On my Mind

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.

 

Writer Financials- #1 for 2017

So welcome to my first money post of the year.

Like last year around this time I’m looking at another increase in my cost of living (rent increase, transportation cost increase) to the tune of about 250$ dollars a month.

And no increase in income.

I’ve been mathing things out and budgeting and things aren’t quite dire but it’s not awesome.

I knew that 200 of the increase was coming for a while and as y’all might remember set up a gofundme to try and get a bit ahead. I am not fully funded, but I was able to do stuff like get a tablet, and a real winter coat. Stuff I absolutely wouldn’t have been able to do. I was also able to pay off last years rental insurance entirely and remove the monthly cost.

I also have Patreon. Last year my Patreon money was used mainly for things like some software, I saved up for and bought a new office chair and a desk for my laptop. And I got a new laptop. For a few months I had some treats, Audible and about 15 bucks to buy a fancy coffee once or twice a week.

My Etsy store made 60$ (the bulk of sales in April 2016) and my biggest selling item of the year is my little chapbook The Motherfuckess Manifesta.

This year I’m working on restructuring what I have to stretch.

I’m feeling pressed but not panicked. I have kept my promise to myself to not fuck myself up trying to freelance.

I have three book projects to finish (SCLAB, Poetrybookbabies) and other stuff to do.

So, I have been rebudgeting and it is a bit of an austerity budget. I am-

how do I feel?

I feel very tired. I feel torn about my desire to return to my more lit mag oriented roots because most of the ones I like and that I would like to be published in don’t pay.

I’m not acclimated to working dayshift yet so I’m not sure if my energy will pick up enough to freelance at least a bit. Or pick up enough for me to get a part time job.

Honestly y’all, I will likely not write about this type of thing that much this year. Mainly because of shit like this, I wrote a piece on Medium about why I’m not writing about racism for free right now. Here’s a chunk:

I have been more than open about the rock bottom of how to start working out how privilege functions in our lives, how to start not being or behaving in a racist manner, I’ve wept while I wrote about Black children being the victims of state sanctioned extra judicial murder.

Thousands of words.

Thousands of hours of work, the majority of it unpaid.

Hundreds of hours of being harassed, dealing with the hurt feelings of people I wasn’t talking to on a personal level.

Enough bullshit that I shut down my author facebook page, I limit the contact I have with strangers all so I can do the shit I’m supposed to be doing.

That’s writing.

I am a working writer.

And frankly, if you can’t be arsed to look into my back catalog for the stuff I’ve already said, if you can’t be bothered to say hey, I want to pay you to write/teach about this thing- what are you doing?

One of the responses I left public was from Autumn Cole the founder of something called Writer Beat.

This article has to do with racism and I didn’t pay to read it.

There is a conversation with someone else on that thread and it is tedious.

There were a couple of other comments that were a bit more aggressive about their shitty pettiness and I just don’t have the emotional bandwidth to be out there showing my belly only to see this shit. Especially if I am not getting paid.

Also that shitty ass response is a whole OTHER post in and of itself and is a fine example of how Black people are disrespected so casually so often and folks wonder why some of us just stop doing what we’re doing.

Overall, I’m feeling like poverty has me by the throat. The current US regime will dance on my grave and I have too much to say.

That said, other work is going well.

That’s it for now.

The 2016 Wrap Up

Okay, my annual wrap up of the year.

First:

trashfire
[image description: a moving gif of a fire in a dumpster.]
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.

What else?

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.

What had happened was…

Currently I’m in an obsessive work mode.

I’m working on:

  • Finishing two poetry chapbooks.
  • SCLAB materials.
  • Protest fictions.
  • Daiyuverse. 

That’s pretty much all I can focus on. I am not a huge fan of the holidays so keeping them off my mind with work helps. This year has been particularly difficult, regular mundane life stuff has been intense.

As per usual for me, this time of year also brings me way down into a deep navel gazey type space. I’m looking at a lot of my endeavors, looking at what has been good, what has failed.

Some things that have happened this year more than other years:

  1. Me having to explain repeatedly when being criticized for not being journalistic in my work that I am not a journalist. Never have claimed to be. Not one time.
  2. Related, dealing with critique that my work is too personal or too emotional when I’m writing about my own lived life. Not theory- my actual history.
  3. Noticing that as I’ve expanded my audience somewhat, a lot of that audience *mainly white folks* seem to only read my work when I’m hurt or angry.
  4. Realizing that as hungry for my pain as those readers are, they are loathe to pay for my pain.
  5. When I’ve pointed this out to a couple of people who have wanted to give me exposure, crickets.
  6. I applied for four artist/writer grants. Got none.
  7. I still don’t really understand residencies you pay for. like, what about the rest of us?
  8. I’ve had to figure out when I will and won’t write about politics because I find it too emotionally draining to do for free.
  9. I’ve made way less money writing than I did in 2015. By a lot.

#9 has been the hardest. I spent a lot of time at points this year pitching, not hearing anything back, stressing. I also had the biggest dip in self confidence as far as the monetary worth of my work as a writer.

Y’all if I’m gonna keep it 100, that shit was the hardest thing. The disparity between what people I respect have said to me about work I’ve done and ideas I’ve had and the essential non response in the industry or offers of “exposure” etc fucked me all the way up. It got to the point of me really questioning whether or not I should start SCLAB again with Milcah, it had me freaking out that people don’t buy the work in my Etsy store even at rock bottom prices.

I was prepared to shut down all my writing related hustles because the failure of them really got to me. I really couldn’t get over the level of nobody gives three bucks worth of a fuck. A lot of my struggle was also due to finances being so much tighter this year. That living expenses, increase I had in early 2016 fucked everything up.

Add that with my failure to be a successful freelancer and y’all, shit has been a struggle.

My friend Ayla wrote this piece I’m Too Busy Being Poor To Be Creative. It is an old piece but super true.

My biggest challenge as a writer has been to find that place where I can do my best work and survive and it ain’t been easy. Shit is hard as fuck.

That said, how about some highlights from 2016?

There’s other stuff that happened.

So things were not all bad. it has been a huge struggle and a lot of things have flopped. I’ve had some really wonderful success as well.

As the year draws to a close, I’m mostly having to struggle with myself. I don’t want to succomb to bitterness and the salty anger I feel when I see shit get published and paid for. Yeah, it hurts a lot, but I can’t fix it.

Okay that’s it for right now. I will likely queue up some posts for a while so I can get down with my work.

If I don’t see y’all before hand, have a safe and happy new year.

 

How to Support your fave Indie Weirdo

This will be my new masterpost of ways to support my work.

First up the free stuff.

Come follow me on Medium and share pieces you like on your social media. Also, if you like them hit the heart and recommend them.

Want to hear about writing and creative stuff? Every saturday I send a writer email newsletter that I call loveletters. Get them here and you can share them with your friends. I promise no spam and no bullshit.

The important bits here are shares. It’s free and maybe you know folks who like lit stuff.

Money stuff:

Okay I have money stuff for all levels of cash.

First up, shop my Etsy store. Currently I have three things available, these are very accessible prices and yes, I know I gotta keep value blah-blah, but this is where I’m able to really make some of my work accessible and get a little coin in my pocket.

Next, you can check out my Patreon. If you don’t mind a recurring thing it could be for you. Right now I’m offering up an in progress (with mistakes and stuff) look at my urban fantasy novella in progress. If I can rustle up sufficient interest I may add a shortish bi-weekly/monthly podcast type thing where I talk writing stuff.

Don’t like commitment? If I’ve posted or written something that you really appreciate, tip me. I’ve got options. You can go with paypal here. I’ve got Venmo. My other option is a Gofundme campaign I’m running to help put myself and my partner a little ahead in life. Find that here.

Last up my little merch store. I have some poetry stickers, some tees/shirts. Check that out here. 

That’s pretty much all of it. I’ve got a little something something for everyone.

Go forth, check it all out. Enjoy. And remember shares are cares my loves!

How I work

How am I getting the work done?

Someone asked me that recently and I have some updates y’all.

First thing is I FINALLY got a new fucking phone. I’ve discovered that I write the best poetry on my phone and only when I’m using the Memo app. I don’t know why.

I like this app, it’s the one that came with my phone. Here are some of the things:

screenshot_20161103-150612

I’ve been writing new poems, prose poems and little fiction ideas on this memo app.

I also use the Word app, but I don’t like it as much. I need to see most of what I’ve written so using it on the phone screen isn’t ideal.

How else?

I don’t know.

My tablet is great so far. I haven’t named it yet, but I might call it Tiny because it’s small and I find using a 10″ keyboard a bit challenging but I’m into it. I’m struggling with taking it out of the house because I’m afraid I will break my nice little thing but I’m working on it.

I’m writing more than I feel like I am. I’m not doing Nanowrimo this year, but I’m aiming to keep up my productivity. It does low key feel like I’m spinning my wheels because nothing I’m working on in a serious manner will be published soon. I closed out my last couple of outstanding pitches, crickets at one a nice but very bland rejection on the other.

I am going to allow myself a bit of self-pity and wallowing regarding the pitches. One I thought would be amazing and then I saw that they published something sorta similar but frankly not as well as I could have done it.

I was a little salty, but I see which way the wind blows about it. I understand logically that yes, a lot of what I have to say on particular subjects is just too radical and out there for a lot of publications. It’s fine, but it sucks.

What else?

Not much to be honest. I’ve got my head down and I’m grinding away.

I will be doing a good sized promo post with ALL the things.

Until then, laters taters.

Literary Radical Vulnerability- The Author is Naked.

I’ve had a very eventful October.

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.

Um..y’all.

Y’ALL.

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.

*deep breath*

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.