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.

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Hustlin updates and stuffs.

So I know it has seemed bleak but, here’s the thing. When I figure out how to work, I fuckin work.

The method I’ve adopted for now is write like a mother fucker, accept some freelance, submit to literary shits, get rejected rinse repeat.

My other hustle is my Patreon. Let’s talk about that a little bit. I don’t make much at Patreon, a couple of hundred bucks that pays for some bills. It is one of my favorite things. Some of y’all are new so let’s talk bout what I’m doing there. I’m writing an ongoing urban fantasy very queer Black n brown ongoing story. I’m calling each novella length chunk a Cycle and my goal is to just write in this world (a magical Seattle and currently a few other spots) and play.

When I talk about the Daiyuverse this is what I’m talking about. It is where I go to play. I am creating a large magical system, I am connecting POC cultural and diasporic spiritual magics. This is not vaguely European fairyland. It is absolutely Queer and not a White centered world and I just love it. Part of what makes it fun for me is that the curtain is pulled all the way back. We’re into cycle 2 and I’ve left in my own editorial remarks, mistakes, do overs.

This is a naked first draft. This is (to paraphrase Jerry Stahl again) me naked and fucked up at 4 in the morning writing and it is wonderful. I don’t ask for a lot, I don’t do tiered anything. Regardless of how much you are in for, you get usually a little letter and about 3k words of the verse. Sometimes I toss in extras, WIPs, essays or whatever. Once life is settled I’m thinking about doing some Patron only videos about writing or stuff.

It is great.

Now let’s talk freelance. I’ve just made my re-entry into freelance and I am so proud of the piece. You can read it here at Wear Your Voice. CW for racism and some hard shit. One of the reasons freelancing can be the shits for me is that, writing easy stuff is not really my lane. My fluff gets deep regardless of subject matter. I want to write about fuckin eyeliner, I talk about Western Beauty standard bullshit.

As emotionally taxing as my non fiction can be for me to do, it is just who I am as a writer and human. It me. I fought it but, it is just who I am. The same day the above piece went live, I wrote this lil thingy on Medium because some folks were bothering me. I spat it out and kept it pushing which is how I work.

I toss little jokes in with my seriousness because I’m a goofy mother fucker.

One of the things that all the marketing advice for writers in the world won’t give you is that sweetness of connecting with your audience. I know who y’all are and I fucking love the shit out of you. Yes, I do talk about how/when/why my audience doesn’t give a shit but, I know a lot of you do and that’s deeply meaningful to me.

WHen stuff like this column by a fave magical being I know named Misha went live, I read it and got teary eyed at the bus stop because when people tell me that something I said touched them, the fucked up hustling isn’t so fucked up. I’m still poor and not in the best of health but fuck y’all, I do feel the love.

While there has been a pattern of fuckery in my literary world, there is a bigger pattern of when my words do what I want them to and work themselves into another persons heart, that makes it better. When (this happened a while back) a shy young Queer person on the bus, whispers did you write at XOJane about self care to me and when I say yes they light up and say thank you, that is the realest shit. When I get dms saying, yo that poem was fucking fire.

I think a lot of my life has lead me to this point. I’ve made the decision not to play the recommended game. Fuck that game. I’m not going to compromise, I’m not going to shut up, I’m not going to filter myself so I can make money.

I will still freak out about money because I’m poor. I will sometimes write lengthy shit about how much I just want to sell some fuckin stickers or whatever. That said, I can hold that and hold space for doing what the fuck I want to do and writing what the fuck I want to write, because that is who I am.

It me y’all.

My dreams may not be lucrative and won’t buy me new make up but, I believe they will fulfill my soul and that my friends is what I want.

That’s all for now. I love y’all.

OH yeah new loveletter later today about trusting your process and taking a leap. Come sign up. No spams. All love for your hams.

Some Free Advice for Editors. V Eleventy Million.

The partner Uniballer and I almost have our wee fambly moved.

SO Imma talk some shit.

Buckle up babes.

Lately part of me decompressing after doing move related stuff has been research and note taking on what’s going on in the freelance world. Something I keep seeing is bothering the shit out of me.

If you are an editor for whatever publication and are seeking to diversify what you’re doing asking for what you want is great. It is amazing.

How you do it matters.

I’ve seen no less than about ten calls for QTPOC to contribute around places. What isn’t great is when the same editors can’t seem to name or come up with a single QTPOC they’ve published to serve as examples of the work they want. I feel like it leads to some of us side eyeing said editors because, if you have really not published us, why would we trust you with our work?

I had an editor with a call out contact me and on the face of things I was a little titillated. Largeish byline, good money. What I wasn’t so thrilled with was that the subject matter suggested to me had zero to do with what I do. This is an editor I know somewhat casually through friends and when I asked them why contact me with the request and after two weeks now no answer.

Something else I keep seeing is in um, groups of women and women id’d folks and femmes, I keep seeing white women big upping each other or trying to grab at opportunities being offered to QTPOC specifically. Stop.

If you are someone interested in expanding who you publish there are things to think about before you start taking work from folks or asking for it.

  1. Don’t come out of the gate patting yourself on the back.
  2. If you aren’t already publishing QTPOC for example, maybe think about why.

Let’s stop there for a second.

#2 means you have to be about some shit and not just in it to say, LOOK AT THE BROWN PPL I HELPED or whatever white saviour bullshit. #2 means, you have to get very uncomfortable with your own biases.

What biases?

Let me look at my own back catalog of ghostings and rejections.

I have a longer essay that is written as both memoirish, exposure and an object lesson in how we folks in the Black community MUST do better in order to save our children. I use myself as an example. One rejection said that it was “too focused” on Black people and that I should rework it to try and make it more universal.

I said no thank you and how dare you.

Another rejection came after some go rounds with other editors who were not comfortable with some of the subject material. Was it the childhood suidical ideation? Nope. It was me framing the religion of oppressors as part of why my community is fucked up.

Got a note to submit to a magazine “something really intense and personal that you do so well” (not a direct quote) I did. Ghosted for um, let’s say four months now.

Here’s the thing. Don’t ask for Blackity Blackness, or make it known that you are open to it and then be too uncomfortable to deal with it. I had one editor reject that piece because they “didn’t know how to edit it without coming across racist”.

Y’all.

If you are familiar with a writer enough to say, YO I WANNA PUBLISH YOU. Don’t be shook when they deliver.

I’ll be honest and say the piece I’m talking about needs some extra work but y’all, shit is good.

It is rough.

It will make non Black folks uncomfortable and being uncomfortable is okay.

If you are really into diversifying and using your privileged gatekeeping ass position for the good. You can’t just publish the Nice Negroes/Queers/Brown folks.

On one hand, I suppose that when a lot of our most famous voices write in very particular ways, it is very easy to use them as the measurement of what’s good in terms of stuff outside of your lane. It makes sense.

However, stopping at reading the most famous among us is not going to really help you out in the diversifying your editorial stuff. Some of what you find will in fact hurt your feelings. Some will come from folks who might not seem like the type of folks you want to just hang out with or squee about.

So at this point the decision is, is what do you really want?

Do you want the cachet of saying, you published X famous marginalized writer?

Do you want to really start dismantling the whiteness that is the publishing world?

Do you want to take a risk?

That is where you should start before you ask for shit you ain’t ready for.

Experiences like the one above are really a huge part of why I don’t freelance in a more ambitious way.

Frankly, y’alls. I am not famous enough to be acting up like this. I’m not. I’m not famous enough to say no. I’m not famous enough to be so choosy and so mouthy.

I know I am likely as has bee prophecied by others ruining my tiny career. That’s okay. I’ve accepted my role as Purple Lipstick Wearing Loudmouth.

I have some folks I like working with and trust.

So-

Fuck it right?

First draft funsies. CW VIOLENCE. SERIOUSLY.

No really. Violence, allusions to sexual violence. Murder.

This is some srs business.

If you’ve known me for a long time, you know I love a good Dark Violent Femme revenge crime story. The first one I ever wrote way back in 2011 is here at The Flash Fiction offensive. Yes, for real content warning. That shit is violent.

What I’ve put below is a pure first draft. I was noodling and wanted to play.

I had some very specific aims here but, to find out about it you’ll have to wait until Saturday where I will do a follow up and deconstruct what I was doing, how I might edit it, etc.

SO AGAIN

LAST CHANCE BRO.

THAR BE VIOLENCE AHEAD.

About 1600 words, unedited. Right from my brainpan.

#

Two things. Had he been smarter, there would be no story. Second thing, the wrath of a woman with ideas about behavior modification is truly a beautiful thing. Let’s set the scene, shall we? 

Our players: 

She: Brown. Braids. Lip-gloss. Booty shorts. Books. Cigarettes and a mysterious coffee cup. 

He: Brown. Bald. Tragically unaware. Lacking game. Doomed. 

Setting: Quiet street in the hood, around 3 AM. High summer.  

~ 

She always sits on her stoop late at night in the summer, a book in one hand, coffee cup at her elbow and a steady chain of cigarettes until she’s done or tired or whatever she does. She knows He prowls. He’s new, not one of the hood dudes. Not one of her neighbors or somebody’s cousin. Not the him she waits for at night. 

He skulks. 

He creeps. 

She knows. 

She ready. 

He makes his approach She sitting in her usual spot, in her usual cute booty shorts, her Timbs unlaced, cigarette dangling from the corner of her mouth, lookin’ like a whole ass snack.  

“Hey, how you doin’-“ 

She shakes her head, not bothering to look up from the book in her hand. 

“Nah man. Go on.” 

And so, He is curved and salty about it but, like any apex predator he’s patient. He can wait. He’ll shoot his shot another time. 

Days and nights pass.  

He is swift enough to understand that She is a night owl. He can see that his opportunity will come.  

He skulks. 

He creeps. 

She knows. 

She ready. 

He knows from asking around that she ain’t strapped. A few men give him vague warnings about her being crazy but, it doesn’t matter. He knows how to handle a woman.  

Tonight she’s posted up, no Timbs this time, pajama shorty shorts on and flip flops. She reaches to her left and her long fingers grope, then flutter on a soft pack of cigarettes. That drags her attention away from her book and she looks down at the empty pack like it insulted her Mama. 

“Fuck.” 

He smiles. 

He waits. 

He is ready. 

She rises, leaves her coffee cup and book. He watches her walk, her booty almost claps and he wants her right now. He waits. Nobody is around, the bar is closed, the baseheads are all off having basehead dreams. The only light around the corner is the little bodega, the mouth to the alley is ready.  

He is ready. 

The thing about not being from the neighborhood is that, you don’t know shit. Not where the drop pieces are, not where the head stash is, not who might be up and who might not be.  

She knows. 

She ready. 

He sees as she exits the bodega, she throws a peace sign over her shoulder and calls back. 

“No fuck you Gordo. You still owe me ten from the last time. Man, don’t make me tell your Mama.” 

The whisper of profane Spanish and Gordo’s laughter trails her as she walks back up the block. He waits in the mouth of the alley, rubbing his fingertips together. He can smell her, cocoa butter, smoke, coffee, Black girl deliciousness.  

He is fast, not basehead fast but fast enough to grab a handful of her braids just as she passes by. He holds the knot of hair at the back of her neck like a guide and turns her into the alley. 

“Don’t be so rough.” 

Her voice is raspy tonight, husky. Her breath is warm, she likes her coffee sweet and it makes him feel good.  

~ 

Two things. Had he been smarter, there would be no story. Second thing, the wrath of a woman with ideas about behavior modification is truly a beautiful thing. Let’s set the scene, shall we? 

SETTING: Alley. The witching hour. She is looking up at Him. If he were a smart man, or a film man he would recognize the look. The villain emerges through a downturned chin, upturned eyes and the prettiest wet pink flicker of plump tongue. 

He sees the wet on secret wet and thinks, yes. He turns her loose and she walks further into the alley. 

She doesn’t turn around while she tucks her cigarettes into the waistband of her shorts and peels off her tank top. She lets him admire her back as she walks deeper into the shadows.  

He is hard. 

He ain’t ready. 

He is too busy following the idea of a tramp stamp riding her lower back to see what she’s doing when she bends over and reaches under a pallet.  

She moves like a shark. This is her night, her hood and the bat in her hands feels like home. She is Queen Bitch and she plants her feet and swings from her wide hips.  

By the time he registers the low arc of the bat, his right knee explodes and he folds like a paper bag. The pain is enormous, it radiates from his knee to his hip to his balls and he howls.  

No one comes.  

She ready. 

She smile. 

“Listen baby.” 

She licks her lips and lines up for another swing. He swears he can hear the bat whistle as it goes over her head and crashes down onto his hip. He can see her bounce of her pert, chubby little titties and the titanic jiggle of her thighs as she hits him.  

When the pain registers, it is a raging ball of fury that takes his breath and makes him cry for the devil. The pain obscures her fine titties and the idea he started with. The pain rolls through his pelvis like lava, dripping into his balls and making his bowels loose and his asshole clench. His teeth chatter and he can hear sound coming out of him but can’t identify it. 

He is watching her watch him, her head tilted, glossy lips screwed up. 

“You an old head, you know what they say.” 

She swings again and his ribs, dear Jesus his ribs. The breath runs out of him as if fleeing the pain. He can’t breathe, he can’t speak and all he wants is for someone, anyone to save him. 

We could have saved him, had he been a wiser man. 

“Don’t start none.” 

Another blow, she breaks his arm.  

“There won’t be none.” 

She steps back and her pretty face is lit from within. Glee and malice give her a glow under the fuzzy dim light. He sees her teeth, she’s smiling. Everything is going to be fine. 

For her. 

While he writhes he manages to get through his pain and tears to speak. 

“Please, I got money.” 

He paws at his pocket, he’s got a roll. He had planned on treating himself to a bottle after they were done, maybe breakfast later. A little for rent and a few other necessities. She nudges him onto his back and he wails, she squats with her thighs wide open. 

Her shorts pull tight into her crotch and the plump outline of her pussy is clear and close.  

“Go ahead and look. That’s what you wanted.” 

He looks, even in his state of extremis he has to look. 

“Listen, I ain’t gonna kill you.” 

His relief is shaky and he starts to cry.  

“Thank you, I ain’t mean nothin, I was only playin.” 

She laughs, sweet and high and joyful. 

“Oh I know. But, I still don’t like it.” 

She straightens up, drops the bat and pulls her shirt back on. Grimacing she rolls her left shoulder, lip curled. 

“Softball injury. Well, bye boo.” 

He relaxes. He knows once a little bit of shock sets in he can crawl to the bodega and maybe get some help. That is not to be. 

We know what her whistle brings. 

It is late, but not late enough for all of the night creatures to be in bed. We know that the worst of the worst of night dwelling. She knows him, everyone knows him. He is fucked up, a walking burn mouth corpse but, he is from their neighborhood and knows his place. He eases out from behind the dumpster, jiggling foot to foot. 

“Hooo boy you fucked with the wrong bitch boy, I tell you what.” 

He whimpers, confused and uneasy. She looks at the stranger. 

“I was nice once. You got this?” 

The man, the new man, the scabrous oily creature with the perverse gleam in his eye nods.  

“For real?” 

“For real.” 

They smile at each other.  

We see that the man with the evil smile, is the thin burnt version of her. Her smile is not quite that evil, hers has an edge of fun. Mischief. Prettiness. 

“Yeah. I can keep the money?” 

“Course. Get rid of this shit and I’ll see you at home. Come home today. I’ll make you chicken and waffles.” 

She opens her cigarettes and they smoke together while he begins to understand. Let’s watch him, he knows he has met his death. He should have stayed home. What we know, he is learning. Too late, of course.  

She walks away, her booty almost clapping. Holding her dirty hands away from her still clean tank top. The man on the ground looks up at the Grim Reaper. 

“I-“ 

The Grim Reaper shakes his head, we shake our heads, around the corner Gordo shakes his head and she walks into her house smiling. 

“That’s my fuckin’ sister man. My. Sister.” 

His eyes close.  

Our eyes are open. 

What he should have known, we know. 

~ 

Two things. Had he been smarter, there would be no story. Second thing, the wrath of a woman with ideas about behavior modification is truly a beautiful thing. Let’s set the scene, shall we? 

Our players: 

She: Brown. Braids. Lip-gloss. Booty shorts. Books. Cigarettes and a mysterious coffee cup. 

He: Brown. Bald. Tragically unaware. Lacking game. Doomed. 

Grim Reaper: The one she waits for at night. 

Setting: Quiet street in the hood, around 4 AM. High summer.  

Art Life Musings- Be That Shit my Dude.

Let’s talk about some stuff on my mind today.

Looky here.

So if you’ve been here a minute you already know but for the new folks, hi. I am a self taught human. By traditional mainstream markers, I’m pretty uneducated. I barely graduated high school, was a near drop out, did not go to nor do I intend to go to college. I know, let it sink in.

Very early on, probably by the time I was 16 I saw academia for what it was/is and nah son. It ain’t for me. At one point, I fully intended to go the academic route. I got accepted to some really great schools with programs i was into. I was leery but had decided on one when my financial circumstances (basically my parents were like LOL good luck paying for that) changed and I was entirely unable to do financial aid on my own (it is complicated) and had no other real options.

I only wanted to go that route because I thought I was supposed to and it is what my friends were doing. What moved me at that age, I wasn’t being taught. I had to go outside of what was available to me in my immediate community (remember, I’m old there wasn’t really internet and I barely BBS’d) to learn about actual Black history that wasn’t tainted by anti-blackness, to learn about womanism and feminism, to learn about sexuality and gender, to learn about sex, and most importantly how to write.

Until someone handed me the term autodidact, I just thought I was smartish for where I came from but too dumb to do anything else.

Now with that as background, understand that at this point (WOOWOO almost 41) I realize, that this is just how I function and trying to teach myself how to do something I want to do is gonna make me act weird and feel weird and I’m going to go through this repeatedly because I love teaching myself new shit.

This is on my mind because I’ve been dabbling in memoir. I think I mentioned that a while back I dunno.

The memoir I’m putting my butt in, is more in the vein of my lit Dads than it is, the ciswhitelady healing journey to look at poor people or whatever memoirs that are ubiquitous. Grimy. Not really verifiable in that I ain’t a snitch and I don’t know a lot of legal names and I have a bullshit memory. So I’m trying to weave these stories in a very intimate way.

Intimate and really dirty. Not dirty like crotch tingling dirty but, dirty in the grimy hood/street shit happened.

This is grime in winged liner, queer as fuck etc.

One of the reasons I’m struggling is I’m trying to balance out how hard I code switch, how much I want to tell, and not trying to polish it or soften it for publication. I’ve not read a lot of things like this, of course there were the gay books/memoirs I read in the 90s that were by and large by white cis men.

As I mention in my tweeter thread, I learn a lot by seeing and then shaping what I want to do. Baby see, baby fuck it up and do it their own way.

Hard as this type of learning is, it is the most rewarding for me. I believe in my ability to fuse the grime, femme, queer, etc into something that someone will read and feel me. But I also hate it because it is fucking hard.

I’m also trying *SO FUCKIN HARD* to teach myself to write about art. I’m working on a thing that is about (might be my first braided essay) art, outsider art, being shaped by what I thought that meant, and the included Whiteness and having my heart broken and having to smash my own little niche out of the world and shit.

This has been so hard. I am angry and upset about it because I admire people who can write about art so much. I LOVE reading esoteric and academic shit about art, I don’t understand it but I love it. And I want to get this out so bad, I just can’t find the way.

I’m almost there.

This is also why bloggin has slowed down. I’m really deep in figuring some shit out.

Honestly, if I’m not blogging as much as usual this is probably what is happening to be honest.

What else?

Oh smol side hustle update.

I made a whole sixteen cents on Medium for Feb. For up til now for 2018 across various platforms, I average about 2-5 views. On Medium if I put up something new I get a fairly low read to click ratio. Doesn’t matter the content.

So I’ll likely be putting less behind the paywall because frankly after that initial bit of cash, it is turning out that I don’t have a paying audience there. Or no, actually I don’t have an audience who already pays who is willing to support me in that way. We’ll talk about that cause i have theories.

So yeah.

That’s all.

I will be putting out a new loveletter tomorrow babes. Check out the archive here and sign up, I promise you’ll like it.

Thoughts on Expensive Lit things

Or why no I’m not applying to ALL of those conferences, residencies and whatnots.

Before I get into it, understand this is no shade to those who can. I’m going to talk specifics to me and my lived life.

Ookay. We’re going to talk about why the famed residency etc type things that you apply for with work samples and cash are not really going to be a thing for folks like me. When I say folks like me here’s what I mean:

  • Poor
  • Breadwinners
  • Caretakers
  • etc

Now when I’m talking cost here, I also have to take in the following:

  • Do I have paid vacation time from work?
  • Can I use it?
  • Do I have sick time accrued in case I get sick?
  • Can I -get- that time off?
  • How long would it take for me to save to cover costs if a scholarship isn’t granted?

We’ll assume that for the spots I’m mentioning, I get into them.

So let’s start with four of the most famous that I know of. Breadloaf. Hedgebrook. Clarion West. And a personal holy grail Vona. We’re going to pretend I’m applying for all of them.

So all in, just to apply I’d need to have available:

105$. (+if after an early deadline an extra 25$ for Clarion)

Now because I’m a practical kind of potato, I’d also only rest easy if I had the deposits available for potential acceptances:

I could only find deposit info for Vona which would be another $200.

Now. In terms of work for me that is almost half a weeks worth of wages. At a total of 330$ is more than a month of groceries for my family so it is a significant chunk of change.

Now let’s say I get in in the same order as above here are my fees:

$3,395 BL

$0 for H for a residency.

$4,200 for CW

$1100. V.

Except for Hedgebrook each of these is more than my two week take home pay paychecks. So for a base just me getting to do the thing, is in general about a month of wages.

This doesn’t include transportation. Hedgebrook is in WA but, to get there I would spend at least another 100-200$. Getting a Lyft from my front door to where I work costs me about 30$ not including a tip and that is ten miles. Hedgebrook in Freeland WA is more than 40 miles from where I live. To take buses that far north (I know from experience) can take up to six hours. It is 3-4 in a car.

If we calculate travel for things not in WA, it’s going to be at least $300-400 bucks.

Now I’ve been told in the past that great success requires great sacrifice. I have also been told that to get myself to these things, presuming I got accepted I should do the things, fundraise, save money, side hustle. The community will have my back.

In reality, not so much.

Let’s use my trip to AWP2016 as an example. That year, I was named as being part of some bully squad because I loudly and frequently objected to AWP giving primacy and promotion to racist poets. I was supported in this. A lot of people really wanted me there. About 9 months prior I started fundraising. As is my habit i was very clear about needing help and support. In almost a year I raised about 200$. The ONLY reason I was there was because of donated membership and a lot of scrambling and debt.

The fact of it is, even to move I’ve been fundraising for over a year and just recently got to about the quarter mark. My side hustles including things like dollar stories, sold nothing. My merch shop sold nothing. The community does not support me or my work in a material way historically. There is a very small number of people who do, including folks at Patreon. This number has remained the same for about five years or so regardless of what I’m offering or why.

So I’d have to rely on my day job.

To go to let’s pick the most expensive and say Clarion West, that would be more than 2 months of my wages. That is without paying rent, buying food, providing my partner his medication, not buying my own medication just straight paychecks.

if you’re new, I am the breadwinner in my tiny famfam. My partner is completely disabled and gets the least amount of assistance available. I make less than 25K a year take home including my side hustles. I am a working poor person.

Now in order for me to attend a few weeks of something I would have to be able to save vacation time for more than two years. However, only 40 hours carries over yearly where I work. So I’d be able to use that to pay for 5 days. My sick time accrues more slowly and this instant, because I got sick in January and had to miss a couple of days, that would give me another 8.42 hours.

So five days and 8 hours.

So I would have to go without pay or income for the time of the workshop entirely. I would also have spent about 2 months of income to do this.

Even with a scholarship to cover tuition, that would not change missing time off of work for which I could lose my job. I would still go without income.

Some folks say, do the one day workshops. These cost $150. Let’s say I want to go to the one Nisi Shawl is doing. April 8, 2018, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. So it would cost me, 8 hours of vacation time, the equivalent of about 9 hours of wages. In transportation the location is approximately a 2.5 hour (first part during rush hour) ride for me.

Outside of the initial layout of cash, let’s estimate that the real life cost would be about 3 times the cost of just paying to put my ass in the seat.

I say all of this because this is the reality of telling folks that these programs are radical and accessible. Financial accessibility is a thing. This is why, I don’t enter chapbook contests, why I closed my etsy store, why when I say I can’t/won’t do this stuff.

On one hand, fuck yes shit like Vona is amazing. I know alums, many of whom have gone on to huge success and that is fucking awesome.

Unfortunately, banking on a future maybe success is not enough for me to starve my family. I’ve said before, poverty ain’t romantic. Food insecurity, not romantic. I have fiscal responsibilities that mean, I can’t in good conscious put a maybe success ahead of putting food on the table.

There you go.

Be That Shit: My Hustleverse

*This appeared in a longer version at Patreon*

Let’s talk about how my writing hustle breaks down by readership, interest and earnings.

First a snapshot of my follow counts across various platforms.

WordPress as of the end of 2017:

631 followers.

7769 Views

143 likes

23 comments.

My most read post was my where to read my work post. https://shannonsdreams.wordpress.com/where-to-read-my-work/

At Medium:

1.1K followers.

At the end of December, I had a total of, 498 reads views, 248 full reads (on Medium views means someone clicked reads mean they spent time and read the thing).

In general, my Medium nonfiction pieces get about a 20-30% read. My fiction or fiction related work on Medium is lucky to get 1-3 reads a month and zero interaction.

So being that I’ve used those the most in 2017 let’s talk about what it has shown me.

In trying to work out how to make my artistic life more sustainable, what to do with my Self Care Like a Boss concept and work and trying to yanno live, I’ve been keeping steady track of what works where, who reads what etc.

Now I am not fishing for compliments here so please don’t, this is what the data has shown me and reinforced over the years.

When I collect up the hard stats on what happens when I do stuff, a lot of the time it doesn’t look good. My fiction and Self-care stuff does terribly across all platforms. My poetry on occasion performs well at Ink Node. Overwhelmingly, when I publish or post work myself, the support of folks who have often asked for said work is nil. No retweets, no shares, no clicks, no reads.

I’ve tried a long list of methodologies and there’s the usual FB fuckery in terms of what shows up when but, there is legit a circle of about 20 or so people who click, read and/or share. The same group for years now and who have mainly been the ones to keep me from ragequitting.

The thing I spent most of 2017 trying to make sense of is this.

If a large number of folks tell me, HEY PLS YOUR WORK PLS MORE!! Or are gassing me up in public but, the actuality of numbers shows me the opposite, what do I do?

This has extended a bit to Patreon. When I was polling prospective Patrons or trying to rather, nobody really answered except to literally on my survey tell me to stop begging. The thing that was really fucking me up for a while was this huge discrepancy in what has been asked of me as a creator and what has been given to me.

For a lot of 2017, this discrepancy left me feeling both used and unseen. This doesn’t even touch the free labor I’ve been asked for in terms of things like FB arguments, random dm’s from white folks demanding I teach them how not to be so racist etc. This feeling comes from my own community at large.

I had to learn to accept a few things.

First thing is that this is a real thing. Years of analytics from way back when I was a semi-popular fat blogger and got a book deal dangled in front of me to the occasional agent related hey I like your work –but- notes from social media etc to these days when I’m sort of methodically shotgunning what I do with work I don’t necessarily believe will sell that, I’m just not gonna be the one if I put it out myself.

After feeling shitty about it, let down and just uh, wrong as in the wrong sort of Black person I decided fuck it. However, as fuck it as I feel sometimes, it still gets me down.

I think for the work I in particular do, this is just going to be a thing.

I’ve accepted that in this particular timeline, my most idealized dreams about what I do with my writing will likely not wind up being sustainable. The biggest component I need for that to happen just is not there for me at all. At least not on the level I need in order to be both sustainable and be able to spend the time, spoons and money on stuff.

So here in 2018 I’m spreading my hustle a bit.

The big thing is I decided not to go ahead with my plans for Self-Care Like a Boss. The main reason is that the level of work it would take for me to get it all the way I want it, and the cost of hosting and paying folks for guest blog posts (another thing we’ll get to why I don’t do so much anymore) was just too much for me to foot the bill.

That decision took months of crying, writing, cryng some more and a lot of bitterness because when I started publishing and talking about self-care, well people went fucking in on me. My first self-care book sold a good number of copies, I still have folks who talk to me about it. The second version wasn’t my best work and I failed at it and thus the book didn’t go well.

That said, when I got the blog going and other things and I wasn’t asking for money the support I was counting on, that I was told from various sources was just not there. Not for merch I designed, not for me presenting that work as an independent creator. Real talk, it was devastating and really made my vision for SCLAB (and the domain I bought) just unfeasible. It was a hard decision but, I had to make it.

Beyond the feasibility, the thing is this. I’ve had to not only acknowledge but embrace the fact that I do not possess the spoons to produce work on the scale that I used to. I have had to really take in and live with this. I may want to provide my community with ALL OF THE GOODNESS I have. But I can’t do that without support. Well let me put it this way, support that doesn’t evaporate when I ask for something.

In terms of production, I’m still doing okay. I write a LOT of shit that never sees the light of day because it sucks. As I mentioned in my blog, I have a roster/short list of editors I’m comfortable with and will be doing some more freelance work this year. I have a pretty clear idea of what I want to pitch/sell and what I want to put out myself.

Some of that work is going to be Old Queer Yelling at Clouds and I’ve accepted that. Some of it may earn me some coins behind the paywall at Medium and any coins are good coins. I am gonna write what the fuck I want to write regardless and I have to adjust my expectations of what that looks like for me.

This is where I want to talk very specifically about y’all.

 

[redacted Patron only section]

As bad as I want to be the high dollar mega super star, I want to write what the fuck I want to write.

I’m learning to work with my output. What’s amazing to me is that unlike in years past, my fiction writing is much slower and more deliberate. Less in the planning way and more in the, I have a goal with a story and am thinking carefully about how to get there way. My non-fiction is kinda flowing far easier. I’ve got subjects on deck to tackle that I’ve been afraid to previously.

2018 I am setting myself free artistically speaking.

I’m going to work the fuck out of my Weird Voice. I’m gonna write and make some ugly shit, some of it will shiny up nicely other stuff well….some stuff just gets put away.

I’ve got a lot of stuff I want to try out creatively and I’m going to because yanno, life is too goddamn short for me to be torturing myself because I fail at being a “successful” artist.

That’s how it is going down.