bITS 'N CHUNKS
Hello, it's me again, the owner of this site.
Well shipmates, it's been quite a wild ride these past few months. I lost my day job, regained a day job, lost that day job, took a vacation for a while. I was not really in a position to do all that, but for the sake of my mental health I had to do that.
In that time, I did work. I wrote. I did a little something something. I went to wrestling again. I disappointed myself. I read. I maintained the illusion of productivity and when I screamed and tore that all down, I did absolutely nothing. And I can't say I didn't enjoy it.
But let's talk about a... weird experience that I didn't really get into at the beginning of the year.
So a while ago, I did a The Biz post on paid in exposure versus paid in cash. In that post, hopefully I expounded that I'm a little more lax in my ideas of writers getting "paid" in exposure. Does it always work? Not really. You get your name out there in front of someone, but being paid for your efforts and labor is a lot better than not. But I do believe the question then and always is, how the hell do you stop getting paid in dust?
It's... hard. And in 2018 the year of our lord, I feel like I'm back to square one with that position.
I've taken a gamble on volunteer contributions. Generally these are projects I strongly believe in and are fun to do for me. These blogs are free, obviously. Recently, if you don't follow me on social media, you may not know that I've been doing recaps of Lucha Underground for Blerds Online. If you've tumbled by my space recently, you'll know that I love wrestling. Scratch that, you'll know that I fucking love wrestling. I've enjoyed the challenge of recapping a television show, something I've seldom done... and a balls to walls wrestling show at that. I feel like I would like to do that in the future, but for now I'm just trying to finish the end of the season.
I do other blog projects for free, too. I have no real expectation of getting paid in that arena. I'm glad to offer my expertise and get a few new eyes on me in the process, and try something different.
But what happens... marginalized folks, feel me on this. What happens when you're the token? What happens when conditions and terms aren't clear?
There was an article I contributed to a site a while ago. I very much believed in this project and it was an analysis that I wanted to contribute, but per the site guidelines and owner themselves I was kind of expecting some money. In the course of hashing it out with the editor, I noted that not a single time did we ever discuss online payment. The obvious answer is because: it wasn't happening. There was a bit of fine print that wasn't explained to me. And because my contribution was a website blog, I would get a gift package as a compensation (which I never received, mind you). I'm not afraid of naming and shaming but in this case I'd rather not, I have a strong suspicion that no one's really submitting to that place. Plus, I kind of did on social media already. Whoops!
Another one I'm not about to name is... well, you ever get paid for something then quickly realize it was penance? Kind of like how people will eat a shitty diet consistently then turn around and drink a gallon of water and assume it'll purify them? I submitted a piece to a popular satirical news site because they were looking for black writers. I fit that bill. News writing isn't really my thing, but I decided to swing at it. Plus, they paid. Oh, they paid alright. In the end, they paid for my blackness, never published the piece (to be fair, it was pretty niche), then hired two black staff writers right behind me so they didn't need me anymore.
Why would I tell that story? Because it's whiteness at work. It's confusion. It's so long & thanks for all the fish, but I didn't really need it. You know? That was my first time feeling tokenized in a very long time and I was happy to forget how gross it felt up until that point.
I'm fine. I keep trying, of course. I try not to burn bridges, but the Leo/Aquarius combo in me sometimes just can't keep it chill. And I want you to know, too. All I can say is... be careful.
Greetings shipmates, let's chop it up for a minute:
Well, this season has been productive so far but that means I haven't had a ton of time for my personal projects as I take on more work and do my day job... to be honest I'm fine with that. The time for writing for the sake of writing will come again. For now, I'm just pleased that y'all are enjoying my work in any capacity. That being said, I do have some stuff in the works to show y'all and some things I might want to promote real quick. I'm getting around to revamping this site one of these days, it probably just isn't going to happen when I planned. This year, though! There's nothing actually wrong with the format to be honest with y'all, I just like change.
First of all, I'm working on a second personal site focused on my tarot readings. If you follow me on Instagram you will see that at least weekly or every other week I'll talk about a particularly intriguing reading and people seemed to enjoy that. This new blog will be focused on tarot readings without a lot of the heady spiritual stuff i.e astrology or... whatever. I respect that if you do it but I have found there is a niche market of us who don't. I'll explain more when the site is (finally) up, because Wordpress is taking me right on through there.
Speaking of sites, in addition to my work on Global Comment I'm also now with B-Movie BFFs hosted by my good friend Kelly Hogaboom. As you can probably tell, this site is dedicated to exactly the kind of schlocky cult B-Z grade fiction that I love and I hope you'll check it out not just for me but Kelly's insights too!
I've been running a Spreadshirt shop for my menhera activities for a while called Angel System, but I haven't promoted it a lot lately because I've just been trying to find the energy for new designs. I'm working on doing some bulk orders whenever I cough up the capital for it but for now if you see anything you like you can get it right from the site.
What else, what else... oh, just be ready to see some more gender-related posts, more wrestling, more convention chat, and more music as my social calendar slowly fills up. You know us writer types, can't do shit without submitting it somewhere.
Well, hello again friends!
I apologize for my absence, I've been wanting to do a little website work here and there (namely ironing out my blog tags and overall website presentation) but shit's been happening and life got in the way like it does. The reason I'm daring to show my face right now besides the fact that it's charming is...
Recently, I've been able to participate in a couple of projects based around religion/spirituality and marginalized groups, specifically black & brown (or POC if y'all hadn't ruined the label already) and trans people of color. As a nonbinary person I do fit in somewhere on the trans spectrum and that's been one thing I've been trying to come to grips with. Do I "deserve" to be trans? Because I present femme a majority, what does it really look like when transphobic violence affects me?
The thing that helped me a lot in transitioning emotionally was meeting queer elders first. It's one thing to participate with people my own age, but seeing the elders of any scene is a reassurance of resilience. And trans elders are incredibly important as statistically, the average life span of trans people is horrifically low and plummets for trans women, and plummets lower for black trans women.
Simply put, it is fucking dangerous to exist as trans. It is not nor has it ever been nearly as fun or easy as cis folk might think. When I see my black trans elders, I defer so much and I am so grateful. In my case, my nonbinary elders are by and large white which kind of says a lot about its own situation, but even then I am grateful.
For this most recent interview project, I felt heartened because I was invited in by someone who identifies as genderqueer, which was my original orientation until I shifted over into the general spectrum of NB. Coming to terms with myself in those times, there was the question of whether NB people belonged under the transgender umbrella and that was incredibly scary. It came from cis people (lol why are you HERE?) and it came from other (binary) trans people as well. Seeing my elders then made me feel a little better but it just felt like there was no home. I was told every which way to go start my own and after a while I asked myself did I actually need the trans label? Was I just being selfish?
So I lived without. In a way, I still live without. Not sure if that makes me a coward or not though I lean towards yes. It felt really good to have that confirmation from my own community that "yes, you belong here" but old habits die hard.
The old habit of dwelling miserably on presentation. For a week I thought about my appearance. I didn't want to femme it up because then I just look like a girl. I'm not. I should be allowed to do that and still accept my gender ID, but I feel like social media puts so much focus on NB femmes slaying for the gods and I don't feel like being fetishized anymore. Then I said, I'll just go masculine. But again, why? What does a truly neutral appearance look like? I'm not against it, but I had to consider my appearance as well.
In the end, I settled on what you see up top. I used a simple foundation and finishing powder and lipstick. For some reason, whenever I take casual trips outside I end up in a sleeveless turtleneck and jeans. That worked. I wore heels too, because y'know? Yeah. I felt good. I felt workable.
Prior to this, I had a conversation with a friend on Instagram regarding representation and feeling. I feel like all trans people go through the phase where we ask if we look trans enough. If we look how we feel. If we're passing and how much of our lives we put out there. What's at risk for not looking perfect and sometimes for even looking one hundred percent. And if you don't wish to pass or look traditional? God, god! It's easy to mull over for a long time, especially if you're someone like me and you've not had any fellow trans friends in real life. I do now and I suppose I could have always had them, but I was so frightened of looking... I don't know, regular. What does that mean? This is the kind of stuff you mull on without community. It sounds stupid as hell out loud but you really go through it. I don't want people to have to go through that for years on end and so I'm offering myself up on the altar of representation. Because representation matters and visibility, for better or worse, is important.
Okay, so when you decide to venture out into writing and you get into business for yourself and you read any kind of self-help guides, one of the big glaring neon type things any decent person will tell you is
DON'T WORK FOR FREE
*followed by a list of people rationalizing why you should work for free so you can get exposhah.
Now, exposure is good. For me, since writing is not my primary job at the moment, there are definitely times when I don't mind getting published for free. Makes my resume look good and chances are I'll come away with some new friends and/or connections. I'm not mad at small 'zines and publishers for not paying a token amount most of the time because. Not getting paid does not mean I half-ass it either, but the thing is
No one told me when or how to not work for free. I think it's supposed to be innate but it's…not.
It hasn't happened to me yet, fortunately, but it really sucks when the beast exposhah takes advantage of young authors who don’t know when to price themselves (all the time) versus when it's okay to drop a little somethin' somethin'. I can't do "making friends and influencing people" all the time, but there are people out there who will treat you like you're brand new every time.
I kind of got it together eventually, but at first I never really did due diligence on figuring out when I should be paid and what an industry standard was, for example. I thought I would get my novel published for a sum and get royalties. Then when I scoffed at novel writing, I thought I'd get a few short stories going and lead people into my real work whenever I was ready for The Novel or a short story collection. That's kind of how it works in Fanficland! Then I thought I'll just publish myself. I was…naïve.
I finally figured it out in the artist alley of a convention one October. When you go to the big conventions with the big artists, you see them charging a hefty penny for sketches. That sounds wild, but we really do pay that much for a Hawkgirl portrait. Meanwhile, you go to the small conventions with the small (sometimes schmedium) artists and see prints for $15, $20. Something ludicrously low. The same work, same skill level, same art, but at a 200% markdown. I was chopping it up with an artist, commiserating about fanboys who will come and try to haggle a $10 necklace to ash. And here I am with an intricate print created by hand at a low, low price just to keep them at bay.
"Yeah," the artist mutters. "They hate that."
They being the big names. The ones charging accurately, maybe overcharging, but a fair sight better. It clicked. Oh, to need to charge MORE but you can't for fear of driving away business. How do you get to the point to what you deserve?
Strictly business. Inwardly, I was resisting bringing business into something I love. I couldn't separate the practicality of earning a living doing what I enjoy versus demanding people pay me for something I'm shaky about. Then, why am I here? Why am I dragging the market down by hiding against the shadows and hissing, "hey, whatever you want, I can do that for free."
I knew I should probably get like $10 at some point, but how? It wasn't really until I looked into serious publishing and saw the rates that I was just like wow! Those publishers that were paying were big deals and had high standards and even higher rejection rates. I got a little intimidated. I got a lot intimidated. Then there was the period I just wasn't writing anything in particular…
So by the time my Rolling Stone piece came about, it was the perfect mix of an Internet meme hitting peak fever, someone I deeply respect passing an opportunity to me, and I hope to goodness actual skill. You might call that luck plus preparation or whatever they say in those self-help manuals. But the truth is, I had very minimal control over that. Was that years of "exposure" finally turning into something or just a fluke? Once I was done being excited, I realized I had to…focus.
I was doing silly isht for exposure that only works for some people, not necessarily me. I admit I'm a little confrontational on social media (I still am) so I'm either losing friends or gaining them, but will they continue to support my work or are they just here for some quick tea? Hmm.
What I decided was, free work was okay but I gotta limit it to a few people that I enjoy working with and have worked with in the past and really promote myself. But that whole exposure thing has to come from me, me myself. I post stuff for free on this very blog all the time and you guys see it. Thank you! But before this site I had to wonder who was really seeing it. Friends, family, sure, but a lot of internet strangers? People who would actually seek me out even though my stuff was scattered all over? I needed something way more cohesive than what I was doing. You know, like an actual resume. Ahh, so that's why everyone has a personal site with a theme and shit.
Those samples have led me to some pretty good work but I realized I had to stop doing the If You Build It… game to myself and not only build it, but pass out fliers and shove people into The Construct. I had to be less scared. I had to gain that thing called confidence and self-actualization. I had to treat it like a business. I treat myself like a business. I resisted it for so long but I finally came home to it, and to be honest I'm a lot happier for it.
So speaking of figuring out your aesthetic, physical appearance is very important too!
The gag is, your physical appearance almost never has to match up with your output. I mean yeah, it's great when your aesthetic is cohesive and you look the part of a NASA scientist, but that brings in a lot of earthly questions like "what is it truly to look like something?"
Honestly, if you look too close to something I'm going to assume you're a poseur. You don't want that, right?
For my next few music posts, I'm taking a break from talking about combining music and writing and moving into small niche genres, why I'm attracted to them, albums I like in those genres, and just generally the notion of internal aesthetic versus outside appearance.
The biggest culprit of this dichotomy is goth. What is goth? Post-punk. What is post-punk? The thing that came after punk. Okay, there's a lot of things that came after punk. For every genre there is a post or anti genre. Hardcore? Post-hardcore. Grunge? Post-grunge. Goth distinguishes itself by having other facets beyond just "post punk". And for the last time, goth is more than just looking spooky. You can look like John Q Public and still be goth, it's just unlikely but not terribly uncommon.
That being said. I don’t want to share my favorite goth music albums because that's for another time, or even my feelings on what is and is not goth because I don't care and neither do you. But what I do want to share is something I thought of with Angela Benedict's video on finding your goth sound. The point she brings up is as human beings, we tend to listen to what's familiar and what we liked the most in our formative years (paraphrasing). The example she gives is industrial. I too grew up drenched in industrial sweat and lashed by punishing EBM blackstrobe but you know where I really came from?
FOLK. MUSIC. I am the biggest Bob Dylan stan you know and you can't fight me and win. The music that I am drawn most to outside of folk is everything that sounds like folk. Growing up in a black household, I also like bass. Like, a lot of bass.
So I kicked back and thought, if I had an absolute aesthetic masterpiece of a greatest hits album, what comprises me? I came up with a handful:
Sisters of Mercy - First Last & Always
The Mission - God's Own Medicine
Depeche Mode - Violator
Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde
Siouxsie & the Banshees - Tinderbox
This is specifically in terms of goth because if I had to include everything the list would be quite long. But see what I mean? All very intensely personal albums, a little weird, a little confrontational, a little dark, high up in bass and completely unbothered. The Dylan album notwithstanding. That's not even my favorite Dylan album by the way.
All oddly folksy.
(But never neo-folk.)
Different but all preying and building upon roughly the same thing. Telling stories about moments in time. Not really concept albums but I am very much into those as well. Crafting a good set of songs. Statement albums.
A statement piece is what I aspire to be.
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...