bITS 'N CHUNKS
The time is upon us once again!
"Fall? Libra season?" you say.
It is HALLOWEEN MONTH motherf!kers!
The time of year when hopefully we can all breathe a little easier and stretch our leathery wings, be free!
I have a lot of events coming up and I'm going to do my best to blog them here and other places that may want them, sometimes even if they don't. And you know I have a bevy of bullshit in the form of intense Halloween film scrutiny coming up as well. I have some "normal" posts to get out of the way, and from there on out we are nothing but Southern Underground Pro, Lucha Underground recaps, and all spooky biz all the time.
In the mean time, did you know I was recently a podcast guest? Catch me talking to my dear friend Raymond Johnson on Sex Out Loud radio (we'll call it radio!) this past Friday (9/22). Join us discussing some recent Twitter drama, Afropunk shenanigans, queer dating, and more! We don't get terribly explicit but there is a little shit talk and swearing so please be forewarned!
Also, can we just rewind to the time when I wrote a retrospective on the Sharknado franchise and it went low key viral lol.
This is really what it looks like when you take shit into your own hands, you know? Check out my (consistently, y'all) updated Body of Work page for more places I'm at when I'm not here, and definitely keep up on social media (twitter: @xenoxands & instagram @neutralcabal). This year, we'll be doing it real big so stay tuned.
Well, it's time to get back in the swing of things.
Look, I don't know where inspiration comes from. 'K? I don't care. As I think I've explained previously, I don't get too sentimental about my writing process. For me personally, I have to just do it. I can't really go hunting for clues because I'll exhaust my brain and quit.
Well, at some point, I had kind of quit.
I hope we all know at this point Alfred Hitchcock was... well, to say problematic skirts the issue of him being fucking terrible. To women, to coworkers, to his actors. He was like Kubrick x 1000 and Kubrick was no slouch. Hitchcock also happens to be my personal guide when it comes to writing and manipulation of fiction, so to say I've mentally canceled him or something isn't true either. Pairing the two is difficult in my mind sometimes. But Hitchcock (and Welles, and Kubrick, and...) was a notoriously difficult and meticulous man and would often fall into bouts of depression when he was done planning production and had to get to the actual directing bit. The directing bit wasn't challenging. I feel that.
I don't ask where inspiration comes from because that's the hard part. Writing, not so much. I've had so little and have been so mentally scattered. So when inspiration cropped up in a potential zine contribution, right or wrong goddamnit I took it and ran with it.
And so, I began to... write. I started on that project, first. Didn't like it, will table that one. But I decided in my head that I would finish a project I had started a while ago. Wasn't a fresh idea but it fit the criteria and, well, I need to finish it.
I went from that project to another in dissatisfaction and awe, and decided I finally had some time to shove a few things off my desk. But how to get back into something you haven't looked at for almost a year? How to recapture the mood? How to get to the ending I've long since forgotten since I live my life on the square and I don't write my endings?
(I really don't write my endings)
I decided on music. I would play a little mood music to recapture the mood. Not the music I was listening to at the time because I really don't remember and I kind of don't care. Just... music. After a while, I found myself listening to or thinking about the same things over and over. I made a quick experimental playlist of what's been getting me through chapters. When I'm ready again, another?
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.
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.
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...