Shameful (non) self-promotion

CW: confidence issues, mental health, the world.

Last week, I was talking on the phone with my DSA mental health mentor. She was asking me how I was doing with my dissertation proposal, and I told her in honesty that I hadn’t had the opportunity to work on it in the past couple of weeks: I was too busy dealing with Covid-19 aftercare at home; juggling with survival, brain fog and fatigue; proofreading typesetting for my book; and so on. She then stopped me in my tracks and, barely containing her excitement, she jolted:

— YOU HAVE A BOOK?!

Mood. Image: Michael Poley for AllGo via Unsplashed.

I was puzzled. I have been speaking to this mentor since May 2019. By then, my proposal for a poetry collection had already been accepted by the publishing house, and I was attempting to edit previous work and write new material during a human relationship crisis. I was sure I had told her about the book several times before, but maybe she had forgotten. I shrugged and replied:

— Yes? Of my poetry?
— I didn’t know you had that in you!

Basically, because of the social and professional repercussions of said crisis that May, I had lost all opportunities of creative interaction and friendships in all but one aspect of my life. This was the poetry scene. For almost a year, I would only leave the house to go to university and to go to spoken word events. My mentor certainly knew about this, didn’t she? There were times I would head straight to the pub, coffee house or theatre where a poetry workshop or open mic would take place right after our meetings. I must have told her in one of those “what are you doing for the rest of the day?” farewell chats.

— Really? It’s basically all that I do. I would go to the open mics right after uni.
— Well, congratulations! Tell me when it comes out, so I can get a signed copy!

I should have been flattered, but I was confused. How could she not know about the things that kept me alive? A lot of our sessions involved time management, bullet journalling and planning the week ahead, hour by hour. Several of those hours had to do with writing, listening and sharing poetry – especially, The Book. How did she not know? I must have spoken about nothing but The bloody Book, hadn’t I.

Image: Giovanna Gomes via Unsplash.

Sometime last year, I was having a pint with a few fellow friends and poets before one of our favourite open mics. I had arrived in advance after one of these mentoring sessions at uni, so I spent the time in between writing new work. I told this to my colleagues, expecting they would understand, and one of them interjected:

— That book’s been coming on for a while, hasn’t it.

Translation: “are you talking about The bloody Book again? Get over it. No one cares”.

My reaction. Image: Navabi stock photos.

I felt self-conscious and sad. This person was still friends with the people who had made it impossible for me to do anything else in this town. I didn’t want to lose my last remaining den of security, now with cracks in the ceiling. I stopped talking about the book altogether.

Mind you, this person won’t stop advertising his self-published poetry zines and recordings to anyone with willing eyes and ears. I was stealing his spotlight and taking way too much space on the table. So, I chose to be quiet until the publishing date was closer, and I had to speak about it. But I have lost practice and I am scared.

Around the same time I had that awkward interaction with my DSA mentor, I had posted a recommendation quote for the book in a way to advertise it across my social media platforms. Again, I received a few congratulations from people who did not know I was being published soon. Bear in mind, I had advertised the initial news about being included in the publishing house’s roster for upcoming releases, the news about the title and synopsis made official, and the unveiling of the album cover. A lot of the people congratulating had known me for several years, or at least I thought. Again, it had perplexed me that they had just found out. Have I been this quiet?

Also mood. Image: Navabi stock photos.

Maybe they have other things to think about and notice. After all, we are in the middle of a pandemic, an economic crisis, and the brink of civil war wherever you are reading this. I know I am not the centre of the universe, and neither are other writers, and I should be grateful for any speck of attention. Especially now, and after that pileup last year.

Either way, I wish I had an assistant and a street/online team who did the advertisement for me and spare me from feeling like an arsehole regardless of how little or how much I do.

Screenshots from Amazon, Waterstones and Foyles.

My assistant and team would tell you now that Meanwhile, my debut poetry collection, is now available for presale on Amazon, Waterstones and Foyles. They will also warn you not to buy it from these platforms because in the publishing houses and authors get peanuts from sales on these big websites; and they would encourage you to wait until it is available on the Burning Eye Books website and on my own store for presale.

My PR/assistant team would release it on presale right away, come up with ideas and bundles, encourage me to release a mailing list or whatever, and they would whack me with a stick if I replied “The bloody Book again? Get over it. No one cares”. But I’m tired of people who say they know me telling me they didn’t know I was a writer when it’s literally the only thing I can do; and equally tired of privileged white guys telling me to shut up and let them blabber a bit more about their vanity rags.

Ugly Music by Ugly Fem/mes

Bringing a semi-recycled two-week old Facebook rant-ish into the wild. Last week, Gemma Wicks and I had a meeting with Kristy Diaz (Nasty Women, Track 7) and she brought up a similar comment. About how even in the experimental, radical, queer-friendly circles of music, arts, and media, beauty stereotypes were still perpetuated and conventionally attractive cis white women were still favoured.

A few Saturdays ago, the fabulous Steph Horak and I went to Nottingham to a field recording and production workshop facilitated by Aja Ireland aka AJA. It was held at The Malt Cross, a multi-level pub and arts centre famous for having its own sandstone cave. We played with chains, drumsticks and all sorts of obscure musical instruments on the walls and tubes of the cave, recorded some of the sounds and later went back to the classroom so AJA could show us some of the things we could do with the files on Ableton.

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She also showed us her setup. So many drone otherworldly pedals.
In the meantime, something kept bothering me. Three-quarters of the students were your average men. Most of them were asking the questions. Then almost everyone else was young and stunning, like out of a NYLON magazine fashion spread. Same with the examples of performers mentioned.

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AJA in her raw splendour. Picture by Xenia Onta.
I was drafting a long rant about how, in the noise scene, people who weren’t men happened to be conventionally attractive, white and skinny. Grimes, Pharmakon, Jenny Hval, Cosey Fanni Tutti in her hayday, Aja and Steph themselves, and that we needed more ugly fem/mes making ugly music. I was gonna say that even the Japanese sinewave queens like Sachiko M could swap clothes with the Western primitive curls and still fit in them.

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Hail Wavy Mum. Sachiko M picture by Carmen Chong.
But then it would’ve been hella hypocritical because:

  • At least this wave of noise beauties is teaching us beasts how to carry on through workshops, videos, etc. like AJA’s workshop, which I’m mega thankful for!
  • Here I am wearing one of AJA’s costumes designed by LU LA LOOP who also designs for Grimes, so even murderfats can make a murderous mess on stage and look alright at it.

lulaloop-synth

It’s just a matter of being noticed by promoters/venues/festivals/media/artists looking for openers, and not being patronised I guess? Trolololol. Like, bitch, I ain’t gonna eat your backline. I’m mostly vegetarian.

If you have any examples of “ugly” women and non-binary folx who make experimental, noisy, “ugly” music, please let me know. The closest I can think of is ANOHNI, but she doesn’t make the music – tho the audiovisual concept is hers. Her last album was produced by Oneohtrix Point Never, who is a freaking genius but yeah, show me your queer fats fiddling with pedals, plz.

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And the Oscars didn’t want dearest Toñita singing her own song at the ceremony because of course they didn’t. Picture by Rafa Rivas for AFP.
 

 

Returns

Coming back to this blog after many many months of neglecting this lovely space.

I might just copy/paste Facebook rants and reflections in case they get Zucc’d.

Things in my life have changed a lot. I found out I was not a woman. Nor a man. Nor anything, really. Try using “they” pronouns for me.

I moved out from Clarry Park into the West End and I love it. Currently typing this at the local library, basking on sunshine for the first time in ages. Damn global warming.

If you could vote for a few faves on the Saboteur Awards, it’ll be good:

Shruti Chauhan for Best Spoken Word performance. Totally adore her work on family, language, friendships and the sky.

Find the Right Words for Best Spoken Word Regular Night. Such a patient and open-minded venue for all levels of performance.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta and Ben Connors for Best Collaborative Work. A fabulous zine about the intersections between queerness and race and much more.

This zine, btw, features my poem “Spidergirls”. So yay.

See you around. Expect more updates and changes around here.

Manuales de estilo

Para que un texto sea publicado en algún medio impreso o digital, muchas veces es necesario que siga un estilo “de la casa”. La mayoría de las editoriales, organizaciones periodísticas o asociaciones académicas cuentan con normas muy claras en las que mencionan gramática, ortografía, términos, estética, incluso ética. Aquí hay unos cuantos manuales de estilo en línea:

styleguide-manualesdeestilo

Academia

Periodismo

  • The Guardian – sobre ética, correcciones y dudas acerca del inglés. Incluye una copia gratuita en PDF del libro de estilo del Manchester Guardian (1928).
  • BBC – Guías para medios masivos de la British Broadcasting Corporation. Incluye un apartado especial para las elecciones.
  • FAQ on Style – New York Times – para más información, conseguir el New York Times Manual of Style and Usage.

En español

Serán “los de la casa”, pero algunos de estos manuales de estilo son utilizados en otras universidades, negocios y agencias de noticias. Quizás sean los oficiales del lugar en que se encuentren. De cualquier modo, pregunten siempre cuál es el estilo a seguir. Y si no hay ninguno, ¡impónganlo! 😉For a text to be published in any printed or digital media, it often needs to follow an “in-house” style. Most publishers, news agencies and academic associations have very clear rules in which they mention grammar, spelling, terms, aesthetics, even ethics. Here are a few style guides online:

styleguide-manualesdeestilo

Academia

Journalism

  • The Guardian – on ethics, corrections and doubts about English. Includes a free PDF copy of the 1928 Manchester Guardian style book (1928).
  • BBC – Guidelines for mass media on the British Broadcasting Corporation. Includes a special feature for the elections.
  • FAQ on Style – New York Times – for more information, get the New York Times Manual of Style and Usage.

In Spanish

They may be “in-house”, but some of these style manuals are used at other universities, businesses and news agencies. Perhaps they might be the official guides of the places you work or study at. Anyway, always ask what style to follow. And if there is no style, impose it! 😉

¡Otra vez!

Entre circunstancias de la vida que me mantuvieron un poco alejada de las letras, me puse a jugar un poco con la interfase del sitio. Es casi la misma, pero como el framework con el que trabajaba dejó de mantenerse, mejor elegí un tema más reciente y en mayor estado de mantenimiento. Esto no tendrá sentido para quienes no le entran al WordPress, pero a mí me encanta. He estado aprendiendo a programar por mi cuenta, así que si tienen buenos tutoriales de CSS y HTML5 (y de PHP, de pasada), sería maravilloso que lo compartieran.

Por mi cuenta les puedo hablar de Codecademy, una “academia” gratuita en línea donde pueden hacer ejercicios para aprender lo mismo HTML y CSS que Javascript, Ruby y Python. Los cursos son sencillos, interactivos, y te dan la oportunidad de seguir tu proceso.

Ahora volveré a subir cosas al blog. Entre anécdotas, experiencias y curiosidades que me encuentre, trataré de mantener esta bitácora lo más viva posible. También subiré unos cuantos viejos clásicos corregidos y aumentados. ¡Estén al pendiente!

Amidst life circumstances that kept me away from writing, I got to play around with the website’s interface. It’s almost the same, but as the framework I used to work on stopped being maintained, I chose a more recent theme, one in more frequent state of maintenance. This probably doesn’t make sense to those not into WordPress, but I love it. I’ve been learning to programme on my own, so if you have good tutorials on CSS and HTML5 (and PHP, by the way), it would be wonderful if you could share them.

From my experience, I can talk to you about Codecademy, a free online “academy” where you can follow some exercises to learn from HTML and CSS to Javascript, Ruby and Python. The courses are simple, Interactive, and allow you to track your process.

Now I will post things on the blog again. Between anecdotes, experiences and curiosities that I may stumble upon, I will try to keep this place as alive as possible. Also, I’ll post a few old classics corrected and augmented. Stay tuned!