Category Archives: writing life

Another day, more racism.

Earlier this morning I read yet another spectacularly racist piece of literature. Published by a magazine I’ve read on occasion. I have read how the editors responded and frankly, maybe I’m just too jaded, but I have so many questions.

The editors have said on tweeter that they had no intention of causing harm.

However.

I have questions.

At some point, there was editorial discretion. There was intent. This is not magical. I want to know what part of the editorial process made it so that this could happen yet again?

Why is it gringpo constantly thinks that the White voice is always the right voice? Want to show the horrors of racism or extremism? Ask White people.

If the intent is to in this instance put a spotlight on the horrors of ISIS, why use what boils down to an Islamaphobic rant? Why not ask you know an actual Muslim person?

Don’t answer, I know why.

The White Voice is the Right Voice.

Is this magic? Where does editorial discretion come in? At what point can some editor, any editor rather than apologize and state their intent, say, well I read this line and thought hot damn this is exactly what we want to say. And take responsibility beyond trying to mop up afterward?

I ask these questions knowing the answers already.

Whiteness is always given the benefit of the doubt.

We meant no harm…

We’re trying…

I’m not racist…

Always.

Regardless of how deep the fuck up or offense, those of us outside of Whiteness who are harmed by it at most and at the least benefit from it, we know.

I know.

And y’all, right now I’m just so tired. I’m tired of feeling the need to investigate beyond aesthetics anywhere I submit. I’m tired of watching editors say really racist shit under their own names then “openly” call for minority submissions.

I’m tired of saying, not yelling or begging, of just saying, hey, this is pretty fucked up and watching people just like me get called names and attacked on the basis of our bodies, of work (well you’re not getting published because maybe you aren’t good enough) to how we choose to speak (maybe if you were nice about it..) and then FINALLY someone White says, hey them mean ass Brown folks really mean “can you pretty please listen to use Mista, we just wants a chance to shine” and suddenly, everything makes sense.

I’m tired.

I’m tired of professional organizations showing their Anti Blackness.

I’m tired of literary magazines that are full of The Right Voice.

Gringpo, I’m tired of you.

I don’t even literally talk to these publications or these editors. I’m too tired. I’m exhausted.

I just want…shit I don’t even know at this point.

The only thing I can say for sure is I don’t want to keep up my guard against this sort of thing. I don’t want to keep adding publications to my do not submit list because I don’t want to deal with their anti Blackness, their Whiteness etc.

I don’t want to see more writers I’ve liked and supported suddenly lose respect because POC spoke up.

This is not the literary world, I want to live in.

But it is the one I live in and I have to deal with that.

So I’ll be tired. I’ll write more. I’ll watch. I’ll add to my verboten list.

And I guess that’s really all I can do.

 

 


Self Promotion Post of all the posts.

august 2015

Portland, on Weds I’m going to be all up in you reading with this group of amazing WOC. Come on out, we might bite and we’re going to light up the night.

Now hopefully I’ll be able to get good video. I’m gonna try to work with my technology to make it work.

Next up, right before Self Care Like A Boss is unleashed on the world, I’ll be reading at Left Bank Books here in Seattle on the 29th. I don’t have all the details yet so stay tuned for that.

Speaking of Self Care Like a Boss our first tee shirt campaign was a success! YEAH. Now if y’all missed it and still want a shirt here’s the deal. We need to snag 10 orders of each style to go to print with them. If you want one, please for real go here and click the I still want one button and share widely.

As we’re running up on the release of the E-book here’s how to keep up. If you tweeter, follow my publisher here. For info on how to pre-order head right here and contact Milcah.

If you are more interested in my fiction, good news. If you have a couple of bucks you can head over to my Etsy store here and get some fiction! When I get home from Portland I’ll be adding some extra goodies for y’all.

Want to do more? I am currently 6$ away from a monthly goal at Patreon of having an extra 9$ a month to tuck into my savings account. Want info? Head over here.

Here’s the thing.

If you’re poor, you can help me out too. I am all in for signal boosts, spread the link to this entry or any of the others listed above. Put my name all over social media if you are so inclined.

Y’all have been so great and I’m so excited about what I’m doing. I cannot wait to have even more good news to share.

Now the author must feed herself before she has a toddler level meltdown.

Thanks again, from the bottom of my heart. I appreciate all of you who’ve been reading and coming along with me for the ride.


It Just Hurts So Bad.

So yesterday I talked about the inherent hypocrisy of White feminists who demand my time and energy, who are also very into #givewomenyourmoney except when it comes to WOC. Read that here.

Today I want to talk the emotional impact of this behavior.

Some of y’all might not know, but I started out blogging and learning to write non fiction by being a Fat Acceptance/body politics blogger. See my archive here. There is an adult content warning, but that was due to me saying fuck a lot and having fat hating trolls.

I promise I’ll talk about blogging to teach yourself non fiction writing some other time.

Now, I was very into doing this. I have studied body politics and fat acceptance since I was about 20.

During the years I spent blogging there, once I reached a certain threshold of audience size I started finding my words and my work lifted. I found it in other blogs, quoted, etc never with attribution. I chalked that up to writing on the internet, but then in the last say 3-4 years of me blogging there, I saw some folks getting book deals (remember when that was the thing?) and I didn’t want that so I ignored it.

Until I started finding my work used in books that people got paid to write, without proper attribution. I found more than one book both academic and not where a bunch of fatty bloggers were named and attributed, except me. The ONE Black writer/blogger quoted (quite heavily in some instances) without my name. No one asked my permission. No one paid me.

During this time was when I started to see and understand the depth and breadth of this type of intellectual felony theft. I saw it go down with big name White feminists who not only made money off the backs of Black women bloggers, but who then gaslight them, and turned their fans on them etc.

At the time all I could do was talk about it and witness.

Now fast forward to me being a kinda established writer.

Well established enough that people I don’t know to this day will send me notes about seeing my work used, my voice co-opted etc.

People get angry on my behalf. My best friend gets more angry when this happens then I see her over most anything.

And frankly most days I can’t even get mad anymore because I KNOW damn well that the people who think it’s okay to use my work to help sell their body image workshops, or to bolster their whatever don’t give a fuck.

They ALL identify as staunch feminists.

However, not when it comes to one Black woman.

My voice is good enough to be used, cited and stolen, but not good enough to say my name.

Now real talk.

This above all other things, I’m talking being trolled, being threatened, being told how much I suck and how fun it is to hate read my work, how terrible of a person I am etc doesn’t even touch how this theft makes me feel.

It is a toxic mix of powerlessness and just desperate sadness.

I am not famous. I’m not wealthy and most of the time all I want to know is WHY am I good enough to be used but not granted solidarity? How is my work good enough to merit, academic reference, but not my name?

Like it just hurts so bad in a way that I can’t even identify completely.

It hurts me on a level that most of the time I’m afraid to even go near because it burns.

Every time it happens all I can think about are the times when I’ve not had lunch money, I’ve not been able to pay for my partner’s medication. I think about the fact that my non winter weight coat is fleece and falling apart, but I’m afraid to spend the money for a new one.

I think of the fact that only two pairs of my pants fit and Fall is coming.

The worst is this.

Beyond the money that someone might as well have taken out of my purse, I think about this.

I have a book coming out this month.

It is the first book from MotherBlazing and a huge leap of faith in me and my voice and my work.

……

Shit, I hate to even admit this but here we go.

I’m afraid nobody (except for a few beloved long time readers) will buy my book because, well, my work is good enough to steal but not good enough to pay for.

I feel that way often, but the continual theft makes it worse.

It makes it worse that when I act on the boundaries I set for me and my work (something I had to fight for) I get bothered. I get White women telling me I’m a racist, that I personally am responsible for racism. That I am fucking up feminism.

And it never matters what I say or how I say it so keep the respectability politics in your own yard.

I can say hey, can you please not do this thing?

I can say, hey fuck you don’t do the fucking thing.

And it fucks me up.

It fucks me up bad enough that sometimes I feel frozen in place. I have SO much to say, but I’m hesitant because what if I have to get Google alerts to tell me it’s stolen? Do I want to keep feeling like I’m not even worth a fucking THANK YOU?

Rationally, I know I am worth it. My work is pretty fucking good. I do what I need to do.

But it’s in there.

And I hate it.

So this is why I stopped blogging other than here. This is why I do not like engaging with or generally dealing with White feminists at all.

I am not a big crying person.

But this, this whole thing all of it is what makes me cry.

This is what puts fear into my writing.

This is what I feel like fetters me in ways I am not entirely equipped to say.

SO next time you want to tell a WOC that we’re the problem, maybe think of me. I know for a fact that I am not the only one to have this happen time and time again.

I will continue to try and not let this hold me down.

I have a wonderful book coming out and working with my publisher has been amazing.

I am fucking reading at a Big. Fucking. Deal events because people enjoy my work.

I had my first uh, writing related business meeting in person and it was fucking awesome.

That’s all I can do right now.

I hope it’s enough to get me through.


On #giveyourmoneytowomen and hypocrisy.

I’m not using names because I don’t roll that way, but here’s what spurred this post.

Last week I had several White women decide that I owed it to them to provide a 101 anti racism education. Specifically, here are some of the things they did not understand:

  • The acronyms WOC and POC
  • No
  • Google this phrase “what does WOC mean”
  • No
  • Please stop talking to me.
  • I don’t want to deal with you right now.

Rather than posting their questions in the discussion out in the open, they took it to pm’s on facebook and spent a good hour trying to make me “teach” them.

Now I have done a bit of snooping and both of these women were all over the hashtag #giveyourmoneytowomen. Essentially, this hashtag was about women getting paid for their labor, including their emotional labor etc. Great thing. It’s important.

Now my experience with these two demanding ladies, TDL for the rest of this entry is something that happens 99% of the time when I engage with White women and race comes up.

Like most of these conversations, my “using esoteric terms” (anything in quotes is direct from what was said to me) was considered to be “aggressive, condescending and exclusionary”.

First things first.

If you are American and claim any level of social justice cred and you don’t know what WOC or POC means, you are not doing your job. If you claim anti-racism, but doesn’t know that WOC and POC are actual things, you’re a liar.

Second thing.

The real problem is not the proclamations of innocent ignorance and inability to look up an acronym on google. Those are just symptoms of a larger issue I have in mainly feminist type spaces.

The presumption that the White woman’s proclaimed innocent ignorance is pitted against the Angry Black Woman’s (me) refusal to teach and do the emotional heavy lifting for White women because presumably the White woman is too fragile, too busy fighting the patriarchy to either learn for herself because it’s just too hard to do, or to actually listen to the Angry Black Woman when she’s speaking. The presumption is that the White woman is too important to do the work by herself.

In any other instance, if I told any feminist that she’s too delicate, too ignorant to learn something for herself things would go real bad real quick. The very notion that any woman is incapable of learning or doing for herself is poisonous to feminist leanings.

Unless of course it means doing the real hard work not to be racist.

These women are the latest in a decades long list of White women who decide that their time and energy are too precious to do even the basics to learn about how to not be a racist.

Now when I say no I don’t have time to do this the respectful thing to do would be to say, hey, if you get time can you shoot me some links please? Or, okay do you have time to suggest some stuff? Or just shut the fuck up and leave me alone and go use the internet to learn a thing.

It is the epitome of disrespect and anti-intersectional feminism to me that this keeps happening.

What I’ve learned is that regardless of why (I’m exhausted, I’m busy at work, I have writing to do or I just don’t feel like it) if I the Angry Black Woman (make no mistake, it doesn’t matter what I say or how I say it, I am the Angry Scary Black Lady) say no in any form, it’s a problem

In the context of White women who are so into the idea of women getting paid for their work, unless it is a Black woman who has the nerve to speak in/on a public thing, it’s a problem.

The attitudes that ALL women of color must make time and space to gently lead White women by the hand into the promised land of not being racists anymore, is antithetical to #giveyourmoneytowomen.

It is typical of this sort of movement to on the front end have women raising their fists and getting excited. Until it means that they have to make room for WOC or 1 on 1 decide that no, it’s unreasonable for the Angry Black Woman to give a rate for private instruction.

The private instruction thing is my canned response to demands that do the work of pulling resources, putting together readings lists and talking White women through their knee jerk I’M NOT A RACIST YOU’RE A RACIST to OMG I HAVE PRIVILEGE BUT I CAN’T HAVE PRIVILEGE OMG NO YOU’RE A RACIST WHY ARE YOU SO SCARY BLACK LADY HOW DARE YOU TELL ME NO-type meltdowns.

WELL I GUESS I’LL READ WHAT YOU WROTE BUT I’M GOING TO ARGUE WITH YOU BECAUSE I DON’T LIKE HOW YOU PHRASED A TEN WORD SENTANCE OUT OF 1500 WORS.

YOU ARE SO ANGRY AND AGGRESSIVE I CAN’T DEAL WITH YOU BECAUSE YOU TRIGGER ME SO YOUR ARGUMENT IS INVALID.

All based on shit actually said to me when I’ve tried to do the 101 education for free.

For years I gritted my teeth and waded in. I fully believed that if I just withstood the initial bullshit, I could in fact lead White women to the promised land where we’d hold hands and sing Old Negro Spirituals together and then BOOM we’d have solidarity etc.

Many experiences, especially in groups where I have been one of few WOC speaking have taught me differently.

I have learned to value my own time and my own sanity and peace of mind. I have learned that my voice has value.

Do y’all have any idea how hard of a thing that was to realize?

So now, I have my own shit to do.

I have a book coming out at the end of the month.

I have readings to get ready for.

I have food to eat.

What I don’t have are the spoons to be anybody’s gentle Mammy on demand.

To that end, here is what I quote.

25$ will net you links to my own work about racism, some commentary and some basic definitions. No conversation.

50$ You get the above, plus five minutes of conversation on the internet.

80$ You get the above and can ask me ten questions.

That’s it.

Now, shockingly, once I’ve quoted my prices I get told things like:

  • You’re anti woman.
  • You’re anti white.
  • You’re the problem.
  • You’re selfish.
  • You’re why racism still exists.
  • You’re a racist.

Blablabla add in some random ad hominem attacks, some being shaded in comments on other things and there you have the magical reasons why I will not engage whenever White women demand it.

Years of trying to do everything to help women like this got me headaches and zero thanks. It got my work stolen from. It has meant I watch the women who demand my time, emotional and literary labor for free, put quotes like that one about be nice because you don’t know what type of day someone is having, they quote Audre Lorde, bell hooks and Angela Davis but this is how they treat me.

So here’s the thing.

Officially if you do this, I see you. I understand what you’re doing and why and I know that your feminism and your #giveyourmoneytowomen is fucking bullshit.

The only thing I have left to say is this.

Check yourself and your fucking attitude before you come for me.

Now in related news.

My book is coming and we’re working hard on some promotion. You have TEN DAYS to get your awesome paws on one of our Self Care Like A Boss shirts. Check em out here!

Next thing HEY Portland lovers. Check this out. I’m reading with a SUPER BAD ASS group of women for Unchaste. No seriously look!

august 2015

Click the photo to look at the facebooks page.

Now I’m off to go write stuff.

Tomorrow, I’m gonna talk more about the new book and do some more promoting.

 


The Big Dream

Another question by my writer friend. This person is a young POC writer and I’ve been delighted to be of some kinda service.

This also fits in with me really thinking about making a home for myself and my partner.

So here we go.

First a place to live. Where we live now is not terrible, but it’s not convenient for anything. Being that my partner is disabled and has mobility issues I want a first floor or small house with two bedrooms. No stairs. Laundry on site. I won’t live in another pretty much all White neighborhood again because last time was traumatic for me. So probably around the hood we live in now.

I want one bedroom to be my office. I want a big black desk. I want bookshelves. No phone. I want horror art and bones and skulls and taxidermy to decorate it. I want a couch in there and my yarn storage.

I don’t necessarily need to not have a day job.  Though I would not be at all averse to working part time and writing full time. With enough cash to pay rent and whatnots.

I want to be able to make enough money to survive comfortably and then to just have time to write without worry.

I want to be comfortable enough to know that my partner won’t go without meds, that it won’t fuck up our budget for two months if I need a new pair of pants or shoes. I want to be able to maybe go out to dinner once a month together. Or go on quick trips to Portland or up to Vancouver without scramble or months of planning.

I have some plans in the works to help make it happen.

Mainly though I just want to write.

Ultimately, I could just hole up and write all the things and emerge to socialize sometimes, then hole up and write some more.

I write the best when I can cocoon up and just go.

Time not taken up with money and work worries spent relearning to make my own clothes, and crocheting, and talking to my friends.

A little room for exploration. More of this feeling I have now that because I have Patreon and some folks have donated, I have that bit of ease that means I can write freely.

I low key feel greedy, but I want this feeling to invade my whole life.

So I’m workin on it.

I’ve got some plans up my sleeve.

Some things I’m looking into doing to create an income for me that does not come with the flavor of stress my dayjob comes with and allows me to help people.

Now if y’all will excuse me. I have more of that writing shit to do. I’m writing an essay for a new venture!!

I’m about done with that, I think. At least the first pass.

AND THEN I’m going to work on some notes for my next book which I’ll discuss later.

 


Some more how I work questions answered.

More questions. The same person asking and they really want to stay anonymous so I might get a bit vague.

One of the things this person and I have talked about is my less than stellar experience with writing groups and other writer spaces, both in meat space and on the internets.

Frankly, my experiences with writer spaces haven’t been great, honestly. My first experiences were so overwhelmingly White and cis male I did not feel comfortable sharing any of my work for the most part. And for a few years had an issue with men “finding out” that I wrote erotica and harassing me.

Later on, as I started to think more about my own identity as a human, and what I was writing and how, as I got to read more critically in terms of sexuality and the political I found a lot of writer spaces were just not for me.

I remember pointing out the inherent sexism in a story I read on a writer’s list, it was honestly coming from a deeply misogynistic place and I will say that I was fairly gentleish about it and after that, the man who wrote it was fairly short/had an attitude with me.

In meat space things haven’t been a whole lot better.

I was invited once to a meat space writing group for ladies. I went and immediately things were just not awesome for me. Things were okay for about ten minutes until I read my piece and it was kinda crickets and a lot of uncomfortable shifting. If I remember right, it was some of my first tries at crime fiction and it was just a terrible fit.

Then in modern times I was a member of that big infamous container full of women.

It was fucking awful.

My experiences there and the things said to me were the epitome of #solidarityisforwhitewomen. It was so incredibly awful that I rage quit and then cried about it because it could have been a great source of solidarity and resources and whatnot, but the racism from the color blind, to the level of swinging privilege like a bat and having women playing pinata with every WOC there was just too much. I felt so deeply disrespected by those women, I couldn’t hack it.

So honestly, I think I’ve just been burned too many times.

I think that my exposure ruined me for a lot of that experience. So I learned to write without it.

That said, from what I hear the right workshop can do wonders for folks.

For me I’ve really changed how I work in general and most of the time it doesn’t mesh well with a formalized workshop/writing group generally speaking.

That said, I study writing.

I read a lot of great books. I follow authors I’m really into on social media. I work on it. I play with it. I use things like prompts, and interview questions etc as ways to try new things and stretch my voice.

It’s why I love doing Yeah, Write so much.

So to answer the other question this person asked, no you don’t have to do shit.

The only thing you have to do as an artist is figure out what works for you.

Also in terms of access, those of us who are poor and working and have families blablabla, like we can’t always spend 485$ to learn how to submit or learn how to write a story or whatever. For folks who can, don’t stop get it get it.

A lot of us can’t and that information is out there.

What’s most important to my own growth as an author is that I learn how to express what I mean to express however I can. Be it poems, non fiction, whatever. For me that is super gratifying and having an audience is like having the tastiest most awesome you wouldn’t scrape it off frosting.

Work that shit out and write like a mother fucker.

I mean I’ve not done the conventional thing. And I’m very happy with where I’m at right now.

I mean look I have a book coming out from a brand new indie publisher who is my fucking dream.

OH shit that reminds me.

This is our shirts for SCLAB. We’re doing ONE more week of these then different stuff later.

But here’s the thing. No I’m not as famous as Roxane or a bunch of other WOC writers I admire.

But I’m doing this shit the way I need and want to and that is amazing.

So my friend, write like a mother fucker.

Work out what works.

Do the damn thing.

Tomorrow another Billy remix for yeah write.

YAY!


On Writing the Filth.

A while back someone asked me some stuff about writing Erotica and I figured I’d answer finally.

These aren’t verbatim.

First thing. This person wanted to know how I know what is/can be arousing to readers.

So this is really not how I work. My erotic stories start out like every other bit of fiction I write. There is a voice or a phrase, sometimes there is a theme type thing to explore or I will (as y’all have seen) I sometimes just grab a prompt and go.

The writing process for me doesn’t change with the genre or subject matter. If I’m writing fiction, there is a story to be told. Most of the time when I start I am not even sure it will be erotic or horror or whatever. I just go.

As for the question of how I know something will be sexy. Thing is I don’t actually. I know what want to explore and what turns me on but I can’t say the same for other folks.

Sometimes, I am working through things that don’t fit right into erotica in a neat and tidy way. I want to explore the things that are outside of just getting wet or having a boner. The tears. The internal machinations a person might go through because their own arousal makes them uncomfortable.

I like tension. I like finding the outer edges of what is generally considered pleasure and playing around there.

Next thing.

They asked about the markets and frankly, I don’t care about the erotica markets. I just don’t. I have not written anything appropriate for the market in general in probably 6-8 years. To read a good piece on E.L James and the current state of the markets go here.

I don’t think E.L James broke erotica. I think erotica was going into a weird place for over a decade.

If I look back at the first erotica that wasn’t mainstream straight stuff (Anne Rice) that I was reading it wasn’t just fap porn for the most part. There was plot and sctructure. Yes, the plot revolved around sex, but it wasn’t a Penthouse Forum letter style so there was some substance. I read a lot of non fiction sex writing as well that revolved around pleasure, body politics, queerness etc.

So my foundation is pretty good.

Now even way back when I saw a lot of things that indicated to me that erotica as a market for my own work was probably not going to be great for a long time. My characters were/are not all White with slim voluptuous (YES I see tht a lot) hips and perfect for the Manly Man’s boner. Or they weren’t the Dick Swingingest White Butches or the Dick Swingingest White gay men with muscles and perfect bubble butts..you get the picture.

The other thing that started happening was the slow melding of romance (HEA etc) and prescriptive “heat” levels in a lot of presses. That is a huge reason why I stopped being interested in the markets.

Frankly, writing with those type of deal breaking parameters just is not the business for me.

So the industry as I see it has grown smaller. We’re expected to produce a certain experience and if we’re not giving that experience or giving those covers (I’ll get to that) then there’s not a whole lot of space in the market.

 

There is also the issue of the appearance of diversity without any substance.

I was browsing an erotica press that was courting me a bit of a collection. As I scrolled through hundreds of ebooks I saw a lot of the same things.

In my, uh, bracket of heat ratings (scorching naturally) I saw a lot of thin White women in various colors of thongs. A lot of bare chested White men. A few scattered interracial couples etc.

Now that’s all well and good but, that is not something that would fit my work. Generally speaking, I’m not writing models having sex.

Industry wise, I personally have felt that there’s not a place in the market for my work for a long time. Long before E.L James wrote fanfiction and turned it into an empire.

I’m not mad that just is what it is.

For me, once I let go of the emotional dependence on having a chance in the marketplace, I have felt like the erotica I have written is better. It’s hotter. It suits my literary tastes.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but for me there has been a freedom in letting go of the idea of writing for a marketplace. It is a big part of why I don’t freelance more.

Really at the bottom of it I just want to write things. There are a lot of things in my head and writing them makes my life easier.

Same person asked me about writing the other but we’ll get to that another day.

Now y’all ready for an announcement?

It is official. August 31st my book Self Care Like a Boss is being launched into the world. In celebration of that my publisher and I have started a teeshirt thing. Come here to check it out.

Come read some of the book here.

More details as they come.

 


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