Yeah Write #188- Tempted

Tempted

I see my bus pull away from the curb fifty feet away. I am too tired to even try to run.

“Fuck me.”

I realize I said that out loud when Big Ed the 85-pound crackhead giggles.

“Well if you’re gonna twist my arm.”

I laugh.

“Hey Big Ed, how are you?”

I plop on them nearby bench; he stands a few feet away, smiling.

“Waitin’ on the man, you know how it is. I was wondering where you was at. New bus schedule is a bitch ain’t it?”

I give him a cigarette.

“Yeah. You stay safe.”

He thanks me and scurries away. I watch the other crackheads and play a game with myself, drinkin or smokin’. Drunks tend to stumble. Crackheads usually shuffle because their feet hurt.

I remember. Your feet get fucked up when you spend all day and night walking from Belltown to Pioneer Square and back looking for a fix.

I’m not really one of them, crack was never my thing but I am one of them. I know them.

A woman approaches and smiles at me.

“Mind if I sit too? I don’t want to sit by myself.”

I smile back.

“Go ahead.”

From a foot away I can feel the thrum of her need. I offer her a cigarette; I really should stop doing that. Cigarettes are way too expensive.

“Smoke?”

She takes it with shaking hands. She reminds me of the bad old days. I tilt my head closer.

“Are you okay sweetheart?”

Her eyes are blue, her hair dyed jet black. She’s pretty in a drawn almost wasted kind of way. She tries to smile again it crumbles around the edges. She takes my hand and I can feel the bones in her fingers, she has a desperate cracky grip.

“Do you know Frames?”

I think it over and have to shake my head.

“I’m sorry I don’t. He your connection?”

She smiles at my hand.

“Strong hands, so soft- are you an artist or something?”

Before I can respond she starts crying. She puts our linked hands to her mouth, murmurs.

“What if I can’t find him?”

I want to hug her and slap her.

“He’s probably around somewhere. Have you tried over by the alley on 6th?”

She jumps up. She only remembers to let go of my fingers at the last minute.

“Stay right here.”

She darts into the convenience store and I take a deep breath. It would be so easy to score and take her back to my place. We could get high, get silly and I’d seduce her. Fuck my life up and fall into those blue eyes. Probably wind up dead.

When she comes back I think would kill a motherfucker to have her.

She presses a cup of cocoa into my hand.

“Here. It’s cold out. I’m gonna go find him okay?”

I want to pull her down next to me and put my arms around her. I want to suck smoke from her plump chapped lips.

“Thanks. I’ll be here for another half hour if you don’t find him and want to hang out.”

Her kiss is hot and quick. My cunt quivers.

I sip my cocoa and wait. The bus comes as she trots around the corner beaming.

The bus pulls away without me. I’m caught in her eyes and I’m going to be one of them.

###


Craft notes- experimentation in Flash fiction

So I want to talk about craft and some things I’ve been experimenting with in terms of flash fiction.

If you’ve read me for a while you know I like to screw around with literary things.

Lately (as in the past six goddamn months) I’ve been really interested in remaking of individual myths and as usual vagina dentata.

Another thing I’m really interested in experimenting with is the idea that plot doesn’t have to be the Western idea of what plot and a story story has to be in order to be good or interesting.

So first a little piece I wrote on my phone-

wait let me digress for a minute.

I am STILL fucking floored that I can write on my phone. Maybe this is my old person vision showing but holy fucking shit. I can stand at the bus stop or be on the bouncing bus and write things that i can have on hand to edit or whatever later. Amazing.

Okay back to the thing.

Untitled per usual but here you go:

Inside the warm night she moves as though swimming. Hands in her pockets, headphones on, dark eyes on the moving shadows. She eases through scattered groups of night people virtually unseen.

Drawn towards the water and deeper edge of night she pauses to listen. In these times the night lives with sirens and the squawking of angry junkies. It is not peace but it is all right.

She cannot stop and weep as her sisters weep.

She does not.

She is part of this orange light washed strange world. She is part of the dark watery world.

Onwards always onwards towards home. Her feet relentlessly eat the blocks until the water is only yards away.

In the dark she sheds her clothes and boots walking headlong into freezing water to sing illusions into the hearts of men who pass.

In the deep, she will feast.

She will feast.

So what do we have?

This is loosely urban fantasy ish, a remaking of the Siren. A modern siren in boots heading for her night job of being a siren. She could also be a mermaid. I like the idea of leaving it up to the interpretation of the reader to decide who and what she is.

One of the early and consistent criticisms of my work is that I expect too much of the reader. That has always been something I only think about now and then. For me it’s not necessarily expectation but respect for the reader as the reader, it is a respect for their part in the creation of my tiny worlds.

I feel an intimacy with readers where as I”m going along I feel like we’re in it together and it is not necessarily performative on my part. I do the part I’m supposed to do- create the world we are in together- the reader does their part, wander around in that world.

Additionally, I do respect the reader enough to know that people who like my work, probably don’t mind having the option to fill in some of that world. I personally like having that option, it moves my suspension of disbelief along.

Now here is how I usually do these sorts of exercises. I find writing with this method a great way to jumpstart myself if I’m feeling blocky or sluggish.

Take an image of something lots of people know about and play with it in different ways. Come at it from a modern perspective, come at it from an oblique angle. Imagine if you will, that this creature or thing you’re writing about is a real person you don’t want to name specically.

Basically, play with the thing. Don’t plot it out, don’t do an outline just go. For as long as you have to. This one came out (posted exactly how it came out of my brain) in about ten minutes. Just go.

Next one I (as read by Milcah) is about misheard words and a fantasy. In case you’re grossed out by vagina dentata skip it.

Untitled as well

I blame my loudmouth roommate for this entire situation.

When JJ got home from her date with Gia.

I heard her say-

“Goddamn Gia is a toothy cunt.”

I think that is what she said. I don’t know I was too busy being drunk and low key in love with Gia.

What I heard was-

“goddamn Gia has a toothy cunt.”

Had I not been so drunk I would have understood.

I was drunk because I had just broken up with my girlfriend and upon hearing that my roommate was going on a date with my crush I did the sensible thing. I bought an enormous bottle of cheap wine and took to the couch.

JJ stopped to lean over the couch to look down at me.

“You should call Gia and ask her out on a date. She is way more your type than mine. And you should probably go to bed. You’re really drunk.”

I don’t remember JJ putting me in bed or stripping me. I do remember her taking my bag of chips away and putting a bottle of water on my nightstand.

After she left me I lay there turning over the idea of Gia in my head.

My cunt started to burn, I felt the blood moving, my lips swelling and wanting to be touched. I waited, thinking about JJ’s comment.

“Gia has a toothy cunt.”

Toothy cunt, toothy cunt. I closed my eyes and pictured her fine, lean brown body. I’d seen her naked before. Shit I’ve seen almost all of my friends naked. We have stripped together, tricked together, been photographed together. Yet, I could not remember if I had seen teeth or not.

Gia is sleek where I am not. She is muscled and tight, catlike and androgynous in a classic kind of way. I wonder if she still has that precision trimmed bush, verdant in a tightly controlled way that is beyond sexy. My fingers move between my own thighs as I imagine the topography of her cunt.

Are her lips dark like the ones on her face? Do they have that petulant mean curve, do they fold soft and wrinkly as wilting fern fronds? Could I get them to swell and spread with just one finger? Just one finger dragged slowly just where they protrude, just a tickle. Just enough to promise more but not enough to deliver.

I saw myself with my face between her strong thighs, dipping my tongue into the crenulated secrets of her cunt before peeling her lips open to tickle her sharp secret teeth.

Eyes closed I imagined dipping my tongue just inside her, just enough to feel the slick of teeth on the tip of my tongue.

Unwise as the desire might be I wouldn’t recoil from the slick smoothness, I would smile against her. I could almost taste her, feel her lithe muscular body twisting, warning me of the danger to come.

Against the backdrop of my closed eyes I tried to paint her, lips full and dark, slick and revealing the barest sliver of deepest wet red. Wet as a screaming mouth full of danger.

I’d want her fuck hungry, ready to devour me whole.

I neared orgasm the world greyed out around me, I must have passed out because I woke up with a fuzzy mouth and my hand wedged between my thighs.

I couldn’t remember coming or not but I did remember vivid dreams of a flash of teeth, old ivory buried inside hot wet red.

The beauty of my fixation is that I have a date with Gia tonight and I hope to come home tongueless.

~

For this piece, I went with my general fixation on vagina dentata and made it the focal point of the narrator’s desire. She’s unreliable in that she’s drunk and half dreaming.

The other thing is this is one of the ways I like to explore transgressive writing. If y’all remember I talked about transgression back here. This fits my ideas about transgresssion in that this is obviously not lesbian sex as written for or by men.

This is outside of the White gaze.

It is just with those two things dangerous to the Heteronormative ideas about sex and sexuality.

The focal point of our narrators desire is on those teeth. The stated desire is not rooted in the gross out, it is rooted in this desire.

That is the sneaky kind of layered and nuanced transgression I like.

And of course I leave the reader unfulfilled because I’m kind of an asshole. My optimal result with that would be for the reader to put the story down and live on in that fantasy. Does Gia have a toothy cunt? Can you the reader fill in the vision of her cunt? Puffy? Ruffly labia minora?

So there you have it. Some examples of how I like to work with these things.

Now if you’re still here bravo.

I’m a windy wordbag.

If you want to experiment write something erotic with non traditional or expected things as your jump off point. Vagina Dentata, make some monstrous thing (a tail, claws whatever) the object of your narrators desire for another person.

If you do, come back and link me I wanna see.

Tomorrow look out for my next entry in Yeah Write and some new crackhead love.


Write like a motherfucker forever.

Since I have been digging myself out of my shit filled emotional hole I’ve been writing a lot.

I’ve also done a couple of things I’ve never done before. On some issues I have a mean sense of humour and I’ve been interested in using that to write up some non fiction.

I wrote a satire thing, very angry, mean. And I sat on it for a while because I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Then the other day I was organizing my work and decided to just do a thing with it. So I put it up on Medium and I’m kinda proud of myself.

I’ve also been toying with some horror ideas. Some classic horror tropes with the Whiteness removed.

What else do I want to do?

I want to press my own boundaries more. I want to try writing SF/F the way I want to rather than trying to write to fit in the genres. I feel like my desire not to stray so far out of the boundaries of the genres that nobody wants my shit.

I also probably need to try to not keep such close tabs on the industry at large. I’m too sensitive about some of the gross shit I see.

So yeah.

Really if the world was my oyster all I’d do is write, get tattooed, have the energy to create my own little pretend office and make art.

So yeah.

Right now I’m also working on letting myself do art. Beyond crocheting but some visual art. I’m also thinking about the art I want to do involving self shot photos that have words to go with them and things. Maybe a little experimental video performance art. I don’t know.

I don’t know how to engage with these desires and make them happen and figure out what I need to get to do them.

I’m uncertain, these aren’t things I’ve felt I had access to or the ability to do before so I want to work it out.

That’s all for right now. I have shit to do.


So hey.

Apparently I’m still a writer.

I have a new thing at Xojane. More self care and stuff.

Lately I’ve had what you could call a mega crisis of faith in myself and stuff. I fell down the deepest of “every word I write sucks” holes and have had a bit of a hard time pulling out of it.

Not to say that I’m not writing because I am. In fact I’m working on some pretty exciting to me stuff and yet, I’m feeilng some type of way about showing people I don’t know my work.

I go through this every now and then. It’s a combo of losing faith in my own work and losing faith in everything else.

Not quite a deep depression but more of a let ALL my demons just start cage fighting in my brain and see what happens.

Interestingly, in the past when I’ve hit the I’m going to be the biggest asshole to myself/become a whirling panicky anxiety ball of fuck- I stopped writing entirely.

Granted most of what I’ve been writing is angry and dark as fuck but you know, gotta write through the shit.

I’m not dong nanowrimo for the first time in years. I was just not really moved to do it right now.

What else?

I’ve reached saturation with a few things.

I figured out that part of my issue with freelancing in a heavier way is that a lot of the places people suggest to me (and mind you I am thankful people care enough to want to help) I would have to navigate being the lone woman of color or the only Black woman talking about things that are not pop culture or generally light/funny and that shit is really fucking hard on me.

The fact is, emotionally I think I can handle it and then I just really can’t. It’s just too hard and frankly I’m not famous enough to be paid well for it.

So there’s that angst.

Not that I’m not writing those things, I am. I just don’t really know what to do with them that wouldn’t make me feel uh, icky.

Check that out, icky. I’m a mother fucking wordsmith.

So I’m working on shit.

Trying to not fall into a bigger asshole to myself pit.

Feeling semi successful.

With that in mind I’m singing this song all day every day.

See also:

Knuck if you Buck

John the Revelator

Throw in a little old school Sepultura and some Thelonious Monk and my brain is getting a little right.

Okay here is a taste of one of the non fiction pieces I’ve been working on about how people hate my face:

On occasion someone feels the need to speak up. I have endured lectures from people I don’t know about how unemployable, updateable and unfuckable I have been at any one time.

“You know,”

The man speaking to me was not someone I had ever seen before but he had some tips for me.

“Men don’t find metal in the faces of women attractive and your make up is a little heavy. You should let your natural beauty shine through.”

Yes, I have a good sized piece of steel right in the middle of my face in my big lower lip. Yes, I like to wear a lot of makeup. I am very full aware of these things, they are all things I have chosen on purpose.

So there’s that.

I’ve also discovered that I am still not great at doing fluffy non fiction. If I’m doing it apparently I’m just going to go for the jugular. Even if it is my own.

That’s all for right now. I’m very tired and I need to get ready to go home.


Yeah Write #184 entry- Star.

 

Star

by

Shannon Barber

No one needs to tell the Matrons when the time comes. As a group they are a whisper of rainbow pastel wimples and the susurrus of silken fabric as they move.

I can hear them under the soft bleating of the metabolic unit hooked to my belly. It whirs, it feeds this body and keeps it comfortable.

Here in their House of Passing Time the Matrons attend to dying star prophets.

I am dying.

I open my eyes when the pink wimpled Matron comes to perch on my bed. Her brown face reminds me of dimly of my Mother, the deep Cupid’s Bow of her pert mouth.

“Do you dream star?”

Her voice is distant bells and pinpricks of light behind my eyelids when I let them settle.

“I dream and see nothing.”

The me who lived- raving and flaming with prophecy- would hate to sense the Matron’s disappointment yearned for laughter and freedom. I am too tired to gladly comply.

I’ll not have my last days spent dreaming and desperately trying to prognosticate for the smiles of any Matron, even a pink wimpled brown skinned beauty.

After so many years of being ridden by time and used as the mouth of madness, I am content to die quietly here in the House of Passing Time, I will only be passing.

The Matrons come, pale blue, lavender, buttercream yellow. Faces brown and ivory, eyes bright with expectation. There must be some renown among the Matrons to be the sister who holds the last prophecy of a dying star in her palm.

After so many years of madness without mirth, as my time draws near I know what to do.

Mint green wimple, this one older than the rest of them, my time is too close for the youngsters. Her wrinkled hands are soft and warm, her fingers curl around mine tenderly as if we were sisters.

“Do you dream star?”

 I open my eyes, yes she is a lovely old creature.

“I dream, I see. Come listen.”

She releases my hand and whips out her tablet. She leans down until her ear hovers above my dry lips.

“Speak your dream star and go home.”

My eyes close, the metabolic unit clicks off as it reads my body readying for death.

I take a few deep breaths ready to go home, my whisper reaches her ear as I am released to go home.

“When did our elephants leave?”

Linking to the HOST


Thoughts on Transgressive writing.

I’m reading the (affiliate link ahead) Burnt Tongues. This is the love child from Chuckpalahniuk.net.

The anthology is okay. Even if I didn’t know it was Palahniuk related I’d know inside two stories. If you are a fan of that style you’ll like it.

I don’t really feel too strongly about the actual work in the anthology. Most of the stories so far rely fairly heavily on the gross out mode of transgression, I’m halfway in and so far vomit, obsession, some kind of mental deficiency. The sort of things that are SHOCKING OMG GROSS OH NO.

Overall none of the stories are particularly memorable for me. The gross factor is a bit tired to me.

Which brings me to my thoughts on transgression.

If you’ve read me for a minute you know I am very into transgression and exploring that in my work. I think my issue with the stories in the anthology aren’t really the stories, they are very obviously workshopped in that fan base really hard. Some of them have some nice moments. But the transgression as rooted in the gross factor doesn’t really do it for me.

I do enjoy that CP (Chuck P) style of that tight first person, present tense.

But as I read more of his work and that anthology I find it lacking in a certain kind of depth.

Or not depth, maybe a certain adventurousness.

I don’t really feel a sense of danger in the gross out mode of transgression or the something fucked up happened but everyone is pretty, or scars etc.  It feels safe. It feels both as a reader and writer that the only real risk involved is in maybe turning someone off or making them feel a bit icky in the guts.

That doesn’t turn my crank generally speaking.

I really want transgression that takes nose dives into dangerous territory.

But what’s dangerous?

The most powerful transgressive writing to my taste comes from a place of otherness or if not otherness than a place that is not comfortable for normative cultural tropes. The challenge in my eyes is the most powerful when it makes the world being written, not a comfortable place.

One of my favorite modes of exploring transgression is female desire and sexuality.

Not just on terms of erotica but consider female desire in terms of how it is generally written about in literature. Safe is demure, occasionally “bold” (as in making the first move), numerous romantic tropes, but there is so much more.

When women are written as not adhering to cultural expectations of how they experience desire or lust or have sex, there is space to explore transgression. For instance, writing female desire that is outside of and ignores heterosexual cis white dudes. Lesbians or Queer women written by and for their like.

It’s not transgressive to write those women because they are queer but because they exist and live outside of the norm which in the case of literature is White Cis Men.

Essentially I want my transgression to work harder. Go deeper.

Part of this is that gross outs just really don’t move me at all. I have worked with/been around babies and animals so there’s not enough poop or vomit in the world lovingly described chunk by chunk that will make me remember a thing or a story in particular.

I have the same problem with some of the contemporary horror I’ve read.

From the writing end, this is one of the things that moves my work regardless of what I’m writing. It is in the back of my mind. I work to hold onto the thread of what I desire out of transgressive writing and make it.

Okay yeah that.

Now that I’ve got my brain functioning, (I have had a hellacious cold) I’m going to go write some things.

So there.


Welcome To Bordertown the review.

I finished (sorry this is an affiliate link, I know it sucks, but I like extra book money) Welcome to Bordertown.

Okay so the short version is I enjoyed it for the most part. Good stories, I like the world of Bordertown.

Now okay here is the deeper longer thing.

For extra background see here, the history of Bordertown.

And okay.

So immediately within two stories, I realized a couple of things were going to be a problem for me as a reader. First thing, did you know Elves are White?

Honestly through most of the book there is that hammer of Whiteness that is magical creatures. I had to put it down fairly often while rolling my eyes. I get booted right out of the story and needed a lot of time outs.

As a reader I am really pretty done with lore that is still so rooted firmly in Whiteness. This is another urban fantasy that I kept feeling booted out of. I can’t suspend my disbelief that there are only silvery skinned White elves, or as they are known as True Bloods (the last story addressed this and I’ll get to that) silvery skinned White golden/silver eyed, dreadlocked tall thing and oh yeah, they are white….it is tedious.

So there was that. Just like in about every other genre book/story I’ve read in the past two years.

This book came out in 2011.

And I see such a hugely missed opportunity to actually do diversity beyond inclusion of some POC friendly/written by stories.

If the lore itself is still the same, by the way the True bloods, they are white, I’m just going to glaze over as a reader. If I was a kid reading this, by the way I would have been super into the whole idea until the Whiteness made me put down the book, why is there no magic for the brown kids?

As we know, I find this tiring.

Now in terms of some of the stories in the book specifically.

The audiobook version had a “rap” in it.

Um. All I want to say is that rapping is more than rhythmic talking and I made a terrible face of distaste and sped ahead.

The whole reason I got interested in Bordertown was Nalo Hopkinson’s piece Ours is The Prettiest. Maybe hearing/reading this piece first was a mistake on my part. This story was that moment of me squeeing like a super hyped up kid because HOLY SHIT MAGICKY BROWN PEOPLE AWW YISS.

That story had enough of an impact on me. On re-reading/listening I still just love that story so damn much.

The other huge standout to me was Charles de Lint’s story A Tangle of Green Men. I think you can read a bit of it here. What a beautiful story. I really really love the end of the story. It was perfect to me. I particularly loved the mention of True Blood feeling icky to a brown person, I really appreciated that.

Overall given that I don’t read a lot of YA I think this anthology works both YA and adult. A lot of the stories deal with some really heavy stuff, immigration, domestic violence, drug use and lots of stuff.

On the flipside though, if I had been reading it when I was a teenager I wouldn’t have gotten to Nalo or Charles’ stories because I would have put it down.

I suppose part of my disappointment is that as happens in almost every piece of genre fiction I read, the lore and the myth stays rooted in European myth and Whiteness as the cultural literary norm. And it’s boring.

Readers and lovers of fantasy who are also POC are just unsafe.

Even someone like Ursula K. Le Guin isn’t safe from the whitewashing. Remember this?

Or this?

See also this article.

Shit like this?

I guess I am at that point where my hopefulness that some of these issues that turned me away from SF/F/H in general were not going to hurt me as much as they did when I was  a kidlet.

it is so much worse now.

Now I know that the talent it out there.

Now I know that it is possible and amazing to engage in mythos while yes knowing/remembering where it came from but expanding it.

Now I know that mother fucking elves can be Black.

It is so beyond frustrating to be a reader with this hope and a burning desire to see other talented people wriggle out of the Whiteness and it being such a struggle to find.

It’s infuriating because as I mentioned before, all the recommendations for stuff to read tends to be a smallish list.

I will probably not read any SF/F/H for a while after this. I’ve got some non fiction, an anthology to read and Nalo Hopkinson’s book to savor.

So overall yes, pretty good collection. Interesting world. But don’t go in expecting diversity break throughs.

Don’t be me.


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