The View From the Bottom. I did the math.

In an attempt to soothe away some of the anxiety I’m having right now I made a list and did the math to figure out what would keep my writing sustainable.

When I say sustainable I’m talking about things like memberships, software, and hosting. I’m not talking about making any profit at this point.

I’m not going to detail the specifics but here’s how it breaks down:

  • Yearly not counting any hardware (computers) +/- 10$ is 287.16
  • Monthly that is 23.93

That seems pretty cheap no?

What that doesn’t provide for is when my computer(s) break, no travel or time off from work for readings, no writing conferences or other educational/networking events.

This year I elected to skip more than half of the things in my budget. Mainly because we’ve had some family expenses that have eaten up a lot of our savings. There is no room in this budget to enter my work into any competitions, submission fees, books of the educational variety.

Given that in my life outside of writing shit is difficult economically speaking, trying to do these things as well has proven to be stressful and depressing.

Now we know I hustle. When I can there is XOjane but that is not all that regular. I don’t have the time for something with a heavier commitment. This is why I opened my Etsy store but frankly that is not all that successful. If I make 5$ a month with that it’s pretty cool.

That being what it is I’ve thought about maybe trying out Patreon.

I feel like if I could lift some of the financial stress I could improve my output and free up enough brain space to write more of the shit I want to write.

Enter writerly self doubt.

I am not famous. I’m not sure I even know enough people with a few dollars to spare a month to do this. Real talk I feel like a lot of folks like my work but not enough to support it in that manner.

I had another idea of doing monthly dispatches (kinda like the Rumpus letters in the mail but via email) for a flat few bucks a month type deal.

Again, I have to factor in the likelihood of enough people being interested in order to make the work involved worth it.

I hate thinking about that part, I want to be one of those I DO IT FOR THE ART types but that is not my life.

My thought process also involves things like:

  • Going to/performing at readings both locally and far away as Portland. I would need to be able to take the time off of work, have travel options. Things like if the reading is in the Capital Hill neighborhood here in Seattle, there is the cost of buses (from my home that is about a 2 hour bus journey, and if my partner is coming maybe more to cut down walk time), taxis (from my house to the middle of downtown is 35$) etc.
  • Enough spare money in the budget for books. Not pleasure reading but things more craft related.
  • Money for maybe a local small conference or workshop. I’ve never been to one I got the most out of but I’d like to try.

Also maybe enough little bit of profit to buy a pair of shoes or get my nose pierced. Enough to save up for next years AWP, enough to maybe buy a brand new totally up to date real laptop.

And most importantly I want to keep the more necessary things out of the household budget. It just stresses me out too much to be taking from that when I know my partner needs medication, to re up his bus pass, new shoes, new cane tips. We need a new shower head, our electric bill is fucking ridiculous right now etc.

I don’t need or want to be rolling in cash.

I really just want a little freedom. A little less stress. A little more space to do more with my work because I feel like my writing is going really good places. But I can’t go those places if I’m so stressed out I’m having nightmares and the fiery shits.

I’m not usually so open about this stuff. On an emotional level it just destroys me that basic sustainability is so close but not close enough. I’ve already sacrificed my entertainment and other for me for fun things, I don’t have new shoes, I don’t have clothes for Spring.

Shit just fucks me up.

So I’m going to keep considering patreon and just try to get through it without giving myself an ulcer.

That’s all for now.


Some Win and Some Angst.

Y’all.

I’m having a strange, wonderful and terrible week. I returned from vacation to a huge, costly emergency thing that has sent me into a panic spiral I’ve been trying to claw my way out of. I’ve been trying to work on stuff while stuck in a panic circle and shit is hard.

I’m getting through it and we have financial shit handled. It’s tight and stressful but we’re doing it.

AND THEN.

So this happened:

mypome

I posted that poem on Ink Node on my birthday. Read it here.

So that was pretty awesome.

Then I wrote about that Kenneth Goldsmith thing. Read it at Medium.

I imagine those of you who’ve been around these parts for a while can hear me sigh from here. I am not surprised. I am also not surprised by the dazzling lack of word from other famous White people.

But seriously, do better.

At this point, this type of blind privilege being swung like a hammer is just banal. I’m tired and I’m not even really angry I’m just tired.

Honestly when I read about this shit, a lot of what I’m thinking is how much people get paid for it. And then I think about my own finances and that of other writers who are writing really great literature that doesn’t shit on people and we don’t make dick.

I think about the fact that this bullshit will probably not cause this dude’s pockets to be any emptier.

I think about the fact that real talk, I am struggling to keep my writing sustainable. It’s just so infuriating. It’s so fucking hard.

It’s so hard to keep producing the kind of writing folks are getting to know me for when I’m juggling the 12 hour dayjob work days (I include my 4 hour round trip commute), trying to write Self Care Like A boss for release, write new fiction, write poems, work with precarious tech. Try to get published blablablablabbity blabla fuck I’m poor and so tired.

While trying to have a life with my partner and sometimes buy new shoes.

Sometimes I feel like, okay who’s gonna give me money to be a professional asshole?

I guess I’m having one of those weeks where the stress and just bullshit is getting to me. Yeah, fuck yeah I’m fucking bitter about this.

I’m exhausted.

I just want to make my fucking art and maybe make enough money to buy stuff like software and maybe a really great drink once in a while without feeling like I have to sacrifice and walk the line between okay and oh shit. I want to be free to be more excited about the good writing things going on in my life without this bullshit getting in the way.

I don’t know man.

This shit ain’t romantic.

I think that’s all for right now. This is not what I wanted to talk about today. Come back tomorrow and I’ll be talking about a new podcast I like and K Tempest Bradford’s evil anti White dude (insert eye roll here..oh internets) reading challenge. Also it’s not really anti White dude at all just to be clear.

So go read my things there. I’m actually really proud of them.


Yeah Write 206 Entry- Secrets and Scars.

Secrets & Scars

By

Shannon Barber

Tell me all your sad stories, she said. Her cheek pressed against my breast and her hot breath flowed across my heart slow and redolent of whiskey and smoke.

I tried to speak, to give her my heartbreaks and fuck ups.

I had no voice. No one else had ever asked.

Her fingertips mapped out my pains,traced the scars of a life hard won. She moved and looked down at the lumpy scars in the crook of my left arm.

“Dope?”

I nodded. I could only whisper.

“Yeah. I fucked up a lot.”

She thought about it.

“Yeah, but you’re here with me now. And we’re alive.”

I murmur against her hair as she relaxes against me, her breathing slow and full of trust.

“Alive. We’re alive. We’re alive.”

###


The Sexy Part of the Bible, Hustling and I’m back from my vacay.

I turned 38 last week and took a real vacation wherein I did zero work. This is the first time I’ve done that as an adult and while it was nice it did cause me a great deal of anxiety. I will likely at least write if I take another vacation. I found it pretty stressful not to be working on things. I feel like that is mostly due to Poverty Brain because we spent a good deal of money and that freaks me out.

I did however do some reading. Check out stuff I finished up over on Goodreads. Short version. I tried to read the last book in the Vampire Chronicles and just no.

I was really just reminded of how problamtic her vampire ‘verse is and I kept looking back to baby me and seeing how damaging that was to my baby writer brain. The whiteness, the subtle shade towards Ancient Brown folks of varying sorts while Ancient White folks knew everything. Just…gross.

I’ve also been reading the Sexy Part of the Bible by Kola Boof. I’ve had the book on my radar since I saw the announcement from Akashic but didn’t pick it up until last month.  I’ve been aware of Kola Boof for a long time, I’ve read some really racist shit about her and a lot of hateful stuff by men.

The thing I find interesting is like a lot of other Black women I like, she is just not here for it.

Now this book is weird, weird in a lush fleshy good way. Her prose is very juicy and I imagine for folks who are very into a linear type narrative. It is linear but not strictly so. It meanders a bit in the beginning in a way I find really interesting.

This is one of those books where the prose is so juicy and delicious I’m reading the book really slowly. I can’t totally pin down what slows me down about her work but I will report back in when I’m done with it. I want to savor it like a dessert.

What else?

I am about to start on a super seekrit project that I am super excited and terrified of. I’m trying to find some more ways to support my writing with extra income since hardcore freelancing is just not my thing.

What else?

OH this episode of Dear, Sugar is great.

I haven’t been crocheting enough lately so I’m going to make this for myself.

I think that’s all for right now. More later this week.

 


Soundtracks, reasons and whatnot.

I treated myself to premium Spotify because I must have an appropriate soundtrack at all times. It is the best eight dollars I’ve spent in months. Currently this is happening. Oh if you are feeling fancy let’s follow each other.

I am habitually listening to music while I work and often that means I’m wriggling and chair dancing, semi sit down twerking. It helps me write. Don’t ask why.

What else?

Oh I spotted a lot of things fetishising writing by hand. With all of the advice about how much of a better writer you’ll be and whatnot I get a little, uh I side eye it a bit.

What about writers with disabilities that makes it so their output is reduced by handwriting?

What about older writers or writers with arthritis?

Writers who are unable to handwrite? Writers with learning disabilities?

Here’s the thing. When I was a wee baby writer I took serious writing advice (as in the stuff in Poets&Writers, the stuff famous name authors say etc) as gospel. I had no college, I was not an MFA student. I was (the time period I’m thinking of) a phone sex operator making 6.25$ an hour working in the billing office and a few more dollars taking calls.

I skipped meals to buy quality paper and buy time on computers and bought lit mags and P&W. I wanted to show that I too was a super srs writer type.

What I’ve noticed in the ensuing decade is that writing advice is still pretty presctiptive. It is still pretty heavy on ignoring the other (disabled folks, elders, poor people, etc etc etc) and I think it’s kind of crap.

Not kind of, it’s just crappy.

Where is the advice for using your available tech to the fullest?

Where is the advice for putting together resources so us proletariat non MFA headed/types can have those amazing resources and learn those skills?

Nope, people argue about whether there are too many MFA programs, freak out because a writing teacher was unmoved by their students. Holler at each other about WHY THEIR PROGRAM IS SO FUCKING GOOD SHUT UP…

The lit world can be set on fire because someone had the nerve to be unimpressed with MFA programs in general but, you know when we can do some real good and make the lit world a bigger better place….crickets.

So yeah. I’m just not impressed in general.

I might write some of that.

Next thing.

I’m on the phone so I’m going to nerd about second person POV. That’s what I was playing with in my yeah write.

So I’ve never really tried using second person quite that way before. I’ve done it in poems and micro micro fictions but never that way.

I was thinking about post apocalyptic fiction and trying my hand at it. Frankly I find the usual military/zombie/other post apocalypse fiction kind of boring sometimes. I wanted art to be in there front and center.

So this wasn’t one I’ve had stashed away. It was more of the writer at play. I had these ideas, the flower faced Black girl, the mute poet. What is sadder than a poet without a tongue?

I really wanted that tight intimate kind of almost clausterphobic feeling there at the beginning. I was absolutely going for mood.

Um I had more but I’m tired and have a shitload of work to do today.

So come check out the latest from my forthcoming book Self Care Like a Boss. Shit is gettin hyphy over there.


Yeah Write #204 entry- The Death of A Poet At the End of the World

 

The Death of A Poet At The End of The World

by

Shannon Barber

The girl is pretty. Her brown face is round with sun flower aspirations. If you imagine her smile, it feels like summer sun and feral joyful gardens.

But she is not smiling. Her face is cold, a steel sculpture of a sunflower.

“Put it down and walk away.”

Her voice should be sweetness but it is sharp and hard as a knife to your throat. You do as you are told.

“What are you doing here?”

Here is a cubby inside of one of the reclaimed buildings. It is an ash filled shitbox of a place. Here is the first line of defense against the remains of Them.

Your hands describe sleep in the air. Slowly, so she knows you are no threat. When you try to speak your voice is toxic sludge in the air and she nods.

“They took your tongue poet?”

She knows, of course she knows, your eyes fill with hot tears. Her surety wrings water from your desiccated body. When They came for you, your voice was heat and poison to Their ears. Your reason was a weapon. Your pen and tablet prohibited weaponry, your words an affliction to be cured with pain and madness.

You remember- They took your weapons and left you to die.

The pretty flower faced girl knows it all. She lowers the gun and her voice is warm as August air.

“Come with me”

She leads you through a warren of tight tunnels; her hand finds yours when there is no light. When you stumble she lifts you in strong, soft arms.  Hers is the first flesh, you’ve touched since They came for you. Your need to survive barely surpasses your need to be touched. You can wait.

The way is long and you nearly give up when the light begins to brighten. These are the survivors you prayed to your dead god for, the ones you cursed in your dreams.

Everything happens too fast. Sad eyed men tend your battered body, wash you and dress you in clean clothes. You are deposited in a bed with the sunflower faced girl. She holds you tight, whispering fragments of poems and songs.

You cry on her breast.

The sobs wallop your entire body; these are not the tears of panic and fear you’ve been crying for months. These are tears of relief, of joy. The pretty girl holds you gently and lets you cry.

These are the tears you wrote poems about- tears of cleansing fire and emotional fecundity- tears that shout down the deadness.

There with your hot cheek against the breast of a girl with a face like a sunflower you remember the truth of your body and soul.

For the first time since They took your weapons, you are full of hope. The words caroming around in your head are bright, they are like her smile and everything is full of dark hopeful beauty.

While you are dreaming, you can distantly hear the sunflower girl conferring with the men who cleaned you up. You already know. You are dying. You have been dying for weeks now and perhaps hung on for this moment.

You knew when you stumbled into the shitbox cubby.

Sweet tongue less poet you know.

The flower faced girl holds you and they stop speaking when they see your content smile. You use what is left of your voice,

“s’okay. Uoves.”

The flower faced girl translates with tears on her cheeks.

You said, it is okay loves- those will not be your last words, but they are the ones the flower faced girl will remember.

Your death is quiet and soft, the final thing you hear is the voice of the flower faced girl.

“Goodnight Poet. Goodnight.”

###

PS

I will nerd later this week about my second person experiment and an idea of the apocalypse.

 


Every Day I’m Hustlin

For reference this is the song that inspired the title.

The salient bit if you don’t like hip hop is the first line of the verse:

Who the fuck you think you fuckin’ with, I’m the fuckin’ boss

I am trying to embody this. Hustlin.

So some shit has gone down y’all.

I wrote most of a rant on my phone after a woman tried to give me some bullshit fashion advice. I posted it on Medium because I say a few bad words and I wasn’t sure where to pitch it.

Check it out here.

I posted it on facebook and a few other places as is my habit, forgot about it and went on to work on some other shit.

Then THIS MOTHER FUCKING HAPPENED OVER THE WEEKEND:

In the top 20 most recommended on Medium. Holy...shit.

In the top 20 most recommended on Medium. Holy…shit.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT TOP 20. A lot of people have read it. A lot of people have expressed thanks and gratitude and appreciation and shit.

And I had a panic attack.

I should confess that on the rare occasion I write something that garners a whole lot of positive feedback from people I don’t know, I freak out. I did not have a complete meltdown. I am feeling overwhelmed and super anxious. Growing pains but I did declare to my best friend that I didn’t throw up nor did I get the shits so semi win?

I have been listening to the Feelin Myself track from the Nicki Minaj Pink Print album a lot. Gotta cheer myself on you know.

So the next thing to happen was that I pitched for the first time. Like an adult. And it got accepted. Over at Witty Bitches (a new and rad site) I wrote a piece about race and feminism. Not for free and It feels pretty damn good. Lookit here:

This is a battle cry.

For my fellow nerds, this is me calling the horde.

These people, who wouldn’t know intersectional feminism if it farted in their faces, are ruining it for all of us.

As I saw on a t-shirt, they look like just enough XP for us to level up.

Read it here. 

That piece also began on my phone as a rant started on Oscar night.

So things are going very nicely right now.

I’m also getting back into the swing of submitting fiction and navigating it without Duotrope. It is interesting. So far I have two pieces out and will probably send around a couple more.

I put up a new Queen poem at Ink Node.

I’m trying not to freak out further. Anxiety is a mother fucker. I’m not here for it frankly.

All that said I have more new stuff in my pocket.

That’s all for now. I’m going to go try and adult writer without freaking out or otherwise having a meltdown.

 

 


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