Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.


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.


Dear Authors an Open Letter to Writers

Dear Authors,

I recently finished reading Ghost Story by Peter Straub.(This is an affiliate link sorry)

Overall it was an entertaining yarn. I’m not super familiar with his ouevre but some of what I’ve read was pretty good.

And then this.

Okay look, can we stop with the mystical magical negro?

Also can we not denote said mystical magical negro with some heavily antiquated shuck n jive, minstrel (yeah the one Black man in this book…minstrel..you know) every old black man is a blues man who speaks in raspy jazzy baritone with a lot of I be’s and shit.

Fuck.

Really?

REALLY?

I just, y’all.

Can you not?

Just don’t bother if that is the only thing you can think of. Even for a novel with a timeless ageless mystical magical negro, there are other ways of expressing blackness even antiquated blackness.

White writers this is a problem.

So really if you’re not even going to really try to do something outside of the mystical magical shuck n jive I be playin dem blues boss negro, stop.

Maybe I have too much expectation. Or faith in writers who have made more money than I have ever seen in my lifetime that they could (Straub, King, I am looking at you two) think of something else to do.

Mr. Bunny…Bones…whatever his name was from this book was the evil version of the Black man in the book he did with King.

Literally the same rhythms and cadences and manners of speech.

Authors at large, y’all know there are many different accents and types of Black people speech right?

Frankly anything written after the year 2000, come on now.

I feel like these things are again ruining my love of horror.

Ruining it.

I mean okay if you can build a world within the modern world where there are ancient mythological beings who will fuck up your whole life only because they can and they are bored, and you can populate an entire town with interesting people, and you can research enough so that behaviors from specific time periods make sense why is there only that Black man in so many horror stories.

I feel the same way about fantasy stories.

I got two books into the Shannara series and had to quit.

Not too long ago I went on a mission to check out some online horror/sf/f zines.

So much with the Whiteness. To the point where I wonder if classic horror tropes treated outside of European roots would be understood? Accepted?

What is even…ugh.

I’m so frustrated. I want to read shit I like and not feel shitty about it.

Something outside of Whiteness or nah?

Apparently nah.

I don’t want to read another mystical magical minstrelized blues playing shuck n jive negro.

So a lot of stuff is just out.

I am seriously feeling some type of way about this right now. I have a lot of horror/sf/f/ related stuff on my writing bucketlist but I feel like there is no place for me in genre fiction and it hurts my fucking heart.

So really, dear other authors can you not?

Sincerely,

Shannon Barber


Writing Process Blog Tour.

So a new homie Sarah Crawford invited me to participate in this. You can see her contribution over here. Okay let’s go.

1. What are you currently working on?

I am mostly in the process of figuring out how to do my freelance stuff and do my fictions and not completely freak out. One of the things I’m having trouble with is writing some really heavy shit (See here) and remaining engaged but not getting pulled into bullshit or lingering on it.  Because I write about hard shit from a very personal in my feelings perspective, dealing with the hate mail and the rage directed at me that turns racialized very quickly has just been kind of overwhelming.

I did have a bit of a melt down and felt shut down about shit for a minute.

And then I remembered I have shit to do. I have an essay to fix up (it is going to be good wait till y’all see it)  I have articles about self care to write. I have stories to finish.

So that’s pretty much what I’m doing these days.

I feel like I am slowly figuring out how to do more of the writing things while working the day job and keeping myself somewhat emotionally level.

Shit is hard as fuck.

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Um.

I don’t really do one genre. I think what makes my work different is that it is written by me. I write about a lot of the same stuff other folks do but it is from my heart and that’s a special place.

3. Why do you write what you write?

Most of the time everything I write starts out for my own amusement. Sometimes I want to play with an idea or method, other times I want to see if I can make something work. Most of all they are the stories I want to read. I think that writing advice came from On Writing but I can’t remember. It has stuck with me and I’ve run with it sometimes to the detriment of my career but that’s okay.

Also sometimes I just want to help other people. I want to be of service and the type of person who writes stuff I needed to see when I was a kidlet.

And sometimes I just have to. I don’t know why but I have to.

4. How does your individual writing process work?

Normally (especially right now due to technological issues) I am writing by hand and at the day job. I do my dayjob shit and have either a word doc or zoho docs open and scribble catch as catch can.

If life was easier/simpler I would be writing regularly at night between say 11 PM and maybe 3 AM.

But life is not fair so I write like a mother fucker every chance I get.

A few random thoughts here at the end.

I really am happy and grateful that I am working through this stuff. For a hot minute I wanted to rage quit freelancing and non fiction all together.

I think what really set me on the edge of saying fuck it was the very instant and hard realization just how hard some people will work to shut down a Black woman. I am not famous, I don’t make a lot of money doing this but I do know that my work matters.

I know that I’ve hit some real tender nerves.

People are so invested in their totally not racistness that they will follow me around the internet telling me how wrong I am any time I open my mouth. I could literally say on twitter or facebook that wiping your ass is awesome and someone would ride into one of my inboxes saying shit like NO NIGGER I WILL NEVER WIPE MY ASS.

It is beyond trolling to the point that some people have taken my words so personally, they believe it is personal between them and me.

It’s not.

I am working hard to return to my state of grace where I write what the fuck I want and give ZERO fucks.

I’m working on it.

I hope I get back to the sweet spot.

 


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 E Readers and technological panic.

I was reading around (I lost the link) and came upon yet another article hand wringing about ereaders and ebooks being the death of the paper book.

When I see these arguments almost invariably it comes down to, this is not what I want to do and NOBODY SHOULD.

Since I got a kindle for Christmas it occurs to me that people are really freaking out over nothing.

Rarely do I see any of the panicking ebook freakouts acknowledge how much more accessible a lot of books are for a lot of people.

Let’s talk cost first of all.

I have a metric ton of .99 cent and free books on my kindle. Some of them I got for shits and giggles, some were on sale and others on a whim. Frankly I do not make enough money to read everything I want. And at this point libraries don’t fully serve my needs.

Also it has meant that when I can’t afford the hardcover or first print of a paperback I have other options which is great.

And unfortunately a lot of the critique of ebooks/readers is pretty ableist.

What about people who can’t see well? Elderly people? What about the other functions so many ereaders can do?

I was talking about this with someone who is severely dyslexic and they have an app that reads to them. Hell yeah that means they now have access to ALL the books rather than a few.

Why would that ever be bad?

Then there’s the whole question of “quality”.

I hate that question.

Who cares really if someone wants to read Sasquatch porn on their ereader. It’s not my cup of tea but if someone wants to read it, awesome they are reading.

A lot of it seems like empty fapping while moaning about how awful something one personally might not be into is.

It reminds me of when writers thought that the ease of indie publishing and blogging etc would let in the dirty heathens without publishing deals.

I was recently reminded of this by one of those hand wringing articles about how awful literature is where the deeply coded language basically said OH NO WHERE ARE THE WHITE MEN.

I just kind of shake my head.

I am really can’t get behind such panicked signs of change. The lit world can’t be only those who are let in forever.

It is so vast, I do actually believe it is big enough for everyone.

I always just want to pat people and tell them to calm down. Literature is gonna be okay. It might not be the literary canon you are used to but that’s good for folks.

Oh also soon I have lots of writing news, AND a round up of books and stuff that I am really excited about.

To that end if y’all have stuff you want me to read or want promoted drop the link here.


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