give away, I STILL don’t really generate things that are buyable by my general audience across a few platforms. How do I know?

Medium for instance. I currently have 19 pieces behind the paywall, a good variety of type of content. Here in 2019 I’ve made less than a dollar. I mean…my read ratio regardless of topic or length is under 2 out of 10. Then of course when I can read stuff on medium, I see a LOT of bullshit that makes hundreds of dollars likely.

It makes me tired.

I’ve been using KoFi for almost a month exactly and have three things to read. One poem, two essay type things. And goose eggs.

I talked about it on my main fb account a while back. And funnily enough when I said, don’t blow smoke up my ass if you’re not going to at the very least share, my share rate went from few to literally 2-4. And so did engagement.

So really, I’ve learned that the call to action, the asking my community for help etc etc. Ain’t for me. I’ve tried. I’ve modified my tone, I’ve changed what I’m giving, etc. I think I can make some peace with that. Silence and inaction says volumes. More so when the folks who do the share because they don’t have $$ to support, are literally the same 4-6 people it has been for a decade. That’s my real audience. They are the real Gs and I’m not talking about them.

What else?

In terms of Gasoline Heart here’s some interesting things. (NOTE TO SELF ASK PUBLISHER FOR NEW BOX O BOOKS) Some of the folks who’ve read it, really loved it. one of the things I’ve seen in several reviews are along the lines of, HOW DID I MISS THIS/THE WORLD MISS IT?

Easily. SO the above issues. I mean, a few people (the book has been out for a while now) who’ve known me for a long time have said, I didn’t see X links. Sorta believable. Also I am not represented, I am not a darling, I am not very famous or really even connected in the poetry world. So yeah, you won’t find my lil book in lists and shit. That is just how it is.

Also, I learned that I do not have the cash on hand to be trying to get my lil book awards. Shit is expensive. In secret I spent a few months last fall really dedicating hours of my week to submitting to free publicity or award things with my lil book. The hours cost me in terms of spoons and time not spent writing and netted me one very nice rejection letter.

And real talk. I STILL can’t get poetry published. At last submission spree, even with mentioning the book and including a poem or two from it, I don’t really get no love from the lit poetry world. That’s fine but it also means that I’m chasing my tail trying to promote my fucking book.

So yeah. That’s been a struggle but I’m glad I did it. I can see the whole pathway and what obstacles exist for me in particular and that I don’t honestly have the spoons to try to get around them. So I do what I have energy for.

NON BULLSHITS.

So last year I decided to focus more on getting back into the fiction world and boy howdy. Quite a few years ago I had about a 60% acceptance rate in the short fiction world. That was huge.

My return to it has been fucking lit.

This year I’ve placed stories in two anthologies that are both HUGE DEALS to me. Huge. I got an experimental horrory story into Would but Time Await: An Anthology of New England

I was REALLY nervous because the story was an experiment. It is a Black story and I haven’t really been in the horror community for a while.

THEN I got a little tiny horror story accepted over at Heavy Feather (will announce when it goes up). The editor Jason dropped me a note months ago and I FINALLY made something I’m into.

And then, I got the notification and one of the best damn acceptance notes ever. My lil supernatural noir story got into the Gimme the Loot: Stories Inspired by The Notorious B.I.G. Forthcoming from Clash.

The uniting theme in these is that, I’m at my best when I write what the fuck I want to write. I think freelancing really kind of crushed that in me to a degree. Yes there are some publishers who have been all the way the fuck in with me. But, largely that is not the case. This is the same thing with the flirtations with agents and mainstream publishing.

It is like, OKAY we fuck with you but about 40% so dial it back.

I don’t write great things with that in mind. I don’t write great things when I’m trying so hard to get paid what I’m worth.

All of this is really about me pupating so I can in fact find my place in the lit world. Someone who was trying really hard to be encouraging was comparing me to two very famous, very amazing Black writers and y’all, it made me cry. I like both authors. But, I am not like them and cannot be.

I hate this whole struggle between wanting a seat at the table, wanting some “success” (as termed by our culture) and just wanting to be my weird little self, make some writing, make some pomes, do my shit and maybe sometimes be shown appreciation in the form of coins.

I’m working on it. One lil thing at a time.

WIPS, brains n things.

Oh HAY BOO HAY.

Few bits of biz first.

Current submissions:

1 languishing poetry submission. I’m pretty sure is a no.

2 Ghosted pitches so also probs nopes.

1 short fiction sub out.

What else?

Y’all remember me yammering about writing classes? WELP I’ve launched it on Patreon and here is how it is workin. If you are a patron, you get it exclusively for a month and then I post it up on Etsy. The first one about writing horror is available now. AND if you drop it in your cart, leave and check your etsy email there’s a fatass coupon too so you can get a few bits from the shop.

Also I finally finished (behind the medum paywall. Feel free to clap etc, help me buy a coffee) my little thing about how my book Gasoline Heart was born. it isn’t quite what I wanted but works.

I also got interviewed about some witch shit by one of my fave folks MIsha over at Patheos. If you are into witch shit, you should Misha .

I’ve got some some other behind the paywall stuff at Medium. Last month with I think about 24 pieces I made $9.85.

What else?

Yers truly has been writing like a mother fucker and playing with new to me shit.

First new to me, I’m dabbling in some New England Folk Horror without a focus on white folks. Harder than it seems. Here is a bite:

She was always like that to me. Spooky. The same way seeing a single deer alone in the morning is spooky. The way she would stand so still, it was easy to not quite see her. Even her posture in those moments was, strangely graceful. Her back was straight, heels planted on the floor and there would be a moment where her body would tilt forward slightly and her head would tilt upwards as if being pulled on a string.  I always figured it for one of those bodily tics we all have and that, was what I loved about her so much.

I’ve got a major plan with this piece and I’m fucking with established lore like I do. I’m enjoying putting it together.

Next thing.

Yesterday, I also apparently started a werewolf story. I dunno what it wants to be. Aside from maybe kinda porny.

“And you got me chicken? I’ll get a pitcher of beer since you’re being all traditional with the gifts and whatnot. If you sniff my butt I’ll lay you out.”

Unable to resist he gave her his best puppy eyes.

“Maybe later?”

She cackled, mouth wide open her big black eyes twinkling.

“Don’t write checks your ass can’t cash Sue. “

Regardless of the seriousness of the problem he’d sought her out to help, it felt good to have that kind of easy banter with another wolf. Once the chicken arrived Latisha ordered the promised pitcher and they both tucked napkins into their collars and went to work in companionable quiet.

What am I reading?

I happen to be reading two books, very different from each other and both blurbed by one of my fave people, Mr. Jerry Stahl. 

First up I was delighted to get an Arc of Junkie Love: A Story of Recovery and Redemption by Joe Clifford. If you’ve been here a while y’all know I fuckin love me some Joe. It has a new forward and it is really a gorgeous book. I’m almost done with read #2 so y’all will get a full review soon.

Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias. Y’all. This mother fucker right here. So I reviewed his other book a while back. AND THEN he had the nerve to release a new book. I’m about a quarter of the way in and y’all…goddamn. Just buy it.

What else is happenin?

I’m trying not to be essaying right now because my brainmeat only wants to do the shit that hurts and I’m just not in the mood to bleed. At least not that kind of blood yanno?

If you are doing Nanowrimo or nano anything. GO GO GO GO.

Whatever you’re up to.

Wreck that shit y’alls!

It is LIT- News and whatnots from yer fave weirdo.

Hi y’alls.

It has been a minute. So let’s do an update about my lil lit life.

First thing gosh.

I read for Margin Shift at Lit Crawl earlier this month. If you’re in Seattle, you really should check out their readings. They do regular ones and they are really great. The curation is amazing. I had a wonderful time and wore a HOT ASS outfit.

Also this month, over at Patreon I launched my new patron benefit. Along with the 3k of words in my urban fantasy project the Daiyuverse, patrons are getting a writing craft lesson. The first one was about horror and here’s a little taste:

Let’s pause here and talk a bit about experimenting with the burnt tongue literary device. What I love about it is you can turn it to be comedic, romantic, scary, or just use it as a way to slow the pacing in your work. How do we test out what effect this has?

Read it out loud. The key for me to using this device successfully is that it gives us that slow down. It is natural when we talk to slow it down when we say a phrase that seems weird. Try it out.

These lessons are serious and not. I am keeping them accessible to folks who don’t know a lot of the formal lit terms and easy to do. This isn’t writing esoterica. I love to teach folks to write stuff, or help them write stuff. I am not promising learning to do a best seller or whatever. Just giving patrons some new tools. Now on the hustle tip, it has cost me money to do this. I waffled about doing it because at this point it costs me about 60$ (lowballed like whoa) in labor and lost patron interest.

That said, I really love how lesson one turned out and I’m really looking forward to lesson two. For lesson two I’ll be talking about how I learned to write personal essays and ways to dig in and figure out what you have to say and ways only you can say it.

So you can get in on that for a BUCK A MONTH. For real. Patreon is doing some changes to prioritize tiered patronage. For those unfamiliar basically a lot of creators use the model that you get different stuff depending on how much you pay. I respect that but, honestly I do want to keep these things as accessible as possible and I want those with a buck a month to get as much as those with $15. Check it out here. Also if you’re not interested but want to lend some support, PLEASE share that shit. If you know folks who like magical Black girls and magic and writing, show them the link.

Next thing. My other hustle Medium. Gosh.

So a while back I broke down how the get paid concept at Medium doesn’t work for me for reasons. Read stuff related to that here.

So I’ve been putting a couple of pieces behind the paywall at Medium here and there. I have a total of 222 pieces and 90% of those are free. I have 11 stories behind the paywall currently and with a few of my new ones, I’ve made 6.75 in the last two months.

Right now, I have a memoirish series about my Witchery going. (That is the free read friend link, I’ll talk about that too). Medium introduced “friend” links which give folks free reads. I use those even though it is counter intuitive. It is meh. I still offer up all the shit to very little engagement, folks don’t share when I ask blabla.

That said, I decided that I’m gonna write the shit anyway and likely nobody will publish it so I might as well give myself the wee chance of turning a little profit. Or enough coins to buy a slurpee and a candy.

I just put up a new essay,(cn for suicide, drug use, grief)  it is one that was commissioned about 6 months ago and that I have been going back and forth with an editor about and ultimately I decided to pull it. The distance between what the editor wanted from me and what I am willing to give was too far for too little compensation. Yes I know it is contradictory that I put it on a platform where I will likely not make even as much money but, it is also still fully under my control and presented authentically.

So really as always, if you like the shit share it. Clap on it. That’s it.

SO if you aren’t subscribed already, you should come subscribe to my newsletter. It is less author news than it is a loveletter from my creative self to yours. No spams and it is free.

I’ve been working through a lot of feelings regarding my failure to become or even get in sniffing distance of being financially sustainable in my art. The upshot is that after processing and dealing with feeling ashamed about this failure and having rage about it and bitterness, I’ve emerged feeling okay.

The bottom line is that as I said, imma do this shit anyway so I might as well do it exactly how I want to.

Fuck it.

And that is also why posting here is so slow. I’m using my resources and spoons differently.

What else?

OH THIS SHIT HAPPENED.

So one of my fave folks, Jen Pastiloff who is a badass loving ass damn person and a fine ass writer took this photo with my lil book. THEN she took this photo with another of my fave writers and humans Lidia Yuknovitch and y’all. They gave my work to some folks posted on teh bookface about it and loved the work and y’all. I fuckin ugly cried on the toilet. It means so much to me when I can say something that folks feel.

I think that’s all for now babes. I will probably be in with some other news next week AND probs some more microprose practice.

SO as always share stuff, clap if you have medium. Support living artists blablabla.

Hustleverse and fails.

Buckle in babes. It is gonna be a lot.

For reference today I’m going to be talking about Patreon, Medium, and other specifically writing related hustles.

Before I get into my feelings, I really want to stress that yes, YES OF COURSE as I tell my patrons every month I appreciate the fuck out of them. They have fed me, helped me pay bills and they are great.

As far as the platform itself goes, I love Patreon. Very simple. I enjoy it in terms of the user experience.

My problems have more to do with eh, okay.

Let’s start with engagement with both my current audience, my social media audience, and other maybe or likely not interested people.

I’ve done (I’m looking at them) no less than six 4 question surveys in the last year.

The first survey was a single question survey posted on Patreon, Twitter, Tumblr, facebook and in my newsletter.

Would you be interested in occasional to bi-weekly shortish podcast type posts about writing as a Patreon perk?

100 views.

6 responses.

1 yes. 4 no. 1 no with a I can’t afford Patreon.

Across my social media, I have approximately 5k followers with probably about 500 overlaps.

I reran the poll several more times and got no further responses.

So that was useless time spent for me.

Another data gathering thing I did was via twitter specifically.

I posted this freebie read  and asked folks the same question and specifically asked for it to be shared. The tweet had about 250 impressions, 10 likes, 4 retweets, 0 replies and 6 clicks.

I have more data but the upshot of my promotional efforts, engagement efforts and more so asking my community for what I need, is failure.

At this point, I know how to use my technology. I do what a lot of the advice (as I am ALWAYS talking about) and frankly it ain’t gon’ work. I’ve been on this quest to figure out some kind of sustainability for my income and writing, and I just am not sure it is going to work out for me.

Part of the problem is who I am. I am a Black Queer Purple lipstick wearing loudmouth. I am not palatable on any level to a lot of people. I know that. Quite frankly, at this point I’ve given up trying to not do the work that works for me. I accepted that a long time ago.

That said, if you do some quick googling you’ll see that as it is, there is generally a lack of support for POC creators, Black women and femmes in particular. Our fundraisers go unfunded, we do a lot of heavy intellectual lifting, we deal with a lot of specific marginalizations that result in not much cash for most of us. The reality is that for every ONE funded, successful Black woman/femme author, there are hundreds of us struggling.

I think I’ve reached the understanding that unless something very drastic happens, I will not be one of those top tier folks. That’s okay. I don’t need that.

That brings me to this.

I can’t find the entry but really, the world at large, my network, is not super interested in my hustle and my work in general. This is something as I’ve mentioned before that has been a problem since I started. I work at it.

Some stuff I do:

  • I offer a shit ton of free stuff. Fiction, poetry, non-fiction. Social justice. Etc etc.
  • I ask my community for what I need. If you can’t buy, please share. If you’ve been here a while you’ve seen it.
  • Offer and create resources.
  • Make a variety of methods for support clear and available.

This shit takes time and effort. A lot of my time spent working on trying to upgrade my Patreon to give readers more bang for the bucks, to share literary work,  is honestly a waste.

With Patreon specifically, I am feeling really conflicted. I average around 40 patrons and the most number of folks who read the patron only stuff is less than 80% of those subscribed. What has happened is that over the last year, my patrons have steadily declined and I can see from the data that likely they weren’t interested in what I was offering but they might have been feelings support and they dropped off.

This leads me to a few things.

  • Folks don’t really like where Cycle 2 is going.
  • Folks don’t care about the work they just want to offer some support.

I have asked how folks are feelin and we already went over engagement so bloop. Except for a core of ride or die folks. I have a list and literally the most shares, thoughts and support come from about ten people who have been doing it for years. Y’alls are the real Gs and I am not talking about you.

#2 y’all. It just makes me feel bad. I appreciate and need the support so much, but I am not about that rookin folks life and don’t want folks paying for shit they don’t actually want. Part of why I was looking into offering extra goodies would be to draw in those folks who maybe don’t like urban fantasy but would want writing class downloads, exercises, AMAs etc. However, if there’s no interest it can’t happen.

The other thing is this. My Patreon project is a LOT of work. All in with everything else I do, I probably write about 7-10k words a month. 95% of those are free. 100% of that involves a lot of emotional labor. I work a full time job. I feel like I’m just burning myself down for nothing.

I have to play capitalism too. I have to eat. I also feel like my grand experiment in sustainability etc is just a big ole fail. I also get really depressed.

The depression is why I haven’t posted in a minute. I get discouraged when I go all in to help my community, show up and provide for folks and not very many people respond. I did this list of folks who need financial help and it took DAYS of me asking where THOUSANDS of folks could see and it was a struggle.

I get discouraged when I literally take the step of making EVERYTHING that I charge for seriously financially accessible. For Patreon in particular, my intention was not to set tiers but to leave it at, hey if all you have is a dollar per month you get this stuff too. My lit stuff at etsy is 5$ and under. And I can’t get shares or responses.

It hurts.

I’m discouraged. I’m tired.

And really, if people just don’t want what I have to offer it is fine. But, that also means that I will need to scale WAY back on what I give for free because, as much as my heart says to just give everyone everything, that is unsustainable and bitch gotta eat.

I have been doing some lit world submitting and that is good. I’m at a bit of a personal impasse I suppose. I’m sad because my dreams of things I KNOW I can provide and that would be a great value to folks cannot go forward if I cannot get the eyes and shit.

I’m accepting that my social capital does not translate well to my work as a writer.

I’ve accepted that for a lot of folks I’m just a big nope.

I dunno y’all.

 

 

 

 

When I am Too Much

Recently, I had an essay published in one of my bucketlist magazines. See it here at The Offing. I have a story to tell y’all about publishing and what happens when you are in fact too much.

That essay came about because I was contacted by an editor I am familiar with and they asked if I could do a piece about race and gender. The first version of this essay was more dry. It lacked flavor to me and I felt like I was trying to engage too many things when this story was very enclosed to me. The original version had lukewarm feedback and the editor wanted more.

I did this version and to me this is it. I’ve been experimenting with trying to place more literary styled essays in not lit mags specifically. A successful example of that is here at Wear Your Voice.

Editor #1 had reservations. Some of their feedback:

  • I lead with fear of death as a Black Man
  • I refer to my masculine gender expression with a personified phrase “the boy”.

However, the most tap danced around feedback came down to the fact that this work doesn’t engage with gender in the way that they wanted. They wanted Sassy Black Queen and got Terrified Black Femme. The suggested edits stripped specific mention of Blackness to turn it into a #metoo piece without the connective tissue.

A story that is not mine.

I decided not to go further with that editor because the story they wanted was a pastel version of my story with a rainbow on it and not a memory and meditation on a real fear in my life.

I shopped the piece as it appears at The Offing around for a while. Most responses were lukewarm and boiled down to, yes this but not like this.

Much of the feedback was tentative and trying very hard not to say, this is way too Black while saying, this is way too Black. One editor said that they didn’t think it was broad enough. For a memoir based issue of a magazine. I read broad as relatable to White folks and I noped out. The feedback was never about the quality of the piece. Every editor said the work was solid, it was always related to my expression of Gender, Blackness and fear.

The problem here is this. If you are not a marginalized person and you are seeking work from marginalized people, insisting on “broader relatability” backfires. You won’t get authentic work. You won’t get the best work. If you can’t engage with things that aren’t strictly uplift, either mention it up front or don’t seek the work.

This is the same problem I talked about in this entry,  When in the Wear Your Voice piece I talk about being denied humanity, this is what I am talking about. I am talking about the idea that work from marginalized people must be palatable to whiteness is to deny us our humanity. When folks insist that, my story about gender expression and sexual harassment end on a more chipper note, that is a denial of what actually happened.

To demand this shiny version of someone, the happy ending, the creator is turned into a 2d version of themselves and that is erasure and it feels shitty. You can’t ask for the realness of talking about identity, and then say, no not like that. It just don’t work.

Back to the piece at the Offing. Chanda specifically told me they loved it and it made me cry. I’d put it on Etsy for a minute because y’all know that’s how I do. If I can’t sell a piece to a magazine I’ll do that. Or put it on Medium etc. Or tuck it away for later. Here’s the thing.

My experience with gender expression isn’t theirs and yet, they still enjoyed the work. I’ve heard from readers who are White cis folks who felt something and enjoyed the work. Some folks who read the piece thinking it would just be a nice read because they are not Black Femmes and found some part of themselves in the work.

And it is, what it is.

A note for editors.

If you want to feature or highlight marginalized folks, take what they give you. Don’t try and plasticize it or tone it down or make it nice for non marginalized folks to read. Be uncomfortable. Be willing to let your readership be uncomfortable because, isn’t that what art is.

That’s it for now.