What A Frickin Year bro.

OKAY so let’s do recent news then my annual navel gazing look back at my own fuckery.

First up. My last publication of 2019 is one close to my heart. This essay was solicited, rejected, submitted, rejected a lot. Here is a taste:

Cultures around the world covet Blackness. Our skin tones, our styles, our hair, our features until, those things are attached to an actual Black person. Many of us have lived through harassment, job loss and general public humiliation because our style is too ghetto, our hair is inappropriate. I was raised to conform. Keep my hair straight, not be, act or look too Black. Blackness and my expression of it was constrained by the White gaze.

I was not taught how to love myself or how to be a human being.

III

Nothing about my physical appearance has ever been “right” save for a time during an extended eating disorder relapse when I was thin. Most of my life I have been chunky or fat. I am not able bodied. My teeth are not good. My skin is not clear. My hair is, frequently a mess. What began for me as a shameful secret has become the key to my personal liberation. My morals are, abhorrent to American culture.

Read it here at Queen Mobs Teahouse.

What else? I’ve resumed my newsletter/creatives loveletters. I moved over to Substack so come check em out. The year end big ole chonk one will be out probably soon.

This leads me into a little bit about what I’m doing with my work, what I’m working on and stuff. So I won’t be doing any super deep essays for a while. No new shit about racism, Anti Blackness etc. Y’all I honestly just can’t. I’m burnt out. Uh here’s the thing. I don’t think I will make my writer bones writing that shit. I’m not the one and that’s fine. Yes, I am good at writing those things. Yes, it matters deeply to me but, my language and who I am as a person and how I write just tends to cause problems and I’m tired.

In my continuing quest to figure out how to be more sustainable in my art, this part of my craft is just too much for me right now. The publications that fuck with me, most aren’t able to pay a whole bunch and I’m not mad at them for that, indie media is a struggle. I am very mindful that the payment I can get, often doesn’t counteract the cost of the rest of the bullshit.

This is brought to you by the fact that an entry I wrote here a few years ago, STILL makes white people so angry I get shit about it. I wrote about the experience at the time here. 

Thing is, I’ve long stopped equating the idea of folks seeing my work being totally worth it. Frankly, for me seeing (shit pls do not take this as haterade) that, I can’t be or am rarely considered to be the type of Black writer to get the seat at the table and the cash without a heavy fee (as in, toning it down, blablabla) it just hurts too much.

My body of work is out there. I am free with link sharing but I’m not sure I will do more of that in an intentional manner.

So this is also part of me doing the work of finding my lane. Y’all been here, you know that this is important to me.

Freelancing=not my lane.

Resource creator for my community=not my lane. I’ve failed in that because I don’t think I have the trust of communities I’m in so yeh.

I think that for 2020 I need to focus on just being the little weirdo potato I am. In this long ass process of letting go of one version of being a successful writer, I’m stumbling along and mostly just trying not to be fully lost.

Essentially, I’ll post stuff where/how I feel like in the moment. I’m not going to go real hard about trying to hustle my Medium or Kindle links. I just don’t have the energy to do all that and get pennies in return. It is not only time consuming but also, y’all it just hurts my feelings.

So there tis homies.

I will likely not post again until the new year. So I love you. Thank you for riding with me through the years. We gonna be okay.

Love,

Shannon

 

The End of An Experiment.

So this is gonna be the last post about this era of my writing career. If you’ve missed it check out here and here. Go ahead I’ll wait.

Now I want to warn y’all this is gonna get long as fuck and real raw about a lot of things. If you’re new here, put on your hardhat and athletic cup. If you’ve been here. Sorry boo.

OKAY.

For background, a few years ago I decided it was time to level up my career. Post a fairly brutal doxxing by other writers, I felt like I really needed to re asses, set some goals and get the fuck to work. When I found out I had a book of poetry coming out, that was my cue.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been in these lit streets since the late 90s. Like most writers, especially those of us swimming in the big ass ponds of poetry and short fiction, I’ve had ebbs and flows. I’ve rarely had a lot of success in poetry. There was a time period where I was a bit notorious amongst white poets because I’m a big ole mean ass Negro who hates free speech.

I was gonna link a bunch but nah. If you want to read my older stuff, links live in the sidebar.

I had a few minor moments, at one point my short fiction high my acceptance rate stayed up in the high 70s with about, 10-15 submissions per week so that was tits.

I got to know some poetry folks who made me feel great. I went to AWP (this is actually a hilarious story so I might try to make a video about it) I got to meet Roxane Gay at the first one and almost peed my pants. In the years between what like 2014-2016ish I was feeling myself in the, obscure but getting some great feedback area of writing.

In 2016 or so I decided that since I was armed with knowledge, a network of readers (a thing a writer I really admire complimented me on was how I engage with folks, that was just great) and I believed.

What I believed was that, in spite of my big mouth and all my shade at the lit community etc that I could carve out some kind of little financially sustainable writing life. I started with freelancing. After my first non-fiction publication I had a taste for it. I have an ability to write about things like racism, fatness etc in a way a lot of folks found good at the time. I had some experience from writing at XOJane. I’d figured out how to deal with things like:

  • Being told for years what a shitty asshole I am for writing things.
  • Being doxxed/harassed by angry racists, angry feminists and some other folks.
  • Being told explicitly (with pull quotes and footnotes) why folks were hate reading me and then why they wanted to make sure I know how much I suck.
  • Death threats.
  • Folks trying to get me fired from my dayjob.
  • Etc etc etc.

All those things continue to suck but I learned how to deal with it. My next plan for my glow up when I realized that to be a “successful” freelancer I’d have to eat a lot of shit, I decided to scale WAY back. Also real talk, dealing with white women in the sooper seekrit internet writing groups, fucked me up and in a lot of ways forced me out. That’s fine.

Some things I’ve been successful at in the last few years:

  • Figuring out I am not good on spec.
  • I am too stubborn to settle.
  • I refuse to eat shit for a byline.
  • I still write pretty ding dang good fuckin essays.

Don’t get it twisted. I am a fucking bad ass writer. I am. I cannot be fucked with and I continue to sometimes write some really bad shit. Overall. I’m a bad mother fucker.

I am Fat Laila. (MY FAVE INTERNET CHONKY KITTER DO NOT FAT SHAME HER THIS AIN’T THE PLACE BRO) Look at her. This is raw footage of my work and shit. No I just really wanted a giggle break. Stay with me.

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[image description: a fat black kitty mid run, she has airplane ears and looks like she is hissing. Text says, MOTHERFUCKERS!
So when I decided to level up, I felt intensely ready. I did some courses from places like the Void Academy.  FYI the links I share ARE good shit. They just aren’t the good shit for me in particular. When Medium launched their pay program. I put some stuff behind the paywall and pretty much failed hard. I learned SO MUCH from my beloved Milcah. I have held this advice so tight in my little hand. I very literally say it to myself a lot.

From my journal from the time, my number 1 goal was GET MY SHIT READ. Thus I embarked on the type of marketing and self-promotion folks say to do for years.

It didn’t go well.

I had a beautiful most amazing little poetry book come out. Buy her here.  Shit this part burns. But I did the thing folks say to do. I reached out to a LOT of people. I offered review copies and I think I got 2 reviews. more stuff I haven’t told anybody. I sent emails, queries etc to lit venues offering review copies, I answered a few very specific calls that put my book into their wheelhouse. Out of 60 emails of this nature sent, I got zero replies.

Zero.

Nada.

Fuckin crickets.

Privately I was fucking devastated. Part of how I experience anxiety often means I want to apologize to people for bothering them with my needs or whatever. It is just a thing. I was really tempted and so heavily triggered I almost asked my publisher to cancel the book.

I’m glad I didn’t. It is a good little book.

Now here is where I really started to see the pattern of my career at work and exposing a lot to me. Now, in terms of how people respond to my work, even here in Seattle people really love it. On a personal level, people tell me how much they like things I do. Some folks wrote me really lovely notes about how much they enjoyed the book.

After publication, I tried another round of promotion in the review angles and again, nothing happened. Nothing. The few folks who took review copies never said anything about it again. It has taken most of my self control to not email ALL of those people to ask if they just hated it. I don’t need to know.

I know enough.

Those months are what my career is at this point. I’ve realized these things:

  • The agents I’ve queried have all been either super interested and then once they saw more of my work *who I actually am* they ghost. Or their advice is to cut the social justice stuff, talk about racism less etc.
  • There is something about ANY of my work that does not keep the attention of people enough to really support it in any material way.

Again, I’m not talking about my ride or dies. I’m talking about the 5k+ folks in my social media, other people. I just ain’t it bro.

Superficially that makes my inner child wail. I want to lay face down on the floor. I want to suck out my personality and brains and everything and try to be more like the badass writers I’ve been compared to (or mistaken for in Ijeoma’s case) Roxane, Nikki.  All writers I admire deeply.

If I could in fact eat or otherwise ingest some of their successes and turn them into my own, maybe.

I am not them and that is okay. I don’t have to be.

I could honestly go on forever. I know a lot of super talented, successful amazing writers. I stan them. I get so excited when I see their names in the news and on best of lists etc.

And just this year I realize, that is probably not going to happen for me. I hate it and it breaks my heart into a million pieces but that is just what it is. Whatever it is about me, my work, etc is not gonna be the thing that gets me the big money or the big publication or probably a spot on any best of list.

I’ve accepted it and that my beloveds is why I’m closing my professional FB page. It is why I’m not doing a newsletter anymore, why I’m not going to bust my whole ass trying to get people to do the TWO things I need.

Action doesn’t happen for me when I ask. Unless I’m having a complete panic fueled meltdown and as I’ve said that is exhausting and humiliating and also doesn’t really work in terms of success I can link to it. When I do that, I might get a few bucks thrown at me on Kofi or maybe an extra 2 shares but folks ain’t reading, ain’t buying, ain’t sharing.

So that my friends is the end of this part of my writing career. When I publish on Medium I might use the paywall I might not. I’m writing a lot of fiction. I’ve got some horror coming out this year. I want to get back into noir.

My failure to not get famous, that wasn’t the point. The point was to move my life into a more sustainable model, maybe someday sell a book and keep writing and making some coin. I failed. There were a lot of reasons but I failed.

So like I been doing for 20 years, I’m gonna do what I know how to do.

Write like a mother fucker.

So that’s it y’all. A different adventure begins. Please stay tuned, next week I’m gonna talk about stuff I’ve got planned, we’re gonna nerd the fuck out about horror and weird fiction. It is gonna be lit.

 

Why My Side Hustles Fail.

I’ve been doing a lot of deep analysis after some rounds of advertising in different ways. And we all know that looking deep into my statistics usually hurts my feelings but, if I’m gonna do this indie shit it is my job to do it.

So let’s get into it. My official FB author page.  My Amazon page where you can buy some stories and a couple of little collections (new one coming soon). Also note, the FB page will be where I do a LOT of my sharing and stuff. So for real it is best to follow there for the most up to date info.

Let’s talk about the performance of some things.

First thing. The general trend I see through analyzing both engagement with and action on things I share across social media (counting tweeter, tumblr, fb all in I have about 5-6k followers across all the platforms) is that I get shares and clicks when I share other folks work.

Now, I don’t grudge the other folks because I love them and want to share their work. I share things I care about. The part of the trend that bugs me is when a large number of those shares of other folks work, come from people I know rather than rando followers. I actually had a sample group and ALL of their interaction with things I’ve shared has only been the work of other people and was heavily skewed towards white women.

The subject matter also matters. I will get shares if I post something where I am exposing my own racial pain, performing poverty by ranting about my cash situation (however it doesn’t translate into action but we’ll get there) or if I’m just being my ain’t shit self and saying something shady.

Those stats are mainly from my actual following.

When it comes to randos, I see more interaction, more shares, of my work. My little kindle books, my Ko Fi.

These are two groups of people responding to the same marketing shits. The call to action, my pleases and thank yous.

Looking deeper at my FB page stats, the trend I’ve talked about for the last decade is made very very clear.

Like a lot of other Black women and femmes, when I ask for action directly folks don’t wanna do so in public. In private I’ve had many offers of boosts, help, sales etc and the numbers don’t lie that it doesn’t happen.

There is no outright public refusal which would be easier to deal with. This constant factor in my life (and the lives of MANY in my community) baffles some of my friends. When I’ve told them stats on things they are boggled.

For instance, my most read public piece (I won’t link to it right now) this year so far involves very deep racial pain. It has the most shares, the most reads. That one thing, flawed as it is has more reads and shares than everything else I’ve put out this year. From that one piece I’ve gotten DMs and notes from folks holding out the offers of whatever I need. Support etc and none of it has materialized.

Now I look at twitter and the most staunch advice I’ve got about using it as part of my publicity/marketing is the imperative ask to RT. On average, I have to RT myself and ask 3 times to get on the whole about 2.8 (some weird number close to this) shares.

The more interesting thing about tweeter is this. When someone who isn’t me or who doesn’t use my name shares something I’ve done, even if they have a significantly smaller following than I do, RTs galore. Clicks. Sometimes sales.

I’ve also seen this happen on FB.

Now let’s talk supporters. My most staunch and constant source of sales has been the folks with the least. The marginalized folks. The other poor people I know. Not the privileged folks I know. There are a few but I’ve also seen the issue of when they tag me or mention my name, that post goes silent. I watched it happen with a friend who is way more famous than me. Their posts generally get HUNDREDS of reactions, the one with me got about 10 and no comments and no shares.

My friend Dom said this the other day and it really strikes at the heart of my continued failed creative hustles:

When people offer help publicly on social media, yet don’t follow through, it gives the appearance that a person has support, when they really don’t.

This isn’t about one person or incident. It’s happened so much, for many complex reasons, and surely happens to others too. It’s just sad that this stops people from getting care they need.

Bolding mine.

I think what Dom is saying here is a large part of my ongoing problems with getting my work seen. A lot of the time if I mention I’m working on something, a good number of folks will be HYPE about it and saying they will share it. But, when the thing happens crickets.

I’ve tried a few methods of doing this. Returning to the original thread(s) to post the link, doing the random FB tricks and well…meh.

One of the things I am very conscientious about is giving folks options. If you follow me on FB or tweeter, you know that I am very specific about the actions that are helpful.

As I’ve mentioned many times, I have an entire community of folks like me who have this same problem. Folks (especially more privileged people) LOVE to get all in our stuff cheering for us. And yet, when we ask specifically for what we need, well…..

All this said.

If you are in a position where you can’t drop a couple of bucks on a book or magazine etc, you can still do the work to support the artists you care about. That is what I do. I share links when asked when I can. I pay attention. Right now, I’m stoked to say that my Patreon is “successful” enough that I am supporting three other folks. Not much but it means a lot.

I also want to be very clear.

I’ve been told that me talking about these things in this way is “excuses” and “negative”. Look. If you really believe that, I got nothing for you. The only way that the going advice will EVER work is if all things are equal. And they are absolutely not.

I also want to say that I am very grateful for my ride or die magical space babes. Y’all know who you are.

I am not alone in this. My community suffers from this. Folks tell us how much they want to see us do X thing but do nothing to help us get that thing done. I watch a lot of my community rage out about it because it is fucking hard. A lot of us don’t get action unless we’re doing long ass twitter rants about how broke and scared we are. Or we rant about these issues and get some pity likes.

It is exhausting.

However, I’m gonna keep doing me. I guess. I have reservations but, I gotta do the shit I do.

Dassit.

Featuring- Caroline Blicq of Hexennacht.

Hello my friends.

A very long time ago on a blog far far away, I liked to post little interviews with folks I like. I decided that, we’re gonna do that here.

I’ll be featuring writers, artisans, other folks I find cool. First up the amazing scent witch Caroline Blicq, head spoopy babe in charge of and creator of Hexennacht. What is Hexennacht? First some background.

In the aforementioned blog far far away, I met someone who introduced me to the world of hand made perfume oils. For a good portion of my adult life, I was one of those people who would chase down the hood guy who sold oils out of his backpack, or I’d go to the Pan-African import stores for perfume oils. I love them.

I’ve used lots of brands and have a small but delicious collection. Right now, Caroline makes my faves.

hexen
[image description: HEXENNACHT in stylized font]
Before we get to the interview, let me give y’all a little review.

First of all, Caroline creates scents that are evocative, skin loving and frankly every one I’ve tried including my first order of currently unavailable scents, has just been delicious. My tastes tend to run to darker scents. I like notes like tobacco, leather, honey, candles, incense. My first two favorites were these:

Coffin Nails – Tobacco leaves, tobacco flower, whiskey, ginger, anise, coriander, clove, spices, fruitwood sap, juniper berry, hay, vetiver, benzoin, labdanum, vanilla pods, tonka bean, honey.

AND another classic fave:

Papa Legba – Aged dark Maduro cigars, spiced vanilla, beeswax votives, golden honeycomb.

If you click around the scent descriptions, you’ll Caroline has a nice hand at both humour and scent description. These perfumes are extra, the packaging is extra and much to my delight the human I adore, Caroline is also extra af.

Now, my last order was just a beauty. Check it out:

20190205_164713
[image description: a black package with silver writing on it that has my name on it, Shannon  a heart and a planchette shaped logo with Hexennacht in silver ink]
One of the reasons I love handmade items is, I like to feel special. Caroline puts care into her packaging and even just the touch of having my name written all pretty like that makes me really happy.

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[image description from the left: two sample sized vials of perfume oil. The top one is labeled Holy Water, the bottom is labeled Morning Star. In the middle there is a brown toned sticker with a photo of a pentegram on a wooden floor, it says hexennacht in lower case letters. On the right there are two perfume oil roll ons, the left hand one is labeled Black Phillip and the one on the left is labeled The Gunslinger.
Now, ahem. Y’ALL. Black Phillip is so fucking sexy. I feel like a whole ass Love Witch when I wear it. The description:

Black Phillip – black amber, dragon’s blood, black musk, tonka, black oak, firewood embers, black currant, soft woods, black pepper.

On my skin, immediately upon application I smell mostly the dragon’s blood and musk. Once it dries down it turns into this lightly sweet, peppery warm amazingness.

The Gunslinger I got for my partner (who by the way will wear whatever I put on him and perfume isn’t a thing that must be gendered), well actually I got it for me but it smells better on him.

The Gunslinger – Hints of sulphurous gunpowder, smoky, dark, mildly sweet, and spicy with notes of smoke and wood.

I LOVE the note of gunpowder. LOVE IT. It does not work with my body chemistry and turns weird and sour. On the partner, it is a sharp smell that mellows into that mildsweetness on his skin. Pure. Hotness.

Today I am wearing Inferno – orange pekoe tea, orange, clove, cinnamon, ginger. Y’alls. There is a tea here in WA that is so good and she managed to not only capture it, but on the skin it just smells so warm and soothing and another sexy scent. This scent is so fucking sexy, a straight woman kinda hit on me while we were sitting next to each other on the bus. That is how good she is.

Caroline’s scents are beautifully complex and so easy to wear in ways that have a low impact on folks around you. You can adjust the intensity to your own preferences. If you don’t like scent on your skin, try it in a scent locket. I have one I wear sometimes if I just want something to lift my mood.

NOW my loves, meet the divine Caroline.

What’s your name/pen name: Caroline Blicq

First tell my friends as much as you’d like to about yourself and your work.

I’m a Canadian transplant, and have lived in Seattle for 22 years. I started out making herbal infusions, tinctures, and tisanes 25 years ago, and over time, it gradually evolved into perfumery.

How do you like to work? Do you need your workspace to be any particular way?

I like to work in either complete silence or loud music. There’s no in-between. I also NEED to have an inordinate amount of “alone” time. I’ve always thrived on having minimal interpersonal interaction, and thankfully, working out of my home makes that possible. As far as my workspace goes, it doesn’t appear to be in any set “order”, but I know exactly where every single one of my 300+ blends is located at any given moment. For that reason alone, I’ll never be able to have assistants, but then again, that would cut into my alone time, so it all works out very well for me.

Who are your favorite artists or authors?

“Music: Kate Bush, Etta James, Fiona Apple, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder.
Authors: Paul Beyerl, Judika Illes, c.s. lewis, Stephen King, Joe Hill”

Do you have any memories of the first piece of art or literature that really moved you?

I was OBSESSED with Lynda Barry’s graphic novels as a teen. I still am.

What makes you ridiculously happy?

Music, my home/sanctuary, my family, getting to make a living doing what I love the most.

Do you still feel awe? If so what fills you full of it? If not, tell me.

I was gifted a Hawaiian vacation last year, and snorkeling with tropical fish is by far the most amazing, exhilarating thing I have ever done in my life. I’m obsessed with going back there someday.

Free for all: Tell me something good. (Yes I did just quote Chaka Khan at you)

It’s 2019. I’m having to dig deep to come up with something good these days. Is it re-election time yet? Haha-

Extras?

Shop: http://www.hexennacht.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hexennacht.scents
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1510610669028654/

 

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.

Unprofessional Confessional

Hi.

I’m in a weird mood, feeling very confessional and like I need to just blab shit until my head clears.

So…here we go.

Confession #1) One of the main reasons I returned to some freelance, real talk is to fund my want to do my wardrobe over. I have very particular tastes, the size of my ass is currently stable so I want to dress how I want to dress. Right now, a portion of all my freelance income (not much) is going into a savings fund for these boots.

#2) I should probably not be telling folks this but, I very literally have a list of publications/editors/writers I will not be associated with. My writing shitlist is made up of folks acting shitty in public, editors who are on some bullshit, writers I can’t stand. I check it when I’m researching submissions because I am shit with names.

#3) I have basically given up the idea that any large big house publisher or other non indie presses will ever fuck with me. I say this because (have I talked about this?) back in the day when blogger book deals were just the hottest shit, I was approached a good number of times.  This also goes for agents etc, every interaction started with how much admiration and love the people had for me, how much they valued my voice and then progressed to the talk. The Talk was always gentle and sorta kind, and every time the punchline was, we think you are magnificent buuuuuuut please calm down about X thing. One person told me that if it wasn’t for my “militant” anti racism (and y’all, like it wasn’t even like that back in the day, I WAS being gentle) they’d be able to make me a best seller. I am not fucking Charlie Brown and fuck your football. Frankly, I just can’t allow the desire to really gain traction in my heart because I’ve been disappointed every goddamn time.

#4) I am just fine being a writer. I write things. Sometimes I get paid for those things, sometimes people don’t want to publish them and I do it myself…this is fine. I’m happy with this.

#5) 90% of the time, I write like what I am writing will never been seen by anyone ever. That is how I keep my work authentic.

#6) I am still working on making some writing classes that are low cost, available for download and accessible to folks.

#7) Genre still doesn’t really mean shit to me.

#8) Sometimes I wish I had stayed in my horror and smut lanes and sort of faded into obscurity. I had to deal with so much less bullshit on a personal level related to my writing back then.

#9) Writing openly and personally and doing essay work etc is really fucking amazing and even with the bullshit, writing about race etc is fantastic.

#10) Being a writer in general is terrible. Being a writer is wonderful. Being a writer is fuckin weird.

Thing is, this whole thing is infuriating and wonderful and fucking hard. I don’t know who I would be without it.

That said-

shit is mother fucking hard right now.

But……

giphy

So I am Writing some High Fantasy

I finally restarted working on the high fantasy story I’ve been kicking around and wanting to drown for a while.

When I say high fantasy, I’m using the term in the context of- actually let me slow my roll. I think what I’m doing is an amalgam of swords n sorcery, high fantasy, with a taste of magic, hint of religion and myth. BUT that said, I’ll just say fantasy for now.

We don’t have to be fancy here.

I haven’t touched this story for months. I’ve not been writing a lot of fiction of late. I am very amused by how I’m writing fiction these days. Back in the day, I’d have an idea and BANG BANG BANG 4-5 K done. These days, I’m so interested in exploring particular things in my fiction it just takes me for fucking ever to write it.

I have this ever growing list of things I want to explore in different ways in my fiction. What started out as notes to help me remember (sleep disorders have properly fucked up my memory) has turned into a low key way of doing some plotting and at a glance I’ve been moving those ideas around in terms of what genres I want to play with them in.

Now on to the story at hand.

The working title is Cat Rules Queen. I had an entirely different version done that I hated so I started over. Here is what I’ve realized:

  • Writing literally anything else does not stress me out like writing fantasy does.
  • Trying not to fall down my own nerdhole about the race of beings I’m molding is fucking hard.
  • Trying to keep the language somewhat modern feeling and hearing, without it hitting a tin note is fucking hard.
  • I have a LOT invested in doing this story to my own standards and I’m kind of fucking myself up about it.

That last thing.

Y’all.

I try really hard not to do this because it is a part of the type of human I am but, sometimes I put the worst type of pressure on myself as a creator. I have this vision of what I want this story to be and I keep getting frustrated because I can’t get it quite there because I am not totally sure how to get it where I want it to go. This is sort of beyond my own need to create representation and into WHY the fuck can’t I DO THIS SHIT RIGHT territory.

The latter is really an emotional kick in the heartballs because, I can’t write when I treat myself that way. Thus the story won’t be done and will not be as good as I want it to be.

I put this pressure on myself and it ain’t workin.

So I’ve decided that I will likely publish this story for free at some point and that has relieved me of some of the pressure. Y’all know I’m not ashamed of my writing fuck ups and I feel like this one might qualify. It’s not totally what I want, but I might be headed there if I let myself do what I know how to do.

Other things.

This story has a very particular soundtrack I’ve been listening to a lot of the following while working on it:

  • Opeth
  • Lacuna Coil
  • Coil
  • NIN
  • Children of Bodom
  • Down
  • Five Finger Death Punch
  • Lamb of God
  • Amon Tobin

The music has been very dark and hard while the story isn’t. That is a running thing with me. My music for my writing almost never makes complete sense. I wrote the sweetest little romantic story for my Patreon project as a bonus thing while listening to Slayer. When I listen to the Moonlight Sonata (the whole thing) I imagine writing a super violent, very graphic silent film with that as the soundtrack. Or, I’ve written some nasty nasty hardcore violent kinky smut while listening to it.

My creative process has changed so much in the last few years. After my tries at forcing super seriousness on myself, I’m getting back into play.

I’m hoping that finishing this fantasy story will help. I’m going to put in writing right now that I’m going to let myself play.

Now how about a lil bite?

We come to see where our King Nailah meets her future Queen, the cat woman called Makatza:

The King came out of the privy still buttoning her breeches, her sword clanking on her hip. “So, I looked at him dead in his Gods Damned eye and said no but I’ll sit on her-” Her ribald story came to as abrupt a halt as she did. Standing right there, one ear turning, tail swishing, was the cat woman. She stared up at the King with her enormous pumpkin colored eyes.

“You’d sit on her what your majesty?”  Her whiskers twitched. The King stammered and dropped to one knee, unfortunately her breeches were loose and several men got a good half moon. She was too rapt to feel the breeze across her crack. “I, I oh please a thousand pardons Lady Cat. I hope I haven’t offended you. May I ask, what is your name?”

The cat woman tittered and offered her hand. “I am Makatza. I might forgive you your majesty if, you feed me. If you are really nice I might let you rub my ears.” The King rose and barely got a hold of her pants before she showed everyone whether or not she really had a tattoo in a private place. She kissed the small soft, fuzzy hand. “I shall endeavor to please you. As you allow.”

I’ll get into the feline behavior I studied and how I’m making Makatza another time.

Goodnight.

 

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.

 

Poverty and the Writer.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I’m working poor. I need to hash some stuff out that involves money and art and ethics and stuff so buckle in.

First thing, I sat myself down and figured out that I need a list of things in order to do a few things:

  • Writing lesson stuff.
  • More paid content for Patreon in order to possibly increase revenue from that.
  • Short poetry/experimental films

So that’s the short n tiny list. I have a list of the things I need to make these things happen and all of it costs money. I’m in a position now where I’ve pretty much adjusted to the reality of my higher cost of living.

It’s not great, but it’s not tragic still.

Currently for basic living, not counting food or things like new underwear, socks or medications I spend about 41% of my monthly income.

Add in stuff like cell phones, internet/landline, medications, food, and things go up to almost 85-90 depending on what bills are due that month.

I’ve been looking at and rearranging my budget. Last month I felt pretty confident about life and added an extra few dollars so I could have Audible again. I suspended the service for a few months. I have been toying with getting Netflix because the partner and I aren’t able to get out as much on weekends, so it’d be nice to have a wider selection of new stuff to watch.

Whew.

Currently the plan I had worked out previously to get the things to make more money things happen is pretty proper fucked because my phone is dying. It’s served well, but it is a very low end smart phone from a long while back and poor old thing is trying but just kinda not working out.

Almost all of the things I want to do that involve some new to me ways of using social media, etc. rely on either having a camera or a good phone or both.

I have neither.

I had planned on working with my phone as is until about Xmas ish. I need a new plan.

This is where stuff is going to get intersectional.

Because of the changes (out of my control) in my household (read dayjob money) finances, I’ve had to restructure how I use my Patreon and other monthly donated or writing hustle money. (Note to self update Patreon about this) That being what it is, I’ve been working on adjusting while not killing my personal quality of life.

Initially I killed it. This is something I have a lot of economic trauma about and (as many poor kids will tell you) is something I fall back on. When things first started changing I did what came naturally to me. I killed my entire entertainment/self-care budget. I took it from about 35$ a month and maybe 50$ quarterly extra, to 14.

For a while I switched out my audible for keeping myself in a pound or so of good coffee a month for work.

I also downgraded the quality of food I was taking to work.

A few months of that as it always happens took a toll. I decided to rework and got a few extra writing hustle money dollars and reinstated my audible and a few times a week getting good food.

However, because I made those choices I had to stop my saving up for X thing (camera, tablet, phone) budget because money doesn’t come out of my ass.

Fast forward to right now.

Recently I’ve been encouraged to do a lot of writing work that would be great experience, great fun, etc. but none of it has been paid gigs. I can’t afford it monetarily or in terms of the finite amount of energy I have for my art.

So that’s not a viable avenue for me right now.

Next recent development is that I am so disgusted by so much of the freelance industry, my options for work there are limited. Yes, this is by my own choice. Frankly, it just stresses me out too much to compromise my ethics for 50$ here and there.

I decided to work out what I am going to need in the coming months and currently the cost (not complete) is just over 500$.

It is the season of my partner and I needing things like new underwear and pants. We need to replace some household stuff. We both need new pillows etc.

Me personally, I’m going to need Femme stuff. Foundation, bras, hair stuff soon.

All this in mind, here’s where I am.

I don’t entirely know what to do.

In order to produce my best work I need to not be in a constant state of panic and stress. In order to be in that place I need to know that my little family has our needs met. I need to be able to work my dayjob and write through my fatigue.

In order to do those things, the number one thing I need is some financial breathing room.

I can give myself, some by cutting out my quality of life again. I don’t want to do that, I know where that leads and the end result is that I can’t write my best.

I know I have patrons and some stuff, but the way my life has changed, it’s not enough. I have nightmares.

I believe in my art and ideas right now. Not in their profitability, but in the value of them.

But belief don’t pay the bills and a bitch gotta eat.

I know I could do another Gofundme. My last one to help me get to AWP wasn’t a total success but it was very very helpful.

However, I am very nervous about trying that again because I, uh, had an inability to raise ALL the funds left me feeling really terrible about myself and I am not sure if I’m ready to put myself back into that position.

I don’t know what I am going to do.

I also want to say that my actual lived life puts more of a light on the lie that I can not go to Starbucks my way to a better financial position. There’s been some great articles disassembling that whole mindset from the perspective of folks who don’t have 5$ a day to spend or save.

So here is where I am.

I’m trying to figure it out.

Right now I’m going to work out just how much the stuff I/we need will cost. Then, once I get a goodish on the high end total I’ll figure out how to pay for it.

In the meantime, the stuff I mentioned up top is going to be delayed again. That sucks, but, what’s to be done?