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.

 

Advertisements

On Fundraising.

I started a new fundraiser last week.

Please have a look and share from here.

For the last few months almost daily I sit down and do a lot of math. Playing with my budget, trying to squeeze out more than the small amount I put in savings each month, I make sure I get all of our bills paid between dayjob money, writing money and side hustle money by the 5th of the month. The 5th is the day my partner’s food stamps recharge and we can eat decent food.

The thing about using food stamps that sort of makes me laugh is this. One time at Safeway with a cart laden with stuff like fruit, vegetables, a little fish (there was a BOMB sale on these perfect for 2 salmon steaks), some condiments, etc you know the healthy shit people think us fat asses don’t eat, I had a fistful of coupons and I could hear a woman behind me bitching. “Must be nice that I’M paying for that. I’M stuck eating a TV DINNER. IT MUST BE NICE.”

I’ve heard it a ton.

Another time at the discount grocery store with a cart full of processed, salty, ready made foods, same type of thing. “GOD I mean LOOK at what I’m buying for THOSE people.”

I feel like a lot of what I hear and am told about crowdfunding for personal reasons is the same. Messages in my “other” inbox telling me to get a job, people who staunchly talk about how they NEVER support any fundraiser, especially those by scammers like me, etc. I feel the same way.

I was raised to believe that if you are poor or can’t afford something regardless of what it is, it is your own fault. Either you pull yourself up by your bootstraps or fuck you.

It’s taken me most of my adult life to unlearn that. It’s been simple to not apply those beliefs to other poor folks. It’s been easy to advocate for other people. I’ve held hands and helped fill out endless DSHS forms. I’ve written letters and blablabla.

For everyone else.

For me, I get upset that I’m not able to save the way I want to or that saving for one thing at a time takes me months of work. I wrestled with myself and figured out that a measly 2k would put me about six months ahead in terms of things I’ve been needing/wanting. Most of my list has been on and off my list for months. I tell myself no I don’t need the tablet I have a new phone to work on, I don’t need a different coat I can just repatch the one I have.

This is stuff I fight regularly.

That said, I finally did decide to do the fundraiser. I’m going to let it run probably through March after my birthday. I’ll link it in the sidebar and refer to it in posts on occasion. I’ll try not to be an asshole about it. However when you see it, do remember I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t need help.

I’m going to work on not shaming myself or feeling shitty about doing it. I don’t like doing it but here I am.

In the meantime. On Friday the first bit of free horror flash for y’all to enjoy. I will also be talking probably at great length about a new thing I’m trying AND AND…maybe a tiny video reading?

Oh shit son.

 

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.

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.)

 

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.

Another Turn of the Wheel- Big Promo post.

Oh hi.

I’m gonna keep it 100 as usual. Recently (last night) a source of some of my extra survival income has abruptly dried up.

After some panic, I’ve got myself in check and I have a bit of a plan to bring in more monies.

Some folks have asked what I need.

Promotion.

So if you haven’t bought til now, now is a good time. Let’s start with some lit.

First up, Etsy.  For under 11$ you can get everything I have listed. That’s a whole lot of poetry and literature. You can get two slipstream stories featuring different Magical Black Girls and the as yet not notorious Motherfuckess Manifesta. Now, due to fees and whatnots, likely this will be the last month I have Etsy going so go get it now. Don’t have 10.50$ to spare? Please, PLEASE share the link to the shop. Tweeter, facebooks, whatever.

If you want to drop a tip in my tip jar and stuff, you can do that here. 

Want some bang for your tip? Head over to Medium where I have a good amount of exclusive content that was very time intensive (my series on Diversity in lit is a good example) and a lot of labor. You can also share those links and encourage folks to kick down some coin.

I will be reopening my Teespring shops with some new tees. I will make a post about that.

Now for transparency, let’s talk about my situation.

(I’ll be updating my Patreon to reflect what’s going on as well)

In the Spring there was a corporate level change at my dayjob that changed the frequency I get paid. The consequence of that has been that I have to use 95% of one paycheck to pay just my rent. And generally speaking, the last week of one moth and the first week and a half of the next are tight. We (my partner who is disabled and gets a small amount of disability) have to cover rent, food, medication for the partner, and any incidentals out of that check+his disability.

 

After that, we were able to reconfigure stuff. I’ve been using my Patreon money and a bit of other money to cover survival stuff and bills between paychecks.

Now, because I’ve had to shift pattern/side hustle money into survival money, I’ve not been able to really save up for things like a camera, start up costs for my writing lessons/classes. I’ve cut back on my for funsies stuff. Due to this situation, I’ve decided to cut back on my passion project writing (Medium mainly) so I can use what energy I have to pursue more freelance work.

For those who hate it when folks like me ask for money let me (I really don’t want to get trolled about this) explain what I’m doing to mitigate my need for extra cash/donations/sales:

Stuff I’ve cut from my budget:

  • Audible
  • Beauty Con box (quarterly expense)
  • No self-care/skincare/haircare purchase this quarter
  • Two domains left to expire (annual expense)
  • Twice a week coffee at whatever coffee place.
  • Postponed buying a new phone, extra glasses, tablet, birthday piercings for Uniballer and I etc.

I’ve also not been dividing writing/hustle money and dayjob money. It’s ALL household/survival/life money now.

I have, as I mentioned, a plan in place to get my teespring open and keep it running. I have some other plans that will take a bit more time to get in place, but will hopefully bring in that extra long term bit of coin.

I say this because I hate it when people assume that if you need help you are doing nothing.

And honestly given my stress levels right now I can’t deal with that.

So here it is. Basically, please boost my links, don’t be an asshole to me about it and if you can toss me some coin that’s cool too. Thanks.