Author Archives: Shannon Barber

About Shannon Barber

I am a strange little woman who likes pie.

Because sometimes it just comes out.

For reference I’m going to talk about this essay of mine that is up at Nailed Magazine right now. It’s small and intense so go ahead and read it.

I wrote the above essay a few weeks ago in the middle of having fallen down a hole reading about Black victims of various crimes.

As difficult as I find writing the tear your heart out shit, sometimes it just happens. What’s on my mind right now is the fact that I felt such a strong need to write that. Also that as opposed to say five years ago, I would have maybe submitted it somewhere obscure gotten rejected and tucked it away.

Not because of the subject matter but because that is my fucking heart right there.

I bled to say that.

I cried and shat myself stupid.

It hurt while I was writing it, it hurt to edit it it hurt to get it ready for submission.

Today I’m pretty okay. I am proud of my work. I am happy to share my heart, bleeding and raw with the world.

But y’all, this shit right here is hard as fuck.

It really is.

Thanks for reading.


On Being hate read, processing and engagement.

So y’all know I’ve been doing a series of self care articles over at XOjane. You can read the most recent one here.

One of the things that has surprised me is how much pushback there’s been. Among the reasons:

  • My tips about make up don’t count as self care for anybody ever.
  • My budget / strategic spending tips are telling everyone to blow their rent money.
  • My mention of smart budget friendly shopping is consumerist.
  • I “stole” the idea from DBT (to tell y’all the truth I didn’t even know what that was until yesterday) therapy.
  • I’ve been told that my responses to criticism (we’ll get to that) is passive aggressive.
  • I should grow a thicker skin.
  • ALL my articles are just not full of ALL the information and therefor anything I have to say is invalid.

Etc.

Something I’m having a hard time with is the idea that because I’m not writing the articles in the broadest manner possible nor am I tackling ALL the issues about poorness and self care, that I’m doing it wrong, I find that tack to be exhausting.

I wonder how or if those people do that in other spheres of life? Do they comment on advice columns that don’t cover every scenerio?

Admittedly given that the same things get said on every article so far it gave me pause.

I was thinking maybe I shouldn’t talk about my poor skills, or that I should make every article involve the nitty gritty of being poor and doing self care.

Two things were pointed out to me by a friend.

First that some of these things are because people are hate reading me. They hate my writing, they hate the subject matter because I’m writing what I know/like in this case. I think when people go to hyperbole (literally saying that I’m encouraging people to buy everything and skipping the parts where I mention that these things are suggestions/stragegy) I don’t really need to listen.

Second thing is, who cares? Because really, I don’t know these people nor do they have any ream impact on me/my life.

As a writer and as I am doing this series I have made the effort to look at responses and what people ask about (unoriginal according to one commenter) and I did need to take these criticisms and think about them.

I’ve come to the conclusion that some of these folks are hate reading. I tried to engage but I realize that there’s no point because I just don’t understand that behavior. I don’t understand why if some advice isn’t for you, you’d go out of your way to be sure EVERYONE knows how much you disapprove?

As a reader I don’t get that at all.

Sure there are a lot of writers I don’t like out there. I think where I’ve had trouble is the idea of it being criticism or critique to just follow someone’s work to tell them how much you don’t like it.

It is just beyond me why that’s fun.

Anyone?

It’s one thing to me to say, so so’s writing is a problem for x reasons. I’m not reading it anymore.

Maybe I’m off about this.

I did feel the need to think about it though. Being that XoJane is my first regular column and the subject matter is near and dear to my heart, and shit I actually know about I took some time to really think about what I might be doing wrong.

The format has been I have a subject related to self care for poor folks and write about it.

I feel like that leaves a lot of room for everything from budgeting to buy a thing, to thinking about finding resources for things or as I’ve got coming up feeling like you deserve the thing regardless of how people treat you.

We all know I’m a thinky process queen and I realized earlier today that, well I don’t -have- to deal with that type of criticism if I don’t see the value in it. I think part of the process of writing a regular thing has been figuring out managing the line between what people ask me for and what I wanna do.

Whoa right?

I mean after 20 years and publishing things that have garnered me death threats, rape threats, cavalcades of die nigger messages being hate read is not all that bad.

I’ve come to the conclusion that for my purposes there, I can stick to my ethos that if you don’t want/need/like it, it’s just not for you and be okay.

I also think part of my worries about how much some folks hate the series and my work in general was due in large part to my ideas about harm. I have very strong feelings about being mindful if I am doing things that are harmful in certain ways and a lot of the negative commentary has pinged that button. It’s probably not on purpose but, it has been difficult to work through so I can write.

I like to hope it’s not personal even though it really feels like it.

The series will continue until either Xojane gets tired of me or I can’t write it anymore.

In other news I’ve joined the poets at Ink Node and put my first poem up today. Find that here. I have some feelings about it but I’ll save that for another time.

Okay later this week I’m doing a big ole link round up of stuff y’all should see and I’ll have a review of the book I’m reading about Aileen Wuornos as well.

Later taters.

PS I have some new non fiction coming out soon and it is a doozy.


What I’m reading and some thoughts.

I have been thirsty for other worlds lately and trying desperately to not hate some genre fiction.

First I want to talk about the Sandman Slim Series by Richard Kadrey.  So outside of the fact that I just love the character Sandman Slim and these books are populated with low lifes, drunks and assholes as opposed to pure sweet magical folk is great.

BUT after reading (I’m up to the fourth book I think?) the last one I read I have some things I have got to say.

Now during the first book when he introduced a woman of color as a speaking/thinking character I was, let’s say skeptical. Frankly I figured this character would be dead/maimed/used as a prop and that I’d just have to deal with it.

So okay.

I got to the second book, there she was.

She is written like a real whole human being with thoughts and feelings that don’t revolve around some derivative Mammy or Jezebel stereotype. Her beauty is mentioned. Her heart is mentioned. She is important to the fucking story.

Coming on the heels of trying to read ASOIAF and raging out for five books straight. And then another fantasy series where anything within shouting distance of black was just pure evil.

The erasure of the POC on a couple of shows I had wanted to watch, the Whiteness of horror and everything else I have been desperate. Y’all I just want my goddamn escapism maybe with a smidge less Whiteness.

And then Mr Kadrey.

Is it the most? Naw. Still a lot of white people but the difference between this and say that magical negro nonsense both King and Straub do, this is a whole character. Whole. Not a caricature of mashed up tropes, an entire being.

I want more because he does it well. We know I’m a greedy reader.

This series is fulfilling an important role in my reading menu. Sometimes, as conscious as I am of everything in the fucking world that sucks. I just want to read something that makes me happy.

Mr. Kadrey’s work makes me happy.

Now I would advise those who can’t seem to figure out how to make a Non white person be a real person in their work check it out.

There is also that gritty, grimy quality to this series that really satisfies a particular need I have.

Now recently I on a whim got a copy of Jhereg by Steven Brust which is the first of a series.

Someone who knows my taste for crime and noir and suspense and shit recommended the series to me. I am just about done with the first book and it has yet to just scream WHITENESS WHITENESS WHITENESS WHITENESS at me in the language or mythology so far.

I will remain skeptical for another book or so but for now something I am very into is that I don’t have to really reach to picture some of these characters as non white people.  There is actually room in the prose for me to see myself in that world and that’s great because I love the world so far.

Intrigue, murder, spying and shit.

While the world is just terrifying to me right now on a level I can barely put into words, having some bit of escapism that doesn’t cause me pain or bug me to the point I can’t stand it is really valuable.

I can’t tell y’all how nice it was a few weeks ago to be finishing the second in the Sandman Slim series on a day where four of my social media inboxes were full of racialized hate and threats of one sort or another. And I spent the day watching people shit on my work because they don’t like me personally. It was rough. I felt pretty terrible and then I had a world I could go to and escape for the hour and a half it took me to get home.

That is why I’m such a lover of books and why I find it so hard to deal with the Whiteness of everything sometimes.

I feel like the couple of hours a day I can escape while things are changing and happening for me is so important and finding stuff that doesn’t boot me out of that has become vital.

So hats off sirs.

Well played.


Y’all are not ready.

I have been sitting on a major secret.

I am super proud to announce that Milcah Orbacedo is opening a brand new press called MotherBlazing Books and I am her first author.

We are going to do SO MUCH together.

There will be special edition print books, ebooks, a brand new website AND TEE SHIRTS.

I am so so happy to be doing it this way. Coming up I’m also going to talk about how meaningful it is to me to be bringing my first not published by me print book into the world with someone who really sees who I am and values me for who I am and who I trust and love.

This is the publishing I want.

Now I am super exhausted and I have been bursting to tell everyone.

To keep up on what’s going on and to see when the new website drops like the bass you can come like my author page on faceook.

I hope you all come along for the ride because it’s going to be fucking great.

 


So many things.

So hey.

Outside of everything in merica being real fucking terrible right now some good stuff is going on in my writing life.

Ready?

So firstly new publication news.

I have flash fiction in Ex Fic. A tiny story about a prostitute that does not invoke Pretty Woman nor is it anti sex worker nonsense. Go forth and enjoy it here.

AND I have tiny prose poetry in Urban Graffiti (I think I told y’all?) my type of romance between cutters. Enjoy. Also the art the editor chose is really beautiful. Kinda NSFW.

AND one more little flash piece in Black Mirror Magazine. Get it here.

All of these acceptances came in a little succession and as I was organizing my rejection list/submission list I realized that traditionally for at least the last five years, June-about now is ALWAYS a dry season for me and I don’t know why.

The next new thing is in anticipation of a super special thing happening, I now have an author page on the facebooks for writing related stuff. If you have one too, drop me a link and I can like it. Here you will find mine, it’s kind of naked right now but that will be changing soon.

What else?

OH I got a new to me laptop. It is a little (not so little) used Dell and I make a little nest in my bed, with my bulldog puppy lapdesk and go. It feels pretty good to have my technology handled.

I have been writing like a mother fucker and nestling in this feeling of having a very special community of other women writers I’ve found who are ready to yell and talk about pooping and make up and thing.

And to still have the support of women I love and admire. To have them tell me yes. Having them tell me when I have ideas WRITE THAT SHIT.

Writing life feels right.

I could be getting published more. I could be submitting more. My output could be bigger but things feel nice and right right now.

Now I should probably eat some food because I am exhausted and in need of something

That something is going to be rewatching Carnivale (someone remind me to go blog about the one Cooch dancer in my other blog alter) and I will get through the remainder of my shift at my dayjob without falling or goig to sleep.


Dragons, Wights, Giants, White Walkers yes! Brown people Not so Much.

First read this where George R.R Martin sort of addresses his franchises race problem.

This jumped out at me:

In June, a fan asked Martin: “There are a white race, a black race in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, and many other races. Why there is no Asian race (Chinese-like, Japanese-like) in the Game of Thrones show and ASOIAF books?”

Martin replied:

Well, Westeros is the fantasy analogue of the British Isles in its world, so it is a long long way from the Asia analogue. There weren’t a lot of Asians in Yorkish England either.

That is not to suggest that such places don’t exist, however. You will want to get THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE when it comes out in October. In the “Other Places” section you will find a lot of material about Yi Ti, the island of Leng, and the plains of the Jogos Nhai, which you may find of interest,

Wait..hold up.

So in a fantasy realm that is an analogue of the British Isles…that if you do non racist research you’ll learn is not the fantasy bastion of pure whiteness. We have:

  • Dragons
  • White Walkers
  • Giants
  • Gigantic Wolves
  • Children of the Forest
  • Krakens

ETC

That totally works because well, what is fantasy without fantastical creatures.

But it is so hard to not erase the POC or to use them in deeply racist and problematic ways in the books?

Thinly veiled Latina (hot spicy slutty) stereotypes, people coded as Black referred to as “mongrels” by one of the Whitest White Savioring (Mother) slave lover/dehumanizer, rape rapity rape rape RAPE…all that is completely perfect for an Analogue of some time period in the British Isles that doesn’t fucking exist and that’s all okay BUT it is not okay to put Asian or Black folks in the story?

…………really?

Yes really. It is something I have heard from White fantasy readers since I first wanted to talk about fantasy with other fans when I was a kid.

POC make the story unbelievable.

Even if the people (problematic or not) in the story are described as Black or Asian or Latina they are read as White or if the thing is moved to a visual medium they are magically white or as we found out when the Hunger Games came out, people are disappointed that a character is of color.

Look White authors, white readers this is why POC fans can’t trust you and why we are pissed off.

Look.

If you are going to rely on stereotypes that are harmful to actual readers because you can’t look at POC as full humans or you just won’t, don’t bother.

Stop.

A lot of White authors wring their hands about how “hard” it is to write POC. Look it’s not really that fucking hard if you look at people of color as fully functional human beings. If you don’t actually do that and seriously honest with yourself, I question your motives and everything else.

One of the fundamental ideas about character is that they are in essence fully made beings and if you are a pretty good author you write them with depth.

If you write every other character (even to the non human) with depth and feeling and reduce your token POC to bed warmers, tongueless slaves, slaves or other two dimensional characters I don’t trust you.

As readers if you can legit believe in the perils of White Walkers and that winter is fucking coming and having non white fully formed characters in a story ruins it, well as they say you might be a racist.

Being both a fan and a creator let me show you how I feel about this in a nutshell:

OFFTOFUCK

God damn it.

We live in the fucking future.

It is 20 mother fucking 14 and White people still often act like POC are aliens and there’s no way to actually hear us speak or learn about us without colonizing or assimilating.

Come on now.

Try the fuck harder.

That’s all.


On freelancing research and whatnot.

Okay first thing.

To the person coming in to tell me to “stop whining” about white people, fuck off.

You come in trying to cheerfully do something, anonymously grow a spine or stay the fuck out.

Okay now new business.

I have been doing a lot of research on getting myself more freelance paid work.

Given the subject matter I like writing about generally speaking mingled with uh, the dearth of writers of color at a lot of the venues I have been introduced to I’m feeling a little uh, unsettled.

I’m not awesome at writing on spec all the time and that is a skill I am working on.

And I’m not great at pitching but I am working on that as well.

I feel like until I get my tech situation worked out, I should just write some shit and keep on keeping on.

This stuff is daunting but I am ready I think.

What else am I working on?

I am working on lightening up in my non fiction. I don’t know what it is precisely but writing the shit that just guts me comes too naturally and I dont’ know how to deal with the emotional depletion and often following racialized bullshit. Recovering takes a lot out of me and I’m still trying to figure out what to do with all that beyond shut down.

Since I got a new phone I have been writing tiny flash fiction things on it while I wait for the bus.

One of these recently got published, see it here in Black Mirror Magazine. The most amusing thing about that is mainly that I wrote it standing at a bus stop, while a homeless woman was calling me satan. I see her every now and then, I gave her a cigarette once because she was staring at me while I was smoking but now she calls me satan every time I see her.

I’ve written about four other tiny flash pieces. I’m calling them experimental horror flavored retellings. Brief. Non specific. Experiments.

I am getting back into the swing of submitting fiction.

After my initial freak out about things happening for me that I hadn’t foreseen I am ready. Well maybe not ready but I am at least working it out.

That is all the news. I have work to do.

 


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