June was very difficult for me, despite making it through a recent span of burnout. I went back and read my previous Artists Make Art posts—a series that I started in 2015 when I first launched this central site to discuss my many years of experience pre-dating this blog, of multi-art multi-genre work—and several themes reoccur. I experience exhaustion and mental health triggers (re: anxiety, depression) from online abuse. I deal with people plagiarizing and erasing my work and/or sending consistent demands for free labor. I manage to complete some of my projected work for the month, but not all of it, even after I re-evaluated my schedule to make sure that I allow ample time for each short-term task or long-term project. Every month these themes reoccur, nevertheless. I struggle through most things I do because of the longitudinal effects of years of being mistreated and exploited.
Even if I did not create one more new thing ever again, I still would experience misuse and theft of some work up until the point I stopped. I honestly have no idea what to do at this point because there really is no answer. I knew that last year. I knew that the year before. And so on. There is no answer. Regardless of how I feel, my bills have to be paid. 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.
I am going to try Patreon and Instagram as primary social media spaces, instead of my hypervisible Twitter account (though I have smaller accounts that I use for my work, specifically) in the future, for even a small reprieve, though of course it will not be a cure. Hopefully this route will make a difference; maybe buy me some time at a slower pace since there is no "cure" for dealing with social media unless I do not use it. I do not have that option because my work and income are tied to it in the same way it would be a corporate office if I still worked corporate. Nobody fully "escapes" capitalism and this is why I resent people fetishizing my labor while purposely ignoring the financial and emotional costs of doing it.
While I did some of the work that I wanted to do in June, it was another month of dealing with the arduous nature of social media and feeling like I am drowning slowly over years of dealing with the toxic exploitative space that it is. Even so, below is some of what I created/worked on in June.
Earlier this year, I decided to start using the @GradientLair Twitter account again to share #classicGradientLair essays and posts. This is some of my writing that may not be included in the future anthologies, but writing that is meaningful to me still. I did some work for the subject-specific anthologies that are in progress, which I discussed in past Artists Make Art posts, but as my mental health has been taking a beating, it is still very difficult to revisit work that I was abused for developing and publishing back then while simultaneously being plagiarized and erased from it now. It is so hard; I feel as if no one in the world understands what this is like, specifically. I feel very isolated with this.
In June I re-shared a review of Say Yes, a short film directed by Ava DuVernay, which I published in 2013 and re-shared a piece I published in 2015 titled Saying "NO" As Black Self-Care. I re-shared a few published pieces for #PTSDAwarenessDay on June 27th and an entire thread of some past published pieces on womanist analysis on Black music for #BlackMusicMonth. It was nice to have someone who I like and respect dearly, transgender activist and author Janet Mock, give my years of work on street harassment a shoutout in reply to me sharing her article about beauty privilege for Allure. When people desperately thieve and erase my work, sometimes it is nice to be recognized by someone with great work and incredible integrity.
In June I published some new posts to Drift Sojourn blog which include: A Quick Yellow Bell Pepper and Shrimp Pasta, Free iPhone Wallpaper For Pride Month and 15 Photographs Created With The iPhone 7 Plus. Right on the cusp of June I published this long read: 5 Uncool and 5 Very Cool Replies I Get After I Publish Photographs. I did publish new photographs on my Instagram profile as well. Since Snapchat added the creepy stalker-esque map feature, I decided to take a break from using it and have been using Instagram Stories instead, to post my cooking and baking experiments, recipes, and what I am eating/photographing throughout the month.
i always cook with scotch bonnet and habenero #peppers but getting back to cooking with bell pepper, poblano, serrano, piquillo and long hot pepper is cool too. shopped for these at @publix. since twitter went and pissed most folks off by changing the ios app, i tried to adapt to the circle avi photo by using this photo on @driftsojourn on twitter, and it's my blog avi and favicon on driftsojourn.com.🤓📱💻🌶
iPhone celebrated its 10th year anniversary so on @driftsojourn, I shared some photographs that I created with the original iPhone between 2007 and 2010 and some photographs of early Instagram use, circa 2011.
As I alluded to above, I created a new free Pride Month iPhone wallpaper; it is available in Publications now. Two of my previous three photography eBooks—Photography Projects For Practice and Portfolios and Free or Frugal: Learning and Creating Photography On A Budget—are available for purchase in Publications and on an eBook link on Drift Sojourn itself. Additionally, an educational publication, 300 Photography Resources, and my 2 sets of iPhone wallpapers "Healthy Eats" and "Sweet Eats" are available in Publications as free downloads, but tips are appreciated. My upcoming fourth photography eBook is still in progress. Additionally, I am working on a few more sets of iPhone wallpapers that I will release sometime this year.
for #pride month🌈 i made a *free* iphone #wallpaper (the #macro food photography on the iphone 7 plus itself, in the photograph). visit driftsojourn.com to download. compatible with iphone 6/6 plus, 6s/6s plus, 7/7 plus or any smartphone with 1080x1920. (the #macaron bag is inexpensive and cute, from ross. the glorious canon ae-1 35mm film slr was a gift.) to view all my ebooks, wallpapers and downloads, visit driftsojourn.com/ebooks. happy pride!♠️
As I alluded to in the last couple of months, I have completed all of my 2017 design updates for Drift Sojourn with the exception of the portfolio update.
I published the following on Cinemacked blog in June: 3 New To Netflix Selections - June 2017. I also published 3 reviews on House of Cards season 5, for episodes 5.01-5.07, which include: House of Cards - Making The Terror (on episodes 5.01-5.02), House of Cards - Are We Together? (on episodes 5.03-5.05) and House of Cards - Politics and Musical Chairs (on episodes 5.06-5.07). I will publish reviews for episodes 5.08-5.13 in July. (Last year I published reviews for the entire fourth season of House of Cards.) This is my second favorite show, behind Queen Sugar, which I have been live tweeting since season 1 and do so for season 2 as well. I did not publish any new film reviews on the blog in June, but on @Cinemacked, in addition to the general media news retweets and original opinions/critiques that I share (i.e. a critique of the representation vs. escapism binary; critiques regarding Whiteness and erasure of Black women in relation to Beguiled and The Color Purple as a "forgotten" Spielberg film), I did a tweeted review of the film Gravity and a live tweet of Inferno. I also did a live tweet of the 2017 BET Awards.
I keep an updated TweetDeck collection of all of my essays and other posts from Cinemacked blog once I tweet them, for easy access from Twitter. My TV Roster is updated with the shows that I currently discuss on Cinemacked.
Early in June, Platypus Press published an interview that I completed with them for their "The Wilds" series on their Wildness blog, where they ask five interesting questions and the interviewee answers. The questions they asked me include: the last thing that made me smile; a secret; the last thing I wrote; favorite city; what I would put in a time capsule.
Earlier in 2017, I created a new personal Instagram profile; the new personal one is instagram.com/thetrudz. (For my primary photographic work it is instagram.com/driftsojourn.) I am going to try moving to Instagram as a primary personal platform instead of my most hypervisible Twitter account; hopefully this will alleviate even a small amount of the enormous stress I experience in social media.
3 years ago this time was a complete breaking point (and not the first) in life for me. 2 years ago this time i accepted the notion that i may not be around for long. 1 year ago this time i managed so many improvements in my life but still carry many scars. 1 month ago i was still going through the recent onset of burnout and mostly hid at home, cried, slept or (still) worked, realizing i am not done changing things for the better and to be proud of what i have changed so far. a few weeks ago my sister visited me and brought joy and healing to my life. (she did my makeup in this self-portrait.) today i am working on some long term things for more calm in my life. right now #imhere. despite everything and because of everything. not giving up on joy; not yet. leaving space for wonder.🌸 (thank your for the inspiration @directher, re: #imhere hashtag.)
I published the following detailed tweet threads with analysis and some with linked content from my body of work pertaining to the topics: thoughts on Jay-Z's album 4:44, explanation of colourism, and the 30 day music challenge (which started in May but ended in June). Additionally, I am still working on 2 short publications (eBooks; projects outside of the Gradient Lair anthology work and my photography eBooks) that I originally started in 2016, which I mentioned in previous Artists Make Art posts.
I did not publish anything new to the blog here in June. I have a few pieces in the works for later in the year, however.
As I mentioned last month, 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. However, 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 the hardest thing in my life, with a high cost. Because there is no real solution to this, for now I will try Patreon (I will work on the profile in July) and Instagram as central spaces, decenter and reduce time on Twitter (outside of my art-specific accounts related to my work) and hope for some kind of reprieve. 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.