Where I come from. Influences. Nerdery Ahead.

Oh hi there.

Let’s get in our way back machine and have a look at a little flash fiction yours truly had published in 2009.

First the story and then under it, we’ll talk some deconstruction and what I was doing at the time. CW: eroticized murder.

By Her by Shannon Barber 

July 21, 2009 

 “Shall we?” 

The smoky tenor voice of the woman standing in the doorway brought him back to the reality of his situation. Suicide via sexual fantasy fulfillment, the only proper end for a man like him. Of course, all of the things people had said about him over the years are true. Pervert, dilettante, masochist of dangerous proportions, and so it has all come to this. 

“Yes of course.” 

He walks over and takes her hand, bends to kiss it. There are to be no names in this exchange, it had been meticulously arranged by a third outside party for a modest fee, a matchmaker of sorts to those with exotic and dangerous tastes. 

“It’s a pleasure and an honor madam.” 

Ever the gentleman, even in the moments before his last orgasm. The woman smiled at him clearly pleased. 

“The pleasure is mine sir.” 

Arm in arm they walked up the hall to a lavish bedroom that belonged to neither of them. This part another provision of their outside party, a place for the thing to happen, people to clean up the mess and dispose of the body. Everything to create the penultimate fantasy come true. 

It is a bonus that the woman, the avatar of his death is his kind of beauty. Fleshy, large busted, wide hips and an ample butt. He could almost picture lush big meaty thighs, he wondered absently how long her nipples might be and contented himself knowing he would find out. 

“Take your clothes off. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” 

He does as told, folding his black slacks and black shirt neatly. Stacking his boxers, shoes and jewelry atop them just so, fastidious even to the end. He lays on the bed waiting, watching his cock twitch into alertness. He hears the woman enter before he turns to look at her. She is naked and breathtaking. 

“You’re exquisite. Thank you.” 

She poses for him, framed right arm bent to hide the hand. His eyes fixate on her bent right arm, he knows what she has, the knowledge burns until he asks, his voice breaking. 

“Show me, please.” 

Slowly, terribly slowly she shows him what it is she has. A hunting knife, huge in her small hand, the blade gleaming and pristine. A frisson of fear, delight and anticipation runs down his spine to settle in his cock. 

She crosses the room, smiling at first his erect cock then his face. 

“I’m glad you like what you see. Now shut the fuck up and get ready to die.” 

Her tone changes, turns cold and his smile brightens then his eyes close. Ready to die just as he had lived. 

##

SO what exactly was I doin?

One of the things I got really interested in at the time was the idea of presenting the erotic without the explicitness literary minded folks tend to run screaming from.  I still feel some type of way about that but we’ll do that another day.

I also as ever have an interest in the idea of eroticizing violence or murder in ways that don’t depend on rape tropes. Or scorned woman or some “psycho” dickhole pretend Patrick Bateman fantasy. My interest comes from the book Lolita.

BUT Y SHANNON!

Here’s the thing. The first time I read Lolita, I think I was about 15. At that age, I was drawn to Lolita herself as some archetype of sexuality that resonated with me on a deep level. I was drawn to the desire at that age to flirt with sexuality. In presenting Lolita as this object of obsession by the terrible yet elegant Humbert appealed to me. It appealed to me in the same way *due to my genders being fluid as fuck* that reading a lot of gay fiction about hustlers and rent boys.

I wanted to both be the man and the object of lust. In my mind at that age, I had no right to or link to desirability. I was pretty well convinced that I would never be the object of that level of lust and it fascinated me.

I reread it in my 20s and I was struck less by that identification with Dolores herself but, the beauty of the language of something so terrible.

I have always been fascinated by the beautification of terror and horror. I love to play with the language of a horrible thing by making it beautiful. I like the lure of it. I like the idea that I can feel like I’m being stroked with silk and then BAM oh shit that was…terrible.

Another author who influenced me heavily in this direction is the magnificent Dennis Cooper. I’ll do a list of other of these influences below.

Thing is, one of the things what I do in my work is find those silky paths to bloodshed and mayhem. I like to explore things like predatory desire expressed by women and non cis men. I like exploring places where, being that I was raised and socialized to be a woman I was taught not to explore. Especially not to explore in a way that is pleasurable and outside of the purview of the white cis hetero dude view.

So below I’ll link/cp some of my other early work in this vein and then a list of authors and artists who have had an impact on this trajectory.

A poem reprint from June 2006. Originally in Zygote in my Coffee.

Bitches
by Shannon Barber
You stare at me as if I should know better.
You look like I should be jealous.
Jealous of your smile and wily ways.
You part my lips in the semblance of a smile.
Eyes that are not mine stare from the mirror.
Bestial beauty.
Barely constrained by civility.
I look closer.
Yes eye to eye with the enemy.
I smile – She smiles.
Obsidian eyes gleaming with cold fire.
I say I’ll eat you alive.
She says I’ll finish you for desert.
Slowly she is no longer the stranger.
This skin is my own.
The glittering eyes I begin to recognize.
And I am no ghost.
I smile and give her a wink.
She smiles and winks back.
We say – I don’t love you but I know you.
Love will come soon enough.
The woman I was-
The woman I am
Together behind black eyes and secret smiles.

~ This was 13 years ago and I believe that my use of words like bitches and my love of the Self Vs Self are rooted in this era of my work. Self Vs Self was also heavily influenced by one of my favorite artists Hazel Dooney. The evolution of that influence culminated in this piece of erotic literary flash. Self Vs Self, originally printed in Sleep. Snort. Fuck. June 23, 2010. You can also see some of my earlier mythos remixing happening here.

A recent piece where I play with these things was from Heavy Feather Review. Blood Fugue by yours truly.

OKAY actually I’m gonna do some book recs that put me on the path.

*Amazon affiliate links cause coins.

See A Grown Man Cry/Now Watch Him Die by Henry Rollins.

Wrong: Stories by Dennis Cooper.

Junky by William Burroughs. 

The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things by JT Leroy

City of Night by John Rechy. 

Suicide Blonde by Darcey Steinke 

Adulterers Anonymous by Lydia Lunch.

The Demon by Hubert Selby Jr

 

But what now?

HI Space Babes!

Things are gettin kinda cool again?

So post writer hustle life, I’m finding the joy in writing fiction and non fiction that I’m pretty sure nobody wants to publish. Waaaaaaaaat? I know right? Here’s the thing. I don’t go into the lit streets assuming that everyone wants to publish my genius words. A lot of folks don’t and that’s okay.

Once upon a time during my most prolific and successful (in the context of how much I got published) eras, I was in the headspace I’m in now.

I am writing whatever I want. Might it get read? I dunno. Will anyone but me like it? Dunno. Don’t care.

Thing is, I write a LOT of things other people don’t like or don’t like enough to expose their readership to. I always have.

Currently I feel like I can write my stories and fling them at the lit streets and see what happens. So what is happening?

GOSH y’all. I’ve been just scribbling away, stretching my fiction muscles. I’m playing and when I can play I write some cool shit.

One of the things I’ve learned through this HELLA painful trying to make money as a creative thing is that, I have a tendency to restrict myself when I really want to try and make money. I get deep in my own head about the ways in which a lot of the work I enjoy producing, doesn’t sell.

On a deeper level, I have also had to learn to navigate real trauma. As I’ve mentioned before if you’ve been here a while, I’ve been plagiarized many times. Concepts I started writing about a long time ago have been lifted sometimes verbatim. I’ve seen my pitches ignored only to read that thing in a magazine two weeks later.

This is real and having to learn that it was really happening and not just happening to me fucked me up. I have also had to learn to deal with being gaslit about this by (lezbereal White women in writing groups), other writers and whatnot.

SO.

In my retirement from that fuckery, because god damn it it IS FUCKERY, I am at play.

I am as I said previously, as free a mother fucker as I can be. And it is good. SO how about a lil bite of something I”m cooking up?

Fuck. Fuck fuckfuck fuck, fuck fuck; I didn’t realize I was muttering until my phone dinged softly in the pre-dawn darkness, “yes Melissa?” My voice assistant calls me by my real name, I was also startled when it piped up. “Shut up Binky.” I named it Binky, I liked to pretend I still had someone to bitch to about dumb things. Binky shut themselves down and I sat on the edge of my bed in the dark sweating and muttering, fuck. Fuck fuck. Fuck fuckfuck.

Soon my loves, we’re gonna have some new fun shit here. So enjoy babes.

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.

FB_IMG_1555044673913
[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.

 

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.

WIPS, brains n things.

Oh HAY BOO HAY.

Few bits of biz first.

Current submissions:

1 languishing poetry submission. I’m pretty sure is a no.

2 Ghosted pitches so also probs nopes.

1 short fiction sub out.

What else?

Y’all remember me yammering about writing classes? WELP I’ve launched it on Patreon and here is how it is workin. If you are a patron, you get it exclusively for a month and then I post it up on Etsy. The first one about writing horror is available now. AND if you drop it in your cart, leave and check your etsy email there’s a fatass coupon too so you can get a few bits from the shop.

Also I finally finished (behind the medum paywall. Feel free to clap etc, help me buy a coffee) my little thing about how my book Gasoline Heart was born. it isn’t quite what I wanted but works.

I also got interviewed about some witch shit by one of my fave folks MIsha over at Patheos. If you are into witch shit, you should Misha .

I’ve got some some other behind the paywall stuff at Medium. Last month with I think about 24 pieces I made $9.85.

What else?

Yers truly has been writing like a mother fucker and playing with new to me shit.

First new to me, I’m dabbling in some New England Folk Horror without a focus on white folks. Harder than it seems. Here is a bite:

She was always like that to me. Spooky. The same way seeing a single deer alone in the morning is spooky. The way she would stand so still, it was easy to not quite see her. Even her posture in those moments was, strangely graceful. Her back was straight, heels planted on the floor and there would be a moment where her body would tilt forward slightly and her head would tilt upwards as if being pulled on a string.  I always figured it for one of those bodily tics we all have and that, was what I loved about her so much.

I’ve got a major plan with this piece and I’m fucking with established lore like I do. I’m enjoying putting it together.

Next thing.

Yesterday, I also apparently started a werewolf story. I dunno what it wants to be. Aside from maybe kinda porny.

“And you got me chicken? I’ll get a pitcher of beer since you’re being all traditional with the gifts and whatnot. If you sniff my butt I’ll lay you out.”

Unable to resist he gave her his best puppy eyes.

“Maybe later?”

She cackled, mouth wide open her big black eyes twinkling.

“Don’t write checks your ass can’t cash Sue. “

Regardless of the seriousness of the problem he’d sought her out to help, it felt good to have that kind of easy banter with another wolf. Once the chicken arrived Latisha ordered the promised pitcher and they both tucked napkins into their collars and went to work in companionable quiet.

What am I reading?

I happen to be reading two books, very different from each other and both blurbed by one of my fave people, Mr. Jerry Stahl. 

First up I was delighted to get an Arc of Junkie Love: A Story of Recovery and Redemption by Joe Clifford. If you’ve been here a while y’all know I fuckin love me some Joe. It has a new forward and it is really a gorgeous book. I’m almost done with read #2 so y’all will get a full review soon.

Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias. Y’all. This mother fucker right here. So I reviewed his other book a while back. AND THEN he had the nerve to release a new book. I’m about a quarter of the way in and y’all…goddamn. Just buy it.

What else is happenin?

I’m trying not to be essaying right now because my brainmeat only wants to do the shit that hurts and I’m just not in the mood to bleed. At least not that kind of blood yanno?

If you are doing Nanowrimo or nano anything. GO GO GO GO.

Whatever you’re up to.

Wreck that shit y’alls!

Hilarity Ensued.

Okay if you read my last post, you know that I’m rearranging my hustle so I can work. TL:DR version is I’m very tired of providing a whole lot of free content and getting little material support regardless of what I ask for.

Ahem.

So first thing was a lot of sympathy. Messages, notes etc all expressing utmost sadness. I do appreciate it. The writing life is a hard fuckin hustle. Especially for someone like me for LOTS of intersecting simple and complex reasons.

Cool.

What did not happen?

Engagement with material I’ve offered for free and for paid medium users. Nothin. Nada. Fuck all. My current super check from Medium is a whopping zero cents. Between this here lil doohicky, followers at Medium, tweeter etc there are a good few thousand of y’all so honestly sometimes seeing all those juicy zeroes is just…..disheartening.

That said, I do find it dryly (bitterly) entertaining that instead of the free to do shares of shit I get a lot of advice.

Some of it is really bad.

First one, someone I’ve known for literal years suggested I take an internship that is for newbies who need to learn how to get published.

Bro.

BRUH.

HONEY BRUH.

I say this with love. PLS DO NOT GODDAMN DO THIS. Ahem….

I am in fact a professional. I know I am not slinging big dollar bylines but, I do my thing. I’ve been doing it since the late 1990s. I AM AN OLD. I SUBMITTED SELF ADDRESSED STAMPED ENVELOPED WITH TYPED ON A FUCKIN NON HIPSTER TYPEWRITER. I skipped eating to buy stamps and paper. I know how to do publishing.

Yes, wanting to share an opportunity with me is great. However if it comes and it is very clearly not for me, yeah Imma feel some type of way. If it involves moving to NYC on a stipend, NAH I have a tiny family to care for and have a job, if it involves travel I can’t afford it.

Y’alls. I am very very open about my life. I work full time. Yes some stuff has changed since we moved.

Previously, my work days were basically up at 4:45 AM, out the door at six PM,  in the door between 5:30-6PM. Food and bathing and household shit until about 8 or so then attempts at sleep. On a good day I had maybe 2 hours of writing at home before I got too tired.

Currently, I have more time so I’m writing more stuff.

BUT I am still poor. I still have a full time job and a disabled partner to care for. This precludes me doing a lot of things because they cost money, don’t pay and cost time.

I don’t like capitalism but like everybody else I gotta play so I don’t starve to death and die.

Next thing. Do NOT approach me like we’re friends and try to sell me your super best seller marketing secrets. Do. Not. Do.

Look I’m not gunning for sympathy when I talk about these things. I’m open about them because it is a part of the writing life that is hard and just like every other broke fucker with a pen, I’m doing the best I can.

I face obstacles that I want to be open about. Some of them are of my own making. I say that because I have a big goddamn mouth and I acknowledge that my habit of talking about uncomfortable things especially in the context of the lit biz, turns some folks off. That’s fine. I’m not a universally loved flavor of human. Some of the obstacles are because I move around in the body I’m in, with the skin I’m in and that’s just how shit works.

I’m too old to believe that if I just find the magic formula, ALL THE CASH SHALL FOLLOW. I also don’t really want that.

Here’s what I want.

  • Write what the fuck I want.
  • Freelance a little bit with people I trust with my work.
  • Sometimes buy new underpants.
  • Read books.
  • Drink hot beverages.
  • Live.

Thing is, what’s important beyond just wanting to help is taking the extra second to think before you give someone something gross. Don’t insult folks who are in the shit, and know some shit. And yes, you might not mean it but sometimes offering up things that are not possible for people sucks.

Small lit life updates-

  1. Ten subs/pitches out.
  2. Two non response, one form rejection, one warm rejection.
  3. One solicited essay assignment turned in.
  4. MAKE THAT ELEVEN out, I just sent another poetry submission.

I have to go back in time so I can find some stuff to talk to editors I like about. This is the life, I ain’t mad.

Side Hustle Thoughts.

I’m in a mood. Buckle in.

I’ve been (as always) looking at my hustles.

Before I dive in here is my view. I still don’t like freelancing that much. I’m not a fan of wading through new bullshit with usually White editors who mean well but ultimately exhaust me and I wind up doing a lot of emotional labor I don’t get paid for. I also don’t like publications that let their readership go fucking wild on authors and just delete the posts but not the articles.

There are a small group of editors I trust and some opportunities I’ve been extended. Some of the problem with that for me is, I do not have the ability to do what equates to a bit more than a part time job especially when the pay is not commensurate with an actual PT job.

Okay.

The essential going advice is pretty much Field of Dreams- If you build it they will come. Most advice talks about offering the good content, promote it, make it available etc. I do that and unfortunately as I’ve said and experienced for like a decade, it just does not work for me.

Again, recently at the behest of some folks who were super hype, I reopened my Swag Shop.  And again, not ONE of the people who asked shared it, looked at it or purchased anything.

I know my price points tend towards beyond reasonable. At one point I was offering up about 110K words of fiction, non fiction etc for 11$ and only one person bought it. I have a TON of content I offer for free via this blog, medium etc. I am always very specific about how folks can help out. Even if you can’t drop a dollar, I always ask that things are shared.

This does not work for me.

Quite frankly, I get the most support if I’m having a public internet meltdown about not being able to pay for something and frankly doing the I AM POOR AND PANICKING dance is humiliating and exhausting.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and every time I try with the side hustles it comes down to this. I do a thing, write a bunch of shit or whatever and after a few days when there are zero reads, no shares etc, I feel completely devalued.

I am a Black Queer non binary femme person. I have to deal with being undervalued constantly in my life. From my dayjob to engagement with people, to the thousands of hours of emotional labor I’ve put in around meatspace and the internet, it is something that is just a shadow in my life.

For a few years now I have tried really hard to believe that if I provide the good shit, the good shit will flow back in return. I had a come to Odin talk with myself and really examined my pricing and whatnot. On one hand, folks have told me to charge more for stuff, that I am worth so much more than the few bucks I ask for.

Yet, the proof is not in the pudding.

Here is what I have come to believe now. It doesn’t matter what think I am worth. It doesn’t. The thing is, I can’t pay myself. I also can’t keep getting my hopes up. I am a terribly sensitive flower. I want so much to believe that the work I do can help sustain my life and do some good in the world, when there is just zero interest or follow up it just crushes me.

On one hand, having started in short literary fiction I am primed for rejection. When I’m in submission mode, I eat rejection. But, that rejection is not the same. It isn’t the build up and then nothing. That is the thing that is wrecking me over and over again.

The truth is, like a lot of other marginalized folks, the people who have shown that material support, who have bought my echapbook and stories and whatnot are in the same position I am.

The truth is, I’m not the beloved type of Black person with opinions so the people in the position to do the most, don’t.

They don’t.

And I’m not even necessarily talking about strangers. I’m thinking about people in my immediate circles who I’ve seen elevate other people, triple funded vacations, therapy everything and I can’t get a share of a link?

Y’all.

Real talk?

It fucks me up. It hurts my heart, it hurts my wallet it makes doing the shit I’m good at harder. And to have the idea reinforced that if I provide, others will provide so jammed down my throat, it hurts because obviously that is not for me.

I have to make a commitment to myself that is loving and preservative of my sanity and feelings.

I cannot give space to the whole woowoo idea that the universe (or my community) will do shit for me unless I am doing my poverty dance. I can’t.

I’m not sure what that means in terms of my work and how I offer things. I may just go to submitting only and freelancing a little and trying other avenues of revenue that aren’t writing.

I dunno. All I know is that I can’t keep working so hard and trying to hard and winding up with a deficit of both coins and good feelings.

That’s it for now.