Author Archives: Shannon Barber

About Shannon Barber

I am a strange little woman who likes pie.

Trouble Mind.

This is really not my week.

I am going to try not to be super specific so if this comes across kinda vague yeah.

So to start my week I was invited to participate in a sooper sekrit speshul invite only writing group.

So on going to said writing group and following their rule of posting 1-2 polished works, I checked out the other writers.

There was one other woman who wasn’t active and a whole lot of White men.

So I posted links to this and this and as per instructed waited for my “critiques”. I did not mention that the second piece was nominated for a Pushcart thingy, I did not mention really anything about myself.

My “critiques” were pretty much that I should write about White people (“normal”) and that my Lesbian narrator from the first story wasn’t “sexy” (mainstream porno lesbian for straight dudes basically).

Not one word about craft, no suggestions where lines could have been tightened up. It was a long thread about how “off putting” and totally not racist it is to expect that I a Black Queer Author should keep things White n Right.

I did not comment I pm’d the moderator/the person who invited me and expressed my discomfort and judging from other threads I did not want to turn shit political because that is not what I was there for and I am kind of at political saturation.

The response was to tell me not to be so sensitive and that I should be “professional” and take the critiques and say thanks. There was also mention of the race card, social justice having a place and time and writing for a “broad audience”.

I deleted my original post and left the group without a word.

Then I got a message on facebooks from a rando dude type who mentioned being interested in my work. I said thank you and accepted the friend request  (I don’t have an actual author page and accept most requests) so lalalala new fb friend lala.

Today I woke up to two messages one saying Hi Ms. Barber (always a bad sign) followed by a fucking unwanted and unasked for dick picture.

Fucking christ.

I responded by saying a.) fuck off and b.) I’m reporting you. Before I could figure out how to block and report there was another message telling me how much he “loves and respects Black Women” and he “Didn’t mean it”.

I finally got his ass blocked and reported to facebook. By the time I got to work his page was gone. Lucky for him I guess because I had intended on putting his ass on blast all over social media.

I was hoping nothing else would happen today and planned on doing some stuff.

THEN i get a very long email from an etsy customer who is very very angry at me.

She purchased my essay about why I don’t identify as a feminist a couple of weeks ago and apparently just read it this morning. She had also purchased a few other things.

So in this note she lost her shit because not “all” white feminists “are that way” and there’s no such thing as Black and White feminists, about how she “used” to be such a huge fan and was rooting for me.

Now she will never read my work again, which is fine it’s obviously not for her anyway. And demanded I return her two dollars which I did.

All this combined with last night spending about an hour screening and deleting racist messages across my social media accounts and everything right now I just feel so down.

I feel some type of way about all this.

I mean that writing group thing.

Of the authors in the group, I was among the mot widely published. I have experience, I have insights but I don’t write for White dudes so I’m not good?

I feel a lot of things and they all mush up into fatigue and dismay.

It makes me wonder that regardless of how hard I work, how good my shit may be, this is just going to keep happening.

I have decreased how much I engage with these things but that does not protect me from shit.

This is why I talk about Black women have no safe space.

This kind of stress and fatigue makes it really hard for me to work on my Self Care book because I don’t want all this badness to infect it.

So I am going to try and hide out.

Listen to music and play with some other stories that White people will probably tell me are terrible because they are outside of Whiteness. I will strengthen myself from that. I will read some good poetry and listen to it on youtube.

I am going to protect myself as best I can because I have to.

I have to survive.

I have to write.

If I don’ write these stories who will?


A Few Thoughts.

I’m really tired and feeling beyond crazy.

My brain is full of fuck and I’ve been unable to work on the self care thing the way I’d like so I’m leaving it alone until I can do it without fucking it up.

Rather than fuck up my thing I did some editing and submitting today.

I was pointed towards a couple of zines and I just, y’all.

I did some research as you do when you are checking out a new venue. The first thing that leapt out at me was I saw the word diversity in the about and faq a lot.

What I did not find in about 8 issues and the editors interview on Duotrope was the diversity.

So honestly if your diversity is made up of a textbook example of the Western Literary Canon excluding the few women, what the real fuck are you even talking about?

Real talk.

Since I have not been submitting, going back to it I just- I am growing this jaded disinterest that makes me so sad.

It is so exhausting to me to be reading magazines and understanding so keenly that my AAVE filled, no White people in sight stories don’t belong.

On the other hand I want to submit just to see if they get it or if I get another maybe if you adjust the language type rejection.

To say I am feeling some type of way about the publishing industry on the whole right now is an understatement.

This post is also brought to you by a situation I found myself in this week.

I don’t want to go into a lot of specifics but suffice to say, again my work was questioned on the basis of it not being about/in the realm of white men and it just makes me really sad and tired.

I’m feeling this way while trying to write uplifting beautiful things that come from my fucking soul and I just…I am so angry.

So yeah.

I will slog on but today, man.

Fuck publishing.

Fuck the literary world and the white dudebros who can’t see past their own dicks.

That’s all.


What I’m tired of reading.

Not too long ago a friend of mine asked me what I’m tired of reading.

Given that I’ve been hacking and slashing what I read online lately it’s a fair question.

First, I’m tired of reading White feminist opinions about any woman of color. Lupita, Chimamanda Ngozi, Beyonce, Beyonce etc. I swear to fluffy bunnies if I read one more hand wringing article about whether or not Beyonce can be a feminist because she wrote songs about enjoying fucking the nasty out of her goddamn husband, I’m going to implode. Enough. Frankly, nobody needs more White opinions about women of color. Nobody. While I am glad a lot of woc are in the spotlight right now, the more White feminist shit I read about them and their work, their bodies and beauty I just want to punch someone.

I don’t want to read any more articles, essays, stories about fatness that are not written by actual fat people. That includes weight loss as redemption stories. Stop. Fuck. Just. Don’t. That includes Thin Nice White Ladies parroting shit that obviously comes from fat acceptance without them really even paying minimal respect to the work done by other people. No more.

I will not read any further words/ideas from White Dude Nerds. Wil Wheaton, John Green, Stephen Colbert and their  ilk. First of all, fuck every White dude who is so tired of bitches talking about sexism or us mean old colored people talking about racism and how racist they are.  How about shutting the entire fuck up, just because White men are no longer necessarily the be all end all authority on every fucking thing, doesn’t mean I need to see them whining about how hard it is that they are no longer the absolute top of the food chain. No. Furthermore, can we finally just give a moment of thought to the fact that saying a lot of fucked up racist shit and then saying, BUT IT’S SATIRE STUPID does not make you right or okay.

I will not read any further “satire” by people who seem to think that spewing liquid shit from betwixt their lips and calling it jokes is funny or effective.

No.

Not one more narrative where a White person or a man puts on the trappings of marginalized people so they can really understand. No. Fucking stop it. It is 20 mother fucking 14. There are so many people writing about ALL of those things, doing brownface or bad drag or fat suits is not necessary.

Things do not have to be experienced by White people in order to be real.

Stop.

No more narratives involving how hard it is to be White and pretty, how hard it is to not be a racist, etc. Nope.

So as you can see this really cuts out a lot of publications.

I frankly just don’t want to hear it anymore.

I have reached bullshit saturation for a while. So I’m sticking to some literary stuff. Reading shit on my kindle.

I feel like I get so exhausted by all of these things, I have to put an embargo on a lot of websites and content because my peace of mind is better served by not even seeing it.  So there you go.

I’m about halfway in with the self care book and chugging right along. I got through the really hard stuff with some great early feedback.

I was sick as fucking dog all last week, so I’m starving to get back on schedule for an end of the month release.

Fingers crossed.

So tell me what you’re reading around the intertubes.

 


Craft Notes: How I use Free writing.

First have a glance at this.

Now a couple of people have asked so let me give you a sort of blow by blow as to how I utilize the concept of freewrites.

First thing to know is I have a very noisy disordered brain.

One of the problems with my sleeping is in face the crazy carnival (replete with barkers, geeks, music, rides and pink elephants). My brain is a stew of LOUD NOISES.

So I do a few things to help settle myself down enough to write so the LOUD NOISES turn into stories and shit.

One of the things I do is crochet. I make shawls mostly. I keep telling myself I am going to sell them but that is a whole other thing. Crocheting puts a good amount of order in my chaosroachbrain. I do it on the bus usually while I listen to audiobooks and my thoughts turn a bit more linear like my stitches. Rows and rows of orderly thinking.

The other thing I do a lot is free write.

Here is how I do it.

Something, be it a phrase, a concept, a photo, a voice, a word, the sight of a fine fine ass in some tight pants whatever, it gets in my head.

I’m going to use one I did recently as an example.

Open this in another tab. It is the side blog where I just kind of dump words. I was inspired by Dena and Milcah (side note, GODS my friends are some fine mother fuckers, like for serious) and periods.

So there I was with the image of Joseph from Dena’s poem.

And I just started to go.

When I do this, often it is my way of exploring correlations as they happen in my brain.

In this case we have menses, a man, destruction because most tend to associate periods with flowers and the birds and bees and bullshit. It’s not that pretty. I wanted to explore that without getting to the ugly right away.

I am obsessed with sexualized predation (not as in abuser as in an apex predator) from the POV of the woman predator. The ides of conquest as it has been applied to masculine sexuality forever. The beauty in being an apex predator or at least feeling like one.

I called the image of war and battle and victory and claimed the shed blood as victory.

That is where my brain goes.

I go until I can’t anymore and then normally as you can see there, I change something. Sometimes I use this method of freewriting to explore forms, to change the angle that I approach my subject matter.  I’ve found that once I’ve exhausted one means of exploring a subject/theme when I change something (form, formatting etc) that is when my brain really gets to work. That is how I work out the voice I use in a story sometimes. Sometimes it is how I figure out the road to the next thing. Or I figure out that the idea I had won’t work.

The aim when I do this is just to write. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it is just fragments. Sometimes it kickstarts a whole new thing.

90% of these freewrites I have no intention of trying to get published. That is why I made that other blog. Occasionally I have had bigger better stories from those freewrites.

This piece I had in Fuck Fiction, started out as a freewrite.  Again, I was exploring that female sexual predator. A self aware predator who cannot help herself.  This one from the Molotov Cocktail started as an experiment with second person narrative. 

One of the other functions of this method is that for me I’ve discovered where my strengths are.

I am good at present tense first person POV.

I really LOVE writing second person narrative.

One of the other things to be gained from freewriting is freeing yourself of taboos.

Essentially if you are new to say writing sex use this exercise.

If words or concepts don’t do it for you here are some other options.

Read this post by Remittance Girl and try her challenge.

Here are some prompts for practicing writing on the body. In other words practice writing the physiological.

For instance. Your narrator has just fallen down some stairs. Write them checking themselves out, are they hurt? Where are they hurt? How do they hurt? Think about bumps and bruises. Try writing the aftermath, maybe your narrator fell two days ago and their body is just starting to yell.

Write a scene of arousal. Your main character here is getting turned on. What is going on in their body? I’m not talking a monologue about the most perfect tits anyone has ever seem but this is the viewer. Are they tingling? Is their skin covered in gooseflesh?

Do you like prompts? Here are some I like.

Personally prompts about meadows and  flowers and shit don’t do it for me. My taste runs to the darker and for that I picked up Michael Arnzen’s book Instigation. The beauty of this type of books that you can write a story, a poem, a scene, a flash piece. Anything. I really seriously recommend it.

I used one of his instigations and got this story published.

Think of this type of work as stretching for your brain. This is an excellent way to step out of your comfort zone. Whether it is style, format, subject matter. You can get yourself kickstarted with some practice.

I will also say that this is how I started to really find my own voice.

So there are your craft notes of the day. If you write something and post it somewhere come back and post a link so I can check it out.


How to Annoy the Author in Ten easy steps.

  1. Solicit work from me in a manner that is unprofessional and shows you have never read a word I’ve ever written. Recently I have been sent three different pitches asking me to submit things to places that:  a.) don’t exist yet and therefor I cannot get “a solid grasp of [name redacted]‘s aesthetics”. Um, I pointed this out to the person who emailed me but if I don’t know you, you don’t give me a reference point HOW the real fuck am I supposed to know what you like? Also don’t follow up me asking about said aesthetics with some passive aggressive OMG I can’t believe you asked me that type bullshit. b.) seem to publish only nice uplifting things that support Nice White Ladyness. Uh..again. Have you read anything I have written EVER?
  2. Along the same theme. If you talk to me to work with me and from the long list of authors you love there is not one author of color um, I am going to find you questionable.
  3. In spite of my anxiety fueled disco freakout at AWP (read about it here) I did actually make some business related contacts. I’m going to try not to be indelicate about this but I did tell the person involved I would talk about this in a general way. Okay so person and I meet, exchange web info. Person reads some of my work and proceeds to go into Captain Save A Ho form. They gave me a lot of unsolicited and frankly not for me advice about how many ways I have already pretty much ruined any career I might have. My errors? Talking about race so much, talking about myself, self publishing, not using a pen name for my erotica, being critical of writers more famous than I am, so you know pretty much everything I say or do. I know this person had good intentions but here’s the thing. If being a well known, monied author means I cannot be who I actually am than it is not really worth it to me. If success in this instance means I have to coon for the mainstream, it is not going to happen.

Can we talk about that?

Honestly as much as I would really like to get paid more often for my work and stuff, I don’t want to do it if it means I cannot be honest to who I am as an author and human being. That is why I put that feminism essay out on my own. It is so far away from what most people say about feminism and the editorial changes that were suggested by someone I submitted it to would have turned it into something it wasn’t.

The thing is, I had to decide if I wanted my work to be honest and as is in terms of subject matter or did I want to get published in a magazine with a pretty huge audience but have it be a lie.

Being that I have a job that pays the rent, I’m just not going to do that.

I look back and see how many years compromising like that I spent and how it really got me nothing and I just don’t want to do that anymore.

If that means I toil away in obscurity forever that’s fine.

So there we have it.

Probably another reason I won’t ever be super famous and why I am pretty okay with that.

My work means enough to me that I won’t make it palatable to Whiteness, the Patriarchy etc just for a few dollars.

Or even the mythical major book deal.

I don’t get down like that.

So that’s about all for right now. I am just getting to chapter 4 of the self care book and I am really excited about it.

And as always if you check out my sidebar there you can go drop a few dollars and get something to read.


Let me Explain you a thing.

I was talking to a friend recently about comic books and graphic novels and super hero movies and I finally figured out why so many of them make me nerd rage so hard.

Beyond the Whiteness of so many of them it is the women.

Okay.

I’m gonna get nerdy.

I am a woman, I have big boobs, sometimes I have long hair. I have been in a fight or two in my time.

Here’s the thing  that just shatters my suspension of disbelief as a consumer of the thing.

If you have big ole perky titties that seemingly are impervious to gravity, maybe you can really kick some ass without said titties flopping around or in my case hitting you in the face.

But it just irritates the shit out of me.

Let’s assume if you are kicking the ever loving shit out of your foe, one thing we don’t want is hair sticking to our (of course) glossed lips or getting in our eyes. Blind spots gets you hit in the face in a fight. If you look at photos of women MMA fighters for example, we see a lot of cornrows, low ponytails, braids or short hair.  That is for a reason.

You know when there is that ONE thing that just ruins a thing for you?

For me it’s the entirely tactically absurd women in so many of these genres.

See also costumes that have tightly laced corsets. I have also tight laced and doing a lot of ass kicking would probably make the heroine or evil doer pass out.

From a writing perspective my tendency towards nerd rage meltdowns has actually helped my writing quite a bit. At times when I’ve found myself about to write something that common sense tells me is wrong, I think about chicks in ring mail bikinis, with torpedo tits and apparently no worries about metal wedgies, fighting and I check myself.

Personally if I were a bad ass villainess, I would be covering up my tits, wearing a cup (yes those can be helpful even if you don’t have testicles) and getting my hair did before kicking ass. My hair would be up, my jewelry off and I’d be ready to buck.

This is where I also mention how if I got my hands on more of those visuals at an earlier age I might have gotten more into comic books.

I might have been a bigger fan of super hero movies in general.

I dunno.

As I get older I find my tolerance for a host of things has just withered in my old age.

And this is where I mention how much I love so much fan art I’ve seen on tumblr for instance.

A hijab wearing Black Widow, I have seen fancast stuff that blew my mind.

Naturally the ugly side of that is the absolute outrage of racist White fans. It gets ugly.

That is why I don’t fuck with fandom or a large part of nerd culture because I have no tolerance and I’m not trying to have racists fuck my squee up because X CHARACTER HAS TO BE WHITE FOREVER AND EVER.

Speaking of nerdy, while I pound away at the self care book I’ve been poking at a story about two little tween queer girl werewolves getting their wolfyness (I’m playing with the full wolf at puberty trope), one of them figuring out their gender and the two of them navigating first love.   Now what’s interesting to me as I write it is that Ikeep thinking of the people who freak out about OMG diversity.

Obviously someone can’t be a person of color, queer AND gender variant.

But, those people do exist in you know actual life.

What kind of lives do anti diversity fan types live that they have never seen anyone who is more than one identity at a time?

Gay Mexican AND disabled?

OH SHIT NO WAY. CANNOT HAPPEN.

I mean, really where do the people come from who cannot fathom that there are people who are not white and able bodied?

It’s weird.

I told a writer acquaintance about this little story and his reaction was not about the plot or my wolfy ideas but how I was “shoe horning” the POC, queerness etc in.

How can characters written as entire people, with complex identities be shoe horned?

Suffice to say I a.) set him straight and b.) won’t be talking to him about my work again.

And I’m off.

Brain unclogged.

Before I go I release a new essay on etsy about why feminism as it is done these days is not for me. With a bonus of a full chapter of the self care book. Get it here.

 


What’s good?

Stuff is good.

My 90s rnb station is good.

It is also good that I am hard at work on the revised bigger and more badass version of my self care book.

I’m calling it v2.0 and I am covering SO many things. Caring for your body, make up, testicles, buttholes all of it.

To celebrate I put out my essay on why I refuse identify as a feminist with bonus material. You can read the whole first chapter of the self care book.

What else is good?

I turned 37 this past Sunday. It was a nice birthday, I got myself all dolled up. I ate a lot of food and I bought myself a few little presents.

You can look at my tumblr to see me looking all witchy spring cute.

Okay I have a pot of tea. I have ideas and I am going to work on something other than the self care thing.

And here is a gratuitous picture of the author with her hairs did AND shit I forgot to tell you I finally got my veneers. I got nice teeth.

And thank you again those who donated. I feel so much better and less stressed.

Okay behold the author at 37 giving you some 90s RnB diva by way of Old Goth Realness.

faceOkay that’s all.

Tomorrow I’m going to post a shitload of links about lit things I’m excited about. So if you have anything you want promoted, please drop a link in the comments.

 


Stuff I just want to Whine about.

I’m tired and forgot to take some of my medications so I just want to whine a little.

  • I do not have enough money to buy everything I have been published in so I can have hard copies.
  • I also do not have the loose cash to buy my friends books, the new books I want to read and stuff.
  • I do not have the money to support my fellow POC in their endeavours when they ask me to and I feel some type of way about it.
  • On the flip side of that most of the people who ask me directly to help fund stuff know me and know I’m poor. So I also feel some type of way about that.
  • Wow I am super cranky.
  • I also feel some type of way about the many artists/writers/other creative types I know who will ask me for 99 different kinds of support but if I ask a favor or talk to them on a beyond marketing level, fuckin crickets.

I’m having kind of a day at work. My blood sugar is low. And I have work to do.

Speaking of work I’ve started rewriting my self care guide. I am very excited about the new structure and content.

I’m not as excited about some folks Iknow insisting I shop it when I just don’t feel that would be right for this.  I will put it out on Etsy and if there is a call I might put it up via createspace or something for a print version. The serious business fact is that I need to keep it accessible and it’s more important to me to get it out within the next month than it is to have it picked up by some publisher.

Blasphemy I know. I’m punk as fuck.

There are important to me reasons behind my methods.

The other part of my crabbiness is that I feel somewhat bombarded by morons. Mean, ugly spirited people saying mean ugly spirited things and I keep not seeig a lot of critical or any kind of thinking. So much down low and blatant racism and trans mysoginy from people I used to like/respect. It just wears me down. It makes me feel like I should be toughening up my hide but even at almost 37 years old I just cannot deal with it on such a daily basis.

It comes from everywhere, no where is safe. There is no place for me to go. Nothing I can read. No lols I don’t have shit.

No shelter.

That in mind I am going to finally get some fucking food, do some Kindle Cloud reading (someone please remind me to talk about how obsessed with kindle books I am right now), and do some more writing.

OH also I am hopefully going to recode my author site here soonish. After my birthday for sure. Stay tuned.


Watch me read and some other stuff.

So hey that is the fantastic Anna March introducing me at HEAT.

This part of AWP I was actually way better with. I want to get more practice reading and it was a good time.

I read one unpublished from a long suffering chapbook labor of love project. The second piece is the one from Solarcide’s Sinthology.

I think I might try to add some more video readings to my little youtube channel. The webcam on my chromebook is actually not bad.

I also want to do more in person readings. Folks have told me I am good at them.

I have a slight bit of a cold but I’m over my AWP mega freak out.

After talking to a few people I decided I am going to try again but I’m going to not try to be miss solo adventurer. I got some protips including getting myself into a group of people and volunteering.

So maybe next year?

Also I am going to figure out how to do more in person readings and shit.

Now that I’m done with AWP stuff time to get back on the grind. Work on my novella, do some other shit. Gotta get those rejections coming back in.

Okay that’s all for right now dayjob beckons.


AWP it happened.

So AWP holy fucking shit.

Let me say first of all that even though I missed out on a lot what I did do was great.

Also let me say I may never go again.

I completely underestimated the depths of my anxiety. I was nervous but determined. First day of panels I got there a bit late and was in a jam packed panel.

I’m not really clausterphobic but I did start to panic a little. I went in the hall to listen and sat down to catch my breath.

After I stood in line with some other folks to say hello to Roxane Gay. Holy shit. I managed not to just start yelling HI I LOVE YOU SO MUCH and she was very nice to me and then I had to run off.

Headed for my second panel and got lost. I had that sudden new kid at school oh shit I’m late and everyone is gonna hate me.

So I ducked into a panel with CLMP, tin House and some other folks. That was cool I learned some stuff.

Now, I should confess here that when I panic I am very good at hiding it. I hate crying so it all goes inside (which is bad of course) and I was bottling a bit and freaked out.

Wandered into the book fair which was a mistake. It was so huge and a few people recognized me by name and said nice things about my work at which point I started freaking out more. By then I was sweating anxiety panic sweat and my bowels were rumbling ominously.

I saw Roxane again and fondled Pank Merchandise. I stood next to Kyle Minor for a minute at the Pank booth but was too shy to say hello.

I met some folks who have published me, some really nice presses and did some fun things including writing a postcard for another author.

And then I tried to go to another panel and got lost again and BOOM panic attack. Mine have the feature where I get glassy eyed and feel like I am going to shit my pants and I had to go home.

I went for a long walk, trying to walk off my belly cramps so I could go to the Yes, yes reading/party.

No go I went home and pretty much went right to bed.

Friday was my reading with HEAT. The morning started off with more anxiety shits, late getting out the door. We made it and I finally got to meet Anna March and I got to hug my friends Dena and Milcah. I think I spotted Antonia Crane and some other amazing folks.

We couldn’t stay because the chairs were giving us both major back spasms.

The reading part was the easiest. I was nervous and felt a bit out of place with all these other authors with books out and important things. I did get a nice compliment outside.

I had to miss another reading/party because I was supposed to be interviewed for a column writer position at an as yet unlaunched site but she left town so I dunno.

Overall I was just really not ready.

If I go again I will be properly medicated or go with someone I know who can lead me around when I freak out. My guts still hurt but I guess I sort of succeeded. I hope I didn’t look as insane as I felt. In didn’t say anything embarrassing in front of people I admire. AND I got hugged by a very adorable South East Asian writer because YAY POC.

I may or may not do it again. I’d like to give it another shot and really experience more of it. I’m on the fence.

So there you have it. Shannon went, freaked, pooped and read.


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