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.

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.

My Body is Ready

Let’s talk about what happens when my ass is in the chair and I’m getting ready to put in work.

I thought I had no ritual but, apparently I do.

I get my beverage. Usually fresh coffee or tea. I have my smokes nearby if I’m at home. I need noise so if I’m at work and music ain’t cutting it, I’m a sucker for the trashiest of trash tv. Reality TV where people are hollering and fighting usually is the thing.

I get office open and go.

If shit is really good, I am rocking and/or somehow wriggling in my chair between sitting up stiff and weird, my feet kick, my tongue pokes out, I pull other weird faces. If I’m really cooking, I mumble, sometimes I read a bit out loud, yell FUCK or NO NO NO NO NO.

authoratwork
[image description: Black femme person wearing a lavender bob style wig, black framed glasses, the tip of their tongue is sticking out]
If I’m being honest, things get weird. Like it’s that scene from that movie Swordfish where NERD!WOLVERINE is at his fancy mega computer, mumbling, dancing around, spinning in his chair. If I’m alone enough, shit gets that real.

I mean, y’all see. Granted I’m looking a lot more put together in this photo than I am at home when I work. But yeah, this is the start of me evolving into your fave indie weirdo writer in composition mode.

Something I find really funny is that the older I get the more I feel writing in my body. Back in the day, while I wrote I fancied myself to be very uh, pretty in doing it. Like I imagined romantic poets to be. All loungy sex and artistic glow.

Y’all nah. When I’m really deep in it, I’m sweating and stinking and grumbling. The other night while I was working on PoetryBookBaby#1, I bit the inside of my fucking cheek so hard it bled and then I was like HOW ABOUT NO FUCK U POMES! Out loud.

It just makes me giggle because the actuality of being a working writer is so not what I thought it was going to be. I thought things would be like, okay BOOM I’M PUBLISHED AND PUBLISHED AGAIN BANG ZIP BOOM MONEY YEAH FUCK YEAH!! PARTIES!! BOOTY!! FAME!!

I’m giggling while I write this, but it is what I thought would happen.

I didn’t think I’d be sitting and swearing at a computer screen at a job that mostly pays my bills, and hoping the phone doesn’t ring and fuck up my flow.

That said, it is not bad.

It’s not always greatness and cash, but you know.

I’m working through some shit and writing and writing and WRITING AND WRITING AND FUCK…I’m feeling kinda prolific but at the same time like there’s not enough energy and time in the day.

I think I’ll feel like I’m not getting the output I want forever. I’m not a machine but I want to be a word machine.

Now that’s this. I have LOTS of stuff to do.

So go read/subscribe to my newsletter. There is a fart joke AND I talk about Impostor Syndrome. come back next week and I’ll talk some more (GEEK SHIT YO) about some recurring themes in my work and how I deal with them in various genres.

 

 

On My Mind

Before I get into what’s on my mind right now I have to tell y’all the most exciting thing.

My passion, my real hearts work is making a come back. Milcah and I are re-embarking on the best thing I do.

Self Care Like A Boss is coming back. We’re relaunching. We’re doing it together in a whole new way and I’m terrified and excited because this is really, REALLY important to me and what I want my life’s work to involve.

So y’all, please head on over here to check out our poll on our new merch and if you’ve got a mind to, sign up for our email newsletter. More news is coming soon, this is step 1.

Next.

I’ve got other stuff on my mind.

I started what could become a small series of essays about living in the mouth of the beast that is gentrification and my terror at being swallowed up by it. This is a subject that is constantly on my mind because I’m living it. I’m a little hesitant to write about it deeply for a few reasons:

  • Obviously given my body of work I know -how- to write personally. I’m a bit reticent about writing about this in particular. Mainly because if I do, I’ll need to do it for The Stabby maybe where I don’t have to deal with comments.
  • Emotionally it will be a lot of labor.

Okay on point 2. Here is sort of where freelancing and I disagree. I like to write first then pitch. It takes way more time and is generally a larger financial risk for me because do I spend the hours on the thing and hope I can get paid or do I try harder to pitch then write?

I find both incredibly stressful.

That stress has made me want to turn back towards the lit world. I feel more comfortable in a large way there. I know how it works. I can work the way that means I’ve got a self satisfying output, and when I’m really on that shit a fairly good acceptance/publication ratio.

That said, that also leaves me as poor if not more poor than I already am if we factor in the whole time is money thing.

That said, a lot of my non-fiction work lately has been weird and likely unpublishable anyway, so I’m mostly worried about future work or stuff I have going all ready.

This is an area of the intersection of art and commerce that I do not negotiate very well. What I want isn’t always the best for my bank accounts nor my art. Being in a position where I’m both really too poor to be doing anything for free and not wanting to have to only write saleable material is a hell of a thing.

The other thing on my mind is how difficult it has been for me to just be glad to be read. On one hand it has always been such a deep and wonderful thing for me to know that I have an audience. From the early days of having a tiny 10 person devoted readership of a long dead online journal to here, it is a miracle and wonderful to me to be read ever.

Inside that thankfulness and joy, there is also the struggle of knowing that most of the time mine is not a paying audience. Poverty strikes again. And the minute I have those feelings, I also feel terrible for feeling upset. I don’t want to feel bitter or jealous or whatever.

At the same time, I still need a new pair of pants and have bills to pay.

It’s hard to write from that place of conflict and fear and just general shitty feelings.

Real talk, the most fucked up thing about this is that having this problem/these feelings is somewhat of a personal artistic milestone. The fact that I have the belief in my work to say I should be paid and paid well for this is pretty huge. Ten years ago, I would have the smallest inkling of these feelings. They were nebulous and unformed.

Back then, I didn’t believe my work had real value other than maybe some entertainment. Not even when I had some writing jobs. Not even when on occasion lit mags gave me money.

Back then I didn’t really know how to write non-fiction of any flavor. I didn’t know that one didn’t have to be a journalist necessarily to publish non-fiction. I thought that the arty essays were strictly for “real” writers who were absolutely not me.

I felt bad about not making money writing, but didn’t feel like I deserved it.

Funny ain’t it? I mean now I know that my work has worth, but getting that proves to be fucking really hard for me.

Like, I FINALLy allow myself to view myself as an artist and legit creator.

I allow myself to understand that my work has worth.

And suck at making it work.

I am only laughing because otherwise I’ll cry.

Okay, that’s it for now. I have stuff to do and write.

Imagining the rest. Thinking about #blackspecfic

I have been scribbling away on a couple of way out of my comfort zone pieces.

In one I’ve created an origin story for a myth no one has heard before. It started out as an entire other thing, I wanted to practice finding a very particular voice to put on a narrator and as usual I started with a little character sketch to try and hear it in my head.

What’s interesting to me right now is that after reading this piece from Fireside when it came out, I’ve done a lot of looking at my body of work both published and unpublished. I’ve been looking at what interests me in terms of the new fiction I want to create.

It is all fucking speculative fiction in one way or another.

Wiki says this about speculative fiction:

Speculativefiction is a broad literary genre encompassing any fiction with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements, notably science fiction, fantasy and horror. The popularity of the term is sometimes attributed to Robert Heinlein, who referenced it in 1947 in an editorial essay, although there are prior mentions of speculativefiction, or its variant “speculative literature”.

Well, yeah. That’s everything I write these days. Looking back, I can see points in my writing life where I’ve done my level best to not do spec fic. I’ve spent time trying to be straight up literary or horror or whatever.

I have found a comfortable *for me to create in* space that is both speculative and slipstream.

This is what wiki says about slipstream.

Slipstream is a kind of fantastic or non-realistic fiction that crosses conventional genre boundaries between science fiction, fantasy, and literary fiction. The term slipstream was coined by cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling in an article originally published in SF Eye #5, in July 1989.

In terms of my work, I’ve found a freedom in living in this place because I don’t feel the pressure to do any particular type of performative Blackness in my work. In these worlds that are our world and other worlds, their Blackness is not othered they just are. They can be created without me being distracted by all the other bullshit that happens when you write to represent yourself (because that’s great advice if you’re a creator) and shit gets difficult.

Okay, now that I’m thinking about what I’ve been writing and potentially getting back into submitting to places that take stuff that lands on the spec fic spectrum, and I still have some trepidation.

I’ve seen some magazines, etc. try to respond.

I don’t know how I feel about it. If I’m going to be real about it, there are probably four magazines that take the more spec fic/slipstream stuff I think I’d even have a shot at. Not necessarily because of the quality of my work, but because the Blackness in my work has just been there. It’s not part of a larger point, these are just the people who populate these worlds. And that isn’t necessarily the type of work by POC that a lot of places feature.

I want to believe that the industry has heard the call and will start getting itself right. I don’t want to spend time reformatting (because how I work visually means I always have to overhaul when I submit to genre mags because so many still only take manuscript format..that’s a whole other thing), researching, editing, etc. etc. to submit to places where, I might feel like my work would be the token nod to “diversity”.

I don’t know. I guess I’m just suspicious.

I’m suspicious of the genre industries because I feel like I can’t turn around without seeing some kind of racist fuckery. I don’t mind being aware of it, I find that important, but as a writer who will be submitting, like I don’t want to fuck with it. Sometimes I wonder if I do gain traction in any of the genre areas I like, am I going to wind up as a target of the raging puppy types?

I have a lot of complicated feelings about it.

On one hand, I have come to understand that I will not be able to sell my fiction directly to my readership. This isn’t a plea right now it’s the plain truth. That particular adventure is pretty done. It was a grand experiment, but I need to shut it down because it’s been mostly stressful and cost me money. I don’t have money to spend like that.

So what now?

I think I’m ready to get back into the swing of submitting fiction around. I have been thinking about #blackspecfic and I want to be in it. I want to be part of it. I got my hard hat and big girl boxer briefs on, I’ve got stories to tell and I’m ready.

It feels kind of nice to have that particular ambition again. I have my new and shiny submission tracking spreadsheet started up and I’ve clocked in some nice rejections already.

Aside from the failure of my indie authoring, the other thing that has drawn me back into the industry this way is that I have hope. For every racist fuckery filled comment section or twitter tantrum or attempt to sway awards, I see people fighting for the things I believe in and I can’t completely resist.

All this is a very roundabout way of saying, you could likely start seeing my name again around in magazines. And it feels good.

That’s it for now. I have been doing my author loveletters *newsletter but whatever* and this weeks is a good one. Come check it out here and subscribe if you like. New one every Saturdayish and never any spam.

Arty Dreams, Costly Dreams. And the Hustle.

I’ve been allowing myself bigger artistic dreams. I have a whole emotional uh, issue around doing art. I am very uncomfortable calling myself an artist but I’m working it out.

That said, I’m realizing very strongly just how much I’ve denied myself these dreams because of a lack of resources and access.

I sat down and made a list of the stuff I want to mix together to make a Shannon Created Art Thing.

  • Experimental film
  • Poetry
  • Self portraiture
  • Field recording
  • Spoken word
  • Make up

So those are some of the things swirling around my brain in the form of dreamy ideas about ways to present myself/my work to the world that belong only to me.

The thing that I’ve found that gets me stuck is cash. I don’t have a good camcorder, I don’t have the time to create the stuff to make the portraits. I don’t have a good digital camera.

I started doing Patreon to help myself save up for that stuff but, my Patreon cash has mostly been swallowed up by life. I’ve been trying not to kick my own ass over that. I don’t control gentrification and cost of living increases. Logically I know I’m hustling as hard as I can but fuck y’all, shit is fucking hard.

And I’m not the sort of person to just let it go and hope shit will turn out for the best. I’ve done that and honestly the stress is too much for me.I’m not a single person with no responsibilities. I can’t just up and wander off like dandelion fluff.

I’m just not about that life or that method of funding my artistic life. No shade, if you can let go and let the universe do what it do, get it booboo. Do you.

Y’all, I’m so at a strange place.

I have all this desire burning in me. I have ideas and spend hours jotting down things I want to try out. Things I want to say and do with visual/audio art. I don’t know how to carve out that cash.

So I’m doing what I know how to do. I’m saving up Amazon affiliate money, Bing search amazon gift cards for a camera. One I can use to shoot photos and videos. Nothing too complicated. Just enough. By the way, I added a ton more books to my little amazon store. Check it out if you would please.

Uniballer my partner is researching video editing software that is less complicated so I can learn it.

I’m not freelancing as much as I could be but, we know that is better for my actual heart if it hurts my wallet.

I’m letting myself learn to write about art without the weird shame/embarrassment I have surrounding it.

I’m on that grind y’all.On that hustle.

I will be/do the art I want to fucking do. I will make that shit happen. Trust.

A Confession from your Problematic Fave

Y’all.

I have a terrible confession to make.

Most of my Yeah, Write entries have been not just funsies flash, but, I’ve been experimenting on your readers.

This has been a little bit of a long long con.

I’ve long held the theory that a lot of what makes us not read particular genres isn’t necessarily subject matter or levels of say gore or terror but, in how it is presented. I’ve known people who refuse REFUSE to read anything that looks even pulpy or horrory or romancey because EW I don’t read those genres.

My experiment has involved presenting the reader, you- a thing that is either snugly or loosely genre fiction.

I have given you noir, fabulism, horror, quiet horror, slipstream, Non Western style literary fiction etc.

This week for yeah, Write I presented Lovecrafty fiction. Specifically, it was the quietest of Nyalathotep stories. Folks liked it. A friend of mine asked if it was from my archive of ideas for short scripts.

I was trying to satisfy both the literary reader, the quiet horror and on another level the Lovecraft nerd.

Here is what I did.

One of the hallmarks of Lovecraft (racism and fuckery aside) is the language he used and the names of things. Working from both memory and some resources like this website, I took some of his favorite words and used them in modern contexts:

The Gibbering Loon.

Somewhere deep inside his antediluvian self,

ululations

The next Lovecrafty clue was in how I referred to the mysterious Vivian.

When he lifts his face to look into her eyes, he sees, he sees the secrets of the Sleeping, Dreaming Gods and the black notice of the Outer Gods.

References Lovecraft fans know well.

I also decided to make her unmistakably Black. I have had an ambition to use Blackness in these Lovecrafty stories in a way that heals that particular wound for my inner baby nerd.

And Vivian herself tells us who she is:

“See inside me, I am the Crawling Chaos. I am reborn. Be mine, Detective St. Pierre.”

We Lovecraft dorks know what the Crawling Chaos is without having to invoke the name Nyarlathotep.

What interests me more, is that folks who I know aren’t necessarily Lovecraft dorks, got the terror.

Folks from Yeah, Write and some others I’ve spoken to have not totally understood, but y’all understand without the need for the genre restrictions that might make your eye as a reader skip it because, horror.

I have always believed that how we’re presented with things matters deeply, perhaps more deeply than a lot of folks like to think of themselves, as to how we take in and appreciate a thing.

As a reader, this is just human nature. I don’t think it is good or bad, it just is. And we can recognize it and make the decision to do something else. Read POC, do the year of no cis hetero White male authors.

As a creator, I’ve found that because this is where I live. In these inbetween places. In a place where I just write the shit. Trying to squirm around the constraints of genre work, has played a huge role in my development as a writer.

On one hand it does make it harder to get published sometimes.

On the other, I get to engage in Quiet Horror and sneak into your brain or your bed and live there for a bit.

Ultimately, as an artist the latter is far more satisfying to me personally.

It feels better for longer when someone says, I was thinking about this thing you made for three days.

I also get the satisfaction of representing what I’d like to read.

I get to fully plumb the depths of my own brain without worry or feeling like because I am writing X genre, I must do X thing.

I’m considering my experiment to be successful.

I am writing what the fuck I want to write.

Sometimes I have readers who feel it.

Sometimes I have readers who are like, I don’t know what the fuck is happening, but I’me with it.

I’m into it.

So now that you know what I’ve been doing, I hope you come back to see where else I go.

Thanks y’all.

Thank you for helping me get to this place, I’m eternally changed and grateful.

I was going to do a shout out list, but it got too long. Y’all know who you are.