Category Archives: writing life

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.

###

Continue reading


Standing in my Own Way.

I finally got some sleep and am feeling a bit saner overall.

I was thinking yesterday while I was half asleep and feeling dreamy about the many ways I stand in my own way.

What I was thinking about most of the day was (of course) trying harder to keep my writing life sustainable and I started down the anxiety making path of trying to figure out a.) what the fuck I mean by that and b.) why the fuck am I torturing myself about it like some asshole boss?

Over the past few years I’ve done a lot of things that made me feel uncomfortable and scared. I wrote for pay and learned how to deal with being hate read and generally made fun of because of various reasons. That was the first time anyone asked me to write about something I’m pretty passionate about for money. It was fucking terrifying and I did it. I even will call it an overall success because I saw people do wonderful things, help each other and generally be awesome in what could have been a cesspool.

I’ve learned (sorta) how to pitch. I pitched this piece and well it wasn’t awful. I have had a few pitches rejected and some ignored. But I sorta figured it out.

I’ve been trying (completely unsuccessfully) to break into SF/F and I’ve sort of had enough of that. I’ll talk about that more next week.

I am putting out a book on indie press. A new and improved version of my Self Care Like a Boss book.

I’ve made difficult decisions.

The most difficult has been to not do more freelance. So I started the Patreon thing.

And okay real talk.

I still feel some type of way about doing Patreon.

I had some very specific goals in mind when I started doing Patreon and more actively looking for donations. I have to constantly remind myself that it’s okay to ask for support and to get paid for my work even if it means it’s not stuff getting published by mainstream lit.

I’ve written things that even maybe five years ago I wouldn’t have dared to for fear that I would indeed be ruining my little bit of a career. I wrote something that reached out to people and that felt pretty good.

I’ve been working on a piece about trying to get over Poverty Brain.

And here I am stuck in that place.

Rationally I realize that counting my commute, dayjob and any writing work I do on my phone at home I’m doing 14 hour days. I am dealing with my chronic insomnia as well as I can. I’m being the breadwinner at home and sort of doing okay at it.

But, I’m running around looking for some kind of freelance thing I can do, I’m doing my get paid to click shit, pushing some referral type things because I need some things and given how rocky finances have been this year, being shit scared to take that money out of my household budget because what if shit happens?

I know that I find it difficult to write when I am in this frame of mind. I’m trying to calm my shit down but it’s hard.

I caught myself on Friday looking for a part time job. I know damn well that I can’t do that. My health wouldn’t tolerate it. And frankly unless it was pretty high paying, it wouldn’t be financially worth the extra trouble. I was able to make myself stop and think about how terrible of an idea it was.

That’s progress for me.

I’m mostly saying this for myself. I keep falling down this I’m not doing enough to support my whole patreon/things problem and I want to not.

I have shit to write.

I should get out of my own way.

Next week I’m doing another big ole nerdy book review. I’ll talk about some plans I have and stuff.

Okay that’s all back to that grind.


Rattling around.

I’m still in the throes of an insomnia cycle that has been whooping my ass but good for what two, three months now?

So, given that I seem to have expended all of my cognitive abilities and am stuggling to stay awake right now I’ll just blabber for a bit.

First thing on my mind. Yesterday, while I was struggling to stay awake at work, I made a wee zip file. Inside this zip file you’ll find a very basic submission tracking spreadsheet along with a txt doc to tell you how to use it and give you some ideas for customization. Right click and save as here.  Feel free to share that with anybody you think might need it.

That was on my mind because I’ve been doing some submitting here and there. I got a very fast rejection from Strange Horizons for a story myself and a friend thought would be great for them. I’ve submitted to them three times over the years and I think I’m putting them on my list of not again. They are just not into me.

I’m finding SF/F/H hard to break into.

Someone else looked at the aforementioned show and their, uh, feedback was just “This is too literary”. No clarification though I asked and I do recall a SF writer (cannot remember who right now) said on a podcast that sometimes people dislike their use of literary stuff in their SF/F.

But really?

I feel pretty out of place in those waters. I don’t see a lot of things written in the way I write. I do things that aren’t, uh, I dunno done there a lot. At least not that I see. I feel like some of my recent work is probably too SF/Fish for most lit mags (see also my years of writing too erotic/sexy for a lot of lit mags) but not done as Sf/F is done so not for those magazines either.

I don’t know. I have a tendency like a lot of writers to get angsty about things. More so when I feel like maybe what I’m doing with these genres is not real so I’m unwise in submitting to those markets and annoying editors. I don’t want to be that person.

That said, I am disappointed. Not because just because rejection, but more that, if SO many of the things in SF/F are so fantastical, why can’t the writing get out of the comfortable realm too?

Most of my favorite SF/F is quite literary. And I hate that I need to acknowledge that. Like why do people have the idea that if something is X genre it cannot be literary and vice versa?

I just don’t understand why that particular line has to be drawn and adhered to.

This is why I’ve put these type stories out on my own in general.

I don’t know.

I will submit to other places but fact is I write how I write.

These are things I think about. And because the submission process is what it is, I have no way to verify any of my feelings. I mean I could say that stories are just not good. But when the feedback I’ve gotten from other folks is OMG YES and the industry is Oh yeah no, it makes me feel stuff.

Especially as tired as I am. I’ll probably chew on this for a while.

What else?

OH yeah, I do keep a list of publications that are just not into me. There are a few that I’ve submitted multiple things to and while some have been like, we love you send more and others have been standard after a while I do realize no you don’t want it. I do have a process. I will go back and check rejections to see if they are form or have something else. What the rejection wiki calls a higher tier type.

There are also a few that have done things that I don’t like or do things I don’t like that I will read but not submit to.

And a note to editors, it really sucks when you heap praise and say how much you love our submissions but never publish us. Like, it makes things feel awkward and at least I feel weird.

I did get an acceptance. LOL it is for a SF experimental flash thing that had been rejected for reasons. So I sent it to a regular flash site (links on the day it goes live) and voila boom accepted after not even 24 hours.

What else?

Can I share a fear?

This is a situation that happens to me a lot.

A person reads one of my pieces at Medium or XOJane and comes to tell me they love me. That is a total win and serious yay.

But then, they find out I write random other stuff and sometimes it is not nice stuff.

I have gotten into more fucking arguments with people because they want me to only be nice Self-care Shannon or Rageful Negress Shannon and it just makes me tired. I was telling my bestie that sometimes it feels like I have to vet people I talk to about my work and that fucking sucks. I hate it.

I am not a particular kind of writer. I’m not a journalist. I just write.

I write what’s in my head and it’s pretty noisy in there.

I don’t want people to be completely unable to accept that. I feel like it loses me audience or something.

And this is on my mind because as my dear publisher reminded me recently, we’re having a book baby in a scant few months.

Like, it is a thing that is happening.

IT IS HAPPENING.

And honestly, I’m pretty fucking scared. The writing part, I got that. That I know I can do. I can fucking write.

But then I think of other stuff.

What if nobody buys it? I don’t want to have wasted my publishers time and money and effort if it’s wah wah.

What if, what if… Everybody hates me blablabla.

Also, I’m just terrified. I have feelings I’m not sure how to navigate.

So I guess I’ll just dive in.

Last thing.

At home we’re finally just about out from under the three months of gigantic bills.

To put it into perspective I spent pretty much most of my money that wasn’t my rent on just these bills. Even with our rental increase, some super expensive doc appointments for my partner Uniballer and some other bullshit we’re almost there.

I’m pretty close to being able to save more which is great.

If you want to help and you want some stuff to read now would be a great time to shop in my Etsy store. I’m not in panic mode anymore but we’re kinda scraping the bottom of the barrel a bit and I need some stuff.

What stuff? Honestly foundation and face powder and I really -really- need a new hoody to wear home at night. Next month if no further shit happens I’ll be avle to put most of my Patreon money into my Smarty Pig account for my laptop.

AND those two donors from the past few weeks, y’all don’t even know you really saved my bacon. Thank you so much.

Okay, that’s it. I’m gonna go home, have a phone date with Milcah tomorrow and hopefully sleep.

 


On Dominance in Erotic Fiction: A few Questions

I spotted this over at Remittance Girl’s Blog and have been turning it over in my brain. Go look at her entry here.

For my purposes I will de-gender the questions because that is how my mind works. Okay, let’s go in.

1. As an author of erotic fiction, what assets or personality traits do you believe make the  lead in a work of erotic fiction attractive to the ‘everyday’ reader?

I think what works in this context depends on a lot of factors. For me as a reader, there aren’t standard traits that make any character work. I really like what RG said:

I need them to have agency and volition – to be agents of change rather than victims of circumstance. I enjoy writing erotic fiction that involves male characters whose erotic attraction doesn’t come from standard measures such as physical attractiveness or wealth

For me what I feel hooks myself as a reader and other readers is that agency. I personally don’t care for things to just happen, someone just happened to spank someone or want to get spanked or whatever. When I write a character I am not just making them so sex or kink can happen. I write them from the perspective of them being a being who has a need. Or I write them from their voice through who they are to what they want and how they get it.

That isn’t to say they are always fully 3d in each story. I do like to read and write stories where all you get of the lead character or narrator is a slice, a piece or a shadow. That’s one of the joys of using discretion in creation.

2.) In stories regarding a Dominant and Submissive, why do you think readers have an impulsive reaction to be attracted to either or?

I think a lot of readers of erotica are just like readers of anything else. There is something they have a desire for and something about a story speaks to them. For me, I can be hooked by a great line or idea. I think a lot of the reasons why we read what we read rely on those impulses or long standing desires.

I think readers react because that’s what humans do. Some of us are attracted to things that will make us feel warm and fuzzy in the pants. Some of us like something more challenging. I think the why is pretty simple, people like things. All different things and that is what is kind of great about humanity. Sometimes.

Personally, I like a buffet style approach to my reading. Sometimes I want mcdonalds fries and a shake, sometimes I want filet mignon. I don’t think my taste for either is mutually exclusive.

3.) a.) What is it about domination that the characters themselves find appealing? b.) And what do you think is it about the concept of domination that readers find appealing?

a.) What is it about domination that the characters themselves find appealing?

I think in my work it varies pretty widely. In one I can think of, it was mainly about the fluidity of power exchange. I personally really enjoy writing doms in ways that let them explore their own feelings in terms of why they are doing what they are doing. In others, I’m thinking of a story I have sitting in my to be edited folder. The dom in the moment does not understand why he’s doing what he’s doing. He feels a compulsion to do it and part of what I find interesting about this character is that underlying his desire he’s terrified.

b) And what do you think is it about the concept of domination that readers find appealing?

That I don’t know about. I know what I find appealing. When it’s done in a way that I find both arousing or interesting from more than an OH SPANKING perspective it’s appealing. It might not turn me on per se, but I will be interested. I will say I think a lot of people are drawn to the things that seem to be or feel like are beyond their own lives.

Isn’t that why a lot of us read fiction? To spy on other worlds and lives? Well, that’s why I read fiction. I am essentially an incredibly nosy..er let’s be nice and say curious person. I want to know what’s driving a thing.

I also enjoy a diverse range of expressions of the concepts of domination. I’m not personally into the generalized whips, chains n bitch boots. I am far more interested in things that aren’t quite so showy. I have a story in my drafts where the domination is done through under the table knee squeezes and glances. I love that.

4.) What kind of connection do the submissive and dominant characters have to have? Is it both physically and mentally?

I don’t believe there is a prescriptive “have to”.

In  my meatspace life, I have experienced connections that were both exclusively physical or mental. I believe that there is no correct way for these connections and relationships to be done or written.

Part of why I enjoy writing submissive and dominant characters is to explore the ways in which people can connect. Somewhere, probably on my dead PC at home, I have a story where the connection is lost in the present moment, but present in memory and focused on a piece of a razor blade.

There is a vast expanse of ways to explore how people connect with each other. I feel like D/S can have such a rich diversity of ways these relationships work. I am very greedy and just want to see more.

I want to see more writers explore a connection that is mental by necessity. Long distance lovers, disabled lovers etc.

D/S as it might take place in other worlds. There is so much room for conjecture and exploration.

Okay, while I was thinking about this I also was thinking about more of the reasons I’ve mainly abandoned the industry side of Erotica.

This is no shade to the asker of these questions at all, I do feel like there is a bit of a prescriptive tone and that seems to go along with a lot of what I’m seeing in the industry. Things must adhere to what I feel are fairly narrow parameters and I honestly think that’s terribly boring.

Personally most of what I’ve been writing in terms of kink is outside of these constraints. I have a deep burning desire to explore desire, dominance and submission through lenses that are not so strictly stuck in gender roles or ideas about what does and doesn’t make someone dominant or submissive.

One of the stories I have in my Etsy shop right now (the one titled Call me Lolita) is not D/S in a classical sense.

This story is hetero only in that both characters ID as cis male/female.

However.

This story at the bottom is about gender fucking and trust.

In a deeper sense it is about the depth of connection a man has with his dominant lover and how that connection and trust enables him to redefine masculinity for himself. To find the place where in more traditional kinky stories it’d be called “sub space”, what he feels is the place where he can be a girl. In this case his submission is not just submission. For him it becomes liberation from the prescriptive ideas about gender and masculinity.

So when I say that I’m interested in the wide open areas of writing kink and writing dominant characters and submissive characters this is what I’m talking about. Yes, I want folks who read it to get good and hot in the pants, but I also want to drop these things about gender roles in their ears.

This is the part of writing erotica that I missed when I wasn’t writing much of it.

I want the complications.

I want to go back to when I was 18ish and reading amazing Queer erotica that just took me places I didn’t understand and that made me uncomfortable.

I want to distill that powerful combination of discomfort and arousal I got in those early days (think old school Black books) and spread it all over everyone.

I don’t want to say I’m transcending but it feels transcendent.

This is the type of transgression that fuels me both as a writer and a reader.  This is how I think about not only the erotica I write but everything. I want to be the sort of writer who might take you someplace that makes you uncomfortable, but I want you to want to go on the ride with me and stick it out.

 


Why I am Still Going to AWP Next Year.

First, I encourage y’all to do some googling because I cannot rehash a lot of stuff, but I’ll give you one link to get started. Start here and I warn you there is a lot of ugly art involved.

While I was waiting for AWP to make the linked decision I started thinking very hard about boycotting along with a lot of other folks.

I calculated how expensive it will be, travel, hotel, books etc. And it is a lot of money. I will probably spend almost a month of my dayjob pay.

That money could do a lot of things.  New tech for my partner and I, it could go into a moving fund, it could do a lot of things.

I was very close to not going. Very, very close.

And then I saw this:

AWP must protect the efficacy of the conference subcommittee’s work. The group’s work must focus on the adjudication of the 1,800 submitted proposals, not upon the management of a controversy that has stirred strong objections and much ill-will toward AWP and the subcommittee. Perpetuating the controversy would not be fair to the many writers who have submitted the proposals.

These disrespectful mother fuckers.

As if those of us who weren’t acting out of “ill-will” but justifiable concern that someone who engages in and profits from playing with racism and using literary Blackface would be in that kind of position of power.  I will not pay to have anything to do with that person.

I got angrier.

I’m going.

I am going because I want the people in charge to see that in spite of their anti-Blackness I am still there. I will have things to sell. I will meet other authors.

I will read as much as I can.

In spite of how nervous the crowds and everything make me I will be known. I will be seen. I will not be shuttled into the shadows because AWP values freedom of speech, but not protecting their POC members who also pay to be members from racists.

I also have an idea that I might want to do some guerilla reading. I will tweet my wee heart out. I will make as much of my presence known as I can because I want them, and the writer in question to know that their actions have not scared me away.

I want to make people I KNOW have not supported or even shown a little bit of willingness to do the work of anti-racism that their lack of action hasn’t made me docile.

As I said to MCAG on twitter last week, I’ve got a heart full of gasoline and a book of matches. My boots are on this ground.

Not just because of Vanessa Place. Fuck, Vanessa Place and her ilk.

Because this is my life.

This- literature and writing means more to me than everything.

I am not a concept.

I refuse to hand over my life, my history, my pain to Whiteness, so that it can be regurgitated and fed back to Whiteness.

If I have to go to mother fucking AWP and stand in the middle of the book fair sobbing because of all this it will happen.

If I have to read EVERY single poem I’ve written about how this shit make me feel I will.

I will be seen.

I will be heard.

So fair warning.

AWP I am coming.

I will not be cowed.

I will not be silenced.

I will also probably do some dedicated fundraising to help with costs. In the meantime scroll down to your right for my new masterpost on supporting my work.

 


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