Yeah, Write Entry #234- Beholder and Scrivener

Beholder and Scrivener


Shannon Barber

I am 4391 days sober and I see everything. I remember.

I am a Beholder and I met another one in my art class. We were drawing a male nude model and I saw his eyes slide as my eyes slid to watch the huge shadow creep across the corner of the room. We watched it, then watched each other and we knew.

A Beholder’s job is as it sounds. We do not enter The World we simply see it. When the shadows walk in the world, when the Sisters cross to eat the delicacy of men of the world, when the flame eyed Sidus peek out from their hiding places, we know and we see. Unlike Warriors, being a Beholder does not run in the blood. We have no ancestors to put iron in our spines or spells on our lips. Most of us die very young.

It is not explicitly the seeing that kills us. Many of us become drug addicts, opiates usually. Or we become alcoholics, we are frequently the homeless who walk all night with our eyes wide open and seeing. To be a Beholder is to be the eyes into The World and the keepers of its secrets. We know what lives in The Darkness.

After class while we were supposed to be packing up and socializing he came over to my easel and looked at my drawing while he spoke.

“You are a Beholder.”

I looked at his face, I wasn’t sure if I should say anything. We are mainly secretive, you can’t just walk up to people and start talking about The World without being marked as crazy. He looked down at me and I saw his light brown eyes, haunted eyes just like mine,


We stood there for a minute and he took my hand. He squeezed it lightly.

“You’re so young. What happened?”

The class was part of outpatient rehab. Court ordered of course.

“Smack. Since I was fifteen. I got picked up after taking a hot shot over on seventh. You know the spot?”

He nodded.

“Yeah. I could never get on with smack. First, it was booze, then it was benzos. I’m glad you made it. How are you doing?”

He let go of my hand and helped me put away my charcoals and while I thought about it, we walked to his station and packed his things.

“Okay, I guess. I remember everything. Before, like even before the junk I remembered everything. All of them. Would you like to have a coffee with me?”

Reggie and I started having coffee two or three times a week. We went to NA meetings together and people smiled at him for being my sponsor, that always made me laugh because they were so innocent. All of those long time junkies swilling shitty coffee and telling their stories, collecting their chips and falling off of the wagon were so innocent.

We talked in depth about our lives. He did not remember like I did. He had impressions, he beheld, and forgot. He explained that it was that way for most of us. He had a few precious books that were who knows how old, books that to the world were the rumblings of madmen and to me are holy books.

I learned that I am not just a Beholder. I am a Scrivener. It is not just my job to see, to behold, but my job to record it all. Reggie explained that when it became known in The World that a Scrivener had been born, the Warriors would come to me for guidance.

I held Reggie’s hands as he lay dying in a hospice. His liver a ruin, his face yellow and so thin I could see everything. I did what he told me. I drew what I saw, all of it.

The day he died, he smiled up at me and then we watched the shadows gather in the corner of his room to say goodbye.

“Stay clean. Remember. I’m going home to The World. I love you.”

By the time I could say I love you too, Reggie was gone and it was time for the work to begin.

Today I am 4391 days sober and I see everything. I remember.



I Wouldn’t Do This if I didn’t Have to.

I’m settling into a routine and at least three days a week I’m working 15 hour days.

Noon leave for the day job, walk back in the door about midnight give or take.

Get home, go pee, put jammies on and fire up the laptop and get to work.

I try to limit myself to working only until 2 AM so I can bathe and eat my dinner.

Last night I worked til 3. My neck hurts, I’m so tired. I had a difficult time getting out of bed because I haven’t bought a laptop desk yet.

But I got shit done.

Today I have been working on the Writer Finances.

My budget (here I’m talking money from writing related stuff not my household budget) is pretty much on lock. I’ve pared things down and currently my monthly expenses are:
Ginger- $6.40
Spotify- $11.00
Smarty Pig- $15
Flex spending- $20

That is most of my Patreon money as it sits right now and anything else I tuck away into savings.

The big problem I’m having right now is that I need to save up for AWP. I doubt I will go to DC or Florida for the next two.

So my decision is mostly made but the cost. Flying, accommodations for my partner and I, food, money for books and swag, money to do a couple of entertaining things. Between now and then we’re (partner and I) are facing:

  • Rent increase
  • His medication costs increasing
  • Electricity bill increase
  • We both need some new winter clothes
  • I need new glasses

Things are dire, but it’s going to be tight. More so if I am in fact gonna go to AWP.

My choices feel a bit limited. I could not write during the week and try to get a part time job. I don’t think my health would permit it for long.

And the other option is some more crowd funding.

I do have book sales trickling in, and the occasional etsy sale. I’ll be adding some more stuff back into the Etsy shop soon keep your eye out. But youknow, that stuff isn’t the fastest thing.

Now the crowd funding I would want to:

  • Defray the costs out of my household budget.
  • Print some promotional materials for my work.
  • Print some limited edition zines/individual things to sell. I’m 99% sure I can find someone who’d give me space at a table.

I’m looking at about 2K all in.

Two thousand dollars.

I just pooped a little. That would cover pretty much everything along without causing a whole lot of hardship on the household budget.

The things that bother me are:

  • Internalized class shame that I have to ask for that level of help from people who don’t know me.
  • Doing enough promotion so that reaching my goal is possible.
  • Not falling into a further shame hole because am I really that important to be going to this event?

So yeah.

I’m trying to work it out. I will likely do a fundraiser because if I don’t going will fuck up my family life and I can’t have that.

Now coming up, I have a beta test of a thing that I hope y’all will love. I’ll be putting the second part of the Daiyu saga on etsy.

If you’re a patron tonight you’ll get new Daiyu.

Tomorrow, Yeah, Write.

I might talk about what I’m doing with Yeah, Write this time around.

So yeah, lots o exciting stuff y’all.

Stay tuned.

OH how the writer worries.

First Patreon folks.

I’ve done research and long as you change your passwords and whatnots your info should be safe. That said, as I said over there if anybody doesn’t feel safe and needs to bounce I am totally okay with that.

What else?

I did an amazing reading last night. I read from the Self Care Like A Boss blog and a new piece about how the current lit world makes me feel.

I posted a little clip my partner took from the part where I was reading from SCLAB. The volume is a bit low because my phone is not super fancy but you get the gist. I’ll post more tidbits and soon, SO SOON I’m going to do some readings and post them on my Youtube channel as a bit of a warm up to me doing regular videos over there.

What else?

So post Patreon problem I’m having thoughts.

Mainly that come December my finances are going to take a turn for the worse because of a rent increase. My partner and I will make it, but things will be pretty tight.

This brings me to the expensive ass thing. AWP.

We were talking about it and he really -really- wants me to get to go. Especially since I’ll have more books to hawk and have SO many writers there who are going and who just live in the area that I’ve been friends with and need to meet.

I know AWP doesn’t give a shit about me as a paying member. That notwithstanding, I feel in my gut that it’s important to show up. Because I ain’t skurred and fuck some of those people.

BUT y’all. This is giving me real serious Poor Kid Anxiety. I had nightmares about going and coming home to find out we got evicted last night.

I am budgeting it up, but the idea of spending that much to go to an event that I don’t really specifically need to freaks my shit right out.

The other day I read something my homie Daniel Jose Older wrote and this has been stuck with me for days:

For me, writing always begins with self-forgiveness.

Shit yo. Right in the fucking feelings.

I am not good at forgiving myself anything. Not my natural assholeness, not my tenderness of heart, not my sensitivity, not that sometimes things like trees or whales make me want to cry, not that I can’t produce REAMS of things that I get paid for, not that I find freelancing so fucking hard and limiting-nothing. I have the hardest time forgiving myself for being human and having desires that cost money.

I’ve literally been staring at that paragraph for two minutes because being vulnerable this way still rubs my fur the wrong way. I am not an android and I hate that.

Okay, yeah. So I’ve got some extra income hustles planned out, but they aren’t fast money and might not turn out to be a lot of money.

I’ve got my budget pretty well pared down to writing business essentials (software, computer upkeep, etc.) and a few pleasure things, but I’m terrified it won’t turn out to be enough and the trip could fuck up my family finances for a long time.

I’m worried about it. I don’t foresee being able to take a part time job because I already have 12 hour dayjob days and then at least two or three days a week work on writing for another 2-3 at home.

So I might do a fundraiser. A kickstater or whatever so I can keep my Patreon money for writing related expenses. I’ve decided to work it out.

First thing is I’m going to budget out my writing related expenses from now through March.

Second thing budget up tickets, a spot to sleep and whatnot.

Third calmly work out a savings plan and whether or not to do a fundraiser.

Number three will be a mother fucker but I think I can do it.

That’s about it for now. Time to grind.

Later taters.

All the News that’s Fit to print.

OH hey y’all.

How about a lil update on your favorite indie writer’s writin’ life?

First thing.

I still haven’t named my computer yet and it’s bothering me. I think once I get the protective thingy on it and some stickers on that I’ll figure it out. I’m leaning towards calling it the Recalcitrant Dick but I can’t blame the hardware for Windows 8.1 shortcomings.

That said I’m learning win 8.1 and it’s foibles. I am going to have to pay for my year of Office and that bugs the fuck out of me but, of the free word processing programs I’ve used none have ALL the stuff I like so office it is.

What else?

I’m starting to fall back into the rhythm of how I work the best. If I’m going to be natural about myself, I do my best work between midnight and about 6 AM. I’m trying to relearn how not to be so excited and desperate to write that I stay up that late and wind up dead ass tired at my dayjob.

Patrons are getting a HUGE chunk of the Daiyu Saga for the month. I’m talking like 5K words. If you aren’t on that Patreon train go check it out here.

OH so through my homie Mensah and some other folks I’ve been exploring Catapult and I really am enjoying it. I even posted a lil thing there. Check that out here. I even took the photo.

What else?

I’m mostly huddling up, hiding out and writing like a mother fucker. This process of pulling together notes I’ve been taking, having time to write things I’ve been desperate to write about but now while I’m sitting at the dayjob because I might start wailing because it hurts is just…it’s fucking everything.

I’m trying to pump my brakes in regard to making more money and doing more freelance. I’ve walked down that road and it’s not good for me so I’m trying really hard not to put that pressure on myself. I’m mostly doing okay except for when like today I just want to buy a new dress and not have it out of the house budget.

Slowly and not so surely I’m working up to getting my writing life shit together.

I’m also working on a couple of sooper seekrit projects that I’m very into.

More about that another time.

That’s all for right now.

If you are jonesing for some Self Care Like A Boss talk, head over here and see my latest.

Yeah, Write Entry # 233- Into the World

Into the World 


Shannon Barber

I put my headphones on before I get on the bus. Most nights I put on soaring beautiful vocals that make me close my eyes and rock.

If my eyes are closed and my head is full of Maria Callas or Marvin Gaye, I can’t see them.

Tonight, none of my usual playlists will work. I shuffle albums with crackhead concentration. Opera? No. Delta Blues? No. Old country? Not even the voice of the dying Johnny Cash can save me. .

While I wait for my bus I see them fluttering at the periphery of my vision. Shadows darker than the night as gossamer as silken draperies. They are bold tonight, their edges glide across my face, they tug at my braids. I close my eyes, trying to will the music pumping in my ears to do what I need it to do.

I switch stations, Billie Holiday crooning so sweet and sad won’t do it. I frown down at the screen of my phone, scroll faster through noted playlists. Killing Time. Buried under Etta James and my Bad Girls Twerk Forever playlists.

My Father told me once that we carry the blood of mythic ancestors. He claimed that we came from bloody Haitian rebellions. He told me violent extravagant stories about The Ancestors. He taught me about machetes and graveyard dirt.

While the shadows writhe and start to whisper I duck behind the bus stop to get ready.

My Mother taught me too. From her I learned the quick and dirty magic. We spent many afternoons cuddled together on the couch, her teaching me the stories of peoples from all over the world and how to spot the truths.

I screw my earbuds in tight and tuck my little mp3 player into my bra. I stash my backpack under a bush and squat a few feet away to pee.

Always pee before going into battle. Mama’s cardinal rules. Never go in with a full bladder or hungry. Always warm up at least a little if you can.

After I finish peeing I slip out of the world and into The World. It is so easy for me now, the words come almost unbidden to the beat of 2Pac speaking in my ear.

All I need in this life of sin…

In The World my swords are stashed right where I left them and the shadows look hungry tonight. I say one more prayer and let the thousand names of my ancestors ring in my ears while I pull my blade across my palm. I smear the blood across my face and hit my stance.

“First blood mother fuckers. Come and get it.”


Stuff I like

So hey my homies.

I’m coming down from an epic migraine and I wanna show y’all some stuff I like. Tomorrow I’ll post some craft nerd stuff about my Billy Remixes and ways to use a small prompt to explore some things.

The first thing I’m super into. The Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo. They are just..fuck they are everything I love about solidarity and some bad assness. Check out their website, follow them on tweeter and decolonize your mind.

Next up, my friend Anna March is doing some awesome mixtape things at The Rumpus. The first one “FOR WHITE FOLKS WHO THINK THEY AREN’T RACIST” is pretty damn good.

And Daniel José Older on Prose and Music at Electric Lit is well just go read it.

While we’re checking out men of color I like a lot, Mensah DeMary has this piece on Catapult and I love it. Read it.

If you can afford it and can get there, Lidia Yuknovitch is doing some workshops that I’ve heard good things about. Go check it out.

One of my favorite online used bookstores is having a great coupon. Go to Thriftbooks and enter LITFIC for This coupon is good for 15% off books in our Literature & Fiction category (except Thrift Deals.) This is an awesome deal. They have great prices AND free US shipping over 10$.

Look what I got from them just last week:


Wanna read some fiction? Head over here and check out Laura Lucas. No for real if you want to check out how Yeah, Write Microfiction is done, go to the blog tab and behold. Awesome.

Who else am I super into? Dark Matter Poetry. I just..y’all I can’t. I have the worst of literary crushes on them and can’t stop. Go check them out and love them like I do.

Want to see more Yeah, Write? Check out my friend Rowan. GO tell Rowan I sent you.

While I’m talking about folks I love terribly. Motherblazing has a brand spankin new and shiny website. My publisher made something really good looking, so go here and check it out. AND while you’re there sign up for our mailings lists. We won’t spam you but will send some love letters and stuff.

Next, go read this by my friend Wagatwe Wanjuki over at Upworthy. No for real real go forth and read it.

Read this article on gender. Yes, please read it.

Over at Buzzfeed a favorite artist of mine, Mykki Blanco talks about hip hop, coming out and all sorts of goodness.

This poem How To Make Love to a Trans Person  has not left my head lately. Enjoy it here.

Follow my homie Ki Russell over on the amazons. I know it seems weird, but liking author pages is totally a thing. So do it.

Wanna read some kickass writing about women in butchery? Content warning for cut up pigs. This is a great piece by my friend Sarah Grey .

Just read this poem by Dana Koster. Just..ugh yes.

More Yeah, Write homies and some generally good writing follow Seraphina Maria.

AND go follow my homie Sara Habein. Say hi Shannon sent you.

Um nerds…fantasy LOTR type nerds. Hold on to your drawers and check this cookbook out by my friend Chris-Rachael Oseland. An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery. UM FUCK TO THE YES. No I’m serious holy shit that’s fucking awesome. Elvenses anyone? Second breakfast? FOOL OF A TOOK…ahem. Sorry. Nerded kinda hard.

A few more. It’s been too long since I’ve shared my reading with y’all that wasn’t books or a book review.

Read this piece on MFA’s and POC over at The Offing. It’s just it’s important. Read it.

Tomorrow starting at 7 PM MDT to celebrate the first issue of WITCH CRAFT MAG they are doing this awesome internet reading event thing. I’m stoked AND you can see my fave Milcah read too. Check it out on facebooks.

GO read and/or listen to this story on Lightspeed it’s fucking amazing. Also it is hosted this time by Mur Lafferty whom I find delightful.

Now how about a lil self promo?

Free stuff first okay?

Join my email list. It is Self Care Like A Boss related and full of love. My love for y’all.  I promise zero spams.

If you are in Seattle come see me read on Saturday. Imma be spitting some fire. Because I am pissed off and poetry is my current method of not punching people. Gallery 1412 18th Ave, Seattle, WA at 7 PM Oct 3.

AND you can head over to the side bar and buy SCLAB, or you can check out the few things I have up at Etsy right now. Or if you are a commitment type, come check me out on Patreon.

Now there is a good number of you and I invite you if you have stuff to promote, drop links in the comments. SHARE WITH THE CLASS.

Tomorrow, something new for Yeah, Write since I’m done with Billy remixes….for now.

Now go forth and read some awesome stuff.

Yeah, Write #223- Goodbye Mother Fucking Billy. The Last Remix.

Goodbye Billy

The last Remix.


Shannon Barber

Billy is a watcher now. He watches her slow dancing alone in her room at night. He can almost hear her rusty, squeaky little singing voice, “better ca-all Tyrone.” She still wears the ivory nightie he bought her. The pale silk glows against her brown skin, her braids brush against the fabric as soft as his touch used to be.

Billy watches as she lays on the couch talking on the phone. He watches her walk to work, her hips swaying to the music she listens to. The beautifully genderless one watches Billy.

“Why?” Billy doesn’t cry this time. He keeps his eyes on her as she reads in bed.

“Until you’re done.” His watcher leaves him to his solitary pursuit.

Billy has learned so much about women and how their private worlds operate. He never knew how contorted her body could be while she painted her toenails, how she spent hours searching her face for things to pluck out. He saw her cry when her favorite dress didn’t zip all the way to the top and then she rallied and wore something loose and to his pale eye exotic and mysterious.

Being a watcher is not what Billy wanted to be. Billy remembers poetry and music, basslines that unfurled in his veins.

And now he is this.

Billy watches, Billy dreams. Billy wants to weep, but finds himself unable. As he watches her dancing around her apartment while she cleans, he wants to lay his head in his hands and sob.

The other stands next to him again, their beautiful face impassive and serene.

“I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Billy’s watcher lays a hand on his shoulder and speaks so gently through closed lips Billy’s thought of tears flees and he relaxes.

“You’re done?”

Billy looks again at her, he musters what substance he has and says the only thing he can think of.

“Goodbye. I’m sorry.”

She looks up and raises a hand to her cheek, she felt his breath. Smelled the natural if chilled scent of his breath. Her tears and smile are bitter.

“Mother fucking Billy. It’s okay. You can go. I love you asshole.”

Billy turns from watcher to what? Air? Light? She doesn’t know. Billy doesn’t know. Billy’s watcher takes his hand in theirs and with the speed of a whispered goodbye they are gone.



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