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.

 

Giving what I have right now.

I can’t be in so much pain and anger today.

That said, I’d like to share some beauty.

First up, please enjoy a little video of me reading my story The Beloved of Colel Cab you may need to crank the volume, my new phone isn’t the greatest for video but here you go. Feel free to share it, like it, subscribe to my youtube channel. I will have more lit vids coming.

If you’d like a copy to read or read along (I am working on a good transcript) click here it is available as a free post at my Patreon. 

I have some new self-care stuff coming. Emergency stuff.

I have a new piece of work a prose-poem thing on Ink Node.

I am very well and truly out of spoons and this is what I know how to do. This is what I can give to my community. Some things from my heart that might be a bit of a respite.

I also offer up the pieces on self-care I wrote a while back and put on Medium. Take them and share them if you know folks who need them. Here and Here.

Check this slipstream flash story. It’s a happy little thing.

And one more, a favorite story of mine. A little Queer Flash fiction love letter to my fellow Brown Femmes. Check the link for the story and an interview.

This is all I have right now. I’m so not okay I have nothin else.

When I have something, it’s yours.

Until then, take care of yourselves and each other and I love y’all.

Writing Goals.

ACTUALLY before I talk about that, I need to talk about something associated.

Being a writer as many have pointed out for ages is that being a writer is lonely AF. These days, at least for me part of being a writer in the modern world is just fucking astonishingly confounding.

For me, in particular, coming to terms with first learning the necessity of being able to be creator, marketer, publicist, etc for myself was really hard. None of these were things I included in my learning when I was a kidlet baby writer. The learning process for these things has been beyond hard for me.

Recently, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that the entrepenurial part of being a modern writer, and being an indie writer is not something I am capable of doing successfully. I have failed that part so hard.

I’m not looking for smoke up my butt.

These are the facts. I cannot sell my own material to save my life.

Had this been ten years ago, I’d be sobbing right now and so angry with myself I’d not be able to breath.

Enter, Milcah.

We met via the Rumpus. Awww LOOK at that baby face they have. My friend Antonia Crane was doing this series of interviews and I love her work and then there was -that- interview and thus a literary love affair was begun. Since then we have written each other long love letters, I wrote a story for their naked cam work, we made SCLAB book baby together.

The other thing is that Milcah has done something for me that I’ve been dreaming about since I was a baby potato writer- a partner who can hear me at my worst, who believes me, who when we work together fits my (omg Deadpool reference) weird curvy edges AND believes and shares part of my dreams.

Milcah has been that person.

Milcah can do so many things I just am no good at. The business parts. Our writing is different enough that when we work on things together, there’s a fluidity that runs through both of us as humans that works.

Milcah and I are a mother fucking literary power couple.

So, that said.

Because of a lot of stuff that’s happened in our long love letter exchanges and me feeling supported, seen and recognized enough to admit and not hate my failure in selling/being able to do that stuff for myself, my creative/writing bucketlist has changed and exploded.

How things are looking right now:

  1. Letting go of an attachment to baller freelancer status.
  2. Write first, sell later.
  3. Embracing my natural and established patterns of work that enable me to write the best material I can.
  4. Less stress over being the ALL the things artist.
  5. More enthusiasm to be the artist I actually am.

These have resulted so far in the following:

  • Potential to do ONE huge thing off of my personal bucket list.
  • I’ve applied for my first artist grant(I’ll talk more about that later)
  • I’ve started really working on finding my voice in talking about things like beauty, make up, fashion. Go look at my other blog. (Not toally related but earlier one of my other readers spotted a fucking pro Trump ad on my blog, if you see it PLEASE report it. I’m working on trying to be rid of it.)
  • I’ve resumed writing essays that make me bleed. Not the type where I’m struggling to balance the bleed and the sale.
  • I decided to start actively trying to get fiction published again.

Y’all.

Y’ALL.

So money shit is still fucked. I’m poor AF.

But, I feel okay to move on from where I was to where I want to go.

My writing lately has been on mother fucking fire.

I FEEL like I actually can be the artist I want to be.

DO you know how good that feels? Because Milcah in particular (mainly because of our baby SCLAB) has invested time and money in me and never once held that over my head as a way to force me to change, and that we are STILL both so passionate about SCLAB and that we’re working out how we can make it happen, these other things can happen.

When I was a baby potato writer, I believed that the writing life would be like it was in my Henry Miller books. I’d write shit, travel, fuck everyone and mail stuff to some editor shaped person and boom shit would be published. And I’d probably be poor, but there would be money for when I was broke and rich people being my patrons.

The version of that dream I’m living is in the shape of my real actual life. I have the kind of support system (not financial as of yet) that I need in order to be the kind of artist I wanted to be as a kidlet.

Dear Other Writers who struggle with ALL the other writing biz shit,

There is hope. If I can find a situation that is tenable and wonderful and makes good shit for my art. You can do it. It might take a long time, but it is out there.

Right now when I look at my family, my partner Uniballer whom I live with, my Wifey Cookie whom I see when I can and Milcah-

Holy shit y’all.

Being that all my love is romantic on some level love, I feel like I am the warm weirdo center of the most loving big relationship. And it’s so wonderful.

Love doesn’t solve all the problems and don’t pay my bills, but, it does make life and creation so much better.

Publicly again forever thank you for being you, being tough, being loving, being my most beautiful femmeboifriend, being the artist you are and being my ride or die.

I love you Milcah.

And I love you too readers and other writers.

I’m full of hate and migraine pain but, I love you.

Another Turn of the Wheel- Big Promo post.

Oh hi.

I’m gonna keep it 100 as usual. Recently (last night) a source of some of my extra survival income has abruptly dried up.

After some panic, I’ve got myself in check and I have a bit of a plan to bring in more monies.

Some folks have asked what I need.

Promotion.

So if you haven’t bought til now, now is a good time. Let’s start with some lit.

First up, Etsy.  For under 11$ you can get everything I have listed. That’s a whole lot of poetry and literature. You can get two slipstream stories featuring different Magical Black Girls and the as yet not notorious Motherfuckess Manifesta. Now, due to fees and whatnots, likely this will be the last month I have Etsy going so go get it now. Don’t have 10.50$ to spare? Please, PLEASE share the link to the shop. Tweeter, facebooks, whatever.

If you want to drop a tip in my tip jar and stuff, you can do that here. 

Want some bang for your tip? Head over to Medium where I have a good amount of exclusive content that was very time intensive (my series on Diversity in lit is a good example) and a lot of labor. You can also share those links and encourage folks to kick down some coin.

I will be reopening my Teespring shops with some new tees. I will make a post about that.

Now for transparency, let’s talk about my situation.

(I’ll be updating my Patreon to reflect what’s going on as well)

In the Spring there was a corporate level change at my dayjob that changed the frequency I get paid. The consequence of that has been that I have to use 95% of one paycheck to pay just my rent. And generally speaking, the last week of one moth and the first week and a half of the next are tight. We (my partner who is disabled and gets a small amount of disability) have to cover rent, food, medication for the partner, and any incidentals out of that check+his disability.

 

After that, we were able to reconfigure stuff. I’ve been using my Patreon money and a bit of other money to cover survival stuff and bills between paychecks.

Now, because I’ve had to shift pattern/side hustle money into survival money, I’ve not been able to really save up for things like a camera, start up costs for my writing lessons/classes. I’ve cut back on my for funsies stuff. Due to this situation, I’ve decided to cut back on my passion project writing (Medium mainly) so I can use what energy I have to pursue more freelance work.

For those who hate it when folks like me ask for money let me (I really don’t want to get trolled about this) explain what I’m doing to mitigate my need for extra cash/donations/sales:

Stuff I’ve cut from my budget:

  • Audible
  • Beauty Con box (quarterly expense)
  • No self-care/skincare/haircare purchase this quarter
  • Two domains left to expire (annual expense)
  • Twice a week coffee at whatever coffee place.
  • Postponed buying a new phone, extra glasses, tablet, birthday piercings for Uniballer and I etc.

I’ve also not been dividing writing/hustle money and dayjob money. It’s ALL household/survival/life money now.

I have, as I mentioned, a plan in place to get my teespring open and keep it running. I have some other plans that will take a bit more time to get in place, but will hopefully bring in that extra long term bit of coin.

I say this because I hate it when people assume that if you need help you are doing nothing.

And honestly given my stress levels right now I can’t deal with that.

So here it is. Basically, please boost my links, don’t be an asshole to me about it and if you can toss me some coin that’s cool too. Thanks.

 

 

How it’s going down at AWP

SO okay AWP is next week and here is how it’s going down.

I’m not sure what I’m doing with my hair, I might flat iron it this weekend or just blow dry it and give some fluffy realness.

I will be riding with my REAL FAMILY. If you find me you’ll probably get to meet my Uniballer (my partner), my Wifey (my bestie) and her Husbear.

I’m still slightly undecided about what panels I’m going to but I’ll figure it out.

Now if any of y’all are going and you spot me please feel free to come say hi. I’m fairly sweaty and weird in person and might stare at you bug eyed for a minute but I’ll be fine. Also if you wanna selfie, we shall selfie.

If you want to find me, I’ll be tweeting usually with the hashtag AWP16 or AWP2016.

I’ll be hustling this beauty out of my purse. If you buy one I might even read you something out of it, right out where ever we’re at.

mfesta
The title page of my chapbook/zine titled: The Motherfuckess Manifesta and Other Poems. They are 5$. Hand signed and numbered.

If you’re in or around LA and not coming to AWP, come party and hear me read with some of the most bad ass women writers. Check out the event here.

Let me take a moment to express my love for the Unchaste reading series. Jenny the creator is one of my ride or die type people. If you are in or around Portland, OR, please I encourage you to check out the Unchaste events. Search FB, get on that. Unchaste readings are always amazing and Jenny goes out of her way to curate an actually inclusive line up of readers. So for real, go do the thing.

What else?

I don’t think we’ll have time to do a whole lot of outside AWP things. Due to some vacation time off stuff it is pretty much a hit it and quit it type thing.

Hopefully there will be some video snippets,some action shots. Selfies with other writers. I’m going to try really hard this time not to freak the whole fuck out. I’m ready. I have stuff to sell and know that I belong there as much as any other writer.

I’ll probably schedule some posts and then when I get back I’ll do a big wrap up.

That’s it for today babies.

 

Theory Vs Reality The Artist Ruminating on Money

I’m dealing with some shit, a pile of it and it’s got me thinking.

I’ve been studying and researching for a project I’d really like to launch this year. I’ve been pricing cameras, querying some folks, doing a shitload of math.

In theory, said Super Seekrit project could be amazing.

In theory, my recent study of business and whatnot would start paying off in 3-5 months or so.

In theory my savings schemes would flower into a delicious little blossom made of cash and I would be able to pay for Super Seekrit Project materials and start it happening.

In reality.

Including freelance and book sales I made about 5K less than I did last year.

That makes me feel like the worst bread winner ever.

I am going to be spending almost half of my income to have a place to live. I’m trying to process paying nice place to live prices for where I live.

I’m thinking about my seemingly gangster at the time decision to go to AWP and feeling like it was a fuck up. I’m going still, I’ve come too far with the gifts and fundraising to not go. But I booked zero readings. And am very, uh, uncertain about being able to sell enough little zines of printed stuff that nobody wanted to buy in eformat for less money.

In theory (as in, my self image) says that I can do the 12 hour day job days (all in with my commutes), get home. Work on writing stuff until 2-4 AM. Eat, bathe, sleep by 6 up by 10 AM and be fine.

I used to be that person.

I’m not anymore. Reality says that my fatigue and other health issues both mental and physical aren’t things I can just put my head down and bull through.

Reality tells me that my Super Seekrit project could be SO fucking cool and satisfying to me on a deep level, but, but but but- given how things have shifted in my life, could I really get into it and make it great?

I don’t know.

On one hand, I can crunch the available data and make a dry decision. Fuck the Etsy shop for my writing, Super Seekrit Project on the back burner, I can redo my budget- those decisions I can make dry. No blood.

On the other hand the wet decisions aren’t so easy. Is this another year I stare longingly at poems and don’t do a real chapbook? Am I going to regress in how I deal with the emotional impact of poverty shame? How much do I push? What do I sacrifice to try and make that money?

The cognitive dissonance involved in knowing I’m doing some really great work, but that doing it is a detriment to me bringing in more monies is hard.

Knowing that continuing to write what the fuck I want is a detriment to my bank account.

Understanding myself and how I work and produce the best work I can is a detriment to my bank account.

And I don’t like that shit.

I dunno.

At the moment I’m okay. Emotionally speaking I’m a little dull because of my two months of anxiety hell. I feel the weight but I’m calmish. I know how to do this part. I know how to hustle and grind.

I suppose most of this is my need to document and disclose. Y’all this shit ain’t a room of her own.

Now a little promo.

If you want to buy some lit, go on and get it at my etsy shop. Add everything to your cart and use the coupon code WORDSWORDSWORDS to get a lil tasty discount. Keep your eye out for crocheted items, later this year some jewelry.

My AWP fundraiser is still going and has been updated with some news and what else I still need. If you are gonna be there, keep your eye out for me I will have some lil fiction zines in my purse for sale and if the stars align a card reader in case you don’t have cash.

What else?

Not much else my friends. I’m working like a motherfucker.

I’ve been hiding from most of my friends, which isn’t cool, but most of them understand the level of my anxiety and not okayness.

I am figuring it out. Modifying some of my bucketlist arty shit so I can do it and not want to die in a month because I’ve burned myself out.

Now I love you all. I hope all your arty endevours and bucketlist shit is happening.

Welcome To the Pit Mother Fucker.

Someone I know asked me recently what I would say to baby me about writing and publishing as a Black woman who has a lot of loud mouth opinions and who deploys them at will.

There is a Hed(pe) song where the dude says,

“Welcome to the Pit Mother Fucker.”

I am pretty sure that covers it. When I was a baby writer, I did not express my actual opinions on industry business. I fully believed that if The Industry found out how I felt about a lot of publishing and writing shenanigans.

I lurked industry boards and saw the racism and sexism. I gently tried to engage with White writers and other industry folks in my gentlest, sweetest Negress way about their racism.

Y’all, I tried.

I did workshop type things and kept my opinions about Magical Negroes and other terrible things to myself. I whitewashed characters, I didn’t share stories that did not cater to Whiteness.

I remember once talking to an older White lady author who told me that I was doing the right thing. That, to keep my “radical” (YES she said that, I remember it clearly) and “militant” thoughts to myself so as not to alienate the folks in power.

I thought it would lead to more publication, more visibility. Money! Recognition! Respect!

I WOULD GET TO BE IN THE FUCKIN CLUB!

But not really.

What happened was I was not writing the shit that moves me.

I felt frustrated, trapped, invisible and the worst, the very fucking worst part was that I felt like I was contributing to my own oppression with no pay off.

I was pretty miserable.

And then at some point after someone threatened to tell my dayjob that at the time I was writing custom smut for weirdo fetishists I decided to stop giving any fucks.

All of this is on my mind because last night I was doing research and working on some of my indie writer hustles and I came to a few conclusions.

  1. I just do not have the energy to promote things as hard as I need to in order to make my indie writer hustles financially viable. Likely if I didn’t work full time with the commute and whatnots, I would but that’s not gonna be a thing.
  2. The above being what it is, I’m cutting down on side hustles. It hurts my soul to lose the potential of that side hustle cash, but my fatigue is getting worse and there’s not a lot I can do about it at this point.
  3. I’m not putting stuff out by myself anymore. It’s been a losing venture and cost more time and money than it’s been worth.

Okay, I’ll stop there because #3 is important.

I decided to pull the lid from Etsy because frankly, it takes a while per piece, to get it ready make the cover and frankly nobody buys the shit. I know it’s not the prices really, but yeah. I do feel a bit sad, but whatever fuck it. I don’t know if I’ll just post them for free or what I’m gonna do.

So if you’ve wanted a thing from the Etsy shop, now is the time. I’m pulling all the lit stuff at the end of February. Go here.  I was going to do a huge price slash per item but it made me feel shitty. SO if you add all 8 pieces, (for a grand total of 17$) then use the coupon code WORDSWORDSWORDS that’ll net you a sweet little discount and put your total at 15.75$.

I have been convinced to not close the shop all together and start putting out some of my crocheted items. Shawls and scarves. Maybe my tactile stim objects. That’ll be a while yet.

I am going to focus more of my energy on producing stuff. Writing new stuff. Maybe doing a Queen Poems chapbook this year. My grand experiment in essentially rage quitting the publishing industry and only publishing either myself, with Milcah or in super select venues hasn’t been a real win for me.

A lot of that is largely due to #1 up on that list as well as, it’s just not my skill set to do it all indie and not feel like I’m wasting precious time energy and money.

I had a come to Jesus moment with myself about what kind of support my work gets and when and whether or not it’s enough to support my indie DIY ways. Frankly, it’s not.

Last time I had this out with myself, I decided I just wasn’t good enough (this was just a couple of months ago, well a few more than that it was post SCLAB release) and I really felt like my body of work was/is something I should be ashamed of because obviously if I was better at writing, marketing, rewriting, doing things the way I am supposed to- everything would be successful.

That might be true. Some of it or all of it, I don’t know.

What I do know is that me  punishing the fuck out of myself for failing so hard, SO fucking hard did not contribute to shit.

So I’m not doing that.

Changes is coming.

Dear Shannon,

Welcome to the Pit Mother Fucker.

Love,

Shannon