Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Nothing More Potent Than the Cosign

January has been a strangely brutal month. In terms of time to write, I have had none. Yet I still have deadlines and shit.
Is it that I haven't had time to write, or I haven't felt like it? Let us examine the evidence.
The day still seems to have twenty-four hours, and let's remove those pesky four to eight where I'm asleep, we still have a decent chunk of change left.
Subtract any day that I have to leave the house - guaranteed I'll be too distracted/tired to do any work. Any day I have to go to my locum. I might write a few sentences at work depending on how needy my coworkers are feeling that day (turns out I'm the office shrink). Unless I have a LOOMING deadline, I'm out for the count as soon as I get home.
If something crazy happens I might spend every minute on twitter keeping up with it. And January been CRAZY.
So yeah, I think we can decently diagnose my problem as focus... or lack thereof.
Look at my blog, I almost didn't make my own New Year's goal of writing two posts a month.
You see how bad I'm doing?
In my defence, January is not only school opening time, but it's also my son's birthday month. And this year he decided he wanted a house party...
I wasn't the only one hit with January blues. One of my clients is just flailing, not giving me work which ugh. One other is just being difficult...they gave me a plotline, I wrote the first milestone and now they want to change certain plot points and want me to rewrite...for free!
I mean, have you ever heard such garbage?
Maybe fresh-faced just-starting-out, not-really-confident-about-her-work me might have done it. Unfortunately for everybody, they're dealing with fuck-your-job-I-can-get-another-one me. I know for a fact that they need me more than I need them. So we're at an impasse.
My bank balance is crying, but principles.
So in this colossal fuck up, that is January, you can imagine how little book marketing I've done. Even posting on social media has become a challenge...not helped at all by Instagram's refusal to let third parties post on my behalf. I cannot schedule posts anymore.
Isn't that some bullshit?
That said, I've learned a few precious lessons from this whole Charlie Foxtrot.
1. You gain more followers on twitter by being an ornery take-no-prisoners bullshitter who likes to argue with racists and bigots than just being your own milder mannered retweeting self. I don't understand it. I've been taking my mood out on twitter and I just keep getting more followers. I don't even want them on that account. It's my rachet account, not my book one.
2. Sex cells. That's my new twitter name. My old one was 'let the vagina have a monologue'. I suspect about half of my followers are due to my twitter names. Which just shows their ignorance because they come from Janelle Monae's Magnum Opus, Dirty Computer and have very little to do with being sexy or available. My next twitter name will be 'I Grab Back'. Look out for it in 2020. We outchea.
3. Phew! And this is important so listen up. There's nothing more potent than a cosign. You want to sell anything? Books, music, yourself? A cosign from a well-known person in your field is worth its weight in gold. You're not gonna become an overnight sensation all of a sudden, but you will move product. Yesterday, I answered a tweet where a well-known writer was asking for other less well-known writers to tweet their book links at her. I did it. I got book sales overnight.
So a month of social media posts daily vs. one cosign...
Take the cosign.
I guess we have to talk about Kobe Bryant now huh?
I can't say I was a fan; I just knew he existed like everyone else on earth. So I can't tell you why my heart sank to my shoes when I gave myself a five-minute break from writing on Sunday night, clicked on twitter to pass the time and found that Kobe Bryant...and RIP were trending worldwide. Like, the only thing trending.
I immediately began to shake my head in denial. My mind was scrambling for other explanations even as my eyes were flying down the TL trying to find out what happened. It was like 1am in the morning. My son was in the sitting room on his phone, I'm in the office knowing full well I had to be at my locum the next morning but not going to sleep and there are reports that Kobe Bryant was dead.
Nothing was making sense.
So anyway, twitter was quick to give me all the details and I just stood up, went to the sitting room and hugged my son for ten minutes.
For me and my family, death is the boogeyman that always strikes suddenly. We live in the awareness that every moment is precious and that's why my son and I don't fight for longer than ten minutes and why we always hug if one of us is leaving. You just never know.
Still and all...this was a shock to the system.
Then it got worse.
Not only him, but his daughter as well, was dead.
Fuck. Right?
Did you think you had problems this January? You do not.
Of course, in a struggle to make sense of it all, the conspiracy theories have begun. Including that LeBron James sacrificed him to surpass his record.
The comments being left on his Instagram are nothing short of cruel and crazy.
People are also looking back on his life, and seeing 'signs'. I'm not dismissing them - there definitely is more going on in this world than is found in my religion. And in the attempt of making sense of death that seems arbitrary and senseless, we grab for what we can find. In this case, it's a video of Kobe's last game.

In which, the number 41 apparently featured in various ways. Can you find them for yourself?
I prefer to make sense of things another way. By looking for the good, for the lesson, I can learn from his life or his death. And for me it is a reminder:
- that life is short so make full use of every twenty four hours.
- that it's not the days in our lives but the lives in our days.
- love is the only thing worth having. Everything else you leave behind.
- Everything ends. Make peace with that.
- What will my legacy be?
Nevertheless, all of those lessons simply cover a wound. A wound that gets scabbed over until the next time something hits it and then it's open and bleeding again. The wound of loss, of holes that will never be filled no matter how long ago they happened, of families left broken and devastated. Of the fragility of life.
When something like this happens, its always a shock to the system that misaligns us in a way we never recover from. The shock of Aaliyah's death, of Prince's death, are things that can still unman me. I'm not even going to talk about my mother's, or my cousin's death. The unreasoning anger that still hits me from time to time at my dad for dying...
You just learn to live with the new normal of having these souls absent from the world. Maybe that's what heaven is; a place where these holes are filled.
I saw this post on red table talk from a woman whose son had died. She was asking for someone to give her a reason to live. And I didn't post a reply because I couldn't think of one single reason. You lose your child, what else is there.
Pray for Vanessa Bryant and those other mothers and fathers who are right there right now.
Phew! Okay now that I've dragged you all down with me, let's end this cluster fuck with the blatant display of black excellence that was the Grammys. Alicia Keys managed to give us a way to process grief with music. She was phenomenal. Y'all need to stop hating on this wonderful specimen of humanity. Yes, Swizz Beatz was married to someone else when she met him. They fell in love. Get over it. Hating on her will not fix your relationship.
I'm going to say something that could be interpreted as hate speech but it isn't. It's observing with my eyes.
Black artists are in a league of their own. This Billie person who won all those Grammys even said it herself. "Why? So many other people deserve this more than me."
She might have just been talking but it was 100% facts. Tyler the Creator is in a league of his own. He's not even competing with you ho's. He's in the fifth element with Jaden and Willow Smith.
Gary Clark Jr. fusing reggae and rock was just...*shaking my head*
But their work is barely recognized, instead, white mediocrity is rewarded. I feel sad. I feel sad for white people with their mediocrity and just how small they are. I feel glad that however much dismissal and denial happens, the greatness of black people shines through.
I'm not mincing my words in 2020.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Rihanna's Album is Late? Can Relate.

Seems a bit arrogant innit? Talking about can relate to Rihanna'?
The truth is that whether we like it or not, we all have a brand. We all have a vibe that we're associated with. Call it reputation if you like.
I've been watching first with amusement and then with a bit of discomfort on behalf of Herself as the 'where's the album' memes have flourished. And as is customary with our queen, nobody makes fun of Rihanna better than she does.
2019 came and went and  no album was released...and some people got ugly. Someone tried to start a hashtag about #rihannaisaliar but the navy don't play dat shit. Me as a creative, with a book who's launch has been delayed three times because its just not ready, I get it. There's a lot of oneself poured into a body of work be it a book, a movie or an album.
A lot of blood, sweat and tears.
There's also second-guessing and tweaking and self-doubt, editing, one more pass through, completely change that passage...
Phew...come to think of it, Marcus Devereaux just might be delayed again.
Maybe not.
On top of that, when it's not the only thing you got going on, when you have multiple projects on your plate, you're going to have time constraints. Time management is the most complicated issue of our time in my humble opinion. We might all have the same 24 hours but to squeeze every bit of use out of every minute is a skill that few possess. It's about awareness of what you're doing all the time. Me as myself I get sidetracked easily.
Another factor to take into account is the sense of urgency...or lack thereof.
Let's face it, Rihanna released one album every year for seven years because she had to.
She had obligations to meet, a domestic violence issue to overcome as well as an almost bankruptcy. She was growing towards something. She was growing towards where she is now. Now, that sense of urgency, the need to have the album ready at a deadline, is no longer a consideration.
I'll tell you why this is a good thing. When you're not producing content to fit a criteria, when it's just for you as a creative outlet, it allows you to sit back and do what you like. And from that, we have a magnum opus such as Anti.
I'm not there yet, and yet, I am. I am producing books for myself, rather than for whatever someone else thinks the market wants. Of course, I'm not doing it from the top of the heap but from the bottom. However, that is because I do not rely on my art to make a living. Or rather I have separated my 'writing for a living' (ghostwriting) from my 'writing stories for myself' (books) which is also separated from 'writing for fun and just trying out new ways to write' (fan-fiction). That way, there is no urgency to the books, no need for them to become bestsellers right away. I can 'build my brand' and hope that the rest happens organically.

The thing with building a brand is that it takes time. It's a slow process. You make mistakes, course correct and then again. In my case, I always say to myself; 'it's a marathon, not a sprint.' Nevertheless, even for a marathon, you still gotta get up every day and do the work.
Ask Eliud Kipchoge.
Even when you're going slow, you need to be working towards something, have a goal, a vision, a touchstone that you're determined to reach.Then you work towards it every day. I see online, mostly on Facebook, how frustrated writers get when their books are not selling as fast as J.K. Rowling's or what's that 'Fifty Shades' writer called? They want to throw a tantrum online and yet they haven't put in the work.
My own template for book success is Diana Gabaldon. We're a lot alike. She's a scientist and so am I. She wrote the first Outlander book just to try and see if she could. I did the same with Child of Destiny - which is still my number one seller. She started writing seriously at 36 and so did I. It took her twenty years to achieve worldwide success...That's where I also hope to end up including the TV series and eight book series. (well...I'm already on book 5 so...).

I know long term readers of my blog know my absolute fealty to Rihanna. But what you might not know is that it's not just about second-hand validation or whatever being a 'stan' is supposed to be about. She doesn't mean to be, but Rihanna is just one of those people who were put on this earth to be an inspiration simply by being herself.
Living out loud and proud.
While in the public eye.
Yet keeping us as much out of her business as she possibly can.
She's the blueprint.
The template.
But the gag is...you can't do that on your own. Rihanna the brand contains a lot more people than just her. Just recently, she launched a new collaboration on her SavagexFenty line with Adam Selman. And I looked at it and I thought, "This is more like what I thought the whole Rihanna lingerie line would look like." For one thing, the bra has this zip that not only looks sexy and like a serious domme move...it's also very practical if you're a breastfeeding mother. Adam Selman is a long time collaborator of Riri's and probably what we take for 'Rihanna style' is a combination of both their creative input.
The Mastermind.
Ever since I read about that concept (of the mastermind) I've been trying to gather and collect my own group of 'creative synergizers'. It's difficult to do in real life but my twitter feed is curated in such a way that I get what I need on there and I try to join Facebook groups that will assist me to at least keep up with the happenings in the various industries and subjects that I am interested in.
It helps.
Learning is a continuous process if you want to succeed at anything.
2020 is all about elevation. Sure America is trying to kill us with this Russian Puppet Buffoon they chose to lead them but don't let the bad stuff get you down.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Happy New Decade!

Hi guys.
Congratulations on staying alive and seeing this new decade of the millennium. I see a lot of people recapping their year on Instagram and I am blown away because I can hardly remember what I did last week. I do remember quite clearly, the last significant New Year; that of the turn of the century. I was pregnant as fuck, and my mother was apparently quite afraid that Y2k was real.
Everyone else was out or away but I was way too pregnant to do anything except hang around waiting to give birth so my mama and I were watching TV.
It was either a marathon of 24 or a marathon of La Femme Nikita; I'm not sure which. Anyway, it was midnight, and my mother ran off to get the bible for some reason. I did my best not to laugh at her but it was truly funny. I don't know what she expected to happen.
Anyway, so...that was my last clear memory of a New Year's. I think we spent last new year's with my sister and her family. Or was it the year before.
Getting old is super crazy.
What comes next for us?
One thing I've learned from all the "this was me in 2009" vs. "this was me in 2019" posts on twitter is that I should take more photos. So that's something I aim to do more of in 2020, especially since my new phone has an excellent camera.
The next thing I've learned is that I am a lot faster writer than I give myself credit for. My problem is procrastination. Imma try to do less of that if I can. Or at least, timetable my procrastination so as to leave a little time for actual writing.
One thing I know for sure is that I am currently at full capacity with work and trying to write novels as well is biting off more than I can chew. But I can write short stories and submit them to magazines. I can do that.
Achievable goals. That's my thing for 2020. No grandiose ideals, no lofty plans, just crumb by crumb and we'll build a mountain.
The most important thing though is to make time for the people I love. My son has bare time for me; he has his phone and his friends. He has school and various households that require his presence on a regular basis. But when we are together, he needs to know that I am present. I'm proud that I made an effort in 2019 to attend functions I was invited to; I'm going to try to escalate that into proactively seeking people out for lunch, or coffee or just talking. However, that goes both ways and it'd be nice if people sought me out too. Otherwise, you just feel like a nuisance.
Finally, I undertake to have at least two major blog post per month; quality over quantity. I pledge to step up my content, make it even more edutaining. So, Happy New Year everyone. Whether you go big or go home, or take it one tiny step at a time; your dreams are valid.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Nuance, Let's Talk About It

So I was sitting on the loo, releasing the hostages and watching John Mayer's Instagram show, named Current Mood. John Mayer was one of my first white crushes after Bon Jovi and I was just reflecting how when we like someone, we can forgive them a lot of shit.
Like that time he joked about how he has a white supremacist dick, remember? I mean...I laughed. I got what he was trying to say. If your dick can't get hard for skin that's not white - except for Holly Robinson Peete - what the hell can you do about it?
I mean seriously.
I don't think I can be sexually attracted to a white person. If it's not the blue veiny skin, it's the liver spots, the freckles...man listen...I have an active imagination and you just don't want to know. And that's just when they're young. When they're old and the skin starts to wrinkle...I literally cannot. The body hair...it's not sexually stimulating to me. So I get it. You are attracted to what you're familiar with. Hell, most people are attracted to people who literally look like them.
The bestest example I have - unfortunately - is Rihanna. If you look at the three men she's been with they all look alike, and the person they all look like...is Rory Fenty.
All of this to say that I get where John Mayer was coming from and it's not racism. Your dick is socialized, just as you are, to find certain someone's attractive, to want to mate with this, as opposed to that.
Maybe if I grew up amongst more white people I wouldn't find their whole 'you can see their veins and unoxygenated blood literally pumping while you watch' thing so offputting. And it's not even to say I don't find white people attractive. Hell John Mayer is hot, Shawn Mendes too...Ummm, Bon Jovi, Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki...all very attractive and I enjoy watching them. But I wouldn't want to see them naked. Truly there are not that many celebrities I want to see naked, not even Idris Elba.
That's why I don't write reader insert fanfiction. Please leave me out of that shit, man.
I'm betting in John Mayer's life he hasn't seen many black people naked. And if he has, he has to contend with dark brown areolas instead of pink, the fact that they don't get all red when they're aroused so he might actually have to ask if they're enjoying themselves, and the whole, pupils become pinpoints - I suppose it's hard to tell when you're dealing with brown-eyed girls.
It's a different dynamic.
All of this to say, sometimes it's racism, like that thing with Jay Leno and the Koreans eating dogs which got Gabrielle Union fired (also racism) but other times, it's just how life is.
It's a fast disappearing concept.
There's a lot of racism depicted in Child of Destiny although I never once use the word. It'd be interesting to know if you noticed or not. Hit me up.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

When Men Wear Skirts

Good morning, afternoon, evening...where are my menz at?
I've been thinking about you recently and the cage y'all lock yourselves into this idea that men cannot wear anything other than trousers and still remain men. And I want you to think back really and ask yourselves where this idea came from.
If you're not a European of English descent, it is likely that your ancestors wore something other than trousers on a daily basis and yet they were and looked more 'manly' than you do.
Then came toxic masculinity in the form of germanic traditions and suddenly there was a whole list of things that men 'can't do' and remain men.
And somehow y'all adopted it and decided that masculinity can only be defined in Anglo Saxon terms.
My hero when it comes to men's fashion is Junior Nyong'o. Lupita's brother is the complete global citizen, the renaissance man who does not let your narrow, short-sighted ideas limit him from being all he can be. One day he's starring as Hamlet on Broadway, the next he's writing lines for Too Early for Birds at Kenya National Theatre.
Today he wears jeans, tomorrow he's in a skirt.
He's the very epitome of what freedom looks like.
Men love to police women's clothes. This is a well-known fact. What is less acknowledged is how much they police men's looks. There is a very narrow idea of what is acceptable to wear and still be considered manly. With the "new gentleman" fronted by Pharrell Williams, Pretty Flacko and Lil' Uzi Vert (yes!) we're seeing a resurgence of freedom in fashion. Of course, this is a factor of people going back in time, learning their history, discarding the lie we have been told for years...that ours is bad, theirs is good.
Donald Trump might be a disaster but he really illustrates that it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good. As a result of his blatancy and just general awfulness, he has forced people to confront who they really are and what values they hold.
This blog post is just going to consist of pictures I've seen of mainly Africans, not wearing trousers, not having shorn or short hair, wearing jewellery...just generally being all they can be. Let us remind ourselves that we don't all have to live in that one box, with that one look. Being adventurous is a good thing. Let us embrace it.
The Empire of Ethiopia lasted from 1274 to 1974. Emperor Haile Selassie wore his hair in curls and plaits.
Kingdom of Ghana: 700 - 1240 ad. No trousers in sight

Asante Kingdom in Ghana: 1670-1957 what even are trousers?

The Hausa of Nigeria: 1000 to 1903

Please note the complete lack of anything resembling trousers in all the pics. Here are some more.
Zulu Chief in his basically unmentionables

It's not just Africans though. In the Scottish Highlands for example:
Men in Kilts
Why they practically wear skirts.
Somalis have never really changed their way of dressing..
Somali Sultanate: 9th century to 1910

Let's branch out to other continents. New Zealand for example.
traditional Maori clothing
The sad part is that we all know this. We know that there is more to clothes than just wearing pants all the time. So many ways to style hair and wear jewellery. But most men, especially African men and black men in general, seem stuck on this Eurocentric idea that manhood = trousers.
Let us set ourselves free people.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Don't Worry Be Happy

Happy new month.
I shall be 45 years old in T-7 days.
When I got pregnant with Chris, twenty years ago, I made a vow that I would dedicate the next twenty years to him, and then when I turned 45, I'd be off to Jamaica to get my groove back. During his football years, we always used to say he'd go off to play for Manchester United and I would go open a bar on the beach in Jamaica. I would hang out in a sarong and a bikini and listen to people's problems in my role as bartender.
Of course, Chris did not join Man-Utd. Instead, he's a first-year student of Architecture and I am nowhere near ready to leave him - nor is he ready to be left. So I guess I'll defer the Jamaican bar on the beach until I'm 52; when Chris will join the workforce...
This umbilical cord thing guys...it's a trap.
In the meantime, I shall grow my dreadlocks until they're down to my butt and write a few more books. Maybe lose some weight so I have a so-called bikini-bod by then à la Gammy.
In the meantime, there's a lot to do.
The earth is being destroyed before our eyes. At this rate there really will be no earth for my grandchildren to inherit. Or they might be living in an In Search of Paradise world. Nobody needs that shit. My grandkids don't deserve to be foraging for water and clean air. Nobody does.
Why are we letting a bunch of idiotic white men destroy everything for the rest of us? The Internet has made it so that the myth of the superior white man is easily dispelled. Why are we still held in thrall?
Wake Up!
If Climate Change is too involved for you, well, there is always the Daily Mail which if we all stopped reading, stopped clicking on the untrue stories it writes about people, maybe they'd stop or turn their attention to something else.
People are dying because they surround themselves with negativity and then take drugs to escape from the negativity in their lives. How about just not seeking it out? How about, accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative?
I was watching the Happy video the other day and reflecting on how different the world was when it came out. Yeah, people had problems but the overall feel in the air was one of optimism...Yes, We Can and all that. I guess it's really true what they say; one person can change the world.
Now all there is, is the orange mosquito buzzing in everyone's ears and giving us all a headache; not to mention sprouting copycats everywhere on earth.
It's disheartening.
That's why I try as much as possible to keep my life free of Cheeto Mussolini.
But this is about happiness, and cultivating the happy in your life. You might think, "Oh you can say that, Annemarie, because your life is going great."
Actually, it's not. I have this neighbour that went from Ms Jeklyll to Ms Hyde in the blink of an eye. She wants to kill my dog.
I've been forced to reinforce my fence just to make extra sure my dog can't go into her compound when it's loose in case she feeds it poisoned food or hits it over the head. I think she's the one who killed my other dog. This hostility coming out of nowhere like that makes no sense otherwise.
Of course, she could just be jealous of me because I'm fabulous and happy.
She's one of those "church ladies" forever quoting scripture and attending all the masses. But her heart is black as a witch's tit.
It's been a stressful time living in fear for my dog every night, the extra expense of reinforcing the fence...and at the same time, my son has started college.
It's hard, but I am determined to hold on to my happiness. Or should I call it peace? Whatever it is that makes me sleep like a baby every night.
Clean living and a clear conscience.
Looking for that higher self that I am and turning up as her...Her Grace, the Duchess of Sussex said that, not me.
Let's try to support one another to be happy as possible, no?
An announcement before you go: Marcus Devereux's release date has been pushed back to November 9th due to unavoidable circumstances. Please do continue to preorder. My beta reader told me it's a great story. My other beta reader said it's perfect.
Ask them.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Expectations vs. Reality: The Demi Moore Story

I just read Demi Moore's memoir; Inside Out and whew, chile...the triggers...

  • Neglecting ourselves to take care of other people, 
  • the rejection of our physical bodies, 
  • living only in our minds and just making sure our outer shells are functional; 
  • the lack of self-love...

I related to all of it in ways I did not expect.
We have some similarities in the challenges that we faced even though the circumstances were vastly different, and our reactions were also polar opposite. The results were the same though, punishing the body for what other people did to it; feeling unworthy or incapable of being loved the way we want to be.
On the flip side, she confirmed everything I've ever suspected about marriage. I'm just waiting for Lisa Bonet to come out with a memoir stating that Lenny Kravitz and Jason Momoa are the most selfish husbands in existence for all my illusions to shatter into a million crystals of scattered light. Illusions that are not even acknowledged in the light of day.
I really think we need to retire the phrase "Couple goals" or "relationship goals" because if anyone was my "relationship goals" growing up it was Bruce and Demi. I saw through Ashton from day one but Bruce! Man...that was disappointing.
It led me to a conclusion; one that I think is not new, but it just keeps getting reinforced.
Nobody is coming to save you.
Stop looking outside of yourself for validation.
Especially, stop looking to men to validate you.
I honestly don't think that they mean to do it; but if you give them that power, they will use it to destroy you.
I think that most women are damaged goods from their teens. Not all of us are outright raped, but every one of us has had an experience of sexual abuse when we are young. If you haven't then you are definitely one of the lucky few.
And so you grow into adulthood with an inherent distrust of men, but also a desire to find one who will make you feel safe.
None of them is safe. Not my son, not my brother; none of them.
So to go out there with the expectation of finding safety, it leaves you unprepared and leaves an opening that no male can seem to stop themselves from exploiting. I don't think the problem is with being men and women in relationships; I think it's the expectations of those relationships that destroy them.
On the other side of the coin are Will and Jada; they both had expectations about marriage but unlike the rest of us, Jada woke up and said "wait. stop. enough. I ain't doing this no more. I need to find a new way to be and if you don't want to come with me, then bye Felicia."
And Will, in an act of extraordinary non-maleness said, "Okay. Whoever you need to be; I'm here."
Now that's the definition of unconditional love.
I'm not blaming men for women's need to bend over backwards to be whatever they think the man wants. However, it has had the unfortunate effect of giving men the expectation that women will bend over backward, they'll carry ninety per cent of the burden to 'make a relationship work'.
And so in most cases, if you don't do it, you're shamed, you're ridiculed. Your husband cheats on you PUBLICLY the day before your anniversary so as to 'make you leave him.'
What does it cost to be kind really?
How much does it really take from you to be less of an asshole?
I just want all of you to do better by yourselves.