Category Archives: indie adventures

20 Years.

I realized a few days ago that as of next month, I have been trying to get published/getting published for 20 years.

20 years.

My first publication (I lied) I was 17 and it was a long angsty poem about an older lesbian with auburn colored armpit hair and a very sweet smile.

While I am so full of angst about trying so hard to figure out where my work fits in with the literary world, I’m taking a minute to remember back then.

It was the mid 90s and when I could afford it I would buy copies of Poets and Writers or I would sit with them at the library and copy the names and addresses of literary magazines. I would then go to my high school (while I was in high school that is until 95) computer lab and furiously type up poems and stories in secret. This was of course after weeks or months of rewriting on paper.

Nobody ever really wrote back. I remember crying because I’d spent a quarter of a paycheck my senior year on having nice paper, envelopes and postage. With SASE and nobody wrote back to tell me no even.

That first published poem I submitted under a pen name I told nobody about. I was ashamed and proud. Ashamed because I didn’t feel like I was allowed to be a writer. I should have done better in school, I should have had a better body, I should have been a better daughter, a better person.

I had one little copy of the print zine, I had gone downtown Seattle to Left Bank Books and bought it for a quarter. I may have whispered (I was very shy) to the guy at the register that I wrote a poem in it, or I might have imagined that.

After that when I could afford it I bought literary magazines. Or I bought Poets and Writers. I tried really hard to write what I thought people would want to publish.

I wrote, I cried. I obsessed.

I remember having this obsession with Muses and the nature of them. I wrote about shoveling coal into a furnace. I wrote about my Muses getting naked and fucking each other in my head.

I masturbated while reading Henry Miller and On Our Backs.

I had the seeds of what would later become my love of writing weird syncretic mythologies.

I wrote observational freewrites while I sat on the sidewalk outside of Nordstrom Rack at 6 AM waiting for a but home.

I wrote about a boy who smelled of sweaty boys skin, leather and smoke. I slipped it into his pocket and walked away.

I did not get published in print again for a few years.

At one point I “retired” from trying to be a writer. I was living hard scrabble with a friend, working a minimum wage office job and doing phone sex. I had my first foot fetish for pay thing. I let a man give me money for looking at my cunt.

I started feeling incredibly crazy. I started to journal again and as I listened to men jerking off on the phone I started to learn how to write erotica. I wrote little stories about Puppy training and humiliation. I learned about forced feminization and how much I wanted to do those things.

At the same time I was reading amazing Queer erotica and had a terrible crush on Patrick Califa.

I wrote.

I did not tell a soul. No one.

A while later I got internet access. I found other writers. I posted on Literotica, I posted on other websites. My dear friend Anthony posted my first finished horror erotica piece in his print magazine.

I got paid to write lesbian erotica.

I got lectured by an editor not to be so Queer in the work I was going to be paid to write for him. Not because I did that but because he read my personal sex blog. That was the first time I stood up for myself and my writing to an editor.

I wrote and saved my work on floppy disks I carried in a tiny purple accordion looking thing. I lost work. I cried. I hated computers.

I learned how to submit things via email.

I wrote.

I wrote so much.

I got rejected a lot.

I got published sometimes.

Now in the last ten years I started to stop giving a fuck about what I thought people want to publish. My writing has changed and become something far more indicative of the writer. I stopped forcing myself to adhere to Whiteness. I get published a bit less often.

Around four years ago I made the decision that even if it means I will never have “commercial” success, I will talk about racism in the industry and name names when I need to. I will talk publicly about my experiences and how I feel about them.

I decided to publish things myself even though I’ve been told it will ruin me. I published imperfect work that I am proud of because I made it and I have learned from it. I am not ashamed of that. I have (don’t ask me how) made myself a small niche where I feel good. I feel like I am doing this shit on my fucking terms and it is okay.

Sometimes I am still pretty scared that I will never be published again because I like being published. On the other hand, some days I don’t give a hot fuck.

I write.

I am still doing this and I believe in myself.

I feel good about the shit I write that gets rejected by everyone because it’s not absolutely perfect or because it’s not a “story story” or it’s too dirty for literary magazines, or it is not racial uplift.

It is painful sometimes but I am still doing the damn thing.

Sometimes I help some people.

Sometimes I make people really angry.

Sometimes the scribbles in my notebook are poetry to me and I feel like I’ve shown a bit of my soul even if every editor hates it.

So 20 years in the industry, no fame, no fortune.

20 years and hardly anybody knows who I am and that is okay.

I feel like I am right where I am supposed to be.

Happy Anniversary me.

Happy fucking anniversary.


On Feels, decisions and shit I find questionable.

I have a little stash of micro/flash fiction sitting around and as I am thinking about submitting it I keep running into things.

For one, when I write flash fiction apparently something I like to do is to play with conflict that is outside of the Western literary idea of what plot is.  I didn’t even really realize it until I read this.

The problem is that 90% of the rejections I have gotten for these stories (especially the ones that are completely outside of Whiteness in an explicit way) is that they are not understood, that the readers don’t “feel” anything, that some of my references to Black culture both past and present are not understood. Etc.

The other problem is that as far as magazines for POC go, I feel out of place because a lot of my writing is dark as fuck and a lot of those magazines strive for uplift. I understand that philosophically but, personally I feel like the odd kid out.

As I get older I keep finding myself in this position with the shit I like to write. Too much that is too sexually explicit or says fuck too much for the literary minded, but that is not quite erotica.

Drugs, whores, badly behaved queers, POC narratives that are not pain porn but are also not racially uplifting, hood life that is not the scare all the white people or eventual escape from the hood stories.

I dunno.

I have a cache of things that are just not really what I see in the market. And even though sometimes editors really like them, they just don’t fit anywhere.

That being what it is I’m still really hesitant about writing a novella, or putting together a proper chapbook, or really digging into the horror stories I have been working on.

Granted I could self publish everything but honestly I just don’t have the energy to really devote to that level of I don’t give a fuck.

On one hand I feel like when I was told to write the stories I want to read I took that and am running with it. I am marathoning the fuck out of that.

On the other hand, while I’m running with it I’m seeing fewer and fewer promising leads on being published. I like being published. I like people other than the people I know seeing my work.

I don’t know how to feel or what to do with myself and my shit.

What really trips me out is that my non fiction, not essays but article type things are finding homes and shit. People like them and I like that. I like helping people and it feels really good but that isn’t all I want to do.

Is this some kind of writer leveling up shit?

I don’t know or understand how to navigate my own feelings about it. I keep alternating between sad and rage.

Okay here is what I know:

  • I am not going to purposefully censor myself or what I’m writing.
  • I am working on not tying my sense of identity as a writer to the publishing industry at large.
  • I am not one story. I am multitudes. (See here for reference).
  • I may not know what the fuck I am doing but I am doing it.

Okay I feel a little better and I have a fuckload of writing to do.

/end bleating.


New Things

So my first article at XOjane went live over the weekend and you can read that here.

I also have a kink essay to finish, a new article for Luna Luna to get ready and more for XOjane.

Now while I am really into these non fictional someone likes me (OH MY FUCK YOU LIKE ME) things happening something else has happened that I’m not so about.

So I’ve written about it, meditated about it, steamed about it.

I feel like this is a level up moment.

The thing is I am really fucking angry but beyond being angry I just-

okay I just don’t understand WHY the need to make shit personal about me when I didn’t make it personal about you.

Fuck.

These are the kind of mother fuckers I can’t fuck with. if you can’t be grown enough to say, I don’t like you and then hear, well I don’t like you either and we go our separate ways. I am not the droids you are looking for.

I have shit to do that does not involve trying to negotiate feeling victimized and then consequently really angry every fucking day.

As a dear dear friend guided me a couple of years ago, when my guts are churning I’m going in the right direction.

So with my new non fiction I’m putting my head down and coming through like a tweaked out train.

I am not here for other people’s bullshit.

Okay I had to get that out.

Later this week I have some other announcements. AND really if y’all could swing through the etsy store and maybe drop a few bucks I’d be delighted. I’m trying desperately to save up enough via my writing to buy a new phone because mine is failing and I do not feel safe commuting without my phone.

Thank you.

OH and before I go here how about some stuff to read that I am really excited about right now.

First, Tannarive Due has a new story at Lightspeed and I freaked out. GO read it or listen to it right now.

This piece by Rebecca Carroll at XO is hella relevant to my life right now and I want you to read it.

My dear friend Anna March wrote this piece in Salon. It is about the Pope and save your sanity stay out of the comments.

Another love of my Dena Rash Guzman wrote this about monoculture in farming at Stir.  Read it.

Actually here, that whole Lightspeed issue is fucking great so you should read or listen to all of it.

Literary Orphans got a good nod in Poets and Writers so check that out here.

Solarcide is expanding and has a new release out. Go check them out I’m pretty into it.

And you should check out the new issue of Flapperhouse.  I have it and I am into it.

Okay now I have a lot of work to do and should eat food because I’m a grown up.


Random Writing Angst.

I’m full of angst today.

Writing angst.

I have been jotting down little bits of fiction. I am worried that the time I took to finish V2.0 did something averse to my fiction. This particular angst fueled by the fact that nobody likes my flash fiction but me.

Add in a lot of good rejections, the ones that say good writing/powerful writing but not for us.

I’m having not good enough feels.

These angsts are also fucking with my sleepy ambition to finish my novella. I have many notes and about 2000 words of it written. And then I stop. I think about what if I lose what little momentum/being known I have, will I have to start the fuck over?

I’ve been reading some really great chapbooks and novellas.

Who the fuck would buy mine?

As new writing opportunities come in,I get scared that the editors who believe in me will be disappointed.

I’m feeling stuck in a little fear bubble.

What if the last two years were as good as I get?

But really the thing that freezes my fingers is the idea that I won’t be able to live up to my own expectations of my work.

I work so hard I don’t want to disappoint myself.

My ambitions have moved from being publication based to craft based. I want to make my ideas live and sometimes I am very disappointed that I can’t do it the way I want it.

I hope my feels are hormonal and I will stop being so angsty.

I keep hearing Lil Jon yelling in my head,

YOU SCARED

YOU SCARED

YOU SCARED MOTHA FUCKA YOU SCARED

From one of my favorite Ice Cube Songs Go To Church.

Maybe I’m feeling a bit too tender to get gangster with myself as I usually do.

Maybe I should calm my shit down for a minute. Write some writer business emails and then hide in a bubble of background noise and just fucking write.

Write like a mother fucker.

Write the stories.

Stop feeling some type of way self. Make a pot of tea, eat your sushi and fucking write.

Take a deep breath.

Okay.

Also before I forget my new piece is up at Luna Luna. The second part of my series addressing White Ladies.

 


Changes, making room and freaking out.

It has been a weird month already.

A lot of things are happening good and bad.

The good.

I will now be writing for two different websites on the regular. More news when I get some shit done.

I’m doing some grown up freelance writing things that I’ve not done before and it scares the poop out of me.

Also okay so I’ve gotten some really nice feedback and things and I am freaking out.

I’ve mentioned it before but sometimes when good things happen I panic real hard.

Right now I’m almost vibrating with anxiety and I can’t settle down.

The other day I was vibrating with anger (I’ll talk about it in one of the aforementioned mags.) over some really bullshit things that have been said to and about me because of my Luna Luna piece.  Beyond the anger my fucking feelings were trampled on. There will be more about that but it’s sitting on me and it’s real heavy.

While I am feeling overwhelmed and happy but freaked out here are some links.

Obligatory self promo here. The new Self Care book is selling and people are learning ALL THE THINGS. You can too.

Okay I am pretty much out of go so I’m going to go make some tea, calm the fuck down and try to get some more work put in.

 


On Gut Wrenching, blogging and whatnot.

Lately I feel like the gut wrenching has taken over my creative life.

I feel like pain and awful have eclipsed too much.

I said this on facebook a bit ago but sometimes the things I am moved to write just hurt my heart.

So I’m going to not do that right now.

I just (see over here) wrote my contribution to the #yesallwomen tag and it honestly burned. It hurts. I don’t want to anymore. Saturday I kind of proverbially ran around the internet looking for relief. Babies, puppies, fashion, shoes, boobs, things written by women I love. I felt like I was just grabbing at every straw of non awful I could find.

I felt panicky and manic about it.

I feel better today.

Today I wrote my thing and then I spent about fifteen minutes clearing hate messages from this wee blog, my youtube channel etc. I’m settled down with tea and threatened my friend Mensah with my aggressive hugging attack.

Hey Hessians, I will do the thing tomorrow.

Right now I want to remember how to roll around in goodness.

I had a really great talk with a very old friend about some of my recent new work.  He’s known me and my work for (holy shit) almost 20 years and the fact that without me asking he talked to me about the change in the tone and scope of my work made me feel really great. There is something so valuable to me to have peers who have that kind of overview.

I have also talked with my wifey and thought heavily about what are my goals?

I want to figure out how to balance the tear my guts out non fiction with lighter less angst filled non fiction.

I want to get back to writing the kind of horror I like to read.

I want to work out how I feel about mainstream publishing and swinging for the fences in regard to where I try to get published.

I have been working really hard. I have started a practice of keeping notes on things I want to write about when they occur to me. I’m writing more in my paper notebook. I’m reading a bit more widely and I’m remembering to nurture what I am good at and what makes me feel like I am doing something as a writer.

I am working very hard to nurture myself to the next point rather than bully myself.

It’s kinda working.

Okay now I am off to start getting V2.0 really together and to read some things that make me feel good. I suggest you go do the good thing for yourselves as well.


A new thing

First things first.

Self promotion.

I put up a new essay on Etsy. Here is a taste:

I remember my Mom’s advice about getting into cars with strangers and say no.

Yes, I abuse my Female privilege by turning down anonymous sex with strange men on the street. Their feelings are hurt and because I have the extra special privilege of being a Black Female, they all start yelling stuff like:

“Stupid Black bitch”

“Dirty nigger whore.”

It is a very snarky response to the idea of female privilege and how I react to being sexually harassed on the street.

Interestingly, I’ve already gotten a couple of very angry notes from men who were in fact too cheap to spend two bucks and instead just wanted to tell me what a bitch I am.

Good to know.

Also the self care book is close to done. I’m line editing right now. Being so sick put me way behind schedule but I’m trying not to freak out.

What else?

I’ve been writing some horror, experimenting with using stuff from other genres in it. So far my inner horror nerd is very happy.

Read interviews with myself and other Unchaste Readers right here. It is pretty fucking great.

What else?

Not much. I’m still sick but mostly on the mend. Sort of. I’m feeling ragey because I just want to feel human and that is very difficult right now.

Wow I just spaced out real hard so I’m going to wrap it up here.

So please, go forth and buy my essay or share it with your friends.

Later taters.


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?


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.

 


Wow I wind myself up like the Windup Bird.

While I have been plugging away in fits and starts at some unfinished work I keep thinking I need to do a thing this year.

What thing?

I am thinking I would like to write a novella. I’ve had an idea/some characters knocking around in my head and I want to get it down on paper.

The part I get stuck on is what do I do with it once it is done?

Here is where I let out some of my neurosis.

I am afraid of a few things.

If I focus on said novella, which will naturally make my time devoted to short stories and non fiction lessen, will the little (to me huge but whatever) success I’ve had in the past couple of years go away?

If nobody cares/knows who the fuck I am what do I do with this novella?

I am not a big deal in any sense of the word. I’ve been published a bit, not hugely. I’m trying to be a bit practical but my gut says fuck being read and write the shit.

So I guess I will try to produce some small works, make sure I put my Duotrope subscription to good use (that is a whole other thing) and write the shit.

I think I am going to try and schedule novella time and other shit time.

I think most of my hand wringing about this is misdirected anxiety.

I have made some changes in my financial/everything else life that are good but nerve wracking.

I’ve wound myself up.

I do in fact know what to do. I need to calm down and do what I do.

Write that shit.

Rewrite that shit.

Write like a mother fucker.

If you’ve read me for a minute you know I’m a really nervous person by nature and tend to wind myself up sometimes. I’m trying to yanno not do that and failing a bit.

Time to rally.

Also if you’re coming to AWP and wanna see me read/talk to me/possibly have my aggressive berserker hug attack unleashed on you drop me a note. I will also be posting information about my reading soon and hopefully if things work out there could be video of me reading.

Okay so that’s all for right now. I think I just had to get that out and now I can go do what I need to do.

Later this week I’m going to do a big ole geeky review of a book I really love and then I will probably make another nerdy fangirl I want to read these books post.

AH shit before I forget you can read one mroe new poem by me over at The Camel Salooon.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,963 other followers