Just Like...

.....You look like.

Hello my beautiful loves. If you do holidays I hope this finds you feeling festive, warm and happy. If you don’t I hope you feel warm and happy.

The title here references one of my favorite Danez Smith poems. There’s gon’ be a lot of links because reasons.

Here at the end of the decade it has been a wild fuckin ride y’all. We’re not gonna talk about the outside world rn. My inner world is…actin up. It has been a weird year.

Okay so full disclosure, this may read superficially as a lamentation of failure which it is but also, there is some victory here. Stay with me.

2019 in my creative life has been hard. I came into 2019 with a list of hard goals. I was dead set on figuring this creative hustle life shit. I realized I am not good at freelancing on a way deeper level than, just me being crabby about it. I really wanted to figure out where I fit and how to do this shit.

So, what wound up happening is I found myself bogged further down into my own anonymity. Now, before we go on I want to be clear that I am eternally happy that I have a little contingent of ride or die readers. I fully understand that it is tough for all of us. I also realize that a lot of what I’m doing/been doing is rehashing some old shit but, it is old shit I’ve really had to dismantle and examine.

Most of 2019, I’ve felt invisible and frustrated. OKAY be prepared I’m gonna be real raw here.

I have spent a lot of time this year struggling with a few concepts and beliefs and how the facts of my life just don’t match up. I’ve spent a lot of my life not beliving my own perceptions because I am often gaslit from all corners. I struggle with rah rah sentiments when, the facts contradict those messages. That isn’t the fault of the messengers, I appreciate that I have a support system. But I struggle with reckoning that as things play out, support or no support I am still feeling the same way.

Part of this experience is how I experience anxiety and trauma. Part of it is that, I’ve spent literal years studying the how of “success” and never touched it. Part of it is that, honestly after Gasoline Heart came out and I did the things folks told me to and got crickets, real talk I just feel unwanted and like I missed my chance at creative/arty success.

I haven’t totally discussed this bit but, emotionally I think somewhere around April I think I hit an emotional bottom. By June I felt like, I was struggling with wanting so badly to believe that my work matters/that if I could just find the path, I’d do better.

I didn’t.

I’ve failed at so much. Fundraising for myself and my fam. Fundraising for other people. Trying to create resources for my community. Asking my community for stuff. Fails to the left. Fails to the right. FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAILS.

I failed at rebranding. I failed at launching a community of readers/folks. I failed to get more than I think 3 reviews for Gasoline Heart. So a lot of failure this year. I had a few more experiences seeing the carrot of possible bigger literary opportunities dangled and then nothin’ because, I don’t want to tone down or try to be more like X Black woman author (yes this happened no I’m not naming names). It has been really hard.

At the root of my problems and tears and panics and failures is this.

A lot of people give lip service to the whole philosophy of demanding what you’re worth especially for Black women. We can yass and kiki about it forever but, for some of us the world is not going to do that. Through dayjob work and really reflecting on what and how I work in my life, I’ve had to accept that I live in the space between knowing my worth and knowing that my little world doesn’t give a fuck.

I tried to write an essay about just how deep the hurt of this level of double consciousness is. I’ve watched other folks in my community struggle with the same thing. The reasons why are so deep and intersected and live in such a painful part of my universe, I don’t want to keep going in there. It hurts. It reinforces shitty messages I got about how I’m supposed to live.

I am tired. My life is very uh, difficult in a lot of ways and I do not have the spoons to keep fucking with myself and trying so hard to fit some shitty idea that I made up about how to do this whole creative life, sustainable blablablablabLABLABLABLA…y’all.

I know this been bleak. Stay with me.

Part of how I’ve had to learn to live with my brainmeat and trauma in there and whatnot is that, I reach back into my life for cues as to what is true.

Here is what is true. And what I want to take into 2020.

I am a badass writer. Sometimes I write bullshit. Sometimes I write a good thing. That is good. I’m here for it.

I am not and don’t have to be a badass writer the way that the top (generally speaking the popular Black women writers) are.

I don’t have to fuck myself up trying to force people in authority or privileged positions to acknowledge and pay me what I’m worth.

I wanna stop there for a second it is important.

Look. What I’ve learned is that to a large degree in my life, how well I do a thing has zero to do with how I am compensated for that thing. Whether is it social justice work, my dayjob, or spinning an entertaining fucking story. I have had to suffer and process this one fact of my existence- I am not responsible for how other people do or don’t respect me.

I say respect here and it includes, how people value my work. It includes how they speak to me. How they operate when interacting with me.

It is not my fault.

It is not your fault.

And sometimes, for some of us we just have to figure out how to survive in this grey dingy ass area.

SO here is the good shit.

I don’t have to continue punishing myself and doing things that hurt me physically and spiritually in order to prove I am worth more.

I don’t have to emulate accepted Black womanhood in order to prove I am worth more.

You don’t either.

Looking into 2020, this is what I want and what I have decided.

I will share my work however I feel in the moment. The thing is, I’m GOING to make shit. I’m going to write poems nobody will publish and stories nobody will read. That’s just the kind of potato I am.

So I won’t abuse myself with the fact that I have to do this shit under capitalism.

Fuck it.

Fuck em.

I will probably never be the literary darling I dreamed of once upon a time and that’s okay. That is not how my life is set up and that means less cash and fame but that is fine.

I want 2020 to be the year that I allow myself to be in my lane and not replicate the abuse I’ve experienced on myself.

I’m not going to continue trying to force myself into the following lanes cause y’all, I just don’t like it and it makes me feel bad:

  • Branding/being a brand.

  • ANY creative/arty entrepreneurship.

  • Forcing myself to believe that legitimacy in the context of getting paid is what matters.

I am too old, I’m not a well person. I have health challenges and I’m too poor to do this to myself. I can’t let capitalism ruin everything that is good about who I am as a person.

This is who I am.

  • I’m gonna write the shit.

  • I’m gonna feel some type of way about said shit.

  • I’m gonna do it again.

  • I’m gonna keep trying to provide in whatever way I can for my community. I will fail. Feel bad and do it again.

My goals for 2020 are somewhat simple for my creative life.

  1. Do what the fuck I want to do. Whether or not it helps me economically.

  2. Respect how I feel about dayjob work. I will write about this more later.

  3. Allow myself to keep playing and doing and trying shit because I like it.

WOW if you hung in, thank you for seeing me.

This is not a sad story my friend. I feel, born. I feel real. I feel connected to the truest, best things about who I am and that is freeing. I can’t eat freeing but it damn sure feels like home and a place for me to flap my lil chicken wings and fly and fall and do it over again. That is who I am.

I have come home my darling beauties. I’m home. We’re home.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride cause I don’t really know what is gonna happen.

2020 is fixin to be lit y’all.

See you round the bend.

Love,

Shannon

Some links:

Wear Your Voice CONTINUE to put out amazing stuff.

I really love Porochista Khakpour’s substack letters. They are what brought me here.

My fave big cat rescue, Care Rescue Texas…y’all if you are sad or upset watch Derek and the baby tigers. He and his staff and fam take SUCH good care of all the cats.

My FAVE Lizzo video and frankly if at least ONE birthday I have in the future isn’t ALL FEMMES in shiny ass bondage gear, titties out and all doesn’t have this aesthetic…it is true nobody loves me.

Okay. Hi.

I hope 2020 comes in and is better for all of us. We out here y’all. We out here.

Love,

Shannon