Author Archives: Shannon Barber

About Shannon Barber

I am a strange little woman who likes pie.

What’s Going On?

So homies.

Holy shitballs.

Lots of things are happening right now. A couple are secret, but here’s some stuff I’m good to talk about.

I wrote over on Medium about the recent happenings in ConPo, Vanessa Place and AWP and what critics of the mainly POC people talking about this are doing and how they are using some new shit coded racist language. That was convoluted, the short version is people in the lit world are being extra racist as fuck lately.

I have more to say about that, but it’ll happen next week.

What else?

I’m ready for more Patrons. My household finances are about to get leveled out and I would like to start saving for AWP16 in LA soon.

What else?

It’s 7:30 inthe fucking morning. I’m coming off of a migraine and can’t sleep.

I keepthinking about the banality of the way the lit world gets a racism boner.

I  say, hey don’t be fucking racist. I get blocked on social media by white dude bro poets I’ve never heard of. I get shitty messages everywhere about how I’m ruining my career before it takes off. How if I’d just be quieter and nicer with allies, if I’d write “normal” stories.

Okay so recently I got published at Shotgun Honey. That was a big fucking deal for me. I’ve been a huge fan of that magazine for a long time and yeah, there was an agenda with that story.

The Junie in the story is a Black lesbian who under her mentor has put her art and anatomy to good use in the criminal world.

That is not a story I’ve heard before in most noir type stuff so I wrote it.

A few “friends”  suggested that it was weird and why did Junie have to be Black AND gay.

That’s what I deal with from “friends” .

That’s well meaning people upholding white supremacy.

Those people are honestly worse than straight up racists.

Instead of saying like, hey that story was a piece of shit or hey cool little story. I got but why was she Black and gay.

It is exhausting.

It is demoralizing.

And yet, I’m still doing it.

Mostly unpaid. Entirely too visible sometimes.

It’s why my comments are moderated.

Why I will block people or ban them. So far on my author page on facebook I’ve deleted a treasure trove of racist sexist comments. I’ve blocked I don’t know how many people.

And, look.

Here I am. Exhausted. Stressed out. Half terrified and giving way too few fucks.

I’m still here.

Okay I’m being told to finish my food and take some drugs so I’ll sleep.

Goodnight moons and hams.


Yeah Write entry # 215- I Met A Girl Today

I Met A Girl Today

by

Shannon Barber

I met a girl today.

I met a girl with short hair and crazy eyes.

I was waiting for a bus for no particular reason other than itchy feet and enough money in my pocket for fare and a cup of coffee. I wasn’t paying attention and then there she was, her face turned to mine, her eyes open wide and her lips quivering between a smile and a frown.

“I like you.”

Her words were strong beneath her reedy tone. She sounded like she didn’t talk to many people.

“I like you too.”

We didn’t say anything else for a long time, but she reached for my hand the way a very young child or a very old person might, it was a gesture that didn’t ask for affection but gave it unquestioningly. The bus came and we got on together, we sat like children on a school trip holding hands and smiling at each other.

Everything felt so strange and wonderful. I kept waiting to wake up or find that I was the butt of some joke. The more tense I got, the less likely that seemed to be.

I relaxed, I held her hand tighter and she leaned against me while the bus rocked. She put her lips to my ear and whispered.

“I want to make love to you. For days and days.”

I blushed, I couldn’t help myself. No one talked to me like that ever. I didn’t know what to say and I ducked my head, so embarrassed that I wasn’t sure what to do or say. I swallowed hard, she smiled her huge crazy smile at me, she was patient. She waited until I could speak.

“I- I would like that. I want to make love to you too.”

We giggled. We sat with our heads bent towards each other, whispering inane dirty things and when we couldn’t stand it, we got off of the bus and headed back the way we came.

The bus ride back was excruciating. It was the first time I have ever felt a ball of lusty need sit in my belly and have it be pleasurable. It was awful and beautiful, the ride was too short, and all together too long. I felt decadent, wanton and magnificent. We made it back to where we had started and we stood at that bus stop again for a moment.
It felt like we were marking our territory, as if returning to the spot where we met could somehow cement things.

We didn’t need the symbolism of that return.

All we needed was to be hand in hand again, to be the tender bit of mercy in the hard ugly world.

I took her back to my place and we did make love. We made love for days, for weeks and now for years.

I love her.

She loves me.

We are complete.

I met a girl today.

I met a girl with short hair and crazy eyes.

###

PS..this is very loosely based on a girl I actually knew.


On Dominance in Erotic Fiction: A few Questions

I spotted this over at Remittance Girl’s Blog and have been turning it over in my brain. Go look at her entry here.

For my purposes I will de-gender the questions because that is how my mind works. Okay, let’s go in.

1. As an author of erotic fiction, what assets or personality traits do you believe make the  lead in a work of erotic fiction attractive to the ‘everyday’ reader?

I think what works in this context depends on a lot of factors. For me as a reader, there aren’t standard traits that make any character work. I really like what RG said:

I need them to have agency and volition – to be agents of change rather than victims of circumstance. I enjoy writing erotic fiction that involves male characters whose erotic attraction doesn’t come from standard measures such as physical attractiveness or wealth

For me what I feel hooks myself as a reader and other readers is that agency. I personally don’t care for things to just happen, someone just happened to spank someone or want to get spanked or whatever. When I write a character I am not just making them so sex or kink can happen. I write them from the perspective of them being a being who has a need. Or I write them from their voice through who they are to what they want and how they get it.

That isn’t to say they are always fully 3d in each story. I do like to read and write stories where all you get of the lead character or narrator is a slice, a piece or a shadow. That’s one of the joys of using discretion in creation.

2.) In stories regarding a Dominant and Submissive, why do you think readers have an impulsive reaction to be attracted to either or?

I think a lot of readers of erotica are just like readers of anything else. There is something they have a desire for and something about a story speaks to them. For me, I can be hooked by a great line or idea. I think a lot of the reasons why we read what we read rely on those impulses or long standing desires.

I think readers react because that’s what humans do. Some of us are attracted to things that will make us feel warm and fuzzy in the pants. Some of us like something more challenging. I think the why is pretty simple, people like things. All different things and that is what is kind of great about humanity. Sometimes.

Personally, I like a buffet style approach to my reading. Sometimes I want mcdonalds fries and a shake, sometimes I want filet mignon. I don’t think my taste for either is mutually exclusive.

3.) a.) What is it about domination that the characters themselves find appealing? b.) And what do you think is it about the concept of domination that readers find appealing?

a.) What is it about domination that the characters themselves find appealing?

I think in my work it varies pretty widely. In one I can think of, it was mainly about the fluidity of power exchange. I personally really enjoy writing doms in ways that let them explore their own feelings in terms of why they are doing what they are doing. In others, I’m thinking of a story I have sitting in my to be edited folder. The dom in the moment does not understand why he’s doing what he’s doing. He feels a compulsion to do it and part of what I find interesting about this character is that underlying his desire he’s terrified.

b) And what do you think is it about the concept of domination that readers find appealing?

That I don’t know about. I know what I find appealing. When it’s done in a way that I find both arousing or interesting from more than an OH SPANKING perspective it’s appealing. It might not turn me on per se, but I will be interested. I will say I think a lot of people are drawn to the things that seem to be or feel like are beyond their own lives.

Isn’t that why a lot of us read fiction? To spy on other worlds and lives? Well, that’s why I read fiction. I am essentially an incredibly nosy..er let’s be nice and say curious person. I want to know what’s driving a thing.

I also enjoy a diverse range of expressions of the concepts of domination. I’m not personally into the generalized whips, chains n bitch boots. I am far more interested in things that aren’t quite so showy. I have a story in my drafts where the domination is done through under the table knee squeezes and glances. I love that.

4.) What kind of connection do the submissive and dominant characters have to have? Is it both physically and mentally?

I don’t believe there is a prescriptive “have to”.

In  my meatspace life, I have experienced connections that were both exclusively physical or mental. I believe that there is no correct way for these connections and relationships to be done or written.

Part of why I enjoy writing submissive and dominant characters is to explore the ways in which people can connect. Somewhere, probably on my dead PC at home, I have a story where the connection is lost in the present moment, but present in memory and focused on a piece of a razor blade.

There is a vast expanse of ways to explore how people connect with each other. I feel like D/S can have such a rich diversity of ways these relationships work. I am very greedy and just want to see more.

I want to see more writers explore a connection that is mental by necessity. Long distance lovers, disabled lovers etc.

D/S as it might take place in other worlds. There is so much room for conjecture and exploration.

Okay, while I was thinking about this I also was thinking about more of the reasons I’ve mainly abandoned the industry side of Erotica.

This is no shade to the asker of these questions at all, I do feel like there is a bit of a prescriptive tone and that seems to go along with a lot of what I’m seeing in the industry. Things must adhere to what I feel are fairly narrow parameters and I honestly think that’s terribly boring.

Personally most of what I’ve been writing in terms of kink is outside of these constraints. I have a deep burning desire to explore desire, dominance and submission through lenses that are not so strictly stuck in gender roles or ideas about what does and doesn’t make someone dominant or submissive.

One of the stories I have in my Etsy shop right now (the one titled Call me Lolita) is not D/S in a classical sense.

This story is hetero only in that both characters ID as cis male/female.

However.

This story at the bottom is about gender fucking and trust.

In a deeper sense it is about the depth of connection a man has with his dominant lover and how that connection and trust enables him to redefine masculinity for himself. To find the place where in more traditional kinky stories it’d be called “sub space”, what he feels is the place where he can be a girl. In this case his submission is not just submission. For him it becomes liberation from the prescriptive ideas about gender and masculinity.

So when I say that I’m interested in the wide open areas of writing kink and writing dominant characters and submissive characters this is what I’m talking about. Yes, I want folks who read it to get good and hot in the pants, but I also want to drop these things about gender roles in their ears.

This is the part of writing erotica that I missed when I wasn’t writing much of it.

I want the complications.

I want to go back to when I was 18ish and reading amazing Queer erotica that just took me places I didn’t understand and that made me uncomfortable.

I want to distill that powerful combination of discomfort and arousal I got in those early days (think old school Black books) and spread it all over everyone.

I don’t want to say I’m transcending but it feels transcendent.

This is the type of transgression that fuels me both as a writer and a reader.  This is how I think about not only the erotica I write but everything. I want to be the sort of writer who might take you someplace that makes you uncomfortable, but I want you to want to go on the ride with me and stick it out.

 


Why I am Still Going to AWP Next Year.

First, I encourage y’all to do some googling because I cannot rehash a lot of stuff, but I’ll give you one link to get started. Start here and I warn you there is a lot of ugly art involved.

While I was waiting for AWP to make the linked decision I started thinking very hard about boycotting along with a lot of other folks.

I calculated how expensive it will be, travel, hotel, books etc. And it is a lot of money. I will probably spend almost a month of my dayjob pay.

That money could do a lot of things.  New tech for my partner and I, it could go into a moving fund, it could do a lot of things.

I was very close to not going. Very, very close.

And then I saw this:

AWP must protect the efficacy of the conference subcommittee’s work. The group’s work must focus on the adjudication of the 1,800 submitted proposals, not upon the management of a controversy that has stirred strong objections and much ill-will toward AWP and the subcommittee. Perpetuating the controversy would not be fair to the many writers who have submitted the proposals.

These disrespectful mother fuckers.

As if those of us who weren’t acting out of “ill-will” but justifiable concern that someone who engages in and profits from playing with racism and using literary Blackface would be in that kind of position of power.  I will not pay to have anything to do with that person.

I got angrier.

I’m going.

I am going because I want the people in charge to see that in spite of their anti-Blackness I am still there. I will have things to sell. I will meet other authors.

I will read as much as I can.

In spite of how nervous the crowds and everything make me I will be known. I will be seen. I will not be shuttled into the shadows because AWP values freedom of speech, but not protecting their POC members who also pay to be members from racists.

I also have an idea that I might want to do some guerilla reading. I will tweet my wee heart out. I will make as much of my presence known as I can because I want them, and the writer in question to know that their actions have not scared me away.

I want to make people I KNOW have not supported or even shown a little bit of willingness to do the work of anti-racism that their lack of action hasn’t made me docile.

As I said to MCAG on twitter last week, I’ve got a heart full of gasoline and a book of matches. My boots are on this ground.

Not just because of Vanessa Place. Fuck, Vanessa Place and her ilk.

Because this is my life.

This- literature and writing means more to me than everything.

I am not a concept.

I refuse to hand over my life, my history, my pain to Whiteness, so that it can be regurgitated and fed back to Whiteness.

If I have to go to mother fucking AWP and stand in the middle of the book fair sobbing because of all this it will happen.

If I have to read EVERY single poem I’ve written about how this shit make me feel I will.

I will be seen.

I will be heard.

So fair warning.

AWP I am coming.

I will not be cowed.

I will not be silenced.

I will also probably do some dedicated fundraising to help with costs. In the meantime scroll down to your right for my new masterpost on supporting my work.

 


Updates, financial stuff and whatnot.

In the past couple of weeks the Lit world and by association a lot of people I thought were allies have been showing their ass and okay, Imma be real.

When it comes to art and lit, yes, I too like a lot of problematic things.

But right now my problem is that whether or not the art happening (no I’m not linking I can’t look at any more of that after the research I did) is that White people who are making a good chunk of cash, and who are sitting in positions of power (AWP) and who are teaching, are using what I feel is literary Blackface for shits and giggles and career advancement.

What burns my ass most about this, is not that I’m a poor struggling writer.  It burns me that (I here being used loosely/plural) can’t write my experience as a Black person in any old way and have the same doors open to me.

It burns my ass that, another White person wants to play with reclaiming “nigger” and racist imagery from America’s past without any responsibility and dead silence.

And because I refuse to remain silent about why I find this harmful and disgusting. I’m told that well they have the right, Jeeze Y SO SENSITIVE NEGRESS? I’m told that because I have a strong and loud opinion on this and these people being lauded, coddled and generally held to no accountability for their actions I am a problem.

Just this morning some woman I don’t know did “research” on me and decided nothing I have to say about it is worth anything because I am “aggressive” and “threatening”.

Layers of racism aside, in what universe does someone like me (and there are a shitload of us) have enough pull in the lit world to be threatening to the careers and wallets of these people?

So rather than doing what allies are SUPPOSED to do when POC say, hey this shit is fucking racist. Again, people who have held on to their ally badges tightly are telling me I’m the problem. Again.

To be honest. I had nightmares all week. Most of them revolved around an issue I already had combined with me running into racist, but totally not racist people in the lit world and having them ruin shit for me. That is the shit I have nightmares about because many of the people I’m annoyed with right now are people I’ve considered friends.

This is something that is causing me a level of struggle I just don’t know what to do with.

I’m just heartbroken. I keep feeling like I have all this faith in people whom I KNOW understand intersectionality and power. But, again, when it comes to POC or two Black people specifically all I hear is crickets and it hurts. The gentrification of the experiences and history of POC and specifically Black people just wrecks me.

This is not what I wanted to talk about, but out it comes. Fuck.

Shit, okay.

Now back to what I actually wanted to talk about.

In light of our rent increase and some other extra expenses I’ve redone my writing things (what I call stuff related to my writing) budget. I’ve cut out a couple of things.

I am thinking that I need to raise my Patreon monthly goal to about 125$. I’d really like to move a few of my personal household expenses to my writing related budget. Mainly small things, pens, notebooks. I’d also like to put more away for my laptop fund. Not having one I can work on at home is just painful. I also include stuff like the occasional celebratory pastry, coffee for work and big cups of ice for work as well in that budget.

Even without a fully functional tech situation, I do feel good about my output so far. The things I’m writing are what I really want to write and what feels important to me.

Longer term say between now and next March, I also have some handmade zine type things I want to create but I need to buy supplies. I want to hand make some wee stories to sell in my etsy shop. I’ve been kicking around the idea of also doing heavy card stock “art” poem cards. Hand colored (but not written because my handwriting is shit) pretty little art cards. But again, the capital thing.

I’m in a better emotional place right now than I was the other day. I’ve calmed down and I can see the way through the financial anxiety, but, I just have to wait a bit and do some balancing.

I’m also looking into doing something serialized maybe available via Amazon? I have to do some research.

What else is going on?

I’ve started what I hope to grow into a series of essays about healing myself of poverty brain and figuring out how to navigate my feelings without panic or undue stress. Shit is so hard and after talking to some friends I really believe this is an important thing for me to do. Not as something aspirational, or inspiration porn but more as an open hey, this is shit I go through and if you’re going through it too, you’re not alone.

The importance of visibility and acknowledgement has been something that a lot of my readers have talked to me about and it feels deeply fulfilling to be that for some folks.

Blablabla.

That’s going on. I have a post coming up about writing that I’ve been sitting on. A young (HI BB) writer asked me a couple of important questions and I want to give good answers. I also want to talk about navigating Double COnsciousness since a lot of non Black folks are discovering it and don’t know what to do.

So that’s all the news. I’m trying to learn a new way to hustle that won’t destroy my heart.

What are y’all up to?

Also I should do a whole hustle tag.

 

 


New work by me and some other stuff.

Okay how about some new stuff?

I made my debut over at Shotgun Honey. This one was a big swing submission. I’ve been reading over there for years and had that little story tucked away and I sent it off on a whim. Then VOILA there it is.

Next I posted something new over at Ink Node. That new poem was inspired by first finding out I’d been blocked on twitter by some white dude poet I’ve never heard of. Then reading some other ConPo things and frankly, most of the name people in that movement behave in the most appalling ways because they are concepts and I think it’s fucking gross. You can also read about what I have to say about one of the dudes as well.

Also over at Medium I posted a piece on my experiences being policed while being Black in Seattle.

On Being Policed While Black

What else is happening?

I gotta keep it real. While Patreon and my donors have made a huge difference some more things have happened and again, I’m feeling like I need to be grinding and hustling up more cash.

Our rent went up. It’s not insurmountable, but it is enough that the things I’ve already planned for have to be changed and I’m struggling not to panic entirely.

I already did writing related spending with writing related money and unfortunately, we need that money.

This is where my poverty brain is just going buck wild. I’m struggling not to bury myself in shame because I spent some money on underwear and leggings a while back, I bought hair dye that didn’t take so I wasted 18$. I bought two pairs of shoes for spring and summer to replace the ones that hurt my feet. I have that Smarty pig account. Oh, if you want to check out Smarty Pig click here, if you want to use it, please let me know so I can give you a referral link.

The things I’m struggling right now are deeply intersected and deeply rooted. Some of them:

  • Knowing how my financial situation needs to be in order for me to produce my best content.
  • Being SO SO SO close to that situation only to have shit happen.
  • Being SO SO SO close but still so fucking far away. Literally right now an extra 75$ would clear writing things through my first month of rental increase and the other monthly payable things I budgeted out. And leave me enough for like a 25$ emergency.
  • I have been working so hard on the emotional/psychological part of this. I have a lot of economic trauma and I’ve been doing SO well working this out and starting to write about it in a deep way.

So that’s where I’m at.

I am going to try and do some more Patreon promo and Etsy promo. I know how to hustle that is not the issue. I can grind until I have that money, but I won’t be writing anything good. And at this point in my career it is of absolute importance for me to be writing things that are good.

By good I mean the shit I do well and that means something to me.

The drive to grind and hustle in the more soul crushing creativity destroying way is in me. It burns and it is frequently my first instinct of what to do when shit seems even faintly dire.

I know how to what’s that stupid phrase, tighten my belt. I know austerity. I know how to budget my work lunches so I spend less than 4$ a week eating.

I know how to do grind and hustle and get shit done.

I am trying not to do that.

I’m trying to support myself emotionally and creatively so I can be the best little obscure writer I can be.

Shit is hard yo.

Shit is really fucking hard.


Yeah Write Entry #213- Daddy Didn’t Raise No Fool

Daddy Didn’t Raise No Fool

by

Shannon Barber

“Make a mistake.”

Her voice is low and trembling. The tears in it give her words a low rasp, her wet eyes are wide and glowing with hate.

“Go ahead. I got lots of ammo and an itchy fuckin’ finger.”

The man stands with his hands above his head, he’d already made the mistake and could only hope he would make no more. No one had warned him that the rabbit had teeth and claws. It was supposed to have been so simple. Easy.

Give the girl a scare, maybe a few bruises. She’d run to her shitbag brother and her brother would pay to protect his pretty sister.

Nobody told him she’d pull a .357 and hold it with steady little hands and tears streaming down her face. Nobody warned him that the rabbit had the steel in her spine.

“Take your piece out of your holster with two fingers, drop it and kick it over here.  Then take these cuffs. Then be still. Don’t try nothing.”

He did not have to be told twice and muttered while he moved slowly.

“Fuck me twice, listen sweetheart-“

When he heard the familiar click of the.357 being cocked and her little voice tight with rage he froze.

“Shut up. Do what I said right, goddamn now before I lose patience and just shoot you.”

It was not the first time he’d heard that tone from a woman. His ex-wife had it the moments before she stabbed him in the chest. He’d heard it from most of the women he’d ever loved.

He did as he was told. Moving carefully so as not to startle her.

“All right. Sit I that chair and cuff your left hand to the right armrest across your chest. Don’t be cute.”

In spite of the very real danger he was in, he appreciated how she was handling herself. He’d known hard case men who wet themselves in lesser situations. Once he got cuffed he looked up at her while she scooted a chair over to sit in front of him, the gun rested in her lap while she lit a cigarette.

“Smoke?”

He nodded.

“Yeah, thanks.”

She put the lit cigarette in his mouth and he scootched himself around until he could reach it with his right hand. It was awkward and he sweated under her impassive gaze.

Once he got into position he looked back at her and sighed.

“This is not what was supposed to go down.  I didn’t come here to kill you.”

She laughed a cloud of smoke at him, he admired the way she let her tears stay on her cheeks. He liked her grit.

“Look. Somebody fucked up.  You know that right?”

The man nodded. When he heard her sobs behind the bathroom door and then was greeted by the huge dead eye of her .357, he knew.

“Can I finish this?”

She nodded. He smoked and took a breath.

“Who told you?”

She lit another cigarette for herself and leaned back. Thinking before she answered.

“Nobody. I’m a Daddy’s girl and Daddy didn’t raise no fool. Well, at least I am not the fool. Unfortunately, you are gonna have to be my message. Sorry about that.”

The man dropped his cigarette on the floor and ground it out under his heel. He knew her father and knew what was coming.

“Well, tell your Father, I’m sorry. “

She rises and sighs.

“I’m sorry too. Smoke?”

He nods and closes his eyes when her fingertips brush his lips. At the end, he could pretend it was a goodbye kiss from another woman with that steel in her voice and tears on her cheeks.

“Goodbye-“

###


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