Currently I’m in an obsessive work mode.
I’m working on:
- Finishing two poetry chapbooks.
- SCLAB materials.
- Protest fictions.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Realizing that as hungry for my pain as those readers are, they are loathe to pay for my pain.
- When I’ve pointed this out to a couple of people who have wanted to give me exposure, crickets.
- I applied for four artist/writer grants. Got none.
- I still don’t really understand residencies you pay for. like, what about the rest of us?
- 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.
- 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?
- Kept my Patreon going and I’m into Daiyuverse 2.It is going better than I’d anticipated.
- My first publication of 2016 was solicited, paid for and a great experience working with a banging ass editor.
- I started an author newsletter that has turned into a love letter to creative folks.
- I read at Unchaste at AWP16. It was a great show.
- I read at the UW for the first time ever.
- My most read poem at Ink Node in 2016 was one of my Queen Poems.
- I failed to print but wrote my first real shit chapbook. The Motherfuckess Manifesta.
- SCLAB will live again!
- I’ve been running a low key doing an okay fundraiser because we need help.
- I wrote about my genders for the first time.
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.