Wherein the Poet dreams of the most lit release party.

 

There will be a lot of video links here.

I’m dreaming of my ultimate literary event. My event. So also things might get NSFW.

Picture it:

An assemblage of grown ass folks because I don’t write kids lit. First the house lights come down and there’s a stage and a pole. A THICC stripper comes out, her act starts with this song. Thicc means: A descriptor meant to designate a woman with a shapely figure and is typically somewhat chubby.  They often will have an hourglass or pear shaped body with emphasis on the shape and size of their buttocks and thighs. It’s my party, I want fat strippers.

Start with some slow grind.

Maybe if I was dressed right we could do a little duet to something like.

And I would run it more like a burlesque show. No live tipping just some rapt attention for some amazing stripping.

Then a little break and a reader. Possibly someone who writes erotica or something else super sexy. Then we’d need to bring things up a bit and I would have my own personal twerk team. I’d really need a multi gender, multi sized twerk team in all black and everybody in booty shorts. And I would need a lot of my people who love twerking as much as I do to be up front to cheer.

Post twerk team, I would need to have another break. Maybe for a little twerk contest? Poets twerk. Readers twerk. All butts all skills welcome.

We’d wind down the stripping and twerking and I’d read. I’d read some poems and maybe some porn. I’d do an ask me anything. Or maybe I’d read from the work being launched and tell a story. I tell funny stories.

Actually wait, I think after twerking there’d be an intermission. Time for folks to pee, smoke, grab a nibble or something to drink or medicate.

THEN I’d read and storytime.

After that, I’d post my chunky ass at a table and sign shit. I’d likely stay put because mingling at these events never fails to freak my whole shit out.

And I’d have the most fabulous witchy art hoe outfit. Titties out. Face beat for the Gods. Very glam, a bit creepy.

I mean………..if I’m gonna fantasize.

If the world was my oyster I’d have some live music too. I’d invite artists I love and have them have tables of stuff to buy or trade. I’d invite zinesters and sex workers. Have a big ole bazaar of awesome and sexy.

I’d ask friends with patreons and things who couldn’t be there to send me business cards to tuck into swag bags.

I wouldn’t want it to be only about me but about us.

That’s how I dream about the literary life I want.

The literary life I imagined is full of sexy beauty and me having the ability to support my community by providing events or just space to say, hey you like my shit, check out this shit here.

That’s where my brain is at right now.

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When the Big Guys Fuck Up

Hello world.

I had a tiny unplanned hiatus that was mainly due to stress and then a nearly week long cluster headache attack.

SO now that I’m all back first up an announcement.

I made a little splash re-entry into freelancing. I made my debut at Wear Your Voice Magazine. My first listicle and the first time I’ve written about race in a while. Predictably, a lot of White folks are mad as fuck at me. I’ve gotten some weirdly violent dick pics, I was informed by a friend that I got put on a list of dangerous racists.

Yeah okay, y’all do you.

I’m good.

Working with WYV is pretty great. They have been on my bucketlist of pubs for a while and I’ve yet again hit literary fuck it and I wrote the listicle and sat on it for a while and then voila. Opportunity came a callin.

Now that I’m doing a wee bit of freelancing let’s talk about some shit.

First read this.  

There have been more than a few people writing about the big house publishers ghosting, ripping them off for both money and ideas etc and y’all….

Looking at (this includes private info shared with me that I have the ok to talk about but not in specifics) the dates of a lot of what’s finally being outed, during my darkest moments of feeling like the biggest asshole impostor ever, this was happening to other writers.

Me being me, I believed a lot of my failure was down to simply how much I suck. Of COURSE a publication would take my pitch and give it to someone better, of COURSE when I did land something, the editor disappeared and further emails went unanswered.

While I was busy burying myself in anxiety and depression over my failed career as a freelancer, I saw people who truly have a habit of writing and publishing trash. Not fun this is silly bus time reading but gross, racist, ableist, just ALL the terrible things trash. I watched them post those bylines proudly and then have complete meltdowns and tantrums if they got pushback.

I saw a lot of the same people pull that, then go out into the world to crow about how bullied they were for their work.

And then there was me, wanting to expand my little horizons, write some stuff.

Y’all this shit fucked me up so bad. I still am feeling some fallout and I think of how I felt then and y’all, it wasn’t JUST ME.

So if you’re in that place, it’s not just you. Yes, sometimes shit happens but the real point here is that sometimes there is bigger shit happening.

That’s all for now.

Be cool to each other and coming soon I’m gonna have a big ole nerdy post and a few more announcements.

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

To answer an age old question, often I get my ideas from tidbits of things.

I tend to refer to it in my head as my fly on the wall inspo.

I get a lot of inspiration from tiny pieces of things, day to day happenings on facebook friends statuses, tidbits of conversations I overhear when I am commuting, the sound of an accent on a particular word or a voice. I notice and remember the hitch in how someone walks.

I tend to get specific inspiration from particular voices, I hear them as the narrators/characters as I write them. It’s almost like I have an audiobook while I’m writing the thing. The voice often just starts yammering and I need to write to keep up.

The other thing that happens is a full story just craps itself in my brain. It is like, what if this, this and this and then this, GO GO GO GO GO GOGO.

When I was a young potato writer, a lot of the time I thought that was the end of the game. Voice(s) poop out the story, I catch as much as I can of it on paper and then it is done. Now, I realize that often the initial poo is just the framework. It is the uh, well, we know I’ll murder a metaphor so let’s go with continuing the poo theme.

The first rush of getting the story down is like having gas. First is the bubble guts and then, PFFFFFFFFFFT.

So initially it is super exciting and feels amazing. I mean, is there anything more satisfying in life than having your belly blowing up or having bubble guts and FINALLY, whoosh. You fart. You feel your belly deflate. Maybe it makes a hilarious noise, maybe it is just such a relief you want to lay down. That is how that first expression of the big idea.

Okay, I’ll stop with the poop.

There is a physical component to this particular type of inspiration for me. I feel pressure in my body to get it out (like a fart), then the relief of getting that part done and then often I feel like I HAVE to get to the tinkering, the rewrites and the remolding of the story until it is what it wants to be.

I feel the pressure in my belly (like right now I’m constipated as hell) and while I work on these stories, I squirm around, trying to get into that magical comfortable place where I can find relief. The act of writing becomes a mix of the intellectual and the physical. I ride the space between bodily doings and brain doings.

It isn’t really a dignified state. I feel very animal and out of control in this state. Whatever alien voice or thing that the story needs to be, takes me over and I obsess about it until it is what it tells me it wants to be.

This is sort of how I used to imagine it felt to be taken by the muse. In all the flowery, purple prose I read as a kidlet, this is what I thought it meant. Except not as gassy or poopy, I thought it would be more sexy.

It’s not sexy.

It is pleasurable in the very base sense of the filthy body and the noisy brain doing something together for once. Co operating rather than my brain playing forty seven radio stations while my feet go numb because I ignore that I have a body.

I store so much in my body, when the moment happens that I can move some of that onto the page,  I feel like I’ve done something right.

So there you have it.

Ideas, come from having to fart and or poop.

 

 

Musings on Patronage

After a really great month for my Patreon, Like the best month ever and I celebrated with some stickers for my planner, a couple of thrifted books and a double credit card payment. I also got a nice lil tip in my Venmo that netted me a couple of coffees and some time to sit down and make some plans.

This morning, I got a long rambly angry note from an anonymous person at a throwaway email address all about how they KNOW I take advantage of people and how I am a (this phrase is verbatim) Welfare Lady in Waiting and how I’m just fleecing people because my writing is not good enough to get the big bucks and shit from publishing.

Now, aside from the sheer saltiness and the fact that they cherry picked things I post about freely on social media as examples of how I’m rooking folks into funding my lavish lifestyle, I noticed that what came across was that this person is bitter as fuck but follows me closely.

Obviously their welfare lady in waiting thing is a racist as fuck, sexist as fuck and comes from what I think is probably a place of hurt that I, a Black person has dared to carve out an artist life of sorts.

Let’s use a super famous and successful White person as an example here. Now, I cannot stand her for many reasons, but Amanda Palmer is gonna be our example.  She literally makes more money per thing than I do in a year.

Cruising through the top writing creators, most of them make anywhere from 1200$ up through 12,000$.

The thing is, there is a very long and rich tradition of patronage to artists. All kinds of artists, writers, painters, singers etc. Folks giving people money to live so they can create is something that has gone on forever. What I find interesting about modern life is that in reality, often the argument I hear from people against my own search for patronage is wrapped up in age old stereotypes about Black people.

The uppermost layer revolves around the idea that unless you are extraordinary, if you don’t have ties in the world you work in you have zero access. If you are not the right negro, often the gatekeepers want nothing to do with you unless they are tickled by you.

If you can be an exotic pet for them to talk about to their friends. Or they will fuck you or display you or, at worst steal from you.

Some of those things have happened to me. Way back when, I had the “opportunity” to deal with some mentors who were older White men with money and pretty much they wanted a literate fuckdoll. They wanted to be the one to say they bagged the next Maya and I wasn’t having it.

I have read a lot of artist bios and in so many, patronage of one sort or another was the way through. It provided what we as humans need and what we creatives often need to make our work great.

Stability.

Less stress.

Time.

Now, Whiteness alone doesn’t necessarily protect an artist from being taken advantage of but often it protects against the insults and accusations.

You can even be an actual fraud and frankly, if you’re white enough a lot of people won’t ostracize you. Granted, some fare better than others, but, I think history shows us this is pretty true.

I think I’ve been painfully aware of these things since I was a baby potato writer dreaming of having patrons. I remember reading Henry Miller when I was 14 or whatever and after jerking off, I’d dream about mailing pages to publishers and getting wired money and having beautiful places to visit, having that life and writing wonderful broken things.

I outgrew thinking that was my path, but looking back, I see where Blackness became the thing I believed would keep me from having that access and support because I didn’t know about any living Black creators who had it.

I couldn’t have said it at that age, but I felt it.

I think that’s all. This topic/area has been on my mind because I’m writing about things that intersect with Blackness, patronage in the arts, fraud, etc.

So to wrap up, if you really follow me closely enough to know when I last was published by another person, when I bought new boots etc you know that I hustle.

So fuck off.

Before I go, later this week or next I am going to make some announcements about things. And for right now, you can read a free Daiyuverse story I posted on Wattpad. I will probably post more there as I write them if I don’t submit them places. You can follow me. Enjoy.

 

Staying in my Lane- Patreon reprint.

Enjoy a reprint for free from my patreon. To get the file referenced, click here.

 
First, please have a look at this amazing blog post
I was directed to it by K. Tempest Bradford  and have had it bookmarked because the questions in it for non-native authors really got me. Inside my ongoing project the Daiyuverse, several of our main characters are native. I have yet to get into their personal cultures/where they are from because I have plans for it. 
That said, I also am very concerned with staying in my lane. I want to talk about one of the questions from that post. 
Why did you select this particular tribal nation for your story? 
Without revealing too much I want to talk about why I chose X people from the PNW as the tribe of my Crow family. 
First up, it took me sitting down and comparing dates and plot elements and quite frankly location. I have a bit of knowledge about Indigenous people from the PNW. I really wanted to focus one of the Coast Salish peoples because geographically, it works with my needs in creating this work. 
Now, specifically what are those needs? 
  • Representation in an urban fantasy setting.  
  • To explore the impacts of colonization and assimilation on magical POC.  
Those two are uppermost in my thoughts. While I was doing research on creating my native characters, I started to look at the late 1890’s and the forced removal of Native children from their homes during that time. I had read an article about Native boys being forced to cut their hair last year and something clicked for me. I want to go back to that period in time in WA and (we’re getting to it in the verse) follow the fallout from being a victim of that practice to the creation of a space to counteract it. 
I come back to the original question quite often. The way I am working with my native characters, I feel that because I am not working from the perspective of trying to be an expert or speak for these peoples, I can tell this particular story. On one hand, I worry very deeply that I’m on entirely the wrong track here. I in no way want to position myself as an authority or one of those bhole types who thinks just because they can, they should. 
That said, I do want to talk more about why a large part of my cast is native. I really felt like in this world, creating The Institute would play a vital role in the idea of reclamation I thought who that I might meet in the Meat World, would benefit from that here in Seattle. I thought immediately of native people. I was partly inspired by a man I met who is native and we had a really great conversation about how so many of his own relatives were still cut off from their culture and how so many of us Brown folks just don’t have our cultures and myths close to us. 
With that conversation in mind, as well as having followed a lot of the fails of (generally speaking) White authors who decide to write a culture and position themselves as an authority and knowing how terribly that often goes, I am treading carefully and working to stay in my damn lane. My goal with these characters is to have them going through the entirely human struggle of reconnecting with their own roots and using The Institute (in this iteration of the ‘verse we are JUST getting to it) as a counter to assimilation. 
Writing extra-culturally especially when it comes to my fellow POC, is something I am still not sure is the best idea. On one hand, my plot arc for these characters is (at least so far) human first and foremost. They are whole living beings who are not trapped by the Mystical Native (or Negro) tropes. They have some foibles, we don’t know the whole of their history yet but, it is coming. 
I want to quote further from the blog post linked up top: 
The Devil is in the details . . . and the overall tone. Authors can have all their facts historically correct according to accepted sources available. But it is the interpretation of the facts into a story that makes the book harmful or helpful. I’ve seen a number of books that get most of the ‘facts’ correct, but the overall tone is that of stereotypes (which may be difficult for non-Indian writers, agents and editors to see when that has been the prevailing mode of American Indian representation). I’d highly recommend that agents and editors read the Revised Criteria from How to Tell the Difference: A Guide for Evaluating Children’s Books for Anti­-Indian Bias. Reading a manuscript through that lens and thinking deeply about Eurocentrism and colonialism will make all the difference. You can find guidelines, suggestions, statistics and a number of resources here at Writing
About Native Americans. It is a long post (as was this).  
Bolding for emphasis. 
My decisions as I work in this ‘verse are deeply influenced by the bolded. I am very mindful that I have the potential to cause harm and am doing the work not to do that. As I get further into the lives of the Crow family, I will start to include more specifics. Where they come from, how they got their names, what the curse on their family is about. I don’t want to spoil things but, most of the hardship they have gone through is a direct result of one of those forced boarding schools. 
I’m being a bit vague because we’re not quite there yet in terms of the story and I don’t want to give too much away. I am getting into some of the back history (before our heroine Daiyu is born) and honoring my native characters and their histories and culture has been uppermost in my mind. 
I’ll revisit this again when we start going back in time some more.  
For now, how about a peek at who I’m talking about here? 
First up Papa. Who along with Daiyu is as far as characters go, essential and part of the backbone of this whole universe.  
I’m keeping a neato spreadsheet with my characters, their full names, associations, list of magical abilities and other notes. I’m not going to give you everything but here’s a taste:
Papa Crow- 
Magical Abilities (so far, subject to change) Cursed-Prolonged life. Powers: charm, tactical aggressive magicks including but not limited to: elemental control, telekinesis, low level telepath (possible mentalist)- 
Nick Names- Papa, Old Crow, Crow, Bird, Nathan
Misc- Daiyu’s God father, estimated age between 180-300 years old, very good liar
Father Crow-
Magical Abilities- Lesser prolonged life curse. Summoning, Apothocary, traditional herbal healing, elemental magics, seer, demonaic tongue
Nick Names- Crow Jr, Black Wing, Joshua
Misc-Papa Crows grandson, inheritor of the Institute
Maria Crow-
Magical Abilities- Demoniac tongue, World walker
Nick Names- Maria- TBA
Misc- Father Crow/Joshua’s biological Mom
~
That isn’t everyone in the family.  
To wrap up, I am still so excited about this world I’m creating. I am very mindful of the temptation to just write what the fuck I wanna write and damn what anybody else feels but that’s not really who I am as a creator.  I am challenging myself here and putting a lot of trust in my readers to let me know if I’ve fucked up.
Does this tickle your fancy?
How about a bite from the current iteration of the Daiyuverse?
Download the PDF to get a context free look at some stuff happening in the Daiyuverse. Want to read more?
One buck a month gets you access to the full novella in progress, usually a love letter or an essay or an extra goodie.
Also, your contributions are real live, tactit change. Your support helps actual human beings and that’s pretty cool.
Can’t donate? Please boost my signal. Share the link all over. 

The Soundtrack of the DaiyuVerse

If you’ve been here for a minute y’all know that I have a Patreon where I’m posting an in progress urban fantasy novella that I refer to as the Daiyuverse. How about a lil bite? No context.

“That sounds perfect. Assure her it is in no way permanent. We just want to see how her body responds to less rigorous magical training. Other than that, she is a perfectly healthy young woman.”

Later that night, both doctors, Daiyu, Josh and Papa sat around a table at Papa’s house with chicken and sides from Ezell’s spread across the table, music played in the background and they all laughed and talked long into the night. At one point while they were each on their third serving Josh sat back to look at them, he felt his vision widen out until he was both looking at them from his eyes and looking down from above from his sight.

He watched Daiyu, her dimples flashing as she snatched food off of Papa’s plate. It made him feel better, maybe his visions were off. Just as he felt himself ready to settle back into his body, the scene slowed down. Stretched into a long moment that felt like it was happening somewhere between this world and the one his sight resided in.

Daiyu looked up, he could tell it was not her physical eyes. The face that wasn’t her face smiled at him, her mouth spread across her face until it nearly split her head. It was the sort of thing she’d done when she first learned to throw a glamour. Josh smiled.

“Stop showing off Little Bird.”

The eyes, he could no longer think of them as her eyes, changed. It wasn’t overt, it was something about the glimmer of them that made him stop smiling. The voice that came out of her mouth was not her own. It was a voice he’d heard distantly before, a slow speech with an accent he couldn’t quite place.

“Do be careful looking my boy. I will see you ever so soon. Tirrah, Black Wing.”

The scene cleared and he blinked, Daiyu was waving a drumstick in his face.

“Earth to Josh, you going to eat this?”

He shook off the dread and snatched the chicken out of her hand.

“You know I don’t hit girls but I will fight you if you eat more of my chicken.”

Daiyu jumped up, menacing him. He narrowed his eyes, showed his teeth.

“I’m going to drink your soda.”

He put down his chicken and jumped up, flexing and growling. With a howl they took off running, Daiyu flying tackled Josh and the two of them went tumbling out of the room. Papa shook his head slowly.

“See, that’s why you can’t take them anywhere. They’re like puppies. I’m surprised they don’t piss on the floor.”

Both doctors smiled like a proud auntie and uncle. Dr. Linda stole the drumstick off of Josh’s plate.

“I have eight older brothers. Abandoned plates are fair game “

The three adults split up the leftover food on the kids plates laughing.

One of the things that is central to how this story is shaping up is my soundtrack. I have a very deep connection to my soundtracks at any given moment. I need specific sounds to either elevate/deal with my moods, help me stay awake, write, poop do life.

The writing of the Daiyuverse reaches deep into my literarily and stylistic influences. I’ve been heavily influenced by Dune for this work. I have been working on creating these magical traditions while not erasing the identities of the folks in the story. I’m drawing on the huge amount of magical shit I’ve read from fantasy books/dictionaries to various cultural traditions.

So let’s talk some tracks.

Let me show you some of the inside of my brainmeats.

Billy Paul- Me and Mrs Jones. Y’all, I mean.. like. Just listen to it.

Stevie Wonder- Superstitious OBVIOUSLy.

Funkadelic- Maggot Brain

William Elliott Whitmore- Mutiny

Concrete Blonde- God is A Bullet

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Murder Ballads

I also use this big ass Spotify playlist.

I’ve always had to have a soundtrack to stuff I’m doing. Occasionally they are very specific to the work. I will probably make some more Daiyuverse specific playlists. Things that go with my loose time periods, themes.

I was thinking about this in a convo with another writer about the spaces we work in. I don’t have anywhere private to work. I don’t have an office. I have to work in public, on the bus, at the dayjob. Get it in where I can fit it in. I think for me, getting my writing playlists going is that brain cue that it is time to work.

My headphones are still my office.

And it’s time to get to work.

Influences- How the Cowboy Was Born

First open this here in a new tab. My latest fiction published at Rigorous.

This is gonna be a long ass writing/craft lesson so get some coffee.

Let’s start with the opening paragraph which incidentally is pretty much the one thing that didn’t change through several iterations of this story:

The Cowboy walked into the juke joint at the outside edge of a half-dead town in the deep in the drylands expecting nothing more than a watery beer and perhaps someone to warm his bed that night. The barroom was clean and smelled of the bunches of flowers on most available surfaces. He paused to look down at a bunch of light purple flowers that exuded a scent like nothing he’d ever experienced.

To start out with, I wanted to create an origin myth. If you’ve read me for a while you know that’s kinda my jam. I love creating and reimagining mythos through various lenses. For this particular story I was inspired by the following: *book links are amazon affiliate links

In the Gunslinger Mythos we have all of these fantastical elements that King has so masterfully integrated with the classic Western. For me, I kept wondering what would a Black cowboy in the desert be like? I started out with a Roland Deschain archetype. I wanted to explore the anonymity of my Cowboy and kept him as a nameless man who as you get further into the story has a presence.

In my notes from when I started this story I had a mission to tell the reader that there is magic in this world, that this loner Cowboy is capable of and full of wonder and when I started, this wasn’t actually a love story. It was going to be a gunslinger story. I’d had this want to re-imagine Roland Deschain as this other and this story was originally supposed to be world building practice.

Sometimes, shit does not go as planned.

I got to the Cowboy finding this oasis and now enter my mermaid. I spent some time reading various mermaid myths and settled on an idea. What if in this other world, this dry dirty world of the Cowboy mermaids have had to evolve? If I was that mermaid, where would I post up to hunt?

At a saloon. And because I was intent on giving context clues to the Blackness of this story, I used the worlds Juke Joint rather than saloon. I wanted to evoke both the wild west and the dirty south. Late nights, hard liquor, brown women, dirty dancing.

When I got to this part in the writing of the story I had very definitive ideas about how I wanted this story to continue. Some sensuality, some sensuality from our male protagonist, I wanted to portray him in a way that is often only for female characters. I wanted the Cowboy to have the kind of moment where, you feel so sexy and you forget the good stuff that usually bothers you, see here:

For long minutes he forgot his knobby knees, scars and grizzled body hair. He forgot his big flat feet and narrow buttocks. Her gaze gave him beauty and grace. Her soft eyes pulled him out of his role as Cowboy and into the role of sweet pure lover. “Come, let me bathe you.”

In terms of erotics and sensuality, this male character is feeling a feminine gaze and feels beautiful. So here we have some of my gender role fuckery afoot. This doesn’t show our Cowboy to be emasculated or submissive, rather he’s put into a position to be feelin’ himself.

Because our Cowboy is if not a learned man, an experienced one he knows on some level that he’s in danger and has to fight through his erotic haze to work it out. I didn’t want to bring the eroticism down too much while he was figuring it out. I wasn’t going for boner killer necessarily.

Inside of the realization that he’s in danger the Cowboy let’s his desire lead the way.

I really wanted to give him this moment to understand and accept things.

“Saw these. I know these.” When she put her mouth against his and her soft chubby body squished into his long starved body, The Cowboy wanted to die.

It was a perfect moment. The apotheosis of his most secret desire to be felt and loved. He felt seen for true, the way his Nan had looked at his Nana. It was enough for him to happily go into the next place.

And we also see that this world has Queers.

And an Easter Egg. I first heard the word apotheosis in the Gunslinger and I remember looking it up in a dictionary when I saw it. It is really one of my favorite words. The idea of divine perfection summed up in such a pleasing word tickles me. It is one of my favorites.

Moving along, we’re getting towards the end. I wanted to give the Cowboy some more opportunity for sensualism and to be around women. In this world, women move things as the Cowboy was taught:

“Because they women, and women drive the changes.” Nan took special care to explain the intricacies of womanhood to the Cowboy because he feared women. Men–well, the men he knew–had little in the way of that level of sankofa knowledge.

Often in romance, we see women as being those who have to get ready. I wanted to give the Cowboy another chance to feel pretty. Also, I wanted to give a nod to Black folks going to the salon or barber shop for company and community.

The Cowboy blushed with pleasure and the Aunties chucked him under the chin and whirled into action. One oiled his hair, combed and washed it, another gooped something sweet into it and wrapped it in what he thought might have been some sort of hat. “Excuse me, Auntie? I brought no coin for pretty hats.” The Auntie filing his fingernails snorted and slapped his knee.

“You hush. You too pretty to be such a worry. You are courting the Pisces, we know what she likes.” The Cowboy settled and let the Aunties do as they pleased. They did things to his eyebrows and rubbed his face with unguents, they shaved him. When they were finished, he stood in front of their mirror with tears in his eyes. “I’m pretty.”

In the context of writing this piece, originally I spent a lot of words at this part. This was one of those stories where I had too many ideas and really wanted to jam ALL the things into it. Rather than stopping myself out of hand, I let it happen. One of the drafts of this story topped out at a chunky 7K and wasn’t what I wanted.

In the past, when I’ve put the brakes on my nerdiness, I often didn’t finish the stories. I would kind of flounder deep in nerdland and never slog through it. For this story I took my time and let it all out. This resulted in a couple of super long drafts that didn’t look at all like the published piece. I was able to really see what I wanted to carve out of the bigger mass of nerd.

For this final draft, I felt very purposeful.

I wanted to accomplish a happy ending and I wanted to give a glimpse as to what the story might be if you heard it in another place. One of the ideas I had for this while I was writing it was that it is the origin story of something you might hear in a juke joint in this world or sitting around a campfire. It could have been a more bawdy, more violent, but in this case you (the reader) get the sweetest ending.

During the writing of this piece, I discovered I am actually able to get what I want in a story without it being weird. Normally, I write in a totally different way with fiction. Usually, I write from hearing a voice and having a what if question. For this one, I started with that and the desire to create something to go with a Black cowboy myth as inspired by the Gunslinger.

In this experiment, I really had to stretch to mix Western and fantasy. And I really worked very hard on putting Blackness in there and not making it scream OMG BLACK PPL because that always feels weird to me. I worked very hard to keep my references the way I wanted them and not change them to be more open. I worked the Blackness from the inside out rather from the outside in.

For those writing the other this is something I suggest thinking about and practicing. Rather than, OMG LOOK AT THIS VERY NICE MAGICAL NEGRO OMG LOOK NEGROES LOOK, do some reading. Look at cultural markers and ways to use language that goes beyond misappropriating AAVE.

Overall, for the months put in on this story I am very pleased with it. The process of writing, rewriting, cutting and sculpting this piece was really great if long. I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that, while my individual story output for fiction is way down, spending so much time with work is enabling me to really get at some stuff I want to play with and I’m grateful for that.

To end, I’ll show y’all a few more of the inspirations/things that helped me write this piece:

Last lesson, before I wrap this up.

Always tuck away bits of information. You never know when they’ll come in handy.