Ay listen.

Hi babes.

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

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I’ve not learned but we’ll say that has been reinforced to me is that, a lot of general promotional advice is woefully out of date.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

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

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

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

It makes me tired.

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

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

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

What else?

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

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

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

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

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

NON BULLSHITS.

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

My return to it has been fucking lit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Featuring- Most Beloved Jen Pastiloff. Writer, teacher, Mom, delightful human.

HI babes. Get a snack.

If you don’t know Jen I am so happy to introduce you to her. I’m not completely sure how our paths crossed but, she is one of the most giving, Jen Pastiloff is the founder of one of my favorite lit sites The Manifest Station and if you’ve been here a while, you might remember she published an essay of mine about my mental health (TW it is a lot of issues) and treated me with such love and dignity. That particular piece was one that I could not for the life of me sell in any form and she was so kind in her treatment of it.

Jen is, the antidote to the sort of shiny, BE POSI all the time Mommyness, yoga doing, life living thing. Y’all know I am purely allergic to both bullshit and aggressive positivity and Jen gives me a person who reflects how I want to talk to myself. Y’all know what I’m saying? She speaks my language. When I see her post, don’t be an asshole followed with how she’s being an asshole to herself, and to stop I feel seen and heard.

Jen is a relentlessly loving person. A real person who wears some really bomb lash extensions and has a lovely family and chunky biscuit baby whoms

What’s your name/pen name.

“Ugh, why is this always so hard? Let’s see: I can’t hear without my hearing aids so that is kind of annoying. I have terrible tinnitus (ringing in my ears) 24/7 so I have a high tolerance for getting used to things, as well as pain. This is not always a good thing. I stayed at the same waitressing job for almost 14 years in Hollywood because I “”was used to it.”” I stayed in an abusive relationship for 2 years because I was “”used to it.”” You get the point.
I have a fear of dentists. I watch too much Netflix (thank God for subtitles and blue-tooth hearing aids), I drink way too much coffee and wine, I have a 2.5 year old who is the love of my life and also a high pain in the ass. I live in a one bedroom apartment and share a bed with my husband and son and my dream is to have another bedroom and a washer and drier. Really, those are my dreams. Oh: also finding a cure for Prader Willi Syndrome, which is the rare genetic disorder my nephew Blaise has. It manifests itself in many hideous ways but the worst is that it makes the person feel starving all the time. Like, he could literally eat himself to death. It’s straight out of a science fiction film. Fuck Prader Willi.
I went to NYU but took a semester off after junior year and that turned into… what year is it? So yea, I am a college dropout. And I have a memoir publishing June 4 from Dutton Books. No, I am not suggesting you drop out of college but for the love of coffee, sometimes our paths are crooked. Maybe college is not for everyone. Maybe the person I am is because I did not finish? Who’s to say?
I am saying this: Embrace the not knowing. You have no idea where life will take you or what will happen. The sooner you accept this, the happier (slightly happier, at least) you will be.
I post a lot on instagram at @jenpastiloff. Especially with the hashtags #realmotherfuckinglife and #nopantssunday which are exactly what they sound like.
I like being real and pantlessless.
I think Lidia Yuknvaitch is a fucking goddess. I lead workshops with her called Writing & The Body and it has changed me to my core. In the best possible way.
I don’t sleep with my hearing aids in so mornings and the middle of night are hilarious. “”What? What did you say? Mommy doesn’t have hearing aids in.”” I 99% mishear what you are saying, even with my hearing aids in, and usually what I hear is way funnier.
My father died when I was 8. He was my entire world. It messed me up real good but I turned out okay. Also; I wrote a book about it one million years later, so there is that.
I believe we get to change our minds about who we are and what we want, despite what the world (or our own Inner Asshole has told us.) \Ugh, I curse a lot.
My motto is “”Don’t be an asshole”” but I believe we are all sometimes assholes. Because: humans.
Sometimes I feel like a walking dead person. Less than I used to, but still. Sometimes I do.
I take anti-depressants. I teach yoga. I lead workshops around the world that I made up where I encourage people to become free and give less fucks what anyone else thinks. I love what I do.
I give away more than I have. I don’t mind that.

How do you like to work? Do you need your workspace to be any particular way?

I need quiet, which is hilarious because I am deaf. No, I was not born deaf. I am not Deaf with a capital “D.” I just get distracted easily so I can’t have noise (besides the ringing in my head.) That is the only thing I need. I need to be surrounded with books or mementos or photos. Things that inspire me, remind me who I am, make me feel grounded. Books do that. They make me feel less lonely. I feel like they whisper to me, “Go on, girl. You got this.” I know it’s corny but I do. My favorite words are “I got you” and I need things around me to remind me of that sentiment. My other faves are: It’s going to be okay. Basically, I need to feel that to write. I have no system. No routine. No high demands. I can’t even type. But, I get it done. Which is again to say: you do you. You do not need to fit inside any kind of box. I call it the “just-a’box.” I am just a waitress, just a mom, just a yoga teacher. Barf in my mouth. You (and me) are not JUST an anything nor do we fit inside a box. Make up your own damn rules.

Who are your favorite artists or authors?

“You, Shannon Barber. Truly. Your poetry. Lidia Yuknavitch. Roxane Gay. George Saunders. Cheryl Strayed. Sam Irby. Emily Rapp Black. Rene Denfeld. Alice Anderson. Naomi Shihab Nye. Toni Morrison. Jesmyn Ward. Alexander Chee. Claudia Rankine. Marlon James. Christa Parravani. Rumi. Stephen Dunn. Stanley Kunitz. Liz Gilbert. Zadie Smith. Brenda Shaughnessy, Miriam (Mimi) Feldman (paintinga and her writing!!) Megan Stielstra. Elizabeth Crane. Rob Roberge. Gina Frangello. Paul Auster. Virginia Woolf. Annie Dillard. Maya Angelou. Jess Walter. Jeanette Winterson. Tana French. Kate Atkinson. Omg- this is so hard. I could go on and on. Hold on, let me get more coffee.
Sylvia Plath. Caroline Knapp. Hanya Yanagihara. Margaret Atwood. Leslie Jamison. Nicole Krauss. patti Smith. Joan Didion. Alice Walker. Judy Blume. On and on…. ”

Do you have any memories of the first piece of art or literature that really moved you?

My first thought is Judy Blume. The first real book I ever read as a teeny kid was “Forever.” It was full of sex. I loved it. I hid in my room behind my bed and read it in 2 days. It was before my dad died so those memories are hardwired into my DNA. I have a deep love of Judy Blume. Hi, Judy! You make the best art. You inspired me as a small human to write and look at me now. It’s your fault! Also, you named a penis Ralph in your book and that still makes me laugh. Ralph!

What makes you ridiculously happy?

“My son’s laughter. Napping in the middle of the fucking day. My fake ass eyelashes. Finishing something I am proud to have written. Leading my On Being Human workshops. A book I cannot book down. When my husband brings me coffee in bed (he does this every day. Not to brag, but, okay, I am bragging.)
A show I cannot stop watching (I am a binger to the core!) When there is no traffic in LA, which is basically like two days a year (Christmas and Jan 1.), Italian food in Italy, Paris, light coming through a window. The idea of my own washer and dryer! The handmade “”don’t be an asshole’ and “”don’t should all over yourself”” mugs someone made and mailed me. They are just just so stinkin’ cute! I can’t even make chicken and someone made me these!”

Do you still feel awe? If so what fills you full of it? If not, tell me.

“All the time. I call it “”beauty hunting.”” My son’s awe fills me with awe. Watching his toddler brain process something. Last night i was working on this interview at my computer and he comes over and says, “”It’s not time for work. It’s bedtime.”” He was right. I closed the computer and cuddled with him. My 2 year old is teaching me boundaries.
Nature brings me to my knees. I am no Mary Oliver, but, my God, look at the sky. It’s breathtaking. How do we get to live in the world? Look what it does.
Honestly, wifi while I am flying. Utter awe. I am just dumbstruck. Like: how can I text you on your couch while I am high in the clouds above Cleveland? My hearing aids. Sometimes just the shock of sound when I put them back in brings me to tears. Anti-depressants. Look dudes, I probably still wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them so that is all sorts of awe-inspiring.
What happens in my workshops. Transformation, connection, lifetime friendship, fear gets told to buzz off, people find their voices, change their minds, allow themselves to be held, listen to other people in ways they maybe never had. I can’t believe I get to do this and IF I EVER STOP BEING ASTONISHED I WILL BE DEAD.”

Free for all: Tell me something good. (Yes I did just quote Chaka Khan at you)

“Well, I recently started lifting weights and I feel really great. I remember when I was nearly dying from anorexia, if someone said that I looked “”strong”” or “”healthy”” I would have a literal panic attack. Now, I soar. It’s a tangible feeling of growth. I don’t think we necessarily “”overcome”” things or “”get over them”” but we learn how to live so that they are not controlling us, so that we are able to find slivers of happiness, or awe, as you aptly put it. I have bad days but the majority are good.
I am part of something SHAPE magazine is launching called WOMEN RUN THE WORLD and I will be featured in the June 2019 issue. I sold my book in The UK to John Murray (Hachette UK .) I have clean sheets as opposed to cookie crumb sheets (I sleep with a toddler.) I have a retreat coming up to France and the day after I return from Europe, my book launches. That is actually good, or very, very bad. Hashtag jet lag.
We are closer to 2020 when we can vote the evil cheeto out of office.
I no longer care (as much) what other people think.
Something else good? Here’s the good news: I know it feels sometimes like there isn’t enough room (for you, for me, for all of us) but there is. That€™s a lie. That€™s a bullshit story-as I call it.
Sometimes it may feel like about she got there first & SO WHAT IF SHE DID? There’s room for all of our stories, voices, creations.
If you get sucked into that spiral of Not Enoughness “you won’t create. You’ll think â what’s the point?
The point is YOU. You are the point. There’s no other you.
It’s not a cliche. Or it is, but for good reason.
I lived in the Land of Lack for years but I escaped! Not unscathed: I have moments where I slip back.
But I remind myself that there’s room! And I surround myself with people who remind me, who lift me up, who make me see THE ROOM I WAS INSISTENT ON DENYING THE EXISTENCE OF. Find those people. Do your thing. We need you. Don’t be an asshole & hide. Tattoo this on your heart: THERE IS ROOM FOR ME.
your inner a-hole will try & trick you & tell you that it’s too late. It’s been done, there’s too many ______ (whatevs your blank is), you’re too old, too fat, too sad, too single, too smart, too dumb, too open, too potty-mouthed….WHATEVER THE F! It’s a dirty trick. Don’t listen. There’s room There’s room There’s room There’s room There’s room. MAKE ROOM FOR YOURSELF. We need you.

Extras?

“I have a workshop coming up in NYC March 16. PDX with Lidia Yuknavitch april 5-7, Ft Worth April 27, France May 25-June 1, London June 2, Book launch at Skylight Books in LA with Lidia June 4, Powells in PDX with Lidia June 7, DC July 14, Malaprops Books in Asheville July 16, Kripalu in Massachusetts July 19-21, Philly Aug 24. All info at jenniferpastiloff.com. Or go here https://www.jenniferpastiloff.com/events

Preorders are so important. And, if you send proof of purchase by Feb 28 you get a gift. order wherever you like and submit proof here https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfOG-KBufmq-DE5t7NnUekkOi0enMt_Dld_5sSNhICW9xZguA/viewform. Thanks for preordering. It truly means the world. I got you, too.
I have a scholarship fund for a woman who has lost a child called The Aleksander Fund https://www.themanifeststation.net/2016/10/17/aleksander-scholarship-fund/. I run a literary magazine with Angela Giles called The Manifest-Station https://www.themanifeststation.net.
Besides my own instagram at @jenpastiloff I also have @nobullshitmotherhood and @GPowerYouAreEnough.

More info here https://www.jenniferpastiloff.com/onbeinghuman”

~

AND y’alls I’m serious. You see why I love her.

Featuring- Caroline Blicq of Hexennacht.

Hello my friends.

A very long time ago on a blog far far away, I liked to post little interviews with folks I like. I decided that, we’re gonna do that here.

I’ll be featuring writers, artisans, other folks I find cool. First up the amazing scent witch Caroline Blicq, head spoopy babe in charge of and creator of Hexennacht. What is Hexennacht? First some background.

In the aforementioned blog far far away, I met someone who introduced me to the world of hand made perfume oils. For a good portion of my adult life, I was one of those people who would chase down the hood guy who sold oils out of his backpack, or I’d go to the Pan-African import stores for perfume oils. I love them.

I’ve used lots of brands and have a small but delicious collection. Right now, Caroline makes my faves.

hexen
[image description: HEXENNACHT in stylized font]
Before we get to the interview, let me give y’all a little review.

First of all, Caroline creates scents that are evocative, skin loving and frankly every one I’ve tried including my first order of currently unavailable scents, has just been delicious. My tastes tend to run to darker scents. I like notes like tobacco, leather, honey, candles, incense. My first two favorites were these:

Coffin Nails – Tobacco leaves, tobacco flower, whiskey, ginger, anise, coriander, clove, spices, fruitwood sap, juniper berry, hay, vetiver, benzoin, labdanum, vanilla pods, tonka bean, honey.

AND another classic fave:

Papa Legba – Aged dark Maduro cigars, spiced vanilla, beeswax votives, golden honeycomb.

If you click around the scent descriptions, you’ll Caroline has a nice hand at both humour and scent description. These perfumes are extra, the packaging is extra and much to my delight the human I adore, Caroline is also extra af.

Now, my last order was just a beauty. Check it out:

20190205_164713
[image description: a black package with silver writing on it that has my name on it, Shannon  a heart and a planchette shaped logo with Hexennacht in silver ink]
One of the reasons I love handmade items is, I like to feel special. Caroline puts care into her packaging and even just the touch of having my name written all pretty like that makes me really happy.

20190205_164903
[image description from the left: two sample sized vials of perfume oil. The top one is labeled Holy Water, the bottom is labeled Morning Star. In the middle there is a brown toned sticker with a photo of a pentegram on a wooden floor, it says hexennacht in lower case letters. On the right there are two perfume oil roll ons, the left hand one is labeled Black Phillip and the one on the left is labeled The Gunslinger.
Now, ahem. Y’ALL. Black Phillip is so fucking sexy. I feel like a whole ass Love Witch when I wear it. The description:

Black Phillip – black amber, dragon’s blood, black musk, tonka, black oak, firewood embers, black currant, soft woods, black pepper.

On my skin, immediately upon application I smell mostly the dragon’s blood and musk. Once it dries down it turns into this lightly sweet, peppery warm amazingness.

The Gunslinger I got for my partner (who by the way will wear whatever I put on him and perfume isn’t a thing that must be gendered), well actually I got it for me but it smells better on him.

The Gunslinger – Hints of sulphurous gunpowder, smoky, dark, mildly sweet, and spicy with notes of smoke and wood.

I LOVE the note of gunpowder. LOVE IT. It does not work with my body chemistry and turns weird and sour. On the partner, it is a sharp smell that mellows into that mildsweetness on his skin. Pure. Hotness.

Today I am wearing Inferno – orange pekoe tea, orange, clove, cinnamon, ginger. Y’alls. There is a tea here in WA that is so good and she managed to not only capture it, but on the skin it just smells so warm and soothing and another sexy scent. This scent is so fucking sexy, a straight woman kinda hit on me while we were sitting next to each other on the bus. That is how good she is.

Caroline’s scents are beautifully complex and so easy to wear in ways that have a low impact on folks around you. You can adjust the intensity to your own preferences. If you don’t like scent on your skin, try it in a scent locket. I have one I wear sometimes if I just want something to lift my mood.

NOW my loves, meet the divine Caroline.

What’s your name/pen name: Caroline Blicq

First tell my friends as much as you’d like to about yourself and your work.

I’m a Canadian transplant, and have lived in Seattle for 22 years. I started out making herbal infusions, tinctures, and tisanes 25 years ago, and over time, it gradually evolved into perfumery.

How do you like to work? Do you need your workspace to be any particular way?

I like to work in either complete silence or loud music. There’s no in-between. I also NEED to have an inordinate amount of “alone” time. I’ve always thrived on having minimal interpersonal interaction, and thankfully, working out of my home makes that possible. As far as my workspace goes, it doesn’t appear to be in any set “order”, but I know exactly where every single one of my 300+ blends is located at any given moment. For that reason alone, I’ll never be able to have assistants, but then again, that would cut into my alone time, so it all works out very well for me.

Who are your favorite artists or authors?

“Music: Kate Bush, Etta James, Fiona Apple, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder.
Authors: Paul Beyerl, Judika Illes, c.s. lewis, Stephen King, Joe Hill”

Do you have any memories of the first piece of art or literature that really moved you?

I was OBSESSED with Lynda Barry’s graphic novels as a teen. I still am.

What makes you ridiculously happy?

Music, my home/sanctuary, my family, getting to make a living doing what I love the most.

Do you still feel awe? If so what fills you full of it? If not, tell me.

I was gifted a Hawaiian vacation last year, and snorkeling with tropical fish is by far the most amazing, exhilarating thing I have ever done in my life. I’m obsessed with going back there someday.

Free for all: Tell me something good. (Yes I did just quote Chaka Khan at you)

It’s 2019. I’m having to dig deep to come up with something good these days. Is it re-election time yet? Haha-

Extras?

Shop: http://www.hexennacht.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hexennacht.scents
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1510610669028654/

 

First Side Hustle of the Year Updates.

OKAY.

Hi y’alls.

Folks ask me so I will probably do a monthlyish hustle update. (Medium links are paid links)

Medium still fails, my stats, these are not ALL of the things behind the paywall just the “top”:

Adventures in Being Black in Public $5.99
How to Learn to Write Non Fiction $0.00
This is America II $0.00
Post FatAss: Current RageAss. $0.00
Dear White Feminists. 2018 is coming. $0.00
How to Make a Witch II $0.00
How To Diversify Your Literary Publication $0.00
Self Care Like A Boss $0.00
This is America $0.00
So a bit from my top earner for the month:
The weight of that look, the look Black folks who are in situations where they are the only Black person there, or are visibly in distress know. The curled lip, the purse clutch, the sneer, the loathing. It is the look when you are both invisible and hypervisible. I was already panicky, trying to text my partner through my tears, terrified that (not logical but….) immediately the money I’ve been working so hard to save would be gone, that someone would fuck up my credit I’ve worked so hard on, everything.”
I wrote about a real bad day. I wrote from my aching heart about a really bullshit ass experience of my Blackness. it hurt. It hurt to read.
On average when I bleed out on the page this way, using Medium I might make 5$. When I’m exhausted angry and hurt, sometimes I make a little cash. For instance, this article I made about 13$. A record high. This piece was ghosted by four editors at ladymags who’d asked for this sort of thing. Two rejections because it is strident. So I took to Medium.

I will go out on a limb and speak for a lot of us othered folks. We cannot and do not want to continue giving free, amazing scholarly lessons on basic don’t be a racist. It is damn near 2018 and our fucking world is burning. Want to be the best gosh darned intersectional (also please interrogate your use of that word and if you don’t already know, find out about where it comes from) feminist ever?

Do the work.

Some stats for that piece:

Published 

VIEWS BY TRAFFIC SOURCE
353.

So frankly, y’alls. This is a large part of why I am in the process of redoing how I work. Honestly, letting it ALL out like that might be cathartic sometimes but it also is so much labor. And aside from maybe one magazine I can think of, even when that sort of work is asked for I’m not the one getting those bylines so no $$.

In other hustle news. My Etsy store will be closing on 2-15. I kept loose track and worked well over 75 hours on etsy stuff in the last quarter of 2018 and that made my hourly rate less than a dollar so. Nope.

What I am doing is making room for a big, shoot the moon, HOLY SHIT I AM DOING THIS SHIT type thing. I’m not ready to share ALL the details but, I’m taking a big fucking risk and I am so excited about it.

What else is happening?

I’m reading a few really good books right now. I’m getting ready to roll out some new shits. Since The Evil Empire   I mean Amazon changed their affiliate program I’m working on a WHOLE ass page of hand picked books and links.

I’ve also got a directory of Black Patreon creators going and I’ll be going live with it soonish.

I’ve got a real hankering to provide some more resources up in this bitch so keep an eye out for that.

I’ll be back probably next week where I’m going to need to talk some shit about people who try to sell best seller secrets willy nilly.

OH and if you are or know Black creators on Patreon drop them links for me please!

 

A Real Round Up

HEY.

So I’ve decided to do a whole ass second but better year end wrap up for my writing shits this year.

First check this shit out in another window. I minor tweet stormed about my work this year.

All righty then.

I realized as I was doing those tweets that, this year has been pretty lit.

I was feeling pretty down about the failures of the year. None of my side hustles really worked out.

I made less than 50$ with both Etsy and medium and that really sucks. I mean, it hurts me on so many levels.

That said.

I wrote like a mother fucker and wrote exactly what the fuck I wanted when I wanted. I finally fully divested myself from trying to be a freelance super earner. Like there are literally two editors I will pitch to and dassit.

I learned that finally, I can say I’m okay with being unable to financially sustain my creative life. It sucks but I can’t force folks to do shit.

All I can do is do what I do.

I was really feeling like, all this, all the angst and crying and stress just made me the worst.

I dunno y’all. I may not be able to like, pay bills with the words but fuck I write like a mother fucker regardless.

So what is happening in 2019?

I’m making moves.

Patreon stuff is happening, I’ve got a lot of plans.

I’ve also realized that part of what has freed me to write the way I have been this year is that, I’ve been learning to accept some things that are real for me.

  1. My obscurity frees me. I have a job that basically sort of pays the bills. So, I don’t have to eat shit when I freelance. I can say no and I have learned to say no. I had a piece that was commissioned and was a pretty good payday. After realizing that the editor and I were quite far apart on what we wanted. I let it go and put it on Medium.
  2. Speaking of Medium. The other edge of my obscurity is that, regardless of what folks say, 80% of my audience refuses to give my work material support. Folks don’t share, don’t clap on medium etc etc. I don’t know why. Some folks tell me to trust my community to come through and, well frankly most of the time they don’t. It hurts but whatever.
  3. I AM going to write the shit anyway. I’ve tried to stop but nah son.
  4. I am allowed to work this out however the fuck I need to.

Those things have led me into some stuff I’m VERY excited about and will share with y’all soon.

Overall 2018 beat the dog shit out of me. I wrote some of my best shit and it was lowkey sorta okay.

NOW. Over at medium behind the paywall but this is the friend link. A lesson on how I learned to write non-fiction.

Hustleverse and fails.

Buckle in babes. It is gonna be a lot.

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

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

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

My problems have more to do with eh, okay.

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

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

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

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

100 views.

6 responses.

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

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

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

So that was useless time spent for me.

Another data gathering thing I did was via twitter specifically.

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

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

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

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

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

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

That brings me to this.

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

Some stuff I do:

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

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

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

This leads me to a few things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It hurts.

I’m discouraged. I’m tired.

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

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

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

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

I dunno y’all.

 

 

 

 

Hustleverse and Art and Shit.

OOOKAY y’alls.

I’m on my hustle and we got THINGS HAPPENIN.

Let’s start with some evil empire (amazon) links.

An older book of mine I put together as part of my beginning idea of showing how the sausage is made is Wayward WordsI transcribed things out my notebooks, some flash pieces and poems. I talked a bit about them. It’s a little thing you can read on your Kindle app and enjoy for a little bit.

Next up, I was in Thuglit Issue #5 and that was a fave story I’ve done. I’ve really enjoyed running around in crime fiction and the whole issue is pretty solid.

Want something a little racier? I was in an issue of Infernal Ink with some pyro crime erotica. Get U SOME!

Full disclosure about my amazon links. I get a few cents on clicks and buys. They discontinued their store program so I will be making a page of book recs with said links. Yes I know terrible however, bitches gotta eat.

Now some more direct stuff.

These links will give me more cash in hand.

I’ve reopened my Etsy Store. I’ve included a brand new Etsy exclusive essay. I’ve reopened Etsy to get ready to list some handmade shawls and I’m pretty excited.

I’m also still fundraising. We’ve got almost 1400$ all in for lingering move related bills and staying alive. I hate it but, we gotta stay alive.

If you’re a paid Medium member. I put a new thing behind the paywall. Claps are free y’all know. Also, if you’re paid and like what I’m doing, throw some claps on other pieces.

I’ve also got some free stuff happening.

Read about why, yes the fuck I will unfriend over politics. And appropriate to this post, a little thing about Making a Difference.

Something that I believe in is, helping folks on a small scale. We can’t all be the viral helpers and sometimes, the best route is to just help folks stay alive.

Can’t buy? Totally okay. Share links. Tell your friends that you have a homie in need who has a variety of ways to provide support.

Show up.

If you don’t want to do that stuff, I got tip jars too.

https://www.paypal.me/WordsnThings

https://cash.me/$weebeasty

https://venmo.com/Shannon-Barber-5

Later this week, I’ll be posting up some new free to read stuff about writing. Follow me at Medium for that. Want a loveletter to your creative heart? Subscribe here and get a tiny vacation weekly from the trashfire world.