Please note, I am not naming names because I don’t roll that way. I also am not out for revenge and while I’m still a little salty, shit happens.
For this entry we’re going back in time to the original publication of Self Care Like A Boss. Self Care For Life. It was 2012 and I had an ongoing, we’ll call it flirtation with an acquisitions editor for a publishing house. Not a huge one but big enough. The relationship began (and it is gonna sound a lot like dating because that is how it felt to me) with this person reaching out after I’d made a blog post about fat sex and they felt very seen and affirmed.
I love that shit.
We talked a lot via email and it wasn’t until I released SCLAB that this person told me that part of why they contacted me was that they worked in publishing.
If you’re not a writer, this is like being plucked from absolute obscurity and having someone make you the fairy prince/ess of your dreams. They said ALL the things that got to my heart. They expressed regret and anger at some fatosphere shade thrown my way. They didn’t ask me to tone it down, didn’t tell me not to say fat or Black so much.
It felt like it was all going to happen.
It was those heady blogger book deal days. I’d already had my fat book idea pooped on. I’d not been offered opportunities to be part of the larger (whiter) fatosphere. And I just wanted it.
I needed it.
This person went ghost for a few months and returned with news. The company was interested. Except they wanted less empowerment, less focus on doing some hard shit and more You Go Girl Sassy Sage Black Woman advice.
I was heartbroken.
It was another thing I didn’t really share with folks because the parameters of what might ultimately make my work acceptable were narrow. They didn’t want me. They wanted some other Negress rolling her neck, snapping her fingers and spitting out quips that would make White women feel comfortable and happy and woke.
The editor was apologetic and embarrassed. Basically what they wanted was a dilution of what made people like the work. But the people who liked and used my suggestions, were not their demographic.
This has been and is a recurring theme in my life and work.
We’ll talk more about it but really, every time big publishing has flirted with me privately, this his how it has ended up.
This happened when folks suggested I join popular blogs. My “style” was never compatible. I said fuck a lot. I was too militant. Too much. Too angry. To Black.
This is the double edge of me being me and doing the work I do.
Some of the people who gas me up the hardest, only do it in a very limited way. Never in the open where their vast networks can see. Never where it might actually benefit me and my work. The hand up is never offered to me. This happens to me in my more literary life. In meatspace everywhere.
Because I am the potato I am, my first inclination every time is to go inward. I have to examine my work, my motives and my outcome. There was a section in the original that turned out to be really cissexist and when I understood that I cut it out. I wasn’t at a point where I knew how to effectively not use cis centric language about crotches and health and sex so I stopped. I knew my intentions were pure but, as we all know intentions ain’t shit.
The integrity of my work is that important to me.
Knowing this, I have to be careful I don’t go so far up my own butt I can’t get out. This is an anxiety thing. Once I recognized that I am usually able to not crawl up in the great unknown too far.
That said, I also realized that these flirtations and rescinded opportunities didn’t/don’t mean my work isn’t worthy.
That has been a really bad part about this dynamic. It causes me a degree of cognitive dissonance that just fucks me up so bad.
I hear the cheers and YAYS and then nothing. I have connected how poorly I react to this thing to trauma I’ve experienced in my life from emotional abuse etc. And the fact that at the bottom of it, I am still the little kid holding my poem up after being told how smart and good I was and having no one give a shit.
That realization fuckin broke me y’all. And once I saw it, I can’t unsee it. I can’t not think about it when I see (white women I know especially) gas the fuck out of everyone in public but me.
This is why when I say that if I ask my community for anything directly most of the time nothing happens. This intersects with the fact that Black women and femmes have a hard time getting real support outside of our most intimate communities.
Once upon a time, I didn’t have the gall to name these things or say they are traumatic and are fucking up my work. I believed that if I was gonna be a real artist, I’d just suck it up and figure it out. Nah son.
I’ll wrap it up here. The end result of these flirtations is that no I don’t tend to jump at opportunities. I don’t get my hopes up. Most of the time, I have zero faith in promised support or whatever because I can’t emotionally afford to and still get the work done. That’s where I am at.