Don’t Throw That Shit Away

HELLO my favorite Space Babes.

Let’s talk about holding onto your stuff.

I write a lot of shit. I have tons of scraps of stories, bits of poems, lil snatches of research and whatnots. From one of my fave books about writing, the classic On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King,  one of the lasting lessons for me was to stop throwing stuff away. Way back when I was a baby potato, writing in absolute secret I was terrified of anyone finding out and I was so embarrassed by how bad I was at writing, I’d write stories, read them once and tear them up. If I was feeling particularly upset, I’d burn the pieces.

Very dramatic.

Once I started using computers regularly, I did about the same thing. I wrote stuff, decided I was too shitty to live and deleted them. I did this for probably the first decade (from let’s say age 13 through about 24) of me becoming a writer.

After my first reading of On Writing, the first thing I put into practice was not in fact keeping what I wrote. I still had a bad habit of just deleting anything I didn’t believe in immediately. Back then, I was very vested in being published in very specific ways. I was mainly writing a lot of erotica and copy for a few adult sites. I occasionally got a horror publication here and there.

My criteria for what I’d keep or not keep came down to being held hostage by the Literary Canon. Cis, white, hetero unless it was queer for hetero eyes. That was what got me into the industry. I didn’t believe that my secret work (the baby versions of a lot of what I’m doing now) was worth keeping because I was taught otherwise. On occasion, I ventured into literary Black territory and was usually not rewarded in any way by doing so. There was a time when, I had the audacity to be very Black and Queer on the internet and I lost a really lucrative job because after my employer checked my personal stuff (a blog and whatnot) he sent me a very worried email that I couldn’t really write “normal”.

Fast forward to earlier this morning. I was casting about looking for an older story I was thinking about reprinting and I found a treasure trove of things I tucked away in my cloud storage. In the past five or so years I’ve suffered some catastrophic data losses and computers dying and taking years of work with them so, stumbling on things I wrote in 2010/2011 feels so good.

I spent some time reading some of my early noir, I have the first 60 pages of a super natural/werewolf buddy detective thing I wrote way back in 2010ish. I know that much of the going writer culture is to be terribly embarrassed by your old work. Hide that first novel in a drawer, be charmingly embarassed in interviews when asked about your early work.

I reject that entirely. I am not embarrassed that once upon a time I didn’t know how to walk and routinely shit my pants. Now, I can (well I’m not great at it but) walk and I learned how to use the toilet. I’ve evolved. I’m proud of my growth as a human. I am so proud of myself for learning and changing.

From being confined to writing explicit work featuring a LOT of white people to now I have tucked away in a folder erotica that transgresses gender, race, and a few very creepy kings with impunity. It was purchased by a now defunct publisher so I might go ahead and publish it.

Look.

You cannot step back and appreciate your own growth if you hide where you were. I don’t believe in shame about how we become the artists we are. That is why I’m rarely ashamed to show a first draft. I’m rarely upset that I have a snippet of a story that just will never ever work. I’m proud that I’ve found my voice and having this back catalog of stuff that shows me the way I got here is fucking amazing.

Don’t be ashamed.

Keep doing what you’re doing.

Play. When I say play I mean just fuck around. Never written sf? Give it a shot. Try stuff. Let go and play on the swingset and write a crappy ass horror story or a super cheesy love story. As I’ve said in my creative loveletters, make something ugly. Paint something, put together a puzzle, just do something. Get a weird idea and see where it goes.

Don’t throw it away.

Okay below, find a good chunk of the weird buddy werewolf thing I started and may yet finish.

Continue reading “Don’t Throw That Shit Away”

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Lit News and whatnots.

OH hey you. I got news. You want news?

First, go read my newest piece up at Heavy Feather Review. It is a wee tiny murdery bloody thing.

What else?

I am pretty close to reopening a centralized writer page on facebook. I don’t really want to but, I also need ONE spot to promote shit cause, I’m about to have some shit to promote and doing it EVERYWHERE is just exhausting. That said, I’m going to make it lit af, promote other folks. It’ll be awesome. AND I will invite y’all to follow along.

What am I working on?

Most important thing is The OG Self Care Like a Boss Compendium. What the shit is that? Well y’all, after a heavy amount of straight plagiarism this year alone, I’ve decided to put together a big ass weird guide with everything. I’ll be releasing it on Amazon as both an Ebook and a print book. Currently, it is a big ole chonky 52k words and I’ll probably be adding another 20-25. More info when I get closer to the run up to launch.

What else?

I’m writing like a mother fucker. My economic situation took a bit of a shit but, unlike in previous times, I’m not letting that crush my creative drive. I’m not doing freelance. I haven’t frantically tried to figure out how to get another job. I’m dealing and that is huge.

I know bloggin has been slow af.

OH also, a new thing. You can find a brand new look at some of the self care material and some other stuff over on Kofi. If you see something you like please share it with your people.

The OTHER thing about a new facebook author page is that, I am very likely to use it as a vehicle for writing and craft stuff. So for realreal. Keep your eye out.

If you’ve got projects, books to promo etc. Please feel free to drop links in comments and check each other out.

On Fear and Freedom

HI babes.

GUESS who is back on their bullshit? YEP yo problematic fave.

I’ve been hard at work and I’ve been digging deep into my archives of fiction that I abandoned for various reasons. As much as I talk about how important to me it is to be writing what the fuck I want to write, I still have reservations and fears in terms of genre and style etc.

For me, reconnecting with genre work has been a long ass hard road. I follow a lot of genre related folks, mags, editors, writers etc. One of the things that I still struggle with is that as much as I read, I often feel like my ideas, the methods in which my Blackness informs my work, is a problem.

It is the type of cognitive dissonance that for me personally is just, so weird. I will watch folks talk and talk and talk diversity but, I still find a lot of places lacking. I have such a need to see a broader acceptance of Black narratives. The narratives that aren’t super comfortable.

HOWEVER.

Now that I have some distance on writing racial pain porn for pennies, I’ve found an old want and am able to fulfill it for myself. If you’ve been here for a minute y’all know that at the root of my work is the need to create representation. Until now, I have really wanted to find joy in representation, in creating something that is just enough to get me a seat near the table.

I wanted to be at the table.

Somewhere in my quest to provide the representation, things felt grim. Of course I’ve had the Daiyuverse but, things were feeling a bit lacking. I felt kind of constrained.

Representation by itself is not enough. It is great. It is my dream. But, it is not enough to sustain me in my creative life.

So, I let it go.

And then, I started fictioning again and I’ve found my joy again.

I’m remembering that I don’t have to give a certain narrative about or around Blackness. That I can do what the fuck I want and still represent.

To the end of joy and shit I love doing, here’s a bite of the fantasy story I am retooling.

The King came out of the privy still buttoning her breeches, her sword clanking on her hip.“So, I looked at him dead in his Gods Damned eye and said no but I’ll sit on her-“Her ribald story came to as abrupt a halt as she did. Standing right there, one ear turning, tail swishing, was the cat woman. She stared up at the King with her enormous pumpkin colored eyes.

“You’d sit on her what your majesty?”Her whiskers twitched. The King stammered and dropped to one knee, unfortunately her breeches were loose and several men got a good half moon. She was too rapt to feel the breeze across her crack.“I, I oh please a thousand pardons Lady Cat. I hope I haven’t offended you. May I ask, what is your name?”

With that, I say good day sir.

Good. Day.

First Side Hustle of the Year Updates.

OKAY.

Hi y’alls.

Folks ask me so I will probably do a monthlyish hustle update. (Medium links are paid links)

Medium still fails, my stats, these are not ALL of the things behind the paywall just the “top”:

Adventures in Being Black in Public $5.99
How to Learn to Write Non Fiction $0.00
This is America II $0.00
Post FatAss: Current RageAss. $0.00
Dear White Feminists. 2018 is coming. $0.00
How to Make a Witch II $0.00
How To Diversify Your Literary Publication $0.00
Self Care Like A Boss $0.00
This is America $0.00
So a bit from my top earner for the month:
The weight of that look, the look Black folks who are in situations where they are the only Black person there, or are visibly in distress know. The curled lip, the purse clutch, the sneer, the loathing. It is the look when you are both invisible and hypervisible. I was already panicky, trying to text my partner through my tears, terrified that (not logical but….) immediately the money I’ve been working so hard to save would be gone, that someone would fuck up my credit I’ve worked so hard on, everything.”
I wrote about a real bad day. I wrote from my aching heart about a really bullshit ass experience of my Blackness. it hurt. It hurt to read.
On average when I bleed out on the page this way, using Medium I might make 5$. When I’m exhausted angry and hurt, sometimes I make a little cash. For instance, this article I made about 13$. A record high. This piece was ghosted by four editors at ladymags who’d asked for this sort of thing. Two rejections because it is strident. So I took to Medium.

I will go out on a limb and speak for a lot of us othered folks. We cannot and do not want to continue giving free, amazing scholarly lessons on basic don’t be a racist. It is damn near 2018 and our fucking world is burning. Want to be the best gosh darned intersectional (also please interrogate your use of that word and if you don’t already know, find out about where it comes from) feminist ever?

Do the work.

Some stats for that piece:

Published 

VIEWS BY TRAFFIC SOURCE
353.

So frankly, y’alls. This is a large part of why I am in the process of redoing how I work. Honestly, letting it ALL out like that might be cathartic sometimes but it also is so much labor. And aside from maybe one magazine I can think of, even when that sort of work is asked for I’m not the one getting those bylines so no $$.

In other hustle news. My Etsy store will be closing on 2-15. I kept loose track and worked well over 75 hours on etsy stuff in the last quarter of 2018 and that made my hourly rate less than a dollar so. Nope.

What I am doing is making room for a big, shoot the moon, HOLY SHIT I AM DOING THIS SHIT type thing. I’m not ready to share ALL the details but, I’m taking a big fucking risk and I am so excited about it.

What else is happening?

I’m reading a few really good books right now. I’m getting ready to roll out some new shits. Since The Evil Empire   I mean Amazon changed their affiliate program I’m working on a WHOLE ass page of hand picked books and links.

I’ve also got a directory of Black Patreon creators going and I’ll be going live with it soonish.

I’ve got a real hankering to provide some more resources up in this bitch so keep an eye out for that.

I’ll be back probably next week where I’m going to need to talk some shit about people who try to sell best seller secrets willy nilly.

OH and if you are or know Black creators on Patreon drop them links for me please!

 

A Real Round Up

HEY.

So I’ve decided to do a whole ass second but better year end wrap up for my writing shits this year.

First check this shit out in another window. I minor tweet stormed about my work this year.

All righty then.

I realized as I was doing those tweets that, this year has been pretty lit.

I was feeling pretty down about the failures of the year. None of my side hustles really worked out.

I made less than 50$ with both Etsy and medium and that really sucks. I mean, it hurts me on so many levels.

That said.

I wrote like a mother fucker and wrote exactly what the fuck I wanted when I wanted. I finally fully divested myself from trying to be a freelance super earner. Like there are literally two editors I will pitch to and dassit.

I learned that finally, I can say I’m okay with being unable to financially sustain my creative life. It sucks but I can’t force folks to do shit.

All I can do is do what I do.

I was really feeling like, all this, all the angst and crying and stress just made me the worst.

I dunno y’all. I may not be able to like, pay bills with the words but fuck I write like a mother fucker regardless.

So what is happening in 2019?

I’m making moves.

Patreon stuff is happening, I’ve got a lot of plans.

I’ve also realized that part of what has freed me to write the way I have been this year is that, I’ve been learning to accept some things that are real for me.

  1. My obscurity frees me. I have a job that basically sort of pays the bills. So, I don’t have to eat shit when I freelance. I can say no and I have learned to say no. I had a piece that was commissioned and was a pretty good payday. After realizing that the editor and I were quite far apart on what we wanted. I let it go and put it on Medium.
  2. Speaking of Medium. The other edge of my obscurity is that, regardless of what folks say, 80% of my audience refuses to give my work material support. Folks don’t share, don’t clap on medium etc etc. I don’t know why. Some folks tell me to trust my community to come through and, well frankly most of the time they don’t. It hurts but whatever.
  3. I AM going to write the shit anyway. I’ve tried to stop but nah son.
  4. I am allowed to work this out however the fuck I need to.

Those things have led me into some stuff I’m VERY excited about and will share with y’all soon.

Overall 2018 beat the dog shit out of me. I wrote some of my best shit and it was lowkey sorta okay.

NOW. Over at medium behind the paywall but this is the friend link. A lesson on how I learned to write non-fiction.

It is LIT- News and whatnots from yer fave weirdo.

Hi y’alls.

It has been a minute. So let’s do an update about my lil lit life.

First thing gosh.

I read for Margin Shift at Lit Crawl earlier this month. If you’re in Seattle, you really should check out their readings. They do regular ones and they are really great. The curation is amazing. I had a wonderful time and wore a HOT ASS outfit.

Also this month, over at Patreon I launched my new patron benefit. Along with the 3k of words in my urban fantasy project the Daiyuverse, patrons are getting a writing craft lesson. The first one was about horror and here’s a little taste:

Let’s pause here and talk a bit about experimenting with the burnt tongue literary device. What I love about it is you can turn it to be comedic, romantic, scary, or just use it as a way to slow the pacing in your work. How do we test out what effect this has?

Read it out loud. The key for me to using this device successfully is that it gives us that slow down. It is natural when we talk to slow it down when we say a phrase that seems weird. Try it out.

These lessons are serious and not. I am keeping them accessible to folks who don’t know a lot of the formal lit terms and easy to do. This isn’t writing esoterica. I love to teach folks to write stuff, or help them write stuff. I am not promising learning to do a best seller or whatever. Just giving patrons some new tools. Now on the hustle tip, it has cost me money to do this. I waffled about doing it because at this point it costs me about 60$ (lowballed like whoa) in labor and lost patron interest.

That said, I really love how lesson one turned out and I’m really looking forward to lesson two. For lesson two I’ll be talking about how I learned to write personal essays and ways to dig in and figure out what you have to say and ways only you can say it.

So you can get in on that for a BUCK A MONTH. For real. Patreon is doing some changes to prioritize tiered patronage. For those unfamiliar basically a lot of creators use the model that you get different stuff depending on how much you pay. I respect that but, honestly I do want to keep these things as accessible as possible and I want those with a buck a month to get as much as those with $15. Check it out here. Also if you’re not interested but want to lend some support, PLEASE share that shit. If you know folks who like magical Black girls and magic and writing, show them the link.

Next thing. My other hustle Medium. Gosh.

So a while back I broke down how the get paid concept at Medium doesn’t work for me for reasons. Read stuff related to that here.

So I’ve been putting a couple of pieces behind the paywall at Medium here and there. I have a total of 222 pieces and 90% of those are free. I have 11 stories behind the paywall currently and with a few of my new ones, I’ve made 6.75 in the last two months.

Right now, I have a memoirish series about my Witchery going. (That is the free read friend link, I’ll talk about that too). Medium introduced “friend” links which give folks free reads. I use those even though it is counter intuitive. It is meh. I still offer up all the shit to very little engagement, folks don’t share when I ask blabla.

That said, I decided that I’m gonna write the shit anyway and likely nobody will publish it so I might as well give myself the wee chance of turning a little profit. Or enough coins to buy a slurpee and a candy.

I just put up a new essay,(cn for suicide, drug use, grief)  it is one that was commissioned about 6 months ago and that I have been going back and forth with an editor about and ultimately I decided to pull it. The distance between what the editor wanted from me and what I am willing to give was too far for too little compensation. Yes I know it is contradictory that I put it on a platform where I will likely not make even as much money but, it is also still fully under my control and presented authentically.

So really as always, if you like the shit share it. Clap on it. That’s it.

SO if you aren’t subscribed already, you should come subscribe to my newsletter. It is less author news than it is a loveletter from my creative self to yours. No spams and it is free.

I’ve been working through a lot of feelings regarding my failure to become or even get in sniffing distance of being financially sustainable in my art. The upshot is that after processing and dealing with feeling ashamed about this failure and having rage about it and bitterness, I’ve emerged feeling okay.

The bottom line is that as I said, imma do this shit anyway so I might as well do it exactly how I want to.

Fuck it.

And that is also why posting here is so slow. I’m using my resources and spoons differently.

What else?

OH THIS SHIT HAPPENED.

So one of my fave folks, Jen Pastiloff who is a badass loving ass damn person and a fine ass writer took this photo with my lil book. THEN she took this photo with another of my fave writers and humans Lidia Yuknovitch and y’all. They gave my work to some folks posted on teh bookface about it and loved the work and y’all. I fuckin ugly cried on the toilet. It means so much to me when I can say something that folks feel.

I think that’s all for now babes. I will probably be in with some other news next week AND probs some more microprose practice.

SO as always share stuff, clap if you have medium. Support living artists blablabla.

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.