Real Results- When Folks Show Up Edition.

HI y’all. I really wanted to update/talk about what happened after my last post talking about how much help I need.

I want to tell y’all what happens when you give immediate support to someone like me.

First thing that happened:

  • I was able to redo my budget.
  • Bought 150$ worth of pantry items/food to be delivered tomorrow.
  • Got partner some new drawers and socks.
  • Got both of us some new immune system stuff.
  • Got partner extra medication for pain management/gut problems.
  • Dropped some cash into my moving savings fund.
  • Donated a few bucks to a couple of other Black Femmes in need.
  • I have a bit of a firm plan/budget to supply myself with personal care items to last through Christmas.

Effects:

  • I slept without stress/anxiety induced night terrors for the first time in three weeks.
  • I bought myself some chapstick.
  • I was able to poop (after being stress induced constipated for days)

What else?

I was able to calm down enough to get some writing done.

The most important thing is this.

When I see folks wringing their hands about oh what do I do, this is what you do.

For folks like me, material, concrete and yes financial support means we can make our art, do the shit we need to and survive.

Most of us who ask, hate it. Every day I have a few friends I talk to about it because we hate it. We cry and worry about how we are perceived. We have folks, even folks who love us disrespect us and our work because if we “just worked harder” or whatever, of course we’d be fine right?

We go through a lot. We often see folks post/contribute to shit like, help some white guy make potato salad, folks make thousands in days and we’re literally begging for meal money and then worried that after a while of promoting the stuff we sell that no one buys (as we’re always told to do) and posting our fundraisers and paypals and venmos nobody will pay attention and what will we do?

Real talk?

In my wide circle of Black femmes in particular, many of whom don’t know each other. Almost every day I see the effect of the way Black femmes don’t get funding grind down the resolve of even the hardest hustlers I know. I see fb statuses and there are private mesages and we’re all crying and all of us are feeling like maybe we’re not really worth shit.

THis is the raw truth. We can only hear how great and powerful we are so much. We can only provide so much education/things for a community at large that won’t throw us a bone. Don’t give a shit if we starve. Folks might not mean us to feel that way but that’s where so many of us end up.

It is why there’s a group of us I know and we literally pass 5$ around to each other whenever one of us sells something or whatever because nobody else will and that’s fucked up.

And yes we ALL know about the devestation around the world right now.

That said, this is what we always live with. For most of us right now we struggle to even get people to boost our links. I mean, why tell us how amazing we are if you can’t be bothered to share when we are in need?

That’s why I say, support living artists.

That’s why I say, tip often and tip well. You don’t have to have a lot of money.  Literally if half of the folks who read our work in general *for most of us* on blogs, medium or whatever each dropped us a dollar- lives changed.

But that’s not what happens and a lot of us, especially those of us who write a lot and pointedly about racism, gender, etc wind up feeling like shit, not being able to have sustainable art lives and whatnot.

I’m pretty sure this is not what I’m supposed to say but y’all know I gotta be real about shit and this is how it is.

Thank you for your support folks. It really does mean the world and for my little family in particular, that we survive.

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State of The Artist and Their uh..things.

Hello friends.

A lil bit of news.

First of all, pardon my little hiatus. I had a family emergency, my partner got very ill. Two ER visits, he’s been incapacitated, I got sick. Then I got really fucking sick as in, face down ass up missed a fuckton of dayjob hours type sick.

Basically so far Sept has me like:

stares
[image description: a still from the film Pulp Fiction. Samuel L. Jackson staring. Text reads: STARES MUTHA FUCKER’LY]
Due to the illness in the household, we had to spend pretty much every dime we had saved for transportation, medications for both of us, pricier food than we usually get because I had to shop by myself. That laid us out financially and it’s going to be at least a month before we recover.

Unfortunately, I panicked and cut my entertainment budget out entirely (a whopping 15$) and put off reserving the laptop/tablet thing I want. I also sold an essay so it was kind of good and bad?

Can I be real with y’all?

As rough as things have been in the last few years, these last few weeks have wrecked me. Life for real pushed EVERY one of my fucking trauma buttons.

That said.

I’m working out some things.

My priorities right now are:

  • Keeping self and partner fed and with proper medications.
  • Saving a fuckton of money to move.

That is all my life is right now.

I’m thinking of going ahead and opening up for some sensitivity reading. Nothing long. Articles, essays. Come back to get full info next week.

I’m grinding at that freelance shit. Y’all. Let me tell you a quick story.

After a shitty day, I had a long FB chain where my witchy friends and I laid some curses like hell and it was so satisfying I wrote an essay that day and sold it to a new to me venue the day after. Y’all. Sometimes, just fling your stuff out into the universe. I’ll be talking more about that in my Loveletter later today.

I mention the grind because my fundraiser continues to go badly and it is demoralizing. Not only is it failing but, every time I post it places people get on their Y DON’T U WORK HARDER LAZY POOR ASSHOLE.

Rationally, I know that it is bullshit that I feel like I have to justify asking for help but I can’t really deal with trying to answer that shit individually so, here we are.

At this point y’all, it is so imperative that we be able to move I can only focus on that. If we don’t move, our health, mental and physical is going to deteriorate further and we cannot do that.

So I’m on the grind.

I currently have more pitches/subs out than I have in a couple of years. I’m pretty excited about it. I have done some big swing submissions and I ain’t stopping.

If you wanna help this post is still super accurate and as always, when I put out my rates for sensitivity readings etc share em. Know somebody with cash and a burning need to do something tangible? Help a living artist live. Except for Etsy the shop is closed.

SO there we go.

More later.

Further Fuckitlist things and comforts.

Comforts first.

I really love audiobooks and stories. I have some faves y’all should know about.

First one right now I’m listening to one of my favorite voice talents read a story I have been into since it came out. Buried Eyes by Lavie Tidhar.  That swords n sorcery n guns n shit stuff is pretty awesome. You should buy all of Lavie Tidhar’s work cause it is really friggin good. The reader is Graeme Dunlop who has a lovely voice and is very emotive and really good.

Actually just dive in at the linked podcast site and find stuff.

Another fave is this story called Gig Marks from Pseudopod. Y’all it is so damn good I think of it all the time. I love a great ghost story and it is perfect.

In my backpack I have copies of Narrow River, Wide Sky: A Memoir by my beloved friend Jenny Forrester. Bukowski in a Sundress: Confessions from a Writing Life by Kim Addonizio.

All nice things I am enjoying.

What am I writing? I started a weird bird person story here’s a bite:

Mr. Peach White likes to walk with his wing just around my shoulders. He forgets how short my legs are compared to his and I must always adopt a rolling bird waddle to keep up with him. He speaks a mile a minute, informing me about the children, trouble in the local rookery, the gossip from the cranes who fly the river and return with mail and messages. He snorts and shakes his crest when we pass a seabird colony full of the howling of the gulls and cormorants.

“So you see, Mary of Brown skin, it must be quite impossible to make peace with these strange creatures. These odd drab birds that fly with misery from the north. What need of them, have we? Our city is a place of-” He stops talking, distracted by something or other and I catch my breath a bit. I would never deliberately slow him down, he is one of my regular customers, but I do appreciate it when something catches his eye. “Mary, Miss Mary of Brown Skin, look there.”

He points one white wing and I have to stand on tiptoe to follow the direction of his pointing. “Um, can you lower your wing a little bit please?” I sound like a mouse but, Mr. Peach White burbles an apology and lowers his wing so I can see over it. Across the river there was a dust cloud full of ruckus of some sort. Squawking, rough shouts from working laboror human humans. Mr. Peach White is notoriously and insatiably nosy, he gathers me under one wing and hustles me to the nearest weaverbird.

What the fuck is this? I don’t even know. Except that the end is gonna be kinda gory but romantic? I like the idea but why bird people? I find the idea so terrifying I can’t stand myself.

What else?

I’m working on this literary, memoir related, observational thing and I CANNOT for the life of me figure out how I want to write it and I’m getting on my own nerves. My first attempt started out way too academic, the second was closer ish but not there yet. My head is SO FUCKING FULL and I just….

I mean what if I could just reach in, give the ole brain sponge a squeezy squeeze and Voila essay falls out of my nose. Shit, at this point I’d take it if it dribbled out of my butt.

At least I feel like I’d be deeper into this fucking thing than I am. Can y’all tell I’ve about run out of patience?

I’ve mentioned my impatient studiousness but for fuck sake I JUST WANT TO WRITE THE SHIT ALREADY.

But I also kinda don’t because I’m not ready.

OH let us talk of shit I’ve kicked off my Fuckit List.

I wrote this review for ROAR. I feel very good about it. Read it.

I also sent a few like major swing for the fences pitches last week. Baby needs shoes and bylines.

I’m having one of those weeks when part of my fuckit list involves a big ass project that just seems like too much. I’d need:

  • Start up funding (I could likely contribute a bit but I’d need to crowdfund the rest and well…that doesn’t work for me)
  • To stop writing other projects/things for at least 3-4 months.
  • Help with reach from folks who haven’t shown up for me in the past.
  • Opportunity to work on this thing without worrying about how much it is costing me.

Today, I feel like these seemingly few things are never going to all align. I’m frustrated. I don’t -want- to have to make a whole business. I don’t want to work that as an extra full time job because, I’m not in a position to just leap and assume everything will be fine. I’m responsible for another human being staying clothed, housed and fed.

Also honestly, as I’m researching I’m just- I don’t want to. I don’t. I just want to make enough money in life to maybe not be triggered to fuck on payday, or be able to buy vegetables whenever I want some and maybe, MAYBE buy some fucking underwear without feeling guilty or otherwise fucking up my budget.

And no it isn’t that I don’t work. I work hard at maintaining the quality of life I have.

The super extra frustrating thing is I already fucking know that the path above, isn’t the one I goddamn want. I don’t want to try and run a business and write and live. I’m super extra tired of wanting to or needing to feel like I HAVE to try doing this in order to live and maybe come up a tiny bit.

I am not looking for some rags to riches come up thing.

I just want a bit less stress and maybe a nice place to live.

And maybe do some good and make a little coin.

But nah.

This post also brought to you by someone who thought it was helpful to tell me how much I don’t believe in myself or want a better life because I won’t not work my regular job for 6 months to MAYBE find a better position…like.

What the fuck good would coding or other certs do me if I lost my place to live or am unable to provide for my family?

When I asked if she’d like to pay my expenses she got angry and just kept giving me that be your own boss schtick like it is gospel and it pissed me off.

Okay I’m frustrated and upset and I’m gonna not do that for a while.

The Support I need Right Now

At the suggestion of some fellow poor artists, I figured I’d update some stuff and tell everyone in the world what support I need right now.

My current situation:

  • I have a slight cost of living (not fancy living just living) increase that I can do nothing about.
  • Partner and I are both in dire need of some basic shit that we just don’t have money for right now. I’m talking underwear that fits, socks. A few pairs of jeans/pants each. Camis/tanks/tees. Basics.
  • We need to stock our pantry. Non-perishables, heavy stuff, because my partner has mobility issues and getting a good stock up has been impossible between that, my schedule and the cost.

So really what we need is help. We need a chunk of cash to explicitly use for this shit.

I also have some creative projects in the works but have decided on putting them away for now until I can get our household a little bit more stable in our current situation.

So that said.

What I need right now is signal boosts, paying work that isn’t like a job (I will talk about that in a second), and donations/tips/sales.

Here are the many things:

My Gofundme. 

Venmo. Cashme.  Paypal. Etsy.  Patreon.

If you aren’t down with cash and want to do something material. Here’s my amazon list. I have some stuff I need but most of it is for funsies stuff.

Now the job thing.

I have a full time job still. I make just barely enough to cover bills if we eat poorly etc. I was considering (again) a part time job but, just recently I’ve worked 6 of 7 days in a row a few times and I am paying for it heavily. I just physically can’t anymore and there’s that.

Also, real real talk. I really want a chance to have some stuff just taken care of so I’m not spending my little savings or just having a chance to feel secure enough in that we have a bunch of shit we need so I can continue to work as i have been.

And that’s it. That’s what I need. Like my Gofundme says, my lil family just needs a leg up.

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.

 

On my Mind

Yours truly is dog shit sick again and was flat on my ass for two days and I’m at work struggling to stay awake.

Very well meaning friends often send me listings to residencies and y’all I STILL have questions.

One of the very famous ones closed not too long ago and a friend was like OMG GO GO GO.

I added up the cost to basically take 3 weeks off of work and y’all. It would cost me (I estimated costs only eating once a day) more than I make in a month. Not including missed wages, my own travel anxiety etc etc.

For someone like me, breadwinner on a working poor budget, there is just nothing that would justify the cost and it makes me sad. Are there, residencies for folks like me? For single parents? For other folks with limited financial or other support?

Since switching shifts I’ve been looking into lit stuff locally and I run into a lot of the same issues on a smaller scale. I see some regular writer meet ups that are mid week, for me that’d mean during my work week, having to stay in the neighborhood with all my shit. Then either Lyft home (at least 35$) or take the bus and walk home carrying my laptop. Not really optimal because I’d not get home until late and have to get up early for work the next day.

It just feels so terrible. And honestly, if ONE more mother fucker talks to me about sacrifice.

What should I sacrifice?

My partners medication? Electricity? Eating? Menstrual products? My job and thus my home at some point?

Tis the season for poor folks to be salty I guess. I go through it a lot because I know that folks pressure me sometimes and think that I demur because of a self-esteem thing but honestly, I just don’t usually have the energy to math it all out for them.

It’s like trying to explain that while I know why some lit mags charge, I’m not all in it. Like, to give myself good odds to get something place in one of them, I’m going to have to spend like 80-100 bucks and nah son. I’d rather get some sushi or some underwear.

Being poor often feels like having to constantly explain that it’s not that I don’t feel like my work is good enough, or that I’m good enough or that no I’m not wasting all my money, yes I know how to fuckin budget etc- so I don’t give the FULL breakdown every time because it’s just so exhausting.

I feel like I have to say this quarterly but you know, when folks talk about being poor, please don’t poorsplain to them. Please don’t assume they just don’t know how/how much something really costs. I feel like I get down this way every few months when whatever residency folks think I should go to opens up and honestly it just makes me sad.

Listen to us when we say what we need or why we’re not doing something. I had an aquaintance insist she needed to know why I wasn’t applying for a residency and it got to the interrogation point where I had to really go ALL the way into the finances of my life and no I don’t think I suck as a writer and just y’all…

Shit is exhausting.

So if y’all will excuse me, I need to do some work.

 

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.