Author Archives: Shannon Barber

About Shannon Barber

I am a strange little woman who likes pie.

Musings on Flash Fiction.

First I have to confess something.

When I started participating in Yeah, Write it was mostly for my own lols. One of the methods I use to keep writing is that I pick a thing and play with it as I mentioned way back here.

Now with flash fiction I add the layer of the word count restriction. And another confession I write 90% of my flash on my phone while I wait for or am on buses.

Normally I start out with a voice or a setting. My last Yeah, Write  entry Driver was inspired by a few things. I like to have shows playing in the background at work and one day I was watching ghost hunter shoes along with having watched a terrible movie with an unhinged psychic. Something we never see are psychics in their off time.

What happens?

Who do they want to talk to?

Voila Driver was born.

I wrote that piece like a year and a half ago. I submitted it a few places. Got soundly rejected. I changed it a tiny bit, did another round of submissions and all form thanks but no thanks rejections.

Most of the pieces I’ve used for my Yeah Write entries have been often rejected that way. I have thought for the past two years that maybe the way I write them is as I was told once just wrong.

Another confession. I find the stridency of the mantra that flash must be a story-story kind of boring. I think the idea that a story is only a real story if it follows the Western plot arc is just..boring.

I like ambiguous endings. I like the conflict not being all in your face. I like not being certain while I read a story what is what.

I feel like flash is my way of learning to really make people feel something in a tight space. One of my Yeah Write pieces got the worst rejection ever of, we just didn’t feel anything (insert poor author whimpering here) and yeah. That one cut to the bone and set me back on my heels.

For quite a while I treated my flash like I treated my poetry. Just as little scribbly shits I did in order to get to more important shit. Honestly y’all I really was feeling like okay maybe I don’t know what I’m doing so I should just put these away.

And then Yeah, Write happened.

I really enjoy the diversity that can happen inside of flash fiction as a thing. I really feel like one of the purposes of literature as an art form is to expose readers to new worlds and different people. I write a lot of people, some of them are the sorts I’ve run into in my life and you might have never come across.

Then a look into a world, a room if you will that you do not belong in and that is awesome to me.

I love having the option as a reader to just have a taste of something new. I don’t always need a whole mouthful or a whole thing. Just a bite. An appetizer.

I love being left wanting more.

More story, more of a particular voice or just more of an author. I feel like flash is a super awesome way to get that.

As a writer I feel like Flash is such a rich place to play. Dip your toes in genre fiction or narrators you might not be able to tolerate for a long period of time. Work out a voice.

I am so glad someone peer pressured me into trying Yeah,Write. It has been so much fun.

Next week I might give the non fiction grid a shot. WHO KNOWS.

Now I have a hellacious head cold. My drugs are wearing off and I’m very tired. So here, check out the piece I put up at Medium about aging and fashion. LOOK I can write non fiction that isn’t rip my heart out stuff. Whoa.


Yeah Write 203 Entry- Driver

Driver

By

Shannon Barber

 “I’m tired of dragging your ghost.”

I’m talking to nothing, holding on to the steering wheel for dear life. I know you’re there. I can feel your cool gaze like a hot hand between my legs.

There is no answer- you never answer. You only follow me on highways, through empty houses and into nights so long I could be convinced they are eternal.

I am one of those people who wander into brightly lit convenience stores at four in the morning looking for stale coffee and absolution.

Where other spirits run and crowd to speak through my mouth and touch the living with my fingers, you remain silent.

“Please?”

I speak to you in the day, when the other ghosts are quiet and watchful. My pleading cries hang along with the dust motes in the sun and still you will not speak.

You defy my heavenly gift.  Destroy my connection with all our honored dead-I would give it all away for one more word.

I have the answers to what belongs to the after and yet all I can do is yearn for a single whisper, a small yes, call my name in the dark basement of an abandoned house.

I will go to my grave gladly to find your touch and your voice.

I won’t, I will drive. Holding the steering wheel with panic fueled strength and ashy knuckles.

But I won’t cry, I won’t cry. I won’t cry.

Some dawn it will all be too much. While the voices of the others, the eager ones fade in the background following the night your silence will drive me into oblivion.

Maybe pills, maybe the blade or perhaps the car, my hands frozen at the wheel and my eyes wide open at the on rushing wall.

I will talk to nothing and drag your ghost until I can join you and hear you whisper my name one last time.

###


Color me Amused

So a bit back KT Bradford had the nerve to suggest people try reading folks other than CIS white dudes for a year.

I’m not linking I can’t find it. But predicatably White folks lost their collective shit.

Here’s the thing in a nutshell. If you read simply by grabbing books most likely your reading list is real white and real cis white dude heavy.

She’s not saying DESTROY ALL WHITE CISDUDE WRITERS 4EVER OMG BBQETF!!!!1111!!!OH SHIT WHITE MEN IN DANGER.

Ahem.

All she was really saying is try reading outside of the dominant voices in ilterature.

There was also the predictable..OMG I AM SO NOT RACIST I DUNCURR IF RITER IS NOT WHITE OMG HOW DO I EVEN KNOW.

Uh.

Okay that is honestly the Whitest most heterosexual thing ever.

Most people who are the dangerous and mysterious other generally say so pretty up front. As an experiment, I went and read the bios of about four dozen authors of color whom I don’t know personally. About 95% of them stated inside the first two sentences of their bios their ethnicity and for those who are neurodivergent or queer also said that.

Like in LESS THAN A PARAGRAPH.

So I can only really shake my head. It must be so hard to get angry about the idea that someone might challenge your tastes.

I mean, if you look at your bookshelf AND you’re honest especially if one is a lover of genre fiction, it’s gonna be pretty White and CiS dude heavy.

Calm down.

There are literally eleventy forty seven free resources spanning all sort of lit where one can step away from the White guy for a book or two.

Jeebus calm the fuck down.

Now some self promotion. Check it out here, my latest at XOjane and I am particularly proud of this one.

I am also super excited to announce that I have returned to writing about feminism and race. AND I am gettin paid and I pitched the idea to someone I only sort of know.

That is like a trifecta of windom. It means a lot. Details when it is time.

I cannot talk about Leonard Nimoy without sobbing. I’ll post a photo at the bottom.

I have a nerdy craft post about how I feel about writing flash and small fiction and how great it makes me feel that so many of my Yeah, Write cohorts like what I’m putting down.

Um yeah.

So I have a lot of writing to do. I’m on a roll lately and all in my feelings so yeah.

Later taters.


On that Grind.

Okay.

Seriously I am on that grind this week. I’ve been writing like hell.

I’m trying really hard to figure out how to balance all the things I want to do and make a little bit of cash in the process.

Shit is fuckin hard y’all.

In other news I am plowing my way through a superb reading list. I’ll have some new reviews up soon.

Um whoa so this happened. Aside from being in excellent company it really touches me that my sort of off the cuff I want to write something today post made sense.

Over the years I’ve come from skipping meals to buy Poets & Writers or to buy “good” quality typing paper and renting time on ancient PCs at Kinko’s and shit to sometimes making a little money, learning how to unsubscribe from the fancy monied author mythos.

I have had to do a lot of stuff that has been hard. Figuring out how to balance my ethics with my need to eat. For instance when I opened my etsy store I had a rash of weird White dudes wanting 3$ Cuckold interracial porn. I’m talking dudes wanting like 10K words with these shortass turnarounds.

Once upon a time I would have done it. Enough 3 buck porns could someday buy me lunch or shoes.

I had to sit with it and do what other authors I’ve seen do. I had to set some rules and after a lot of self flagellation (How DARE YOU turn down actual income) and struggle I did this:

If you are looking for custom erotica here are the rules.

1.) My rate is firm at 25$ a page. This includes a first draft, final edit. Put together with a plain cover and available as a pdf/doc/docx file.
2.) I am not heterosexual. I will write hetero but it is not my forte.
3.) Do NOT send/offer to send me photos of your genitals I will ban you.
4.) No, I will not barter.
5.) No incest, underage, bestiality will be considered.
6.) If I am not into the idea I will not take the commission.
7.) If you want a sample of my work, buy one.

Currently I am not looking for/accepting custom work. When I am I will post a special listing.

Honestly y’all. Do you now how hard that was for me to do? To really put down in words that I will not suffer foolishness and that my porn is worth professional rates?

That started me on a path to wanting to Free myself with freelance work. I started grinding out research and things and realized that some parts of a freelance career are just not things I do well. Aside from that, I just don’t want to write for some pulications who would probably take me.

Pump the mother fuckin breaks.

I honestly had weeks of arguing with myself about it because as we know, there is a lot of pressure for especially WOC to go be in ALL the things and break through the whiteness of certain markets and everything.

I have been just, fighting with my desire to earn that money and those thoughts. The what right do have to not want those opportunities?

What kind of nerve do I have when I need money for shit like shoes and underwear, to not want to take the full leap?

WHO THE FUCK IS YOU.

And then I keep thinking about things my publisher Milcah has said to me. I keep thinking about what we’re doing with the book at Self Care Like A Boss. I think about what my best friend has been saying for almost 20 years. About when my partner is just like YES DO THAT SHIT.

I think about the authors I love the most and how many of them joke about low book sales and write shit that moves me.

I am the writer who write really fucking terrible copy for really fucking terrible heteronormative sex toy anon/affiliate websites because I wanted to save up for shoes.

I am also the writer who has turned down some amazing opportunities because they would make me feel bad in my heart.

I am book pregnant with the best book baby daddy Milcah. 

Way back when I was about 14 and dreaming about being an infamous writer, I dreamed about a life of liesure paid for by literary patrons.

I thought that was how I wanted it.

Looking back I realize that I would not be a bad ass writer right now without the struggle. If I had no struggle, if I didn’t have to write out all these fuckin feelings, if I hadn’t spent SO much time poring over literary magazines I couldn’t afford and low er high key learning how to absorb everything I need from as many sources as I can find that are free.

I would not cherish the lessons I learn from the books I buy.

If I wasn’t struggling with shit a lot, I don’t honestly think I would be so comfortable with how I am figuring out what my work is worth and who I want to work with.

One thing that goes through my bones is that easy doesn’t teach me well. It never has. If I didn’t have to work shit out I would not work it out.

I am on that grind.

I AM ON THAT MOTHER FUCKING GRIND and unlike when I was a baby writer, I value it. I love it. I am here for it.

Being ass deep in the struggle means I have found the path to my people. And I love my people. My people love me.

And that is pretty valuable.

OH okay a few more things.

I put up a story that is so close to my heart I can’t even. It is a slipstream story involving a wee Haitian girl and Hati and his brother. There is magic, the beginning of my need to explore how cultures can intersect, collide combine and exist together without throwing the brown folks under the bus. It is a bit more expensive than other stuff because of the sheer amount of work it took for me to get it done.

Here is a big ole taste:

“Mama was hurt, Papa was dead. She gave me water in a bottle and papers in my bag. Then she told me to run. She said I was too small and that they would hurt me. She said, Bernadette, you run you hide girl. Hide, hide hide.”

She trailed off, the counselor waited her out.

“I ran. Like a woof-”

The counselor arched an eyebrow.

“A woof? You mean a dog?”

Bernie glowered at her.

“No, woof, you know woof they howl like this at the moon.”

Bernie tipped her head back and let out a full throated mournful howl.

“Ah, wolf.”

“That is what I say. And then I found a place under concrete it was dry.”

[redacted, go buy for more]

“Ayti.”

It was a drawing from a Norse myth, the librarian smiled at her and nodded.

“Would you like to read about Hati?”

Bernie nodded, her eyes lit up.

In her heart, she chanted to the Universe, Ayti, Ayti Ayti. In her heart Bernie was mourning Haiti, the way her Maternal Grandmother had taught her. To think and feel the name of a thing or a person so as not to forget. She could not bring herself to sing the names of her parents, that hurt too much. But, when she spoke Ayti, Ayti, Ayti in the secret voice of her heart, it sufficed.

Next week I will get into how this story came about, that it was inspired by Roxane Gay and a woman I met on the bus.

Okay this  is way too long I need to calm all the way down and go do some editing.

Get Bernie’s Warg here. 

OH also per usual this is not kid or ya lit. This is grown folks business.


Yeah Write #202 Entry- Junky

 

Junky

by

Shannon Barber

How can I remember his snake’s name and not his?

His snake was named Percival the Pirate.

I remember his pale skin and terrible dye jobs. His long fingers and scratchy junkie voice.

I loved him the way you love the dog that shits on your floor then cuddles you when you cry.

When he was blue, I pounded on him and slapped his face screaming promises of retribution and butt sex until I hit his heart hard enough to get him going again.

I remember his terror, his voice broken like a child whispering into their mother’s ear at midnight, ragged words for nightmares too real to stay secret.

“Nobody is holding. Nobody.”

His voice in the phone echoed the reality of childhood nightmares.

He loved me. As much as he knew how to love anything. He loved me enough to never touch me. I would lay naked as he devoured me with greedy eyes. I showed him everything from the hot secret of my wide open cunt to my shy asshole.

He loved me in hot greedy looks and embraces so tight we couldn’t breathe.

The last time, I pounded his chest and screamed in his face. I screamed at the paramedics. I learned to hate him when I stood almost alone by his coffin.

I swear that mother fucker was smiling.

I hate him still.

I will love him forever.

###

ps…

Loosely based on someone I knew.RIP you fuck.


A New thing and some other things.

First thing my last  comment on my now infamous Paris Review Post is up as the featured essay in Literary Orphans.

The title is a nod to 2pac. This song in case you don’t know it.

What else?

I’m working on some new non fiction. An attempt at humor about sex work. My failed career as a foot fetish ho. Also in the pipeline some queer flash fiction, some more non fiction this time about my relationship with Western Beauty Ideals and how I came to reject them outright.

Shit even some poetry.

Speaking of poetry I have a new one up at Ink Node. 

I’m still working on my freelance shit. Y’all.

I find the whole process so intimidating. I have a collection of resources and some basic how to shit and I know I just have to fucking write the shit.

OH I will have some book reviews coming up as well. I’ve read some good stuff and I will probably dedicate an entry to the Sherman Alexie book I’m reading because several of my favorite of his short works are in it. It is just so damn good.

How about some more stuff to read?

Check out this interview at The Rumpus with poet Danez Smith.  Ugh yes. Fuck yes. Yes.

My Muse and beloved dear friend writer Remittance Girl posted this the other day about Bad Men.

This bit:

Do you ever get the sneaking suspicion life would be a lot easier if we shut up about our erotic fantasies? I do.

Just read it.

I am going to talk about this at greater length later but a lot of my work is rife with various evils. Some of them erotic, some not. It is what moves me and I want to go in about it because I find it really important to talk about. For now go read that.

OH y’all. So I am obsessed with podcasts and I gotta shoutout Mick Betancourt. A.) He’s a funny mother fucker. B.) he’s posted some tidbits of his memoir in progress. Just go look. Listen.

Also this is an old episode but another of my favorite authors Craig Davidson was on the LA Review of Books. Check it out. 

Tood Robinson from Thuglit posted a cool little Q&A type video on facebook. If you like your lit dark and grimy you for real need to read Thuglit. I’m serious and I’m not just saying that because I was in it once. Just do it.

Now a bit of self promotion.

As ever (I am getting better about keeping it updated) you can come like my official author page on Facebook here.

You can follow me on twitter @weebeasty but I warn you I ain’t shit. I livetweet things like my period and when I get street harassed. So yeah. That.

Read ALL the XOjane Self care articles here.

Milcah and I are working like hell on Self Care Like a Boss ahead of us birthing the book. Follow along here.

Keep your eye on the etsy shop. I have some new smut to add soon. I’m talking gender bending, Daddy/Girl/, Literary fetish deep dicking type shit. Until then a current favorite from readers is Bite An Erotic Tale. Remember this is grown folks lit.

Here is a taste:

He starts to speak and I lay my hand over his mouth and shake my head.

“Oh no. Not tonight. Shhh.”

I tilt my head forward and use my other hand to yank the collar of his shirt down to expose a patch of his fuzzy skin. I have to stand on tiptoe and use the hand on his mouth for leverage to get myself to the right height and angle, when I’m satisfied I lean in and bite.

OKAY enough. I have work to do.

What are y’all up to?


Yeah Write #201- Lady Dozens.

Those girls are dangerous.

That is my first thought when I see them, the three of them looking hot and talking shit about everyone else that walks by.

I need friends, I want those friends. I know what to do.

Breathe deep, start walking.

As I pass one of the girls snickers,

“Oh booboo I see them ashy ass ankles.”

The other girls giggle and I stop and tip my sunglasses down with a fingertip. I look her up and down and smile.

“Babygirl, who stole them edges?”

The rest of the girls erupt in laughter, howling and clapping. One of them points at me, nodding.

“That’s my bitch right there. My bitch.”

We all laugh, my opponent shakes her head cackling.

“You got me booboo. You got me.”

“So one of y’all got some lotion or what? I gotta do something about my ashy ass ankles.”

Purses are unzipped, first to quick draw a tiny tube of Palmer’s is the first girl who spoke.

“Thanks Ma good lookin out.”

I sit and lotion my ashy feet and we laugh about a crooked wig and a fallen track.

Now, I have friends.

###

PS…

If you don’t know what the Dozens is, click here. Then come back and reread pls.

 


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