On my Mind

First of all.

Y’all this album is so fucking good.

This is my current soundtrack.

On my mind. Right now, y’all should check out this hashtag on tweeter.  And related read this. See also this.

Please note: I only use the word woman/women very loosely and to include Genderqueer/Femme presenting living folks.

How are these things related? Here’s what I’m thinking.

On the hashtag you’ll see it relates to Ebony which is a traditional Black publication. A lot of Black women write/have written for it. If you look at some of the responses they fall in line with the other link.

Everybody loves to ask or demand Black women do work. Whether it is the exhortation to get ourselves out there and hustle. HUSTLE and get those bylines to show the WHOLE goddamn world what we can do.

I’m here for it.

There is a trap in it. When the places that are supposed to be here for Black people, women in this case fucking fail. This is exploitation and as a larger issue, I see this constantly with freelancing. This is another reason why I hate it so much.

For me personally, living with my particular set of marginalizations I cannot fuck around with people who don’t pay what is agreed upon.

While there is an absolute cachet to scoring those home run bylines, there is peril. As with any industry, when you’re loud about how those in power fuck up, shit gets real. I’ve watched it play out time and time again from writing groups to twitter etc.

We say, hey fuck you pay me. Or say, this editor at X magazine will not respond to my need to be paid. And things can get so bad. Part of the reason for this is that nobody trusts or believes women, especially Black women.

If we say, I’ve been mistreated-BOOM suddenly we’re just being big ole meany face bully gossips. Echoes of rape culture and sexism and Misogynoir.

Y’all know.

Now, the person who started the dialogue about Ebony, has been subject to shitty ass trolling especially from other Black folks and from supposed professionals within Ebony. Ebony is not some little three person zine struggling for postage money. This is huge money, this is old money and like so many other things will celebrate Black women out of one side of their mouths and steal food off their table and talk shit about us from the other side.

This is from the big leagues. This is supposed to be the right way to be a writer or to be an activist. These are the people who’s nod we’re supposed to earn.

And they treat us like this.

So, some people like me decide, you know what?

Fuck your legitimate money.

nope
[image caption: A still from Godzilla. Lookng up at Godzilla, it looks like she is yelling. Underneath there is all caps white text that says NOPE]
Not that I won’t occasionally get me some but overall, nah.

For a variety of reasons.

So, as y’all know if you read me regularly, I have my donation area and my tipjar and my venmo. It is how a lot of people I know who put in a hell of a lot of work help ourselves survive.

For the type of work I do, for the type of activism I prefer and how I am able to create the shit I’m good at, patronage (YUP we’re going there again) is an ideal model. I have my dayjob and that mostly pays my rent and I have my art. When the mundane parts of my life are paid for, I’m a motherfucking artist juggernaut.

And a lot of the time, my tipjars and whatnot make up for the intense emotional labor I am prone to do in spaces where, a lot of folks don’t appreciate shit.

So then along comes this person who abused their platform to really shit on those of us who aren’t operating within spitting distance of legit money acceptability.

I’ll quote from the post I linked to above:

They discourage Black activists and organizers from Liberation, and inspire them to chase individual fame and fortune from white power. They reinforce respectability and funnel shared resources into their own crusty Black hands. They use us when needed, but abandon us when necessary.

This is why I will not and cannot fuck with people like this. And the person who started the bullshit about what is and isn’t acceptable in terms of the hustle and doing the work is the type person who helped drive me away from freelancing.

This culture of deciding that you ONLY count if you are acceptable. If you don’t tell, if you are a Good Negro, if you get by in an acceptable way is pure fucking garbage. There is nothing revolutionary or cute about replicating the macro world problems in a microcosm.

Nothing.

That said, there is money in aligning yourself with the “right” way.

I mean, that blogger is making some coin right?

Ebony is still making them coins.

I respect the hustle. Y’all know the old saying, don’t hate the player, hate the game. I hate the game.

Fuck that game.

That game and trying to play it really almost killed any desire I had to ever write another essay. These behaviors hurt me in what at times feels like an irrevocable way.

On the other hand, it does fire me up. Knowing that I am doing exactly what I need to do in order to be the best creator I can be is amazing.

Yes, these things are still exhausting and painful. It hurts me as a Black Femme/mostly womanish type person to see Black women shit on each other to get ahead.

It hurts my actual soul. It hurts my heart because these are the tools of White Supremacy and if we can’t stop using them against each other what chance do we have of expecting White people to not use them against us?

Now here’s the thing.

I have zero expectation of agreeing with or kumbayahing our way out of it.

What I hope is that at the very least we stop shitting on each other for cash.

I know, we ALL need to make money. Y’all know I am about that hustle and grind life. But not at the exposure of people who are also marginalized.

Let’s not. We can do better.

 

 

Musings on Patronage

After a really great month for my Patreon, Like the best month ever and I celebrated with some stickers for my planner, a couple of thrifted books and a double credit card payment. I also got a nice lil tip in my Venmo that netted me a couple of coffees and some time to sit down and make some plans.

This morning, I got a long rambly angry note from an anonymous person at a throwaway email address all about how they KNOW I take advantage of people and how I am a (this phrase is verbatim) Welfare Lady in Waiting and how I’m just fleecing people because my writing is not good enough to get the big bucks and shit from publishing.

Now, aside from the sheer saltiness and the fact that they cherry picked things I post about freely on social media as examples of how I’m rooking folks into funding my lavish lifestyle, I noticed that what came across was that this person is bitter as fuck but follows me closely.

Obviously their welfare lady in waiting thing is a racist as fuck, sexist as fuck and comes from what I think is probably a place of hurt that I, a Black person has dared to carve out an artist life of sorts.

Let’s use a super famous and successful White person as an example here. Now, I cannot stand her for many reasons, but Amanda Palmer is gonna be our example.  She literally makes more money per thing than I do in a year.

Cruising through the top writing creators, most of them make anywhere from 1200$ up through 12,000$.

The thing is, there is a very long and rich tradition of patronage to artists. All kinds of artists, writers, painters, singers etc. Folks giving people money to live so they can create is something that has gone on forever. What I find interesting about modern life is that in reality, often the argument I hear from people against my own search for patronage is wrapped up in age old stereotypes about Black people.

The uppermost layer revolves around the idea that unless you are extraordinary, if you don’t have ties in the world you work in you have zero access. If you are not the right negro, often the gatekeepers want nothing to do with you unless they are tickled by you.

If you can be an exotic pet for them to talk about to their friends. Or they will fuck you or display you or, at worst steal from you.

Some of those things have happened to me. Way back when, I had the “opportunity” to deal with some mentors who were older White men with money and pretty much they wanted a literate fuckdoll. They wanted to be the one to say they bagged the next Maya and I wasn’t having it.

I have read a lot of artist bios and in so many, patronage of one sort or another was the way through. It provided what we as humans need and what we creatives often need to make our work great.

Stability.

Less stress.

Time.

Now, Whiteness alone doesn’t necessarily protect an artist from being taken advantage of but often it protects against the insults and accusations.

You can even be an actual fraud and frankly, if you’re white enough a lot of people won’t ostracize you. Granted, some fare better than others, but, I think history shows us this is pretty true.

I think I’ve been painfully aware of these things since I was a baby potato writer dreaming of having patrons. I remember reading Henry Miller when I was 14 or whatever and after jerking off, I’d dream about mailing pages to publishers and getting wired money and having beautiful places to visit, having that life and writing wonderful broken things.

I outgrew thinking that was my path, but looking back, I see where Blackness became the thing I believed would keep me from having that access and support because I didn’t know about any living Black creators who had it.

I couldn’t have said it at that age, but I felt it.

I think that’s all. This topic/area has been on my mind because I’m writing about things that intersect with Blackness, patronage in the arts, fraud, etc.

So to wrap up, if you really follow me closely enough to know when I last was published by another person, when I bought new boots etc you know that I hustle.

So fuck off.

Before I go, later this week or next I am going to make some announcements about things. And for right now, you can read a free Daiyuverse story I posted on Wattpad. I will probably post more there as I write them if I don’t submit them places. You can follow me. Enjoy.

 

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!