The 2016 Wrap Up

Okay, my annual wrap up of the year.

First:

trashfire
[image description: a moving gif of a fire in a dumpster.]
A moment of solidarity and well y’all, the gif says it all.

So let’s talk about some of the hard stuff first.

I learned that mainstream/monied lit world likes to flirt with me. It likes to tell people they know my work but nothing follows. That’s been hard and I haven’t really talked about it in depth, but yeah it was a thing.

I came to terms with a fact I’ve known about my general readership for years. And before I talk about it, understand I’m not grabbing for sympathy or trying to be shady. It’s just the facts.

I’ve known on some level for years that my audiences, let’s say for the past ten years are hard pressed to extend their support to buying my stories or whatever. I’ve talked before a bit about my essentially failed etsy store (2-5$ stories), my other money things. And this year I feel like I’ve finally started the work by making some peace with this.

It has been a hard process. I’ve been through bouts of questioning my very existence as an artist to rage and back. Real talk, sometimes I still get very salty when I see folks I know who are easier on the world than I am sell ALL the things. I really do.

That being what it is, I went through some things. I had a thought of going old school and just delivering ALL the content for free since whatever nobody is tryin to pay me. Nah.

I tried to freelance again to fill the gaps. Noah, son. Like super hella nah. It was a failure. I studied, I wrote pitches that mimicked a lot of what I saw get picked up and….crickets. And as any writer will tell you, crickets is way worse than rejection. That fucked me all the way up.

So I’m not okay with it, but I get it. I guess.

I also realized in the realest sense that, I’m just not going to be one of those writers. And it’s sorta okay. We can’t all do that. I know some kick ass amazing writers who can and I admire the fuck out of them. I just can’t be them.

During these months of strife and anxiety, I also had some shit happen. I had some huge data losses. Like a lot of work just gone. I was able to recover some but some not so much.

I went to AWP and felt terribly gross about it. From my anxiety, to feelign snubbed at the bookfair (which I STILL haven’t written about) it wasn’t awesome. I got to see Roxane super briefly and remembered not to fling myself at her, but I had to run away because I had to pee. I was too shy to say hello to writers I recognized. But, I had a stellar reading and got to spend time with my bestie.

And other stuff.

Let’s talk some goodness.

I got to teach about writing and it was amazing.

I finally shook off my feelings that I am not a real poet and am working on my first to be published poetry book.

I did some other stuff but I want to tell you the most important thing to be saved from the 2016 trashfire.

I am finally comfortable with the creator I am.

I am not an entrepreneur, artist. I’ve tried to learn how and do a lot of things I thought I HAD to do in order to make my work a bit more sustainable and frankly, I’m just bad at it. Promotion, not my thing. I like to share but doing the damn thing overwhelms me and makes me feel bad. My self-esteem suffered because I was trying so hard to follow the advice and lessons and ecourses and everything.

What wound up happening was that I ran out of energy to actually create. My brain was so full of fuck that actually making/doing the things I was trying to hustle was impossible for me.

A big part of this has been that I’ve had health problems all year. The ones I’ve had since I was a kid have just been extra and I’ve learned I have to be very careful as to how I ration my energy. I can’t just burn until I break down anymore.

I’ve had to work through a mountain of guilt and shame about this. I’ve really started to brush it off and not feel less than or like I’m being some weirdo poseur.

One of my goals last year was to make my creative life sustainable in 2016. At the time I was only thinking about the financials.

This year I realized I have to not only consider the cash, but consider my heart.

I kept my little patreon going and it has been a joy and actively makes my real lived life better. There were points I wanted to close it because I felt like I wasn’t providing anything of value and thus didn’t deserve the patronage. Fuck that.

I started what was supposed to be my official writer newsletter. But, it has turned into a weekly love letter to my fellow creative folks. I don’t just talk about my work, I talk about art and it is my real heart. It’s where I give encouragement and talk about my creative failings and wins. I’m pretty into it and look forward to writing it every Saturday.

I started blogging again for me. As with my fatty blog, I’m using my blog to teach myself how I want to write about things like fashion, aging and beauty. I raised enough money during my fundraiser to go pro with it so at some point I can fully customize it.

What else?

I also have felt incredibly supported through this process by my people. I have a mother fucking literary squad.

I have people who understand me and my processes and my foibles and help me get along.

Realizing that while I’m a very solitary type of creator, I don’t have to go it all alone has been the best thing.

So, to wrap up.

2017 is gonna be mother fucking lit.

I’m scaling back on my political posts and essays so I can finish my poetry book and get SCLAB going the right way. I’m settling in and will post work when I feel like it. And feel okay with that.

If you want to get a peek at what the new Self-Care Like A Boss is gonna be, sign up for our email list here. Wanna see me read a tiny bit from the old version? See here. Also check my channel there for longer readings by me.

That’s it for now. I’ll come back with more stuff here and there through the remainder of the sparkle season.

Thanks for being here. I hope you have a good whatever you celebrate and that 2017 brings you what you need.

What had happened was…

Currently I’m in an obsessive work mode.

I’m working on:

  • Finishing two poetry chapbooks.
  • SCLAB materials.
  • Protest fictions.
  • Daiyuverse. 

That’s pretty much all I can focus on. I am not a huge fan of the holidays so keeping them off my mind with work helps. This year has been particularly difficult, regular mundane life stuff has been intense.

As per usual for me, this time of year also brings me way down into a deep navel gazey type space. I’m looking at a lot of my endeavors, looking at what has been good, what has failed.

Some things that have happened this year more than other years:

  1. Me having to explain repeatedly when being criticized for not being journalistic in my work that I am not a journalist. Never have claimed to be. Not one time.
  2. Related, dealing with critique that my work is too personal or too emotional when I’m writing about my own lived life. Not theory- my actual history.
  3. Noticing that as I’ve expanded my audience somewhat, a lot of that audience *mainly white folks* seem to only read my work when I’m hurt or angry.
  4. Realizing that as hungry for my pain as those readers are, they are loathe to pay for my pain.
  5. When I’ve pointed this out to a couple of people who have wanted to give me exposure, crickets.
  6. I applied for four artist/writer grants. Got none.
  7. I still don’t really understand residencies you pay for. like, what about the rest of us?
  8. I’ve had to figure out when I will and won’t write about politics because I find it too emotionally draining to do for free.
  9. I’ve made way less money writing than I did in 2015. By a lot.

#9 has been the hardest. I spent a lot of time at points this year pitching, not hearing anything back, stressing. I also had the biggest dip in self confidence as far as the monetary worth of my work as a writer.

Y’all if I’m gonna keep it 100, that shit was the hardest thing. The disparity between what people I respect have said to me about work I’ve done and ideas I’ve had and the essential non response in the industry or offers of “exposure” etc fucked me all the way up. It got to the point of me really questioning whether or not I should start SCLAB again with Milcah, it had me freaking out that people don’t buy the work in my Etsy store even at rock bottom prices.

I was prepared to shut down all my writing related hustles because the failure of them really got to me. I really couldn’t get over the level of nobody gives three bucks worth of a fuck. A lot of my struggle was also due to finances being so much tighter this year. That living expenses, increase I had in early 2016 fucked everything up.

Add that with my failure to be a successful freelancer and y’all, shit has been a struggle.

My friend Ayla wrote this piece I’m Too Busy Being Poor To Be Creative. It is an old piece but super true.

My biggest challenge as a writer has been to find that place where I can do my best work and survive and it ain’t been easy. Shit is hard as fuck.

That said, how about some highlights from 2016?

There’s other stuff that happened.

So things were not all bad. it has been a huge struggle and a lot of things have flopped. I’ve had some really wonderful success as well.

As the year draws to a close, I’m mostly having to struggle with myself. I don’t want to succomb to bitterness and the salty anger I feel when I see shit get published and paid for. Yeah, it hurts a lot, but I can’t fix it.

Okay that’s it for right now. I will likely queue up some posts for a while so I can get down with my work.

If I don’t see y’all before hand, have a safe and happy new year.

 

Daydreams and Whatnots.

Okay hello folks. October has been…wow.

I’ll talk more about my horror thing and my performance later.

Don’t forget if you like rambly, love letters from one creative heart to another, you can get my newsletter. Check out the latest one right here.

Fall has me feeling like I want more art. I want to make stuff. I want to try new arty things. Actually, I will talk about my class thing.

After talking to other writers that way, I remembered why teaching writing in the way I have in my heart/brain is on my ultimate things list.

I love having that heart to heart connection. I love saying something and seeing a light in another person’s eyes. I love seeing that slow nod and the little smiles. I love it.

And I feel this way not just about writing, but other stuff I’ve talked to people about. In terms of writing, I just dunno. It feels like the thing that would fulfil me on a level I can hardly imagine. I’m a little afraid of it because-I don’t know.

I think part of my reluctance to pursue it more aggressively is my dread fear of coming across as a charlatan. I don’t go in for the One True Way gimme all your money or you suck type of thing and I understand that, that sells I just do not want to do it.

I dunno y’all. It calls to me. But the idea of really making moves to implement a way to do this type of teaching either on a one to one basis or in a class structure is also a lot of energy to expend for me and I don’t know if I can do it.

The other thing that bugs me is that while I have a pretty great close up support system, I don’t believe that people in a position to help me with this would and that’s just…a reality of being me. I’ll pat myself on the back a little and say I can say that with only a little bitterness. And I can say it with the knowledge that it’s not paranoia on my part but lessons learned from experience.

I dunno y’all.

I’ve learned through my lit partner in crime Milcah that I personally need to pump my breaks when my passions are lit like this. I can burn myself out and hurt myself emotionally and I am too old for that.

I’m slowing down. I’m thinking. Can I do this? What about some one on one coaching to start?

I don’t know what’s gonna happen but I’ve got the burn and the need to make something happen.

That’s it for now. You can read a couple of new things over at Medium. 

Also if you want some spoopy entertainment for your Halloween reading pleasure, head over to Etsy and pick up TWO Lovecrafty stories by me for just 2 bucks. It’s awesome. Enjoy.

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.

Updates and whatnots.

Hello People.

Or robots.

So I’ve been a bit AWOL. I went on vacation and while I was on vacation, I had grand plans for celebrating my partner’s birthday, a day out including dinner and movie and some writing time.

Instead, I got dog shit sick AND got a bit of shit news and paid one large bill that rendered us too broke to buy a pizza for a number of days. Thus, I got very depressed as well and anxious.

Shit was not awesome.You can read more about it here, this is my author newsletter. I call it a love letter and it is a more intimate rambly type thing with the occasional announcement. I promise no spam.

The other thing that’s going on right now is I’m trying to recalibrate myself and how I’m working. I’ve been trying the method of see a call, start a thing, pitch-wait.

That ain’t working.

I’m coaxing myself back into doing things the way they were working (if not in a profitable way, but in a less soul killing type way) write the things, peruse the calls, maybe pitch, submit.

To that end I’ve got myself a few new spreadsheets. I started a new submission tracking one for both fiction/non fiction, whatever.

A maybe I’d like to pitch these ideas/write these things doc.

This is not the most profitable. However, I have to stop punching myself in the heartballs over it. I keep trying to force some seismic change in how I work and what I do and it just never fucking works out. I always wind up feeling like shit.

Y’all, I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself.

No that’s bullshit I do. Because money and poverty brain and my small financial ambitions.

Currently the reality of trying to survive and take care of my family in a rapidly gentrifying area when my income is not going up at all is so stressful. Reality is that we could very well be priced out of our home come next March and that could mean having to move another hour away from my job.

A lot of bad things are right here in my face.

That said, I’m trying very hard to trust that I will get through and be able to keep writing the shit I want. I want to trust that the work I’ve done on myself around these issues won’t keep me from achieving what I want.

Now that my panic has passed a little bit. And I’ve allowed myself to cry and be bitter and be angry I am poor- I’m back to a bit of calm.

I’m struggling to balance my artiness with my need to, you know live and whatnots. I’m trying.

Now I’m off to work on Patreon stuff.

If y’all could be so kind, feel free to check out my Etsy because I’m gong to be taking everything down in a week or so. Also I’ve got my teespring shop up and running so check that out and get u a poetry sticker.

And again (I may say it too often) seriously if you know folks who might be into what I’m up to, please share my links. I know a lot of y’all are poor like me and getting more eyes on my stuff matters pretty heavily.

Thanks for coming along y’all.

(I’ll be x-posting this to medium.)

 

Hustle and Grind updates.

Ooohkay.

Head on over and check out my Patreon update. I’m in the process of figuring out how to make it better for patrons and for me.

I’m not entirely sure what to do. To be honest, I’ve gotten zero feedback as to what folks want to see so I’m half assuming that means nothing.

I’m not sure.

I’m working on it. I was going to say more but I don’t really want to spill my purse and insecurities today.

What else?

OH I’ve launched my merch store. Currently I’ve got tees and stickers. I have full poems on stickers and will be designing some slightly fancier ones. I’ll be doing some other stuff as well. I’ve linked it on the right down there under my etsy widget.

I’m workin.

I’m workin on stuff.

I’ve not abandoned my big dream stuff, I’m rethinking it.

I’m very committed to keeping my dream things accessible to folks who are poor like me but I also want them to contribute financially in a positive way to my life. I don’t know how to do that exactly yet.

Shit is so hard. It is very emotionally taxing and apparently a big anxiety trigger for me. I hate feeling like I’m just doing it all wrong. Not that I’ve failed because I’m good at failing, but that I’m fucking it up and have no chance not to fail.

This is the part of arting that has made it difficult for me to do it.

That said, the most interesting part of how things are turning out for me is this. As upset as I am about dayjob stuff or other poor people poverty bingo bullshit, I find I’m saying, yeah I don’t have time for that I have art to make.

AND I don’t only say it to myself, I fucking mean it.

As seriously in need of cash that I am right now, I am not panic pitching to places I hate. I am not forcing myself to smile and deal nice with editors I’ve seen show ALL their racist asses.

I still feel like this and say, fuck you pay me.

Emotionally, this is huge progress for me. I’m not sitting here with burning guts and panic shits and crying because I’m not able to turn off parts of my heart to make a buck.

I’m also super privileged in that I have some support. Folks who believe in my heart and my art. Even when I hate both.

So that’s what’s up.

More news possibly later this week.

Call me Daddy.

Okay first read this storify of some tweets from the other day.

A few weeks ago after yet another shitty interaction with some fellow “professional” writers, I was musing to my partner Uniballer that they pretend to be so clean but I see through them. I told him that it was/is easier to deal with fuckin dirty ass hood people, than it is with them.

We got to talking about how for me, dealing with pimps, dealers, gangsters and other criminals is just easier. When I deal with those people, we can establish a boundary and 90% of them I have ever dealt with have respected it.

Dealing with some of these writing world, people feels like they are trying to turn me out in the way that pimps did when I was 16. I remember one in particular who would alternately tell me how smart and beautiful I was and then would tell me how nobody else could do for me what he could do for me.

Cue emails/contact from people who offer me “opportunities” which, when we get down to brass tacks means me doing the heavy lifting and them giving me a chance to do a lot of work, get seen maybe and not get paid.

Then there are the (always men) like the one who approach me with some weird Daddy type issues. They always offer to show me the error of my ways, it has happened a million times. I know it has happened to other writers, some of us it happens in college or for me it started happening the first time i went to a writing class taught by an older dude.

There is always an air that they have the answers to make you a better writer, to help catapult you from kinda good scribbler with nice tits to their Lolita brilliant protege ingenue.

Don’t get it twisted, if you want to do that. Do you boo. For real. Do it.

However, I personally don’t. Even way back when at that first writing class in the moments after the glow of this learned fairly handsomish Daddy/Humbert type told me how much potential I had, I got it.

What makes me so angry I rant on twitter like that (or if you know me, I do it in person as well) is I don’t have time for this fucking bullshit. Like, I’m not stupid. I see you mother fucker and no. And don’t keep trying once I say no.

Inevitably, these people who want to take up my damn time, who want to use me as a resource and a way to say OMG LOOK AT DIS NEGRO WE GOT, and AND who are trying to use me as fap material or fuck me, not one of them wants to pay.

As I have been known to say many times, this ePussy ain’t free.

You want to fulfill some Daddy/Humbert fantasy shit? Pay me 25$ a page and I will write you some self insert smut that will spin your fucking head around. But, the essential bit here is:

fupayme
Image description: Bold white text on black says. Fuck You. Pay Me.

Short of that, I ain’t fuckin with you.

Not to mention the level of entitlement and privilege it takes to then be offended when I SEE what you’re doing and call you on your bullshit?

Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, I used to work graveyard shift. Every morning I’d get downtown about 6:20 AM and I’d head into a restaurant and have breakfast. I got the same thing every time. Four slices of bacon, two biscuits, one fried egg. That’s all I could afford. I usually sat at the counter and read while I ate because the first back to my neighborhood didn’t come until around 8 and I usually took the 8:45 bus because it was less crowded.

I met a prostitute and we would eat together. We talked hair and nails and how tricks were. Eventually she introduced me to her Pimp and when she stopped working mostly, I had breakfast with him. At the beginning he was grooming me to turn me out. I knew it. I allowed it to reel out a little bit before I let him know in no uncertain terms that we weren’t gonna be fuckin, if I was gonna work it would be for myself and naw.

After that, for months we had a decent relationship. Every now and again he’d pitch me on being his newest in his stable, it became a joke. He taught me how to drink bourbon, he gave me a bottle for my birthday and stuff. I went to his birthday party and her birthday party. It was fine.

I knew he was shady. I knew he was up to no good, but he didn’t try to rook me into thinking otherwise.

Unlike these fucking men who bother me.

At one point in my twitter rant, I thought of something I’d seen my homie Kitty Stryker say and you can buy the shirt here.

It says, I want to fuck the privilege, right out of you.

Yes, I want to.

I mean, if dick is a cure all, I have a big dick and I will travel. Like if we presume that these dudes are right and dick is a cureall, I have experience. I will brag and say that once upon a time I very good cocksman. Like I will try to fuck the privilege RIGHT the fuck out of you.

Just saying. I know where the prostate is and I’m a fair but firm Daddy. You want to play Daddy, I know how to be your Daddy.

But as always, fuck you pay me. I am legit too fucking poor to even be thinking about all this.