Category Archives: writing life

On that Grind.

Okay.

Seriously I am on that grind this week. I’ve been writing like hell.

I’m trying really hard to figure out how to balance all the things I want to do and make a little bit of cash in the process.

Shit is fuckin hard y’all.

In other news I am plowing my way through a superb reading list. I’ll have some new reviews up soon.

Um whoa so this happened. Aside from being in excellent company it really touches me that my sort of off the cuff I want to write something today post made sense.

Over the years I’ve come from skipping meals to buy Poets & Writers or to buy “good” quality typing paper and renting time on ancient PCs at Kinko’s and shit to sometimes making a little money, learning how to unsubscribe from the fancy monied author mythos.

I have had to do a lot of stuff that has been hard. Figuring out how to balance my ethics with my need to eat. For instance when I opened my etsy store I had a rash of weird White dudes wanting 3$ Cuckold interracial porn. I’m talking dudes wanting like 10K words with these shortass turnarounds.

Once upon a time I would have done it. Enough 3 buck porns could someday buy me lunch or shoes.

I had to sit with it and do what other authors I’ve seen do. I had to set some rules and after a lot of self flagellation (How DARE YOU turn down actual income) and struggle I did this:

If you are looking for custom erotica here are the rules.

1.) My rate is firm at 25$ a page. This includes a first draft, final edit. Put together with a plain cover and available as a pdf/doc/docx file.
2.) I am not heterosexual. I will write hetero but it is not my forte.
3.) Do NOT send/offer to send me photos of your genitals I will ban you.
4.) No, I will not barter.
5.) No incest, underage, bestiality will be considered.
6.) If I am not into the idea I will not take the commission.
7.) If you want a sample of my work, buy one.

Currently I am not looking for/accepting custom work. When I am I will post a special listing.

Honestly y’all. Do you now how hard that was for me to do? To really put down in words that I will not suffer foolishness and that my porn is worth professional rates?

That started me on a path to wanting to Free myself with freelance work. I started grinding out research and things and realized that some parts of a freelance career are just not things I do well. Aside from that, I just don’t want to write for some pulications who would probably take me.

Pump the mother fuckin breaks.

I honestly had weeks of arguing with myself about it because as we know, there is a lot of pressure for especially WOC to go be in ALL the things and break through the whiteness of certain markets and everything.

I have been just, fighting with my desire to earn that money and those thoughts. The what right do have to not want those opportunities?

What kind of nerve do I have when I need money for shit like shoes and underwear, to not want to take the full leap?

WHO THE FUCK IS YOU.

And then I keep thinking about things my publisher Milcah has said to me. I keep thinking about what we’re doing with the book at Self Care Like A Boss. I think about what my best friend has been saying for almost 20 years. About when my partner is just like YES DO THAT SHIT.

I think about the authors I love the most and how many of them joke about low book sales and write shit that moves me.

I am the writer who write really fucking terrible copy for really fucking terrible heteronormative sex toy anon/affiliate websites because I wanted to save up for shoes.

I am also the writer who has turned down some amazing opportunities because they would make me feel bad in my heart.

I am book pregnant with the best book baby daddy Milcah. 

Way back when I was about 14 and dreaming about being an infamous writer, I dreamed about a life of liesure paid for by literary patrons.

I thought that was how I wanted it.

Looking back I realize that I would not be a bad ass writer right now without the struggle. If I had no struggle, if I didn’t have to write out all these fuckin feelings, if I hadn’t spent SO much time poring over literary magazines I couldn’t afford and low er high key learning how to absorb everything I need from as many sources as I can find that are free.

I would not cherish the lessons I learn from the books I buy.

If I wasn’t struggling with shit a lot, I don’t honestly think I would be so comfortable with how I am figuring out what my work is worth and who I want to work with.

One thing that goes through my bones is that easy doesn’t teach me well. It never has. If I didn’t have to work shit out I would not work it out.

I am on that grind.

I AM ON THAT MOTHER FUCKING GRIND and unlike when I was a baby writer, I value it. I love it. I am here for it.

Being ass deep in the struggle means I have found the path to my people. And I love my people. My people love me.

And that is pretty valuable.

OH okay a few more things.

I put up a story that is so close to my heart I can’t even. It is a slipstream story involving a wee Haitian girl and Hati and his brother. There is magic, the beginning of my need to explore how cultures can intersect, collide combine and exist together without throwing the brown folks under the bus. It is a bit more expensive than other stuff because of the sheer amount of work it took for me to get it done.

Here is a big ole taste:

“Mama was hurt, Papa was dead. She gave me water in a bottle and papers in my bag. Then she told me to run. She said I was too small and that they would hurt me. She said, Bernadette, you run you hide girl. Hide, hide hide.”

She trailed off, the counselor waited her out.

“I ran. Like a woof-”

The counselor arched an eyebrow.

“A woof? You mean a dog?”

Bernie glowered at her.

“No, woof, you know woof they howl like this at the moon.”

Bernie tipped her head back and let out a full throated mournful howl.

“Ah, wolf.”

“That is what I say. And then I found a place under concrete it was dry.”

[redacted, go buy for more]

“Ayti.”

It was a drawing from a Norse myth, the librarian smiled at her and nodded.

“Would you like to read about Hati?”

Bernie nodded, her eyes lit up.

In her heart, she chanted to the Universe, Ayti, Ayti Ayti. In her heart Bernie was mourning Haiti, the way her Maternal Grandmother had taught her. To think and feel the name of a thing or a person so as not to forget. She could not bring herself to sing the names of her parents, that hurt too much. But, when she spoke Ayti, Ayti, Ayti in the secret voice of her heart, it sufficed.

Next week I will get into how this story came about, that it was inspired by Roxane Gay and a woman I met on the bus.

Okay this  is way too long I need to calm all the way down and go do some editing.

Get Bernie’s Warg here. 

OH also per usual this is not kid or ya lit. This is grown folks business.


A New thing and some other things.

First thing my last  comment on my now infamous Paris Review Post is up as the featured essay in Literary Orphans.

The title is a nod to 2pac. This song in case you don’t know it.

What else?

I’m working on some new non fiction. An attempt at humor about sex work. My failed career as a foot fetish ho. Also in the pipeline some queer flash fiction, some more non fiction this time about my relationship with Western Beauty Ideals and how I came to reject them outright.

Shit even some poetry.

Speaking of poetry I have a new one up at Ink Node. 

I’m still working on my freelance shit. Y’all.

I find the whole process so intimidating. I have a collection of resources and some basic how to shit and I know I just have to fucking write the shit.

OH I will have some book reviews coming up as well. I’ve read some good stuff and I will probably dedicate an entry to the Sherman Alexie book I’m reading because several of my favorite of his short works are in it. It is just so damn good.

How about some more stuff to read?

Check out this interview at The Rumpus with poet Danez Smith.  Ugh yes. Fuck yes. Yes.

My Muse and beloved dear friend writer Remittance Girl posted this the other day about Bad Men.

This bit:

Do you ever get the sneaking suspicion life would be a lot easier if we shut up about our erotic fantasies? I do.

Just read it.

I am going to talk about this at greater length later but a lot of my work is rife with various evils. Some of them erotic, some not. It is what moves me and I want to go in about it because I find it really important to talk about. For now go read that.

OH y’all. So I am obsessed with podcasts and I gotta shoutout Mick Betancourt. A.) He’s a funny mother fucker. B.) he’s posted some tidbits of his memoir in progress. Just go look. Listen.

Also this is an old episode but another of my favorite authors Craig Davidson was on the LA Review of Books. Check it out. 

Tood Robinson from Thuglit posted a cool little Q&A type video on facebook. If you like your lit dark and grimy you for real need to read Thuglit. I’m serious and I’m not just saying that because I was in it once. Just do it.

Now a bit of self promotion.

As ever (I am getting better about keeping it updated) you can come like my official author page on Facebook here.

You can follow me on twitter @weebeasty but I warn you I ain’t shit. I livetweet things like my period and when I get street harassed. So yeah. That.

Read ALL the XOjane Self care articles here.

Milcah and I are working like hell on Self Care Like a Boss ahead of us birthing the book. Follow along here.

Keep your eye on the etsy shop. I have some new smut to add soon. I’m talking gender bending, Daddy/Girl/, Literary fetish deep dicking type shit. Until then a current favorite from readers is Bite An Erotic Tale. Remember this is grown folks lit.

Here is a taste:

He starts to speak and I lay my hand over his mouth and shake my head.

“Oh no. Not tonight. Shhh.”

I tilt my head forward and use my other hand to yank the collar of his shirt down to expose a patch of his fuzzy skin. I have to stand on tiptoe and use the hand on his mouth for leverage to get myself to the right height and angle, when I’m satisfied I lean in and bite.

OKAY enough. I have work to do.

What are y’all up to?


On Lovecraft, horror, holy shit racism and writin thangs.

I first read a Lovecraft story more than twenty years ago as a young teenager. I cut my reading novels teeth on horror and discovering Lovecraft was like finding a new home.

Except, I couldn’t really be home because Lovecraft was racist as fuck.

Like holy fuckballs even when I was a “colorblind” young teen in a  super white environment and friends told me it was racist, holy fuck he was SO FUCKING RACIST…ahem.

At that age I was way better at compartmentalizing the racism and just kind of hunching my shoulders and getting through it because I fell in pure love with the mythos Lovecraft created. Elder Gods? Squiddy nightmares? All those words he used to denote the madnesses and things?

Fuck to the yeah.

So fast foward a bit.

In my 20s I wrote some Lovecraft influenced fiction with some friends. We used Lovecraft’s mythos as a bit of a blueprint and went wild. We created new races of monster, we played with noir and vampire horror and things.

Move ahead to the last couple of years. I have had this deep desire to write Lovecraftian type fiction with my own flavor. So that means a lot of POC, a lot of genderbending, the gay, lots of things.

My problem has been as it has been with returning to writing horror at all was how to get my shit in there, without feeling gross.

If you’ve been here for a while you already know I am a horror fanatic. I am a horror nerd of epic proportions. From basic fan squee to gettin real nerdy about the psychology of horror and shit once I get going it’s hard to get me to stop.

Horror from the industry side, so much racism, sexism and grossness when I dipped my toes in and lurked a lot of the industry side message boards and things I just got sickened and gave it all up.

Evidence of this can be found in my bucketload of novella drafts, notes and ideas.

Part of how I function as a writer means that I can’t always write through everything. And for years I could not write things that were horror or related because all I could think of was all the bullshit.

Also, at that time I was still really into the idea that mainstream publication was the way to legitimacy as a creator.

Fuck that.

Now that my position on legitimacy and industry bullshit has changed I am walking back into writing horror.

Going back to my Lovecraft story I have been nursing this idea of the Nyarlathotep.

Uh, it’s gonna get real nerdy from here on out. Fair warning.

So Nyarlathotep is canonically a “dark” Egyptian man, a salesman type. Showboaty.  This bit from Wikipedia is pretty relevant to the vision I am playing with:

Nyarlathotep, however, is active and frequently walks the Earth in the guise of a human being, usually a tall, slim, joyous man. He has “a thousand” other forms, most of these reputed to be maddeningly horrific. Most of the Outer Gods have their own cults serving them; Nyarlathotep seems to serve these cults and take care of the deities’ affairs in their absence. Most of the gods use strange alien languages, but Nyarlathotep uses human languages and can be mistaken for a human being.

Okay so in my vision Nyarlathotep is reborn into the modern world and has come to fuck shit up. She in my head looks something like this man but a woman:

egyptian

So you know not Hollywood’s EVERYONE EVER WAS WHITE version.

Incidentally, I frequently use google image search so I can have a picture in my head for a character or setting etc. We’ll discuss it another time.

There is my Nyarlathotep.

Being that she’s Egyptian dealing with (in that story) an American, I mention she speaks slowly. I use that not only to give the reader a downlow clue to slow down but because every Egyptian I’ve ever known speaks very quickly.

When I got the idea my Nyarlathotep was more fast talking greasy type but the slowed down type I find scarier.

Now the language. Lovecraft was very wordy. Not that I can’t be a windbag on occasion but, I wanted to cut it down.  Chill it out a little and modernize it without losing some of the great language he used.

A fine line to walk.

Lovecraft has a very particular vocabulary. See this list for reference.

I worked really hard to put in some of that Lovecraft vocabulary so that my fellow lovers of the Elder Gods would be like, oh I see what you did there. And other folks would just get the creeps. See here from the above link:

The best-known R’lyehian fragment comes from HPL’s story, “The Call of Cthulhu:”

ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn

HPL translates this as, “In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu lies dreaming.” Using this dictionary, however, a more literal translation is, “Dead, yet dreaming, Cthulhu waits in his palace in R’lyeh.”

My goal with this piece was to take a very small box *parameters of Yeah, Write*, a concept *Nyarlathotep*, remove the racism, add in my flavor and see if I could keep it sexy and creepy. Mainly because I like sexy and creepy.

I feel like I succeeded in my goals.

This is also why Clive Barker is such a huge influence on me. I really love when there is the sensual terror and erotic body horror in scary stories.

Now my Nylarthotep is not scary but I got some creep in there.

I realized I need to gently get back into the scary.

Next time I do a Lovecraft thing, I might take a new direction. Maybe some straight up erotica that isn’t necessarily tentacle porn.

SO yeah.

See I told y’all I nerd real hard. This is not even the tip of the iceberg with my nerding.

But I’ll stop now.

 


Dolla Dolla Bills Y’all. The Unsponsored Writer.

Apparently a lot of writers are talking where they get money etc right now.

I’ve read several of these articles and I must confess to a lot of eye rolling.

So how about the view from the bottom?

99% of financial support for my life comes from the job I have been working for more than a decade. I don’t make a lot of money.

I support my disabled partner. I live in Seattle. I’m pretty poor. Not dire straits.

Back in the day the only times I made money writing was about 25-100$ writing smut. The most I got paid was by a couple of very specific fetishists who liked how I wrote their fetishes.

I have made very little money writing fiction. I got paid for non smut fiction from, uh, shit it was yonks ago. But I opted for payment in the form of getting an anthology. I got paid for being in Thuglit.

I write for XOJane for 50$ a pop, which is apparently pathetic according to a few regular commenters.

So all in I’ve maybe made a thousand dollars (I’m over estimating a bit) in ten years. Also counting content mill work, ad copy, adult blog/toy patter etc.

Now the eye rolling, I kind of don’t give a shit where other writers get their money unless we’re talking waht publications pay and that sort of thing.

A lot of these articles seem to miss the privilege of having someone be able to financially support you while you struggle. If you struggle. Or the privilege of being hot on the internets so name recognition gets you a bit ahead.

A lot of these articles don’t talk about writers like me who don’t need to hear about how blessed someone is that their spouse/family/whomever makes enough money to support them so they can write full time and work up to making money.

I feel like folks like me need to know how to care for ourselves when we work 12 hours a day at a day job.

Managing stress when bills are late, kids need medication etc etc.

I find a lot of advice about writing that assumes that it’s a good choice to decrease hours at a dayjob, or that you have a safety net, that you won’t wind up homeless if you decide to work a dayjob less.

Now how do I fund this shitshow?

Currently my webhosting fees and formerly my Duotrope and AWP memberships are out of the household budget. Usually the months I pay for that stuff I don’t have an entertainment budget.

That being what it is, I actually haven’t reupped either my membership to Duotrope or to AWP. I can’t afford to go to AWP this year so it’s an expense I can skip.

Funding my writing means I figure out when I can lose sleep, I don’t subscribe to that many literary magazines, I have to decide if I’m going to try to work on fiction that I will probably not get paid for is better for me right now than trying to get paid for some non fiction.

Do I push myself to freelance more even though I know that I’m just not that great at it?

I don’t buy a lot of books when they are new even if I am in them. Shit I STILL don’t have a print copy of any of the things I’ve been in except for Thuglit.

I don’t do writing retreats.

I don’t do seminars.

I go to work. I write catch as catch can.

If I’m able to healthwise I write between 2-4 AM.

Otherwise my writing is unsponsored.

Or I should say my writing is brought to you by insomnia, sweat and poverty.

This is why I have the etsy shop. 

This is what it means when I post on whatever social media at 4 AM, that I am on that grind.

So yay if you’ve got it like that. However I won’t be reading any more articles about it because it has nothing to do with my life and any advice that goes along with it assumes a lot of privilege I don’t have.

So there’s the view from the bottom of the heirarchy.

I can also say that after all these years I’m very proud and very astonished that I still do this. Through near homelessness, financial crisis, stress on a level that caused me to brown out in a hospital room waiting for my partner to get out of emergency surgery and me not being sure we’d have a home to go back to-so you know real shit.

All that and other shit and I’m still doing it.

And sometimes, my work reaches out and touches somebody. Somebody has wept, somebody has laughed, somebody has had to go masturbate, somebody has had an AHA moment and that while it doesn’t make it all better it ain’t bad y’all.

It ain’t bad.


Suttree by Cormac McCarthy A review.

 

A new favorite book.

A new favorite book.

I just finished this book and wow.

Okay first thing is I’m already pretty into McCarthy’s work. Blood Meridian is one of my favorite book. We know I like it dark and grim and  he does it.

I think Suttree might now be my favorite McCarthy book. Read the synopsis here. 

The thing about this book that I love is how well McCarthy captures the casual racism of 1950’s Knoxville and also captures that singular usage of racial slurs that are not backed by implicit hate. They are there, a lot but not overdone and not as some authors make the mistake of doing always used in a very hateful context.

The Black folks in this book behaved appropriately. In their own neighborhood and establishments while they were a bit deferential, they weren’t shuck and jive negroes that populate other books.

There is something very specific about that time period and how Black and white people who are within the same socioeconomic (or close) class interact that was captured so well. It wasn’t the bucolic oh look they could ALL get along, but it wasn’t abject fear and horror.

I LOVE the language and usage in this book. McCarthy is a master with language and this book is no exception. The finesse of using the vernacular of the time, of the Black folks of the time, of the poor uneducated southerners and then every now and then slipping in this beautifully used 7$ vocabulary gave me chills. I am an absolute fool for the ability to manipulate language that way and this book, god damn it.

Even the language around how Suttree interacts with a black queer man up through the end of the book is palpably both loving and a little grossed out.

The whole book has that magic in it, the rhythm of the plot is meandering and at moments turns very sharp but never in a way that takes the reader out of the story. Shit happens and like most of McCarthy’s work there is a lot of darkness in this book and the darkness makes the beautiful moments glitter.

Often when I read books during this time period a few things happen. Often they are all White utopia’s where your average White dude spent a lot of time not saying nigger or worrying about race relations, the conflicts of the time are ignored, or it is Black folks pain porn in one form or another. Or it is LOOK THEY WERE FRIENDS AND LIVED PEACEFULLY TOGETHER IN THE SUPER DEEP SOUTH AND POWER POLITICS DIDN’T PLAY INTO IT AT ALL…*ahem the help*.

I am not old enough to have lived at the time but, I was very blessed to have had access to Black people who did. Some I was related to some not.

There is a lot of nuance in race relations during that time especially in the deep South. Beyond that there are shades of racism and realities that to write that time period successfully while including interaction between White and Black people, it’s just difficult.

This book will be difficult reading for some. The racism, the poverty, the grim winter and general darkness. For those who aren’t deterred, if you’re going to read McCarthy read this one.

It meanders beautifully. Some have said it is overlong but I don’t agree. The language is so beautifully done, it could have gone on more and I would have been happy. The POV shifts are done masterfully and smoothly.

This book reminds me of the blues, roots, bluegrass etc music I like. Some of it is so damn sad and terrible you want to lay down and cry. But it’s done so beautifully you want the pain.

So to wrap up.

Read this fuckin book.

That’s all.

I’ll be back with some craft notes maybe tomorrow and next week I’ll be back in Yeah Write with more flash.

I also want to mention that my dear friend Dena Rash Guzman talked about some recent lit world nonsense and said some nice stuff about my work. Get it at Luna Luna.

I feel like I might talk about subversion again. And the general lack of it in the lit world right now. I also probably want to talk about my poetry. I have some feels and whatnot.

AND (shit I have a lot to do, I’ve been sick for weeks and am way off my game) I really want to discuss some important feeling decisions I’ve made of late in regard to my writing.

So yeah LOTS to talk about.

Right now I’m gonna go try to write my first op-ed type thing and chug some mighty fine ass coffee.


Well 2015 has begun

So officially I’m hard at work on Self Care Like A Boss.

I forgot to pay my Duotrope dues. I low key am not pressed about it honestly. If I am to get my money’s worth I need to finish a pile of work so I am not going to pay/submit until then.

That said I already have one rejection. Nobody but me likes my tiny tiny flash stories. That one is a wee thing that has gotten itself five rejections so far? I’m not super worried about that either. At least every 8-10 months nobody publishes a word I write. Then there’s a flurry (often the same stories that I’ve been flinging into the universe) and then nothin.

So is the life of the short fiction writer type.

I have been sick as a dog and got some real bad news last week. I’ve been alternately depressed, pissed off and in general out of sorts.

And naturally writing it out.

So what else am I working on?

Lots of many fictions:

  • Tiny flash story about prostitutes.
  • More poetry about women.
  • Short story about a dry addict at an important crossroads.
  • Some horror about exorcism,
  • Some lesbian blood/knife related kinky smut.

There are other bits and bobs as well.

Right now I’m trying to not totally burrito myself in sorry and awfulness.

The only way I know to get through bad shit is write and run through it.

So what am I reading right now?

A few things.

Self-Loathing & Other Forms of Cynicism: Volume One by Laramore Black. I have read a bit of Laramore’s writing and enjoy it a lot. This collection is dark and gritty but there are little moments of real prettiness that just delight me. I’ll review when I’m done.

Also- no wait how about some pictures? Some stuff from the .50 cent book cart, gifts, and my wee haul from the Thriftbooks sale.

Books from the 50 cent cart.

Books from the 50 cent cart.

 

From the Cart.

From the Cart.

This is from myf avorite piece in Will Work For Drugs by Lydia Lunch. About Lifelong insomnia.

This is from myf avorite piece in Will Work For Drugs by Lydia Lunch. About Lifelong insomnia.

Lucky for my back they are not ALL in my bag right now. I have a terrible habit of doing that. Carrying like 3-5 paperbacks of varying sorts, notebook, pens, tea, emergency tampons and other writer survival things.

I also just read this piece over at Shotgun Honey and it is lovely. Go read it.

If you use Spotify this is my writing playlist. I love spotify so hard. It’s almost as good as having my own personal collection to hand.

I think that’s all for right now. I have a banging ass headache, my nose is running and I’m supposed to be doing dayjob shit.

I’ll be back tomorrow for Yeah Write. 

OH shit I almost forgot I also have a newish poem up at Ink Node. Another in the Queen series.

So that’s all for reals.

Later y’all.


Holy damn a new year.

I’m running on fumes right now. If you could see my gauge for things like REM sleep and whatnot it’s real low.

My insomnia not withstanding it is 20 mother fucking 15. Weird.

SO come and join Milcah and I at the Self Care Like a Boss Blog. 

Go open that in a new tab and I’ll be here.

I had to write an intro post and it was way harder to do than I had anticipated. While I have blogged for years and occasionally written the essay about myself they have all been around issues.

I tried to come at it from a memorist type perspective. Why the fuck didn’t anybody tell me how hard that is?

I had these ideas about how awesome and wonderful I’d be. I thought I knew what I wanted to say and then….yeah no shit was hard.

It wasn’t even that long and it felt gut wrenching. It was all the shit I’m scared of and feeling and I did it.

I had this moment while I was working on it (whilst in the throes of a migraine and 10/10 would not recommend that as a method of work) I had this little list in another window. Shit that I can’t write about yet because I don’t know how. Or I’m just too scared.

I knew I was poking the right stuff when I felt vomity while I was working and then wanted to crap my pants after Milcah published it.

After that I’ve decided that I will dip my toes in memoir but I’m not ready to jump all the way in.

Of course that means I’m going to try it.

I may or may not publish the memoir flavored stuff but my little roach brain who is also a sadist says do it.

I suppose that is 90% of my writing mission this year. Write that shit.

What else?

I don’t even know y’all. I would like to finish some new fiction. I have some stuff to shiny up and launch into the space.

What are you doin?

How was your new year and stuff?

Is your body ready?


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