Category Archives: writing life

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.

 


Like to get fucked up and do Fucked up shit.

Yes, that is a Rob Zombie movie reference.

First (watch the whole thing) listen to this moment in my favorite documentary about Hubert Selby Jr.

There will forever be a link between Selby and Stahl for me. When Permanent Midnight came out (sorry affiliate link) in 1995 originally I bought a copy and it hung out on my bookshelf for a while because I was weaning myself off of The Beats and Henry Miller, Anais Nin and had found Hubert Selby jr.

I was given a shitty battered probably missing pages copy of Last Exit to Brooklyn by a man who was a lot older than me and likely had nefarious dick related plans.

Now at the time I didn’t know there was a connection, but after reading both, I felt them.

I was 18 years old and just starting to write fiction outside of the wanna be Henry Miller porn I was writing.

I had already been steeping myself in junky heroes. Uncle Bill, Jim Carroll (who NONE of my friends were reading prior to that movie coming out, I met him at a show for his band once and he signed my poor old shitty copy of Living at the Movies and gave me a hug because I was crying) etc etc.

Beyond the drugs there was that underlying darkness that I just craved. In the next few years (late 90s) I met and loved some drug addicts, I interestingly never had that romanticized phase of thinking about drugs like a lot of people. I did a shitload of drugs back then and knew why I was doing them.

I have this theory.

When it comes to drug use I feel like you’re either a TURN UP THAT CRAZY TO 11 FUCK IT! Type or you’re an …oh shit I must get numb type. Generally speaking, of course.

I am a turn up the crazy sort.

That’s a whole other thing.

I have a point.

OH right. Someone asked me the other day why I am so drawn to shit that is dark as fuck.

These are my people. It is in these sorts of books and bios where I started to figure out the people I can go to. I understood Jerry Stahl writing Forum letters and I understood Harry from Last Exit to Brooklyn.

I understood feeling alienated and weird. I understood something about this type of work that made me feel less alone.

It made me feel less suicidal.

It made me feel like I could write some shit and maybe it would make someone else who was just like me, feel better.

That’s why I like the dark.

That’s why I like to roll around in it, I like to live there, I like to visit and I like to create it.

It’s why I want a line from Bluebird by Bukowski tattooed on my body forever. Bluebird, that fucking poem saved my life.

These are feelings that often transcend for me. There is a desire in me to have that connection with a thing, darkness for our purposes and I don’t like not having it.

For years I tried very hard to not. I thought I shouldn’t feel so close to these writers, these themes, this type of literature because I don’t know why.

I didn’t believe I could write about it.

I didn’t believe I had a place there.

But the darkness always welcomes me home.

Sometimes there’s a light in it.

Sometimes there’s not.

The darkness is there.

Brought to you by some shit I wrote earlier today while sitting in the sun and thinking about how it would feel to be a Trap Empress.

Don’t ask.

I love y’all. Go read some of this stuff that I love if you haven’t. For srs.

Also brought to you by insomnia and me wanting to curl up in the darkness and write things and give zero shits about anything but the work.


Some musings on transgressions.

First thing. Here go read my latest. A tiny spec fic thing.

Now today’s entry is prompted by the fact that I have a cold. And a comment I got on the linked story.

Someone told me (yes they were White) that, my story has “too narrow” of an audience. When I asked for clarification my critic flailed about until I supplied their answer.

That story revolves around Blackness. Not Blackness as pain porn. It is not the neck rolling sassy Black lady story so many White people love to hate. It’s not Blackness through a lens of Whiteness. It is mythos created from a love of Blackness.

Now I had much the same type of critique about my story about Oshun. When I workshopped that story as it appears there, the critique was that it was too difficult to understand. It was suggested that I change the goddess to one “known”.

I’m thinking about these things in the context of my personal love of transgression in my work.

And given that a lot of the critique I get when it comes to anything I write about or related to my own or Blackness in general, there is this pushback that is indicative that I have transgressed.

Elves are White.

Fairies are White.

Mythos must be in a Roman, Greek or other White pantheon to be understood.

Mythos cannot be universal if it is not rooted there.

As I look at the bulk of my work in recent years, all I do is transgress. I trespass. I disregard conventions of genre because I feel like it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my work and what about it is important to me and this habitual transgression is important to me. As I look over some of my older stuff I’m actually pretty happy.

I take a lot of risks. I risk my own chances of publication by being outspoken about racism. I risk things like rape and death threats. Doxxing. Not getting published. Dealing with White tears and racist remarks.

These are risks I’m willing to take.

While yes I would love to be raking in the easy cash being a Nice Helpful Negress, I want to be who I am more.

This is mostly brought to you by my own thinky thoughts and my nervousness about everything ever.

Soon I have some new book reviews, an interview with an amazing poet and some other goodies.

Meanwhile, go watch this conversation with one of my favorite writers.


Words and things and whatnots.

Okay, I have some new stuff for y’all to read.

First this. I am over at the Yeah, Write Blog. Sweet!

Next up I busted out a wee essay about reaching racial pain threshold and used one of my infamous  metaphors. My Cardigan Has No Pockets.

Later this week new flash fiction by me too.

Wow.

So okay.

Someone asked me not long ago if I’m salty about the success of E.L James is it? That fifty shades chick.

Look, here’s the deal.

I’m pretty well aware of my audience and frankly her super fans prolly wouldn’t like my freaky ass. That’s fine.

Fuck yeah, she wrote some filthy shit and made more money than I can even imagine.

Whatever.

Honestly, I’m more upset that my financial plans were derailed by an unexpected 50$ expense for the month.

Frankly, she’s not paying me. She’s not fucking me. I don’t care for her books so I really don’t have the energy to give too much of a shit.

What else?

I’m having feels about formatting again. I think I’m just not going to submit to a lot of places that have to have that. I’ve noticed that due to the style I tend to write in, visually manuscript format just looks fucked up and like I got it wrong. I don’t know why I have such a thing about that. I really just hate to see an ugly story and I feel like on first look, it makes my submission just look sloppy.

What else?

I’m laboring on another urban fantasy story. This one was inspired by a post on Tumblr and is about a Black fairy who lives just outside Seattle, her cat shape shifter girlfriend, her Djinn heritage and a fucking dragon egg she and her girlfriend are now proud Mama’s of.

It started out just about the egg and the Djinn family heritage.

Now it’s about family dynamics, relationship changes, dragons and how does one exactly lug around a dragon egg in the modern world without breaking the rules or tricking people into thinking you’re pregnant.

Also work on SCLAB is going like hell. Come over here to check up on what we’re up to.

I’m writing a lot. Stress or no, I am feeling very good about what I’m putting down. I’m working on some other new nonfiction that is a bit of a departure for me. I’m still not super sure about it and some of it gives me the worst bubble guts but, we know that is my cue to go the fuck in.

Tomorrow I’ll post a tiny Yeah, Write story.

The rest of the week I’ll be absent because HOLY SHIT I GET TO SEE MY BEST FRIEND AND WIFEY.

Ahem.

I’m super stoked.

Okay, that’s all for now y’all. I got work to do.

 


Building a World Next to The World

I’m having a really awful day so I’m going to talk more about this project I’m doing.

I’ve embarked on a serious effort to write this Urban Fantasy novella (?) I’ve had on my mind since 2004.

Over on Patreon as I’ve mentioned, I was giving those folks first peeks and then I will be releasing things a month behind. So in July everyone gets a crack at the part I sent out to Patrons in June.

Yesterday I put up a free post, get it here where I wrote a letter about how this started, what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. Here’s a taste:

I debated about doing this and in the end, I want to stay true to my ideals about providing some transparency in my experiences. One of the things that is important to me in my work is that I can provide some bit of lasting information that a young or otherwise hesitant or shy writer might want to see.

So many authors talk about how ashamed, they are of previous works, first novels, the mythical terrible first draft. I have never felt that way. It is deeply meaningful to me to be able to show not only my long time readers but new readers how I have progressed. I am proud of how much I’ve changed and learned. I’m proud of finding my voice and looking back at things I wrote ten or fifteen years ago and saying, look where I was.

I believe there is deep value in not standing in the tradition of the uh, solitary writer who occasionally reveals that they hand wrote a shitty draft of their novel but won’t share what it was like in the trenches.

Naturally, there is the chance someone will steal it. I am willing to risk it.

Get your paws on the whole letter here.

This is not a thing I have seen other folks do so I am winging it.

Here I want to talk about something I just realized while I was talking to my bestie.

This character and story has been brewing for a decade.

First, I want to talk about my motivations for giving people access to what is basically the roughest of drafts of this thing that might or might not become a book.

When I was a kidlet writer, one of the things I could never wrap my head around was the real talk process of writing a novel or longer work. Yeah, there is ass in chair and take notes/outlines, write it long form etc type advice, but what my brain needs a lot of the time is a visual.

I need to see the thing so I can study it.

Another aspect to this is a vulnerability. It’s a very serious feeling of being naked and showing my soft little creator heart to people. More so because this is my first try at something like this and my little baby nerd heart is so all in.

Doing things this way is showing my tender underbelly, showing you (my voyeurs if you wanna be fancy) the magic behind the stories. I want to share how I arrived at decisions, what I am not doing. I want to take folks on the ride with me because riding roller coasters alone sucks.

Writing is such a solitary thing. And at the same time it is a team effort.

By team effort I mean I ask my friends questions. Sometimes not to get an answer, but just to say it out loud and answer it myself.

The other thing that guided me to this particular place is that I am terrified of this kind of vulnerability. It is really difficult for me to be completely open when something is so incredibly important to me. This story and the creation of it is my real, actual bleeding heart and I am not hiding it under a bell jar I’m showing it to people. I’m letting folks touch it and look at it and that scares the actual fuck out of me.

Things that make me feel like this, mean I am doing the right thing for me.

If it gives me bubble guts, I’m on to something.

One of the other parts of this is that I am learning to pull my world together.

This world is part of Seattle and part of many other worlds. I’m learning that I don’t have to put in ALL the shit I love. It’s not my one shot at doing something like this.

This feeling that when I write things that are so close to my heart is is my only chance to get them out has been something I’ve dealt with for years. A lot of that is poverty related. For so many years I was so busy just trying to survive, I had no time or safety to sit and write my heart out. I wrote what I thought would get published and sometimes it did.

That was gratifying. It kept me going for a long time.

Through working with MilcahMilcah, and Motherblazing Books, I’m getting there.

Through Patreon and finding that I do actually have an audience outside of my immediate loved ones and chosen family, I’m getting there.

Through reading other authors of color I love I’m getting there.

And I want to share it.

It might be a terrible idea.

This story might turn out to be trash.

I’m good.

So here is a chunk from one of the nanowrimo things that I’m using as source material. This is a whole other story from what I’m doing now and this bit will probably not be in my Daiyu thing.

I’m also considering doing a raffle to name it.

Read more under the cut.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.

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