Let’s talk about what happens when my ass is in the chair and I’m getting ready to put in work.
I thought I had no ritual but, apparently I do.
I get my beverage. Usually fresh coffee or tea. I have my smokes nearby if I’m at home. I need noise so if I’m at work and music ain’t cutting it, I’m a sucker for the trashiest of trash tv. Reality TV where people are hollering and fighting usually is the thing.
I get office open and go.
If shit is really good, I am rocking and/or somehow wriggling in my chair between sitting up stiff and weird, my feet kick, my tongue pokes out, I pull other weird faces. If I’m really cooking, I mumble, sometimes I read a bit out loud, yell FUCK or NO NO NO NO NO.
If I’m being honest, things get weird. Like it’s that scene from that movie Swordfish where NERD!WOLVERINE is at his fancy mega computer, mumbling, dancing around, spinning in his chair. If I’m alone enough, shit gets that real.
I mean, y’all see. Granted I’m looking a lot more put together in this photo than I am at home when I work. But yeah, this is the start of me evolving into your fave indie weirdo writer in composition mode.
Something I find really funny is that the older I get the more I feel writing in my body. Back in the day, while I wrote I fancied myself to be very uh, pretty in doing it. Like I imagined romantic poets to be. All loungy sex and artistic glow.
Y’all nah. When I’m really deep in it, I’m sweating and stinking and grumbling. The other night while I was working on PoetryBookBaby#1, I bit the inside of my fucking cheek so hard it bled and then I was like HOW ABOUT NO FUCK U POMES! Out loud.
It just makes me giggle because the actuality of being a working writer is so not what I thought it was going to be. I thought things would be like, okay BOOM I’M PUBLISHED AND PUBLISHED AGAIN BANG ZIP BOOM MONEY YEAH FUCK YEAH!! PARTIES!! BOOTY!! FAME!!
I’m giggling while I write this, but it is what I thought would happen.
I didn’t think I’d be sitting and swearing at a computer screen at a job that mostly pays my bills, and hoping the phone doesn’t ring and fuck up my flow.
That said, it is not bad.
It’s not always greatness and cash, but you know.
I’m working through some shit and writing and writing and WRITING AND WRITING AND FUCK…I’m feeling kinda prolific but at the same time like there’s not enough energy and time in the day.
I think I’ll feel like I’m not getting the output I want forever. I’m not a machine but I want to be a word machine.
Now that’s this. I have LOTS of stuff to do.
So go read/subscribe to my newsletter. There is a fart joke AND I talk about Impostor Syndrome. come back next week and I’ll talk some more (GEEK SHIT YO) about some recurring themes in my work and how I deal with them in various genres.
From dēsīderō (“want, desire, wish for; miss, lack, need”).
I had bookmarked the entry for desiderium, I have had the word, knocking around my brain for a little while. The other thing that is always rumbling in my brain is the concept of limerence as it was introduced to me by Remittance Girl a few years ago. I can’t remember the context of how it happened, but I do recall that conceptually limerence interests me as a thing to explore.
What the fuck is limerence?
For simplicity, let’s work from this definition from wiki:
Limerence (also infatuated love) is a state of mind which results from a romantic attraction to another person and typically includes obsessive thoughts and fantasies and a desire to form or maintain a relationship with the object of love and have one’s feelings reciprocated. PsychologistDorothy Tennov coined the term “limerence” for her 1979 book, Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love, to describe a concept that had grown out of her work in the mid-1960s, when she interviewed over 500 people on the topic of love.
In the context of themes I want to play with, I wanted to explore what I call Dark Limerence.
The place where things get weird and bloody. That said, I didn’t want to explore it from a kind of typical Dude sees girl, dude stalks girl..y’all know.
I like to explore lust and limerence through the lens of a female perspective that lives firmly in the taboo. Violent sex, aggression, predation. The very typically “masculine” methods of seduction as presented to us as romance or erotic.
While I’m playing with these themes, I also want to avoid the rape fantasy. Not because I dislike or disapprove. I have zero opinions on whether or not women can have them.
I want to avoid it because often, women are presented only with rape fantasies as a means of exploring eroticized violence and I don’t like that. I think it’s limiting and silly.
I also like to play with the erotic being presented in such a way that maybe it’s erotic but it’s not really explicit but it is absolutely grown folks business.
This narrator, she is in the throes of the kind of memory that makes you wriggle around in your chair because your crotch is tingling. In writing it I wrote it to appear like this:
Black wings, a flutter against my skull. I see you and can’t stop the thoughts. Is this mania? When I see the skin beneath your ear, all I can think about is how soft it is, how vulnerable. Teeth or blade? Kiss or bite? Predation. Lust.
I use the two short phrases: I want. I need. To give the reader a moment to start to understand what is happening, the narrator is telling us that she needs. I used the right justification in order to give a visual to almost hearing this in dual voice. The Id “Id rattling the bars. I am a shell.” is almost fighting with itself. We have the simple but powerful phrases: I want. I need. And then we have the poetry of black wings and these questions.
This voice is a secret voice. It is the sort of voice we tend not to see women have in literature erotic or not. This isn’t performative sluthood, this is desire-need- with a big bold face.
I use italics in a few places more for visual aesthetic reasons than any other.
At the end, I bring it to where you the reader know what she’s thinking of. Rough sex. But, I don’t give you enough to figure out the context. Is it make up sex? Hate fuck?
Later, when we are spent, bruised and battered we will weep.
Drop salt tears on my breast, your cock hard again in my hand.
This isn’t a desire we often get to see from women. We see her move from talking to herself, to talking to her lover. She’s talking to both of us and at the end again, tells us exactly what she wants and who she is.
I am want.
I am need.
*I am longing for what is lost.
A few things about the end here.
I very purposefully used a vague sense of time in this piece. We don’t know when any of this happened, if it happened, if it is fantasy or what? This could be playing out in her head on the subway, in traffic. She might be washing dishes and having this fantasy/memory.
I did that on purpose. I had a more concrete ending to the original version of this piece. The original ending was that she got home and beat up/fucked her partner.
I scrapped it because in terms of when I wrote prose poems/flash fiction, I love leaving it wide open. I know a lot of readers hate it, I hate it sometimes, but when it works, it leaves things that crawl under your skin and I like that.
The last line with the asterisk is also an easter egg if you’re a nerd. You’ll notice that the title is asterisked
And the last line *I am longing for what is lost.
The last line gives the meaning to the title if you hadn’t already figured it out.
So there you go.
If you would like a writing lesson for the day here it is.
Tuck away things you learn from other writers. There are times when while other artists talk about their work, what things mean to them it might help you identify something you like to play with.
Play with themes, play with what words make happen in your head. Play with tropes and commonly held ideas about how people are supposed to be.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Realizing that as hungry for my pain as those readers are, they are loathe to pay for my pain.
When I’ve pointed this out to a couple of people who have wanted to give me exposure, crickets.
I applied for four artist/writer grants. Got none.
I still don’t really understand residencies you pay for. like, what about the rest of us?
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.
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.
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.
Over at Patreon I posted a chapter from my OG Daiyuverse and talked a bit about a chunk of plot I took out of the story. Here have a looksy.
I want to talk a bit more about staying in my lane and how I’m looking to pull inspiration from other cultures in this particular verse.
My particular situation arose from a subplot involving a cultural misunderstanding between a Creole Skinwalker and a young Navajo man over the name Skinwalker. The Creole boys people are able to literally walk in the skin of animals by psychically occupying their consciousness. Navajo Skinwalkers are not that in any way.
While I was making notes and researching this, my uppermost concern was that I wasn’t just being appropriative and grabby because it could make for a shiny bit of conflict. I am working really hard on creating ways of bringing together disparate cultures and creating magical traditions within those cultures and not falling on OH MAGICAL NEGRO tropes.
This bit of storyline in particular, I think I can do without being disrespectful, but in terms of the Daiyuverse it may not happen there. I’m not trying to be hamfisted about it. Also, I wasn’t entirely ready to talk about things like tribal solidarity and how that wound function in a sort of pancultural thing like The Institute, how could a Navajo sorcerer reconcile sharing his cultural religious practices AND his magic with outsiders?
I didn’t have answers for that so- bloop plotline put aside.
And this is where I say, I’m gonna stay in my damn lane.
Too many writers I see decide to take something shiny from a culture and run with it without there being a foundation of understanding of both the shiny bits and the struggles of a culture. Personally, I think that is how we wind up with so many Magical Negroes, and sooper spiritual Native folks etc. Too many people don’t take the time to dig deeper and work from a space where yes, YAY magical and brown, but also, this is shit going on within that culture that would shape this character.
For me, this is where I’ve seen things like the Strong Black Woman that don’t need nobody tropes come from and flourish. Even other Black writers can fall into the trap of wanting so badly to create a bad ass amazing character, that they forget that nobody can be that all the time. In the need to defy negative stereotypes, folks forget the squishy bloodiness that makes us human and characters become cardboard cutouts.
I’m currently re-reading Midnight Taxi Tango: A Bone Street Rumba by my homie Daniel José Older and this is an area where I will point to and say LOOK at how he builds the humanity of his characters through their moments of weakness. In his universe, he’s populated this book with bad ass killers. These are mother fuckers you should be afraid of.
My personal favorite character Reza (if you haven’t read the book read this short and meet her) is one of the folks to be scared of. She’s confident and a gangster and through her swag and gun toting badassery, we see her afraid. We get to see her heart aching for Angie. We see her in full vengeance mode and she’s a person.
Daniel took what could have been a badass butch cardboard cutout of a gangster and gave her a pulse.
In the context of my own work, especially within this urban fantasy Seattle/US I’m building, I’m paying close attention to the people who are inhabiting this world. I want them to have life and pulses and I don’t want to reread what I’ve done and wind up rolling my eyes cause I’ve not taken enough care to incorporate what I feel is important into the framework of these people.
I’m also taking an opportunity to poke some meta fun at Whiteness tropes. Especially in terms of the hippy dippy pretendian White lady fucking things up with her ignorance and sealioning (I JUST learned that word and it fit so perfectly in what I had notes about doing) causing problems with the legit magical culture in this world. I’m also doing it in an urban fantasy short that makes fun of the Whiteness of Elves type fantasy and the justification of it being “tradition”.
An interesting side effect of not only Turnip Winning but also of my own reactions and health is that, I’ve found a certain freedom I’ve not felt before and I’ll talk about it more when I don’t have a cold.
That’s all for right now y’all. I’m at work and really tired and about to pound coffee and pie until my teeth vibrate.
I will probably be doing some more process/craft nerdery soon because I have many thoughts.
I’ll talk more about my horror thing and my performance later.
Don’t forget if you like rambly, love letters from one creative heart to another, you can get my newsletter. Check out the latest one right here.
Fall has me feeling like I want more art. I want to make stuff. I want to try new arty things. Actually, I will talk about my class thing.
After talking to other writers that way, I remembered why teaching writing in the way I have in my heart/brain is on my ultimate things list.
I love having that heart to heart connection. I love saying something and seeing a light in another person’s eyes. I love seeing that slow nod and the little smiles. I love it.
And I feel this way not just about writing, but other stuff I’ve talked to people about. In terms of writing, I just dunno. It feels like the thing that would fulfil me on a level I can hardly imagine. I’m a little afraid of it because-I don’t know.
I think part of my reluctance to pursue it more aggressively is my dread fear of coming across as a charlatan. I don’t go in for the One True Way gimme all your money or you suck type of thing and I understand that, that sells I just do not want to do it.
I dunno y’all. It calls to me. But the idea of really making moves to implement a way to do this type of teaching either on a one to one basis or in a class structure is also a lot of energy to expend for me and I don’t know if I can do it.
The other thing that bugs me is that while I have a pretty great close up support system, I don’t believe that people in a position to help me with this would and that’s just…a reality of being me. I’ll pat myself on the back a little and say I can say that with only a little bitterness. And I can say it with the knowledge that it’s not paranoia on my part but lessons learned from experience.
I dunno y’all.
I’ve learned through my lit partner in crime Milcah that I personally need to pump my breaks when my passions are lit like this. I can burn myself out and hurt myself emotionally and I am too old for that.
I’m slowing down. I’m thinking. Can I do this? What about some one on one coaching to start?
I don’t know what’s gonna happen but I’ve got the burn and the need to make something happen.
That’s it for now. You can read a couple of new things over at Medium.
Also if you want some spoopy entertainment for your Halloween reading pleasure, head over to Etsy and pick up TWO Lovecrafty stories by me for just 2 bucks. It’s awesome. Enjoy.
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.
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.
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.