Monday, 9 July 2018

Handling the Critics

On a serious note, I am about to lead you down a dark path. If you don't want down this rabbit hole, now is the time to turn back.
When you create anything, be it a painting, a poem, a ballad, a story, or a child, you will expect people to have opinions about it. The more unsure of themselves they are, the more opinions they will have about what you should be doing with your creation and by extension your life.
Beyonce makes art about her marriage and everyone feels they have the right to comment on whether she stays married to Jay-Z or not.
There is a saying about giving someone an inch and they take a mile.
When you give the world a part of yourself, the result is apparently that they think they own you. That their opinion of you is valid.
It's not.
That's exactly why Rihanna will never claim Hassan in public. She ain't giving you nothin' to speculate about. It must be frustrating for all those so-called fans who spent their lives stalking the lives and Instagrams of any man she was associated with looking for transgressions.
The creator creates. They disseminate that creation into the universe. Recipients of that art consume it. They react to it however they do. That reaction belongs to them. It is none of the creator's business. The converse is also true. As a fan, you have no say over an artist's life or their work. You can accept the art, reject it, vilify it, worship it; but that doesn't mean you get to tell the artist what to do next.
Well...that wasn't as dark as I thought it would be.
"Where is all this coming from Annemarie?" You ask.
Well, since you asked...
I received a comment on one of my old stories on AO3. It was a question of geography. I - apparently - placed Mt. Rushmore in the Grand Canyon and this reader was very upset about it. Now when I say this is an old story...I mean years. So I wasn't really sure what the hell they were talking about. I do not recall in all my years of living, ever typing the words Mt. Rushmore.
"So Annemarie, why didn't you just read over the chapter and find out what they were talking about?"
"Well, because I'm busy and is it that serious?"
I always ask myself when I get a comment about some factoid in my story that someone says is wrong. My question is, "Does this factoid in any way change the direction or message of the story?"
(I have gotten a comment about factoids one other time about In the Shadow of the Styx. They were annoyed at the use of the word Styx in the title and also the appearance of Hitler in the story...never mind).
If the answer is no, then why am I scrambling around bending over backward for a person I've never met so that their hang-ups can be satisfied? People always want to tell you what to do. I stopped listening long ago.
Anyway, so I just thanked the person for their comment and geography lesson and kept it moving.
Then I get another comment on a different chapter from the same person. Apparently now there is a problem with the number of states. Again, I have no idea what they're talking about. I love this story. I know how it goes generally. The fact that I can't remember these details means they are less than irrelevant to the story. Anyway, her new problem with me was that not knowing these factoids indicated to her that I wasn't an American and that was jarring to her otherwise enjoyable reading experience...
Well, one comment...okay. Two is asking for trouble.
I told her that yes, I was not an American, she was right about that. Would she please go away and leave my fic alone?
A diplomatic answer? No.
But I kept it all the way real like you're advised not to do with readers. Don't respond or be polite. I think I was rudely polite. I said please. And thanks.
I think I've said it before; I don't understand the concept of letting people badmouth your work ad infinitum. I get that some people won't like it, and that's just great. We're not avocado after all - not everybody's gonna like you. But idiocy such as this above, can swallow the irritation and let it give you ulcers or you can clap back and defend yourself.
When it comes to my creations; my son, and my books, you better be sure I will say something. I don't care who's right and who's wrong; you come for mine, be prepared to defend your position as vigorously as I will defend mine. That's why I look like a twenty-year-old with artfully greying hair. I don't let bitterness eat me up from inside. I let it out.
I'm not telling you to do what I do. I'm saying do you, regardless of what 'the experts' say.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

The African Diaspora - Week in Review

Africans at home and in the diaspora are making me happy. Taking my mind off this blatant human trafficking that is happening in the US with immigrant children and the usual mess in the Middle East.
The government of the United States is trafficking children. You heard it here first.
Anyways, so Africans.
I read Romelo Lukaku's story yesterday. He's a Belgian midfielder (or is it defender? I'm not sure) of Congolese descent. He was born in Belgium and he speaks Lingala in addition to four other European languages. I was born and bred in Kenya and I can barely speak Kiswahili let alone Bukusu. It's making me sad for myself.
Anyway, I digress.
Lukaku's story hit me in the feels because of how it reminded me of my child's childhood in many ways. The obsession with football. The making do with what's available without complaint. The closeness with his grandad. The determination to play professionally. The desire to make life better for his mother.
I was reading his story but it was like it was my son who wrote it.
Now, where his story diverges is that he actually achieved his dream to play for Anderlecht by the time he was sixteen. He did it with the absolute belief that makes mountains move for you. I am a stan. Romelo Lukaku is the kind of strong I aspire to be. The kind of strong I wish for my kid.
Then there was a Therese Okoumou - I hope I spelled that right - who climbed the Statue of Liberty to protest the trafficking of children - okay the snatching of children away from their parents in the name of "immigration laws". I have a sister called Theresa. I know, irrelevant. I just wanna associate myself with her somehow. She was awesome. When I think of my fear of heights alone...
Anyway, moving on, we have a number of people to get through.
All African teams are out of the world cup, but not all diasporans. Eight in Belgium and fourteen in France, if I'm not mistaken would be eligible to play for African teams. So we're still represented even if the World Cup has become Euro '18. Special shoutout to Senegal and their coach though. They played well. Really well. And I look forward to hearing good things from them.
On the continent, Zimbabwe has legalized medical cannabis. I really feel we should promote the use of cannabis over alcohol because the former does not turn you into a shadow of your former self. We have an addiction problem, and if people need to get high, better to do it with something that isn't addictive.
In Kenya, poor lives are mattering today with a march to make sure police shootings stop. So shout out to black lives matter for the inspiration.
Lastly, here's a preview from the first ever post-apocalyptic gay African romance. You didn't think I'd forget to plug myself, did you? It's like you don't even know me. :)

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Creation vs. Commerce

I'm an artiste. I'm also a business person. I sell my art for money.
Many artistes experience an internal conflict between treating their creations as things to be enjoyed by the general public and selling that art in whatever form it takes. This conflict comes about partly from the attitude that some consumers have, where they feel like art - in all its forms - should be available freely for consumption; and partly from the view, they have of themselves as creators and not merchants.
I don't have that problem.
I both create art for consumption and have no problem selling that art.
That's why I call myself an authorpreneur. I have no pretensions or illusions about why I do this.
It's not for the money.
But I do intend to make money from my art in my lifetime. Whether it's grocery money or billions, I create for sale.
It's not that hard to admit.
I've seen authors who are reluctant to create author pages.
"What is the purpose of that?" they ask.
And I don't understand how a mind can conceive of a story, but not possess sufficient imagination to understand that their creations require promotion. What's that about people? Pretension?
Perhaps it's because I not only create for myself, but also for others that I understand the commercial side of creation.
My marketing began purely by accident. I was writing Chrianna fanfic just to see if I could, after reading Chrianna stories on Tumblr. I gathered a rather large following; mostly fans of the artists. After my publisher put out Between Death and Heaven, which is now self-published as In The Shadow of the Styx, I just directed that following to my original fiction. That experience made me understand that generating your own publicity is vital to getting your book noticed. So I continue to do that, write fanfiction and use it to advertise my original fiction. I also write short stories and publish them on public websites and redirect my readers to my author page.
It's slow going, I won't lie to you. But that's organic growth for you. It's a steep slope and then one day, it just takes on a life of its own. You can't give up before you reach that point okay? You'll get demoralized, you'll get tired, you just have to factor that in to your long-term plans.
And keep writing, keep innovating your content, your media, how you deliver it...keep putting your name out there.
You have to embrace both sides, the creative and the commercial and hopefully one day, your books are on bestseller lists and you can retire to Jamaica and open a bar on the beach; live out the rest of your days in a bikini.
Sound good?
Here's a lil fanfic I wrote and while you're getting impressed by my writing skills, visit my author page and hang out with me a bit. Sample the free books, buy the others, leave me reviews, ask a question. I'm open for business.

Speaking of inspiration to keep your nose to the grindstone, the #saveshadowhunters campaign is at ten million tweets as of this week, thousands of dollars raised for the Trevor Project, a plane and a billboard. All to save a show. I mean seriously, sometimes you just gotta keep going even when you have no idea whether you will be successful. Along the way, you might find that you do a lot of good, gain a few friends and make the world a better place than you found it. Success is not always monetary. Happy New Month my friends.
Also, I was thinking about having a monthly newsletter similar in style to the above. Would my subscribers be interested?

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Everything is Love is a Shadefest - A Review

I haven't memorized every lyric nor do I know the Carters well enough to know all the names they drop but still, after an (illegal) listen to the album, the only conclusion I can come to is that it's a shade fest.
First of all, let's start with Apeshit because I love it and there's a video out. To summarize for you what it says;
Fuck Trump
Fuck Spotify
Fuck the Grammys
Fuck the NFL
Fuck low concert prices
Fuck the haters
And fuck you too if you fuck with all those people.
In short.
Beyonce raps.
She's quite good at it even though I, personally, find her accent distracting.
Then there's Friends.
A nice politely juvenile song about how the Carter's friends are better than yours. This song not only shades Kanye but all of his friends too. I think there's a bit of Drake shade as well. I might be reading it wrong.
No new friends guys.
Nobody wants them.
If you don't' have old friends you're fucked.
Apparently, this guy (Kanye) who they're shading changes friends like halftime at the NBA. In short, a lot? I guess that fits with Kanye continuously cycling out team members and hanging out with people because of well, shall we say mutual dislike of Jay? Dame Dash comes to mind. But...not only do they shade Kanye but Kanye's friends too. What Chrissy and John do to them doh? Those are the only friends I know who are Kanye's real friends. Maybe they meant someone else?
The Kardashians?
Anyway, the shade doesn't stop there. They also shade themselves. There was some 'You really broke us' lyrics from Beyonce and...okay so Jay Z didn't shade her back as far as I can tell. So everyone but Beyonce got shaded.
Aside from that, it's some really good music. You can tell work went into it artistically. They also tried some new things and the visuals for Apesh**t are nothing short of stunning.
Of course, there's the usual fan obsession with the fact that JayZ cheated but if Beyonce is over it, why aren't you?
Probably because it's not about Jay but your own life?
Solve your problems.
Speaking of solving problems, I read this thread from a formerly abused woman, explaining why she stayed even after he did a lot of fucked up things. She explained that she felt alone and this guy made her relate to him and pledge her allegiance to him and she just clung to him because she didn't feel deserving of love.
Okay,  I see.
You stayed, you even begged him to take you back because you felt unworthy of love. But you loved him. And you wanted him to stay with you. I'm not hating. I just want you to see some of the lies we tell ourselves.
The truth is, that she was afraid of being alone. Because she ended with "I'm now in the most loving relationship I've ever been in."
Not "a loving relationship."
She felt the need to qualify.
Which tells me she's still bending over backward to be in a relationship because person B treats her better (maybe) than person A.
And that's the problem.
The focus is so much on the relationship and not personal growth. Jay and Bey are trying to show you personal growth and all you can see is wherever you are in your life. the cheating you're tolerating to 'be in a relationship.' Because God forbid you are ever alone.
Alone isn't the same as lonely.
How can you love and be loved if you don't love yourself? When Jay says black women saved him, he means they taught him what love is. Because he didn't know. You can't blame someone for something they didn't know. So black women saved him, doesn't mean YOU have to save whatever fuckboy you're dealing with. Save yourself first.
Always save. yourself. first.
I have work to do and a football match to watch. It's 1-1 Brazil vs. Switzerland so things just got thick again. Who are you rooting for?
When I said I was rooting for everybody black I didn't know that meant every team except Iceland.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Anxiety Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

Good morning.
I have an assignment deadline to complete soon so naturally, I'm writing a blog post.
Hey, one cannot just have breakfast without distraction.
And I have been remiss in my posting. I apologize. Blame it on the reason I'm writing this post.
Let me recap.
Once a year or so, I get this run of bad luck where everything, and I mean everything seems to go wrong. I seem to be slap in the middle of that time right now and I can tell you, it's not a fun place to be. Right now, the light bulb in my office and my living room aren't working. These are the two rooms I use most in my house. My electrician niece has decided she hates me so she keeps blowing me off. I can't just get some stranger off the street to come and fix it. And of course, church mice are doing better than me right now financially. Oh and my fridge suddenly stopped keeping things cold, the repair people took a week to even answer my calls, another week to find the problem and then, a few more days before they fixed it. If I had money for groceries this might have been a huge hassle but since I'm hand to mouthing it, I make sure to only buy enough food for the day. It's been crazy.
I stopped using tap water to cook though and I haven't been sick since so there's that.
It's small every day irritabilities made bigger by the fact that they keep coming.
Oh and I also got told, right in front of my salad, that the reason I don't get lucrative contracts on upwork is because of my location and race.
I mean, I knew racism was real but it really hit me hard that one. I had thought I finally had a place where I could be judged solely on my work but we are. It made me tremendously sad to know that much as I was hurt and it was shocking, there are people who live with that sort of second classery in every area of their lives.
The reply came in response to a question I posted on the community forum about why, if my feedback was all four and five stars, could I not get the really high paying clients to respond to me. I was hoping for stuff like:
"Well, there is a certain way they expect you to write your proposal."
"Do you upload a recent resume with every proposal?"
You know, stuff I could do something about...
The point is, all these things might be my present reality but I know that I can change that reality with the power of positive thinking.
Wait! Wait!
Don't go away, I'm not about to go all motivational speaker on your ass. Except for how...I am.
My problem is anxiety. When things start spinning out of my control, I get anxious. Then I think about how out of control everything is and get more anxious. I wake up already thinking about
"What do I have to do today?"
"Oh my God, I haven't paid my rent yet, gotta get this work done."
"What date is it? Shit, the month is half over and I haven't...."
And on, and on and on...
That's before I even brush my teeth.
It's even worse when my son is home and has problems of his own I need to solve.
Yes! I know he should solve his own problems, I'm a work in progress.
Anyway so instead of starting the day with positive affirmations, a feeling of gratitude and belief that I already have everything I want and all I have to do is wait for it to manifest...
There I am, running around like a chicken with its head cut off, not really getting anything done.
Even so, without that calming centering I need so much yet apparently can't find the time to do, the universe or karma or God has my back. I watched Infinity War last night. Yeah, like, for the first time. And after I watched it I thought to myself, "I gotta write a postapocalyptic post-Thanos fic featuring Sam and Dean where they are terrified one of them is gonna disappear."
By the way that ending was so much bullshit...
Anyway, so I'm thinking that, and getting back to work and one of my former clients (who thinks my work is INCREDIBLE by the way) messages me that she wants me to write another short story for her - the one I'm supposed to be doing now. And I say okay and she sends me her requirements and I say I'm thinking postapocalyptic story and she's like "Yeah! me too, that's what I was thinking too!"
So the universe enabled me to write the fic I wanted to write anyway, and get paid for it.
The power of positive thinking isn't about meditating things into being. It's more about focus and intent and belief.
Anxiety gets in the way of that.
And how do I manage my anxiety? By getting stuff done. If my anxiety sees movement on things that are making me anxious (such as getting contracts) it calms down. That's why I'm able to write this morning (afternoon) because I'm less anxious.
Okay so I really need to go write a story.
Are you excited for the world cup?
I'm rooting for everybody black.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Happy Pride Month!

"I am a dirty computer.
I am not ready to be cleaned."
In fact, I am reveling in all this dirt; discovering new textures and tastes...the thing about being in your forties that they don't tell you is; you can set yourself free if you want. Free of the assumptions that society puts on you, the ones that you put on yourself without even realizing, the ones that insistence has made you accept...
All of these can be thrown out as you embark on a real journey of self-discovery, fuelled by Janelle Monae's music of course. Don't believe me? Just watch Jada Pinkett Smith's Red Table Talk
So, of course, I support everyone else's journey to find themselves and be proud of who they are. This month, it's the LGBTQIA community celebrating the choice to stand up and be counted. To say, "Here I am. Take me as I am or leave me alone. What you won't do, is change me."
Isn't it a glorious thing to be? Proud of who you are?
The narrative these days emphasizes so much all the things we have to be ashamed of. Our electoral choices (booo!), the way too much weight we carry around (bleh) the mental health challenges we grapple with daily (Kanye, here's looking at you kid) our struggle writing (whose?) that we sometimes forget how truly awesome we are.
Yes, even you.
Yes, you.
Yeah, I'm serious.
Don't feel bad if you're not quite there yet. It truly is about the journey, not the destination. Why just yesterday I discovered something so interesting about myself that I had no idea was even in me. It was so exciting to know this new thing about myself. It was like falling in love all over again. Yes, me with my big age, still discovering new things about myself.
Too often, we look to other people to tell us who to be; who we are allowed to be, how we're allowed to express who we are. We live in prisons largely of our own making when the truth is, living for other people never made anyone happy.
What is happy you ask?
Gabrielle Union was on Jada's red table talk last Monday and she said that her life coach asked her the same question. The only answers she could give at the time were food related. And goddamnit, food is allowed to make you happy but many times we turn to food for comfort. So technically it's not making us happy. It's just helping us forget that we're unhappy.
Although, gah, homemade french fries are the shit. You cannot be unhappy and eat homemade french fries at the same time.
What makes you happy?
I'll tell you what makes me happy. Creating stuff. Be it a blog post, a story, a graphic, my child...I am a sucker for creation. Watching true love makes me happy. That's why I love Supernatural so much. It's great to see people who truly love each other interact. And the bonus with Sam and Dean is that they are soulmates and the actors who play them are soulmates. It just makes me feel soft and content to know that true love exists.
I have a thing to say about soulmates. I think many people confuse being soulmates for being romantically in love and that's not true. Being soulmates is a thing where one soul recognizes and connects with another. Both souls have to be open to it, to let each other into the very core of who each other is.
My son is my soul mate. I see him. He sees me. He knows who I am beneath all the masks, even the ones I am unaware of. And I know who he is. This isn't a mind-reading thing. It's not something that can really be explained. But you'll know it when you find it.
In honor of pride month, I'm gonna be highlighting some books I have written and read that depict LGBTQIA people just living and loving like the rest of humanity. I think we get so caught up in categorizing that we forget that we're all the same. Who makes your privates stand up and pay attention is your business. Do you even know for sure who rocks your boat?
Are you sure?
I'm in the questioning phase of my life so all bets are now off. For Ben and Anders the question wasn't who rocks their boat, it was, am I gonna be brave enough to acknowledge it? For Miles, there was no question. Small town living made it impossible for him to do anything but hide.
Are you wondering who the fuck those are? Well, Ben and Anders are our heroes In Search of Paradise, and Miles is the best friend in the Child of Destiny series. And that's all I'm saying about that.

graphic lyrics from Janelle Monae's dirty computer album.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Sixes of One By Annemarie Musawale

ixes of One By Annemarie Musawale: Sixes of One is a Flash Fiction by Annemarie Musawale and has been published on online platform to read books for free. It is written in `English` language.

Hi. I have stories on this site that you can read for free. Sixes of One is one of them. Go read, enjoy, share with your friends. Happy Madaraka Day! Or happy Friday for the rest of the planet.