Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - September 2017

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - September 2017

I went through hurricane Irma in September. Though things could have been so much worse for me (I had no flooding, structural damage or physical injury) as it is for survivors in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Dominica and more, Irma still took a toll on my mental health, which I am trying to recover from. Irma meant unexpected expenses and loss of electricity for a while, which meant lost wages and increased home costs, in addition to discomfort and stress. It also meant dealing with an inordinate amount of stress via social media as I had to use it more than in August, where less use meant a better month.

While I accomplished some of the things that I wanted to in September despite so much stress, September was still a setback in some serious ways. I hope to get some rest and recuperation in October and finish the year in a better emotional and creative place. 

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8 Reasons Why I Do Not Need Unsolicited Advice and Suggestions For My Work

8 Reasons Why I Do Not Need Unsolicited Advice and Suggestions For My Work

When I mention "unsolicited advice," I am not talking about people who post general tweets, general tips and general non-insulting suggestions and advice in their own social media spaces. I am talking about people who directly contact me with paternalistic, unwanted and ableist comments, requests and demands for my work, undesired and unprompted. Anyone who cannot see the difference here is someone that I cannot trust to respect my boundaries let alone my work. Addtionally, anyone who conflates actual client to creator engagement (such as questions about something purchased) with paternalistic unsolicited advice is actively and harmfully intellectually dishonest. 

I am really grateful for thoughtful and respectful supporters, patrons, customers and clients. But, I wish that the respectful and kind people that I deal with were enough to offset the disrespectful, paternalistic, ignorant, passive aggressive and ableist people. Unfortunately I am not so lucky and neither is my health. The cumulative stress of navigating this social media plague on a daily and at times hourly basis, for several years now, takes its toll.

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - August 2017

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - August 2017

I had a very good month in August. It feels as if it has been a while since I have felt this way, but I really did have a good month. I did the work that I wanted to do and also rested fairly well. My birthday was really great. I received a few nice gifts and tons of birthday wishes. Overall, other than January (when I had a lovely sleepcation), August was my best month in 2017, in every way. I hope that the rest of the year can follow suit and somewhat make up for a difficult late spring and early summer.

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - July 2017

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - July 2017

July ended on a brighter note, as I launched my new Patreon profile. I am not an "optimistic" person but I do hope that altering my social media use in certain ways will provide a modest reprieve. I am looking forward to working on something new and the rest of my year being as productive as July, but also a lot more restful.

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - June 2017

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - June 2017

Regardless of what I do, working as an indie artist will always be difficult, regardless of if I love the actual arts (I do) that make up my profession. The part of art that transforms from passion to profession will always be painful because of the nature of capitalism itself and how people respond to an unaffiliated hypervisible Black woman doing that work in social media space, using social media as a tool to make that work profitable to create an income to survive on.

One thing that was nice about June is that my sister closest to me in age came to visit me and it was such a kind, thoughtful, fun and healing visit. June would have been much more difficult than it already was without that wonderful time spent with family.

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - May 2017

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - May 2017

While I do not believe in "dream jobs," I have waited all of my adult life to be able to do work that I enjoy, work that is challenging, work that is creative. I do now. But loving my work (being an artist) and loathing the context it has to occur in (extremely abusive and exploitative social media spaces that are infinitely worse than any corporate job office) is a resistant impasse.  Each month I try to figure out another way and hopefully after more conversations with artists who understand this, as there will be so few who do, I will come up with a plan that works. I have to. My well-being and survival depend on it. 

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - April 2017

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - April 2017

This year, I altered how I pursue deadlines, no longer engaging a rigidity that does not account for the fact that I have four blogs, I am working on 3 different sets of publication projects (that include multiple eBooks and other photographic/writing products in each) and have multiple social media accounts for four different projects, on top of any extraneous publishing that I do. It is a lot and it is one person doing it all. However, being "on target," so to speak, did not prevent me from reaching burnout. I am...tired. However, it is not the workload that exhausts me but the conditions I deal with to work at all that does.

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There Is No Competition

There Is No Competition

Competition and those endlessly seeking it can go elsewhere. I am not threatened by younger/less experienced people "taking my place" because they cannot. I am not threatened by older/more experienced people "making me look bad" because they cannot. There will always be people who I view as peers, or people with equal levels of experience, proficiency, insight and respect for their crafts. They are peers though, not competitors. Ultimately, teaching less experienced people, collaborating with peers, learning from more experienced people, and traveling my own path is what matters most to me. 

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - March 2017

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - March 2017

I am doing much better with short-term rest, sleep, and leisure woven into my schedule. I can see the clear differences from 2016 and especially from 2012-2015. However, it will take more time and practice to be able to schedule and mentally relax during longer periods of time off. See, though I know I need time time off—especially because of how stressful social media is as a "workspace"—at the same time, economic anxiety (the real kind, not the euphemism for being a racist) is something that will never leave me. I work independently; if I do not do it, then it does not get done.

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Not All Requests To "Collaborate" Are Worth My Time

Not All Requests To "Collaborate" Are Worth My Time

For a collaboration to actually be successful, it requires that the parties: 1) know each other (or get to know each other), 2) respect each other, 3) have shared goals, 4) have equitable skills across the board, so that the collaboration does not become a stereotypical version of the dreaded collegiate group project where the division of skills and labor are unbalanced. There are five types of people who request to collaborate and only one of them is an authentic collaborator... 

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Beauty 101: Personal Stories

Beauty 101: Personal Stories

Everyone has a beauty 101 story. How people treat them based on their appearance (and how privilege/oppression impact these perceptions) and how they perceive, express, struggle with and celebrate their own appearance. It is important to me to discuss beauty in an honest way, even if some people will have a difficult time accepting this honesty. I am not interested in people's "positive" projections on me regarding my "perfect skin" nor their incorrect perceptions of my unflappable self-esteem; I am human like everyone else. I am also not interested in people's negative projections on my looks or facile and inaccurate claims of "self-hate" simply because I do not express myself within their limited terms. 

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - February 2017

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - February 2017

A big misconception about time off or time to rest is that as long as you are not spending money, then it is "free" to have such free time. Well, as an indie creator, any time that I am not working (excluding things that create residual income), then I am not earning. There is no paid vacation time; there are no sick days. Thus, I have to be able to afford to take time off to take it in the first place, which means balancing reasonable deadlines with positive physical and mental health.

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - January 2017

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - January 2017

In a capitalist society, the amount of work someone does is not what determines if they get to be well-off or even "middle class." I decided that a reasonable work schedule, plenty of rest, and valuing my time off is what I want for 2017 and beyond. I am trying to both enjoy the moments as they happen but also be organized enough for long-term projects, all while having a reasonable schedule with reasonable deadlines, all while maintaining reasonably good mental health and all while earning enough money to survive. This is difficult; this is life; this is being an artist. Artists make art.

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2016: 100 Favorite Essays, Reviews, Photographs, Recipes & More...

2016: 100 Favorite Essays, Reviews, Photographs, Recipes & More...

Art is my career. Art is my hobby. Art is my life. Art saves me. Though 2016 was a terrible year for me in so many ways, it was also a year where I created art that I love, art that I feel proud of and art that has sustained me.

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - December 2016

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - December 2016

In my commitment to reasonable deadlines—for someone who does the work of 6-7 people on a shoe string budget for some projects and zero dollars for others (unless they generate sales/funding after the fact)—I decided it is okay to take my time to do my best work (and most importantly, take care of my health) without self-imposed deadlines that create anxiety.

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My Top 15 Favorite Albums Of 2016

My Top 15 Favorite Albums Of 2016

I love my genre-diverse list of 15 favorite albums of 2016; true. But I must say that Black women especially showed up for music in 2016. I mean, Beyoncé’s album alone carried me through 2016. Solange made me so proud. What a tremendous contribution to Black music and culture. Rihanna defined what risk-taking is in music and is definitely receiving the benefits of doing this well. These 3 artists, let alone the other Black women I named made such an impact in 2016. Black women as creators sometimes seem to give the world more than the world deserves. I am grateful for these creations, nevertheless.

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - November 2016

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - November 2016

In November, I had several re-realizations about how little people think of independent artists, of Black women online, of hypervisible Black women online and people like me who are both independent artists and hypervisible Black women online. I dealt with so many paternalistic people second-guessing what I do, offering unsolicited advice or requesting free work. I do my best to not let it be stifling to me. It still affects my mental, emotional and physical health though. The ‘cumulative’ stress is real. 

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History, Symbolism and Representation: Examining The Meaning of Hillary Rodham Clinton's Rise

History, Symbolism and Representation: Examining The Meaning of Hillary Rodham Clinton's Rise

History, symbolism and representation came to mind for me over the summer when I thought about what Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidency would mean for me.  Examining history with a critical lens is more important than a hegemonic one. It does not invalidate the truth of a notable moment in history but instead provides subsequent context and nuance that evades the urge to solely support the ruling and the dominant. Interpreting symbols critically is more important than superficially and solely based on the perspectives of the powerful. Representation that pushes for structural change is ideal in a society where representation as a form of tokenism to buttress the existing status quo can end up backfiring and not being healthy or liberating at all. I have difficulty emotionally connecting to the meaning of this moment. Nobody has any room for the brokenhearted Black women though.

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Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - October 2016

Artists Make Art: Personal Stories - October 2016

Recognizing my need to rest is as important to me as recognizing my desire to create. When I looked over my Artists Make Art series, one thing that I realized is that I am not making logical deadlines where the time allotted matches the time needed to complete something. I am working alone. There is no team. There is no assistant. Thus, I am interested in making more logical choices and decisions about the actual time it takes for me to complete projects and not feel guilty about that longer time span since again, I am doing a lot and doing it alone. I look forward to really re-evaluating my deadline setting and making sure it is in a productive way that always centers my time, my physical/mental health and my need for relaxation and rest as well. 

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I Am Tired Of Being Expected To Work For Free

I Am Tired Of Being Expected To Work For Free

The people who demand free work from me are not in "survival mode" where exploiting me will "save their lives." I have seen some of them respect other indie creators' work and time, especially when those creators are "ally" Whites/men. Some of them get paid at their high-paying jobs with benefits that I do not have and often with salaries that I do not make. I make less now than what I did in corporate (by tens of thousands), even as I was still underpaid there. I do not deserve to be treated as someone in a consistent state of arrears to privileged, monied and inconsiderate people where I always owe something new or something else.

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