Don’t Throw That Shit Away

HELLO my favorite Space Babes.

Let’s talk about holding onto your stuff.

I write a lot of shit. I have tons of scraps of stories, bits of poems, lil snatches of research and whatnots. From one of my fave books about writing, the classic On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King,  one of the lasting lessons for me was to stop throwing stuff away. Way back when I was a baby potato, writing in absolute secret I was terrified of anyone finding out and I was so embarrassed by how bad I was at writing, I’d write stories, read them once and tear them up. If I was feeling particularly upset, I’d burn the pieces.

Very dramatic.

Once I started using computers regularly, I did about the same thing. I wrote stuff, decided I was too shitty to live and deleted them. I did this for probably the first decade (from let’s say age 13 through about 24) of me becoming a writer.

After my first reading of On Writing, the first thing I put into practice was not in fact keeping what I wrote. I still had a bad habit of just deleting anything I didn’t believe in immediately. Back then, I was very vested in being published in very specific ways. I was mainly writing a lot of erotica and copy for a few adult sites. I occasionally got a horror publication here and there.

My criteria for what I’d keep or not keep came down to being held hostage by the Literary Canon. Cis, white, hetero unless it was queer for hetero eyes. That was what got me into the industry. I didn’t believe that my secret work (the baby versions of a lot of what I’m doing now) was worth keeping because I was taught otherwise. On occasion, I ventured into literary Black territory and was usually not rewarded in any way by doing so. There was a time when, I had the audacity to be very Black and Queer on the internet and I lost a really lucrative job because after my employer checked my personal stuff (a blog and whatnot) he sent me a very worried email that I couldn’t really write “normal”.

Fast forward to earlier this morning. I was casting about looking for an older story I was thinking about reprinting and I found a treasure trove of things I tucked away in my cloud storage. In the past five or so years I’ve suffered some catastrophic data losses and computers dying and taking years of work with them so, stumbling on things I wrote in 2010/2011 feels so good.

I spent some time reading some of my early noir, I have the first 60 pages of a super natural/werewolf buddy detective thing I wrote way back in 2010ish. I know that much of the going writer culture is to be terribly embarrassed by your old work. Hide that first novel in a drawer, be charmingly embarassed in interviews when asked about your early work.

I reject that entirely. I am not embarrassed that once upon a time I didn’t know how to walk and routinely shit my pants. Now, I can (well I’m not great at it but) walk and I learned how to use the toilet. I’ve evolved. I’m proud of my growth as a human. I am so proud of myself for learning and changing.

From being confined to writing explicit work featuring a LOT of white people to now I have tucked away in a folder erotica that transgresses gender, race, and a few very creepy kings with impunity. It was purchased by a now defunct publisher so I might go ahead and publish it.

Look.

You cannot step back and appreciate your own growth if you hide where you were. I don’t believe in shame about how we become the artists we are. That is why I’m rarely ashamed to show a first draft. I’m rarely upset that I have a snippet of a story that just will never ever work. I’m proud that I’ve found my voice and having this back catalog of stuff that shows me the way I got here is fucking amazing.

Don’t be ashamed.

Keep doing what you’re doing.

Play. When I say play I mean just fuck around. Never written sf? Give it a shot. Try stuff. Let go and play on the swingset and write a crappy ass horror story or a super cheesy love story. As I’ve said in my creative loveletters, make something ugly. Paint something, put together a puzzle, just do something. Get a weird idea and see where it goes.

Don’t throw it away.

Okay below, find a good chunk of the weird buddy werewolf thing I started and may yet finish.

Continue reading “Don’t Throw That Shit Away”

Ay listen.

Hi babes.

Can we talk about some shit I’ve been learning lately?

First thing I’ve not learned but we’ll say that has been reinforced to me is that, a lot of general promotional advice is woefully out of date. It doesn’t account how a lot of us have our links on platforms like FB throttled so hard, even our “close” friends don’t see them.

So I kinda am trying to make a deeper peace with that. I’m working on it.

The other thing is that, I’ve noticed that even with me taking pains to reduce how much stuff I give away, I STILL don’t really generate things that are buyable by my general audience across a few platforms. How do I know?

Medium for instance. I currently have 19 pieces behind the paywall, a good variety of type of content. Here in 2019 I’ve made less than a dollar. I mean…my read ratio regardless of topic or length is under 2 out of 10. Then of course when I can read stuff on medium, I see a LOT of bullshit that makes hundreds of dollars likely.

It makes me tired.

I’ve been using KoFi for almost a month exactly and have three things to read. One poem, two essay type things. And goose eggs.

I talked about it on my main fb account a while back. And funnily enough when I said, don’t blow smoke up my ass if you’re not going to at the very least share, my share rate went from few to literally 2-4. And so did engagement.

So really, I’ve learned that the call to action, the asking my community for help etc etc. Ain’t for me. I’ve tried. I’ve modified my tone, I’ve changed what I’m giving, etc. I think I can make some peace with that. Silence and inaction says volumes. More so when the folks who do the share because they don’t have $$ to support, are literally the same 4-6 people it has been for a decade. That’s my real audience. They are the real Gs and I’m not talking about them.

What else?

In terms of Gasoline Heart here’s some interesting things. (NOTE TO SELF ASK PUBLISHER FOR NEW BOX O BOOKS) Some of the folks who’ve read it, really loved it. one of the things I’ve seen in several reviews are along the lines of, HOW DID I MISS THIS/THE WORLD MISS IT?

Easily. SO the above issues. I mean, a few people (the book has been out for a while now) who’ve known me for a long time have said, I didn’t see X links. Sorta believable. Also I am not represented, I am not a darling, I am not very famous or really even connected in the poetry world. So yeah, you won’t find my lil book in lists and shit. That is just how it is.

Also, I learned that I do not have the cash on hand to be trying to get my lil book awards. Shit is expensive. In secret I spent a few months last fall really dedicating hours of my week to submitting to free publicity or award things with my lil book. The hours cost me in terms of spoons and time not spent writing and netted me one very nice rejection letter.

And real talk. I STILL can’t get poetry published. At last submission spree, even with mentioning the book and including a poem or two from it, I don’t really get no love from the lit poetry world. That’s fine but it also means that I’m chasing my tail trying to promote my fucking book.

So yeah. That’s been a struggle but I’m glad I did it. I can see the whole pathway and what obstacles exist for me in particular and that I don’t honestly have the spoons to try to get around them. So I do what I have energy for.

NON BULLSHITS.

So last year I decided to focus more on getting back into the fiction world and boy howdy. Quite a few years ago I had about a 60% acceptance rate in the short fiction world. That was huge.

My return to it has been fucking lit.

This year I’ve placed stories in two anthologies that are both HUGE DEALS to me. Huge. I got an experimental horrory story into Would but Time Await: An Anthology of New England

I was REALLY nervous because the story was an experiment. It is a Black story and I haven’t really been in the horror community for a while.

THEN I got a little tiny horror story accepted over at Heavy Feather (will announce when it goes up). The editor Jason dropped me a note months ago and I FINALLY made something I’m into.

And then, I got the notification and one of the best damn acceptance notes ever. My lil supernatural noir story got into the Gimme the Loot: Stories Inspired by The Notorious B.I.G. Forthcoming from Clash.

The uniting theme in these is that, I’m at my best when I write what the fuck I want to write. I think freelancing really kind of crushed that in me to a degree. Yes there are some publishers who have been all the way the fuck in with me. But, largely that is not the case. This is the same thing with the flirtations with agents and mainstream publishing.

It is like, OKAY we fuck with you but about 40% so dial it back.

I don’t write great things with that in mind. I don’t write great things when I’m trying so hard to get paid what I’m worth.

All of this is really about me pupating so I can in fact find my place in the lit world. Someone who was trying really hard to be encouraging was comparing me to two very famous, very amazing Black writers and y’all, it made me cry. I like both authors. But, I am not like them and cannot be.

I hate this whole struggle between wanting a seat at the table, wanting some “success” (as termed by our culture) and just wanting to be my weird little self, make some writing, make some pomes, do my shit and maybe sometimes be shown appreciation in the form of coins.

I’m working on it. One lil thing at a time.

Can’t Have Analysis without Anal.

HI BABES!

Welcome to 20 goddamn 19. I typed 20 goddamn 49 at first and almost left it, so, yanno.

So what’s good 2019?

So far, I’ve been doing a lot of heavy emotional lifting for myself and my work. I made some decisions. I’ve been writing like a mother fucker.

I’ve decided to embark on a really difficult and scary thing that I’m not ready to formally announce. It has to do with a lot of the statistical data and whatnot I’ve been talking about for the last few months. If you subscribe to my loveletter you’ll see this bit later but this is really important:

Medium- I made $45.56 for the year of 2018. I generally had/have 10-15 pieces available. My least popular piece there was this one (free read link, clap if you want) The How to Learn to Write Non fiction piece.

TOTAL VIEWS
37
READ RATIO

32%
LIFETIME EARNINGS

$0

My most profitable pieces with an average of about 300 or so claps were the ones where I bled on the page about racism. I don’t really know what to say about that. It isn’t new but it is, disheartening if I’m going to be real with y’all.

The last piece where I bled on the page was this one, here is a bit of it.

Last night, I was reminded again of the ways in which I am not allowed to be human. The things I risk when I have the audacity to not be silent and invisible. I know what could have happened.

I’ve looked at long term stats on my work in various venues. OVer the last let’s say about 5 years or so, the more something hurts me to write, the more exposure it gets. For a long time I thought this would lead to the big $$ but, it doesn’t. Not for me. What I’ve experienced is often privately, editors and other folks with the keys to the cash, love me. They tell me how much they’ve learned from my work, they tell me how strong and powerful I am.

The people I know (mostly white let’s be real) with the connections and power to open those doors for me, don’t. There are always reasons. An editor not long ago asked me privately to pitch her something timely in response to the Magahat Babyracist Jr debacle. I worked up a short thing, real fast. And it was another instance of yes that but not like that.

I’m tired of that y’alls.

This is why freelancing burnt me so badly. I get it. I do. Most of these folks readership are not ready for this particular negro. Understanding it makes it no less exhausting.

I have also learned through these years of anal…err analysis that my audience, my ride or die folks *insert fourth wall break within a fourth wall break here* want what I got.

I’m working on it. I’m adjusting my focus so I can empower myself to write what the fuck i want to write, and dispense it how I wanna.

One of the things I’ve learned from my beloved Milcah is that my audience, y’all don’t like my work because I give it 40% you know? The people who are into it, are into it because I am who I am. I forget that a lot.

Those months of ghosted pitches and weird rejections really got in my head. It called up years of shitty criticisms and bullshit.

I’m better.

SO what am I doing that I can tell y’all about?

Right now, I am working on my biggest and most enjoyable sensitivity read job to date. I am loving the job so much and it is legit. And huge. And fuck y’all I feel DEEPLY honored to be trusted with this work. That said, I won’t be accepting another one until at least April.

Patreon is humming along. We’re getting really close to closing out Cycle 2 and debuting cycle 3. Here is a taste of Cycle 2:

Nanita came back and sat down, wiggling in her chair and doing a little dance. He chuckled, she’d done that since she was a fat baby wiggling in her high chair and crooning to her mashed potatoes.

“Oh, I was thinking about eating this. I’m so glad you’re home. Do you want to go to the swamp with me tomorrow night?”

“Sure. What are we gonna do?”

She sprinkled hot sauce in her rice and thought about it while she stirred.

“Um, I don’t really know yet. I just got a feeling to go. I dunno, it’s like I can hear it. I asked Mama about it but she didn’t really know what I was talking about. Well, she kinda did but you know the swamp makes her nervous. She acts like it doesn’t but if it’s nighttime, she kind of hates it.”

He nodded.

“I know. I’ll be home a while. We got things to do.”

“What kinda things Daddy?”

He dropped his voice to a raspy bass.

“Man things.”

She giggled and tried to copy him.

“Man things, fo sho.”

They ate and giggled together. The moon rose outside and they both looked up through the window at it. Their eyes glazed, the moon tickled their blood and spoke to their bones. Through Tinny’s blood there was a link to moon magic. Not the usual menstrual, fertility magic that runs through many bloodlines. This tie was a line to something other, the magic was almost like something alien.

Both of them sat, stupefied with their fingers and toes tingling. Their eyes fixed and in the light turning a burnished silver. Anyone watching would have seen the light flash between them, a circuit completed. Nanita would not remember. As with so many of her gifts, as she came of age many were asserting themselves in her but, her body and brain were not ready to fully see them. Tinny would remember. It had only happened one time before with his beloved Maman Aprille.

I’ve been writing some other fiction. Not much because it is hard to do with no computer

On the computer front, I’ve got a Dell 5000 series picked out and a corporate discount ready to use. I’m super close to being able to pay for it so I should be up and running by February.

Given that my personal life has been a shit sandwhich of late, I’m getting my shit together piece by piece.

AND to end, a new/old poem. I performed this at Margin Shift’s litcrawl event last October. Enjoy.

A Real Round Up

HEY.

So I’ve decided to do a whole ass second but better year end wrap up for my writing shits this year.

First check this shit out in another window. I minor tweet stormed about my work this year.

All righty then.

I realized as I was doing those tweets that, this year has been pretty lit.

I was feeling pretty down about the failures of the year. None of my side hustles really worked out.

I made less than 50$ with both Etsy and medium and that really sucks. I mean, it hurts me on so many levels.

That said.

I wrote like a mother fucker and wrote exactly what the fuck I wanted when I wanted. I finally fully divested myself from trying to be a freelance super earner. Like there are literally two editors I will pitch to and dassit.

I learned that finally, I can say I’m okay with being unable to financially sustain my creative life. It sucks but I can’t force folks to do shit.

All I can do is do what I do.

I was really feeling like, all this, all the angst and crying and stress just made me the worst.

I dunno y’all. I may not be able to like, pay bills with the words but fuck I write like a mother fucker regardless.

So what is happening in 2019?

I’m making moves.

Patreon stuff is happening, I’ve got a lot of plans.

I’ve also realized that part of what has freed me to write the way I have been this year is that, I’ve been learning to accept some things that are real for me.

  1. My obscurity frees me. I have a job that basically sort of pays the bills. So, I don’t have to eat shit when I freelance. I can say no and I have learned to say no. I had a piece that was commissioned and was a pretty good payday. After realizing that the editor and I were quite far apart on what we wanted. I let it go and put it on Medium.
  2. Speaking of Medium. The other edge of my obscurity is that, regardless of what folks say, 80% of my audience refuses to give my work material support. Folks don’t share, don’t clap on medium etc etc. I don’t know why. Some folks tell me to trust my community to come through and, well frankly most of the time they don’t. It hurts but whatever.
  3. I AM going to write the shit anyway. I’ve tried to stop but nah son.
  4. I am allowed to work this out however the fuck I need to.

Those things have led me into some stuff I’m VERY excited about and will share with y’all soon.

Overall 2018 beat the dog shit out of me. I wrote some of my best shit and it was lowkey sorta okay.

NOW. Over at medium behind the paywall but this is the friend link. A lesson on how I learned to write non-fiction.

I Made a Mistake.

I’ve got a story in the works that is as I said on facebooks:

A thing i’m working on is a little post apocalypse, a little sf (very soft) with a little sauce of horror. I feel like it is spec fic. Perhaps even a bit Afrofuturist ish. A thing that I’m almost done with and after that will likely have ZERO idea where to submit because I’ve never read anything quite like it AND it has cis people upsetting things like gender fluidity as the norm and as indicated with spelling and punctuation, disabled people and no portal to or from Whiteness.

Now this is a departure from stuff I normally write but I had this wild ass idea I wanted to play with. I started with the question, what would some working class brown queers do in a post (unspecified) apocalypse where capitalism had resettled itself? I wanted to present a world where there are monsters and things are dark but not one where humanity has been regressed to clubs and grunts and learning to poop in the woods.

I also wanted to play with this idea of a sort of future tinker. But tinker not in a disparaging way, more in the holy shit you are amazing way.

There’s some other stuff but that is the gist.

NOW.

Y’all……….

I fucked up. I did something I have not done in a long time. I joined a small loose crit group and sent over the WIP in the post your WIP conversation.

Shit went fucking sideways.

The cis hets were pretending like it is impossible to understand gender fluidity being signaled by language and punctuation.

The white people (most of them in the group) couldn’t understand that these are Black people because I didn’t put neon signs and AAVE in it.

None of the crits I got were based on weird punctuation I was using, nor was it based on me signalling my main characters using ASL and me denoting it with special punctuation, none of it was based on my hella soft sf and non disclosure of what the monsters are exactly.

It was entirely gender and race.

*Insert the longest sigh here.*

None of them commented on my use of language, or remarked on me asking about the use of X punctuation vs Italics or something.

…………….crickets on literary shit.

Lots of opinions on why my scenerio is impossible that don’t involve shit like zombie references.

THIS is why the fuck I stopped joining such groups. I left a note for the mods and left.

I am close to done with the piece and would like to see it pubbed somewhere good. For to steal a Deadpool phrase, dick kicking revenge.

I dunno. Shit is exhausting y’all.

However-

I am reminded that there are reasons things like VONA exist even if I can’t participate.

Want a bite of the thing?

Here ya go:

“Let’s retire and have some babies. Bae, really? You want to make babies with me?” They hadn’t really discussed the idea, people in their position in life generally didn’t. Babies were a time sink and not really something people who grew up in the Dirty districts of the cities thought about. Sure, they happened sometimes but it was never something to be planned, never something to be cherished. Khalid/a smiled, feeling Viola rumble and yammer her pleasure. Their head turned slightly, one slim brown hand gesturing. “Sweetie, I can’t hear you.” 

PS

My move is still full of fuck and terrible so, posting shall remain erratic until life is less bullshit.

A Few Thoughts on Output

This morning I realized that I have now typed about 100K words or so on my little purple computer (I named her Dinky) and I wanted to talk a bit about output.

On average for every 2k words I produce, the world sees maybe half. That includes blog posts, stuff for Patreon (though, Patreon folks get to see a LOT of naked me talking myself through a first draft), stories, essay drafts, stuff. Poems. A lot of things.

A lot of those things are in fact crap.

They are often things I reread and I’m like:

Me: WTF IS THIS SHIT?

Me: ??? Que?

Me: WAT THE FUCK IS YOU EVEN DOING RN?

Me: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯- I DUNNO. GO WITH IT.

Ahem.

Half of my brain is like, I DO WHAT I WANT FUQ U AND UR PLANS…LOLOLOLOLOL.

That used to be a hang up for me. I really wanted to be a hot take type. Kick down them think pieces and make mega dollars. At least mega dollars in my little world.

Well, nope. That’s just not how it goes here at Shannon HQ and management would appreciate me not freaking out about it ALL the goddamn time.

Y’all real talk, I write some fucking hot ass garbage. And I write a lot more slowly than I used to. And it’s fine.

I’ve learned to accept that yes my process changes and that means I miss out on a lot of shit. But, on the other hand what I produce is exactly what I want to produce so, it is all to the good.

So really what I’m saying like I always say in my loveletters, be cool to your Weird Voice.

Don’t fuck up your process when you don’t have to.

Once upon a time, I thought if I was writing a thing I had to do something with it. At some point I decided that hustling for cash outweighed my need to make art. This led to some decisions I don’t necessarily regret but that I wish I’d given myself more time to do.

I put a huge amount of pressure on myself not only to produce ALL THE WORDS but to have them polished and ready immediately.

Nah son.

I wanted it so bad, I often fucked it up.

So yes, a lot of my published shit isn’t as perfect as it could be but, that’s just writing and it’ll be okay.

Before I go, real quick OMGOMGOMGOGMGOMGOMGOMGOMGAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

My book is shipping today.

Go check it out.

AYYYYYY we OUT HERE in 2018

Ahem.

Hi y’all. I hope the new year finds you upright and feeling not too terrible.

What’s good 2018?

So I’ve been in the background scheming and plotting and writing.

I’ve been making a lot of plans and working up a lot of decisions.

One of the things I’m thinking very hard about a couple of things.

Do I want to divest from a lot of traditional/mainstream lit world shit? The decision has been weighing heavily on my mind for months.

Honestly, 90% of literary pubs just do not cater to, serve or even on teh face of just reading them want shit to do with me. I feel like I’ve fought for the literary community so hard, I have done so much labor and wept and bled and had anxiety attacks and now, I just don’t know.

I’m very torn between my very deep and real love for the literary community at large and the fact that often after interactions,  I feel beat up.

For a while I honestly just thought, maybe my work just sucks now. I suck. I mean, I got fucking doxxed for doing the work in terms of decolonizing and whatnot a writing space. I fall down these terrible shame holes when I check the analytics on damn near anything I do.

I have a BIG ass essay about this and all my real feels but really why do I do this to myself?

I originally had planned on actively seeking out more mainstream lit (remember I DO include freelance work in my saying lit world) world opportunities. And then I was like, why am I trying to put myself back into the same position I was in before? Do I really want to tell myself lies on the level that yes I can do me and STILL get the opportunities?

Nah.

I did some heavy re-evaluating of what I want out of my creative life and here’s where I’ve landed for now.

Truths:

  • I will likely never be a super high dollar writer.
  • I have a sizeable distrust of a LOT of people in the industry.
  • I cannot work with people I don’t trust. I have to do that in the WHOLE rest of my fucking life so, I don’t want to do that with my creative work.
  • The other choices I’m making in my life in order to improve the quality of my lived life can apply to my work.
  • I have worked with some very amazing editors in the past couple of years, all of whom welcome me back with open arms and hearts and who appreciate me as I am.

So what am I gonna do?

  • Write like the mother fucker I am.
  • Continue to write what moves me and not what’s gonna make me money.
  • Continue using Medium as a small income stream.
  • Be a bit less shy about pitching the editors I trust.
  • Continue being adventurous with what I’m doing.

That’s all the fuck I need to do.

All I have to do, is the shit I know I am good at.

The rest, will happen. I have to trust myself and my process and my Weird Voice and my heart.

That’s what is going down.

Soon, I’ll be coming back to nerd real hard again about some stuff. So happy new year babes.

I love y’all.