A Few Thoughts on Output

This morning I realized that I have now typed about 100K words or so on my little purple computer (I named her Dinky) and I wanted to talk a bit about output.

On average for every 2k words I produce, the world sees maybe half. That includes blog posts, stuff for Patreon (though, Patreon folks get to see a LOT of naked me talking myself through a first draft), stories, essay drafts, stuff. Poems. A lot of things.

A lot of those things are in fact crap.

They are often things I reread and I’m like:

Me: WTF IS THIS SHIT?

Me: ??? Que?

Me: WAT THE FUCK IS YOU EVEN DOING RN?

Me: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯- I DUNNO. GO WITH IT.

Ahem.

Half of my brain is like, I DO WHAT I WANT FUQ U AND UR PLANS…LOLOLOLOLOL.

That used to be a hang up for me. I really wanted to be a hot take type. Kick down them think pieces and make mega dollars. At least mega dollars in my little world.

Well, nope. That’s just not how it goes here at Shannon HQ and management would appreciate me not freaking out about it ALL the goddamn time.

Y’all real talk, I write some fucking hot ass garbage. And I write a lot more slowly than I used to. And it’s fine.

I’ve learned to accept that yes my process changes and that means I miss out on a lot of shit. But, on the other hand what I produce is exactly what I want to produce so, it is all to the good.

So really what I’m saying like I always say in my loveletters, be cool to your Weird Voice.

Don’t fuck up your process when you don’t have to.

Once upon a time, I thought if I was writing a thing I had to do something with it. At some point I decided that hustling for cash outweighed my need to make art. This led to some decisions I don’t necessarily regret but that I wish I’d given myself more time to do.

I put a huge amount of pressure on myself not only to produce ALL THE WORDS but to have them polished and ready immediately.

Nah son.

I wanted it so bad, I often fucked it up.

So yes, a lot of my published shit isn’t as perfect as it could be but, that’s just writing and it’ll be okay.

Before I go, real quick OMGOMGOMGOGMGOMGOMGOMGOMGAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

My book is shipping today.

Go check it out.

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AYYYYYY we OUT HERE in 2018

Ahem.

Hi y’all. I hope the new year finds you upright and feeling not too terrible.

What’s good 2018?

So I’ve been in the background scheming and plotting and writing.

I’ve been making a lot of plans and working up a lot of decisions.

One of the things I’m thinking very hard about a couple of things.

Do I want to divest from a lot of traditional/mainstream lit world shit? The decision has been weighing heavily on my mind for months.

Honestly, 90% of literary pubs just do not cater to, serve or even on teh face of just reading them want shit to do with me. I feel like I’ve fought for the literary community so hard, I have done so much labor and wept and bled and had anxiety attacks and now, I just don’t know.

I’m very torn between my very deep and real love for the literary community at large and the fact that often after interactions,  I feel beat up.

For a while I honestly just thought, maybe my work just sucks now. I suck. I mean, I got fucking doxxed for doing the work in terms of decolonizing and whatnot a writing space. I fall down these terrible shame holes when I check the analytics on damn near anything I do.

I have a BIG ass essay about this and all my real feels but really why do I do this to myself?

I originally had planned on actively seeking out more mainstream lit (remember I DO include freelance work in my saying lit world) world opportunities. And then I was like, why am I trying to put myself back into the same position I was in before? Do I really want to tell myself lies on the level that yes I can do me and STILL get the opportunities?

Nah.

I did some heavy re-evaluating of what I want out of my creative life and here’s where I’ve landed for now.

Truths:

  • I will likely never be a super high dollar writer.
  • I have a sizeable distrust of a LOT of people in the industry.
  • I cannot work with people I don’t trust. I have to do that in the WHOLE rest of my fucking life so, I don’t want to do that with my creative work.
  • The other choices I’m making in my life in order to improve the quality of my lived life can apply to my work.
  • I have worked with some very amazing editors in the past couple of years, all of whom welcome me back with open arms and hearts and who appreciate me as I am.

So what am I gonna do?

  • Write like the mother fucker I am.
  • Continue to write what moves me and not what’s gonna make me money.
  • Continue using Medium as a small income stream.
  • Be a bit less shy about pitching the editors I trust.
  • Continue being adventurous with what I’m doing.

That’s all the fuck I need to do.

All I have to do, is the shit I know I am good at.

The rest, will happen. I have to trust myself and my process and my Weird Voice and my heart.

That’s what is going down.

Soon, I’ll be coming back to nerd real hard again about some stuff. So happy new year babes.

I love y’all.

 

HOLY SHIT 2018

Well here we are.

Holy shitballs we made it.

Please pat yourselves on the back.

Now, what is in store for me this year?

First up some ch-cha-changes.

  1. I will be reading fewer physical books because we are moving into a tiny apartment and I already have been culling books for months.
  2. I’m expanding my offerings at Patreon. Now not only is there a letter, the Daiyuverse and whatnots but, I’m also going to be posting early access craft stuff. Like this entry but with WIPs and other extras. There is more but I’m not ready yet.
  3. MORE SHIT. With my commute being cut by about 2.5 hours a day I’m looking forward to being able to do more creative work.

Other stuff is a surprise.

So how about some 2017 numbers?

Submissions. I did not submit much. First up places I was rejected from, ghosted on or not responded to. There are more I forgot to put on my spreadsheet:

  • Argot Magazine
  • Submittable blog
  • Okey Panky
  • Literary Hub
  • Electric Literature
  • Buzzfeed

Acceptances:

  • Wear Your Voice Magazine (my first listicle and first submission of 2017) This made a lot of people very angry. It was reprinted a few times, also made people very angry.
  • ROAR  A poetry review that got hella personal.
  • Wear Your Voice Magazine II. Funnily enough, it made a few people angry but not as many.
  • Ravishly. My first very in depth look at my personal woo in the context of the whiteness of witchy things.
  • Unchaste Anthology II.  Wee poems for a beautiful little thing.
  • The Wanderer. Some much rejected poems found a home here.

My most rejected stuff was the poems in The Wanderer. Most of the rejections were form, one said that they didn’t publish confessional poetry (that place does but that is a privilege reserved for White women).

My JT Leroy essay behind the paywall at Medium was form rejected four times according to my email. However, it is doing fairly well by itself there.

What else happened in my lit life?

I didn’t publish as much about race as I have in years past but, 2017 was the year of White folks completely raging out about my work. Some gems. This person literally commented on almost every comment on the first Wear Your Voice Article:

David Brooks · 

Sage Radachowsky christ your also not black. have you read the article? it more or less says white people have no say nor idea about what racism is. So you need to stop commenting as well. I am just helping out the author here and trying to get all you whities to understand your not allowed to comment.
Like · Reply · 2 · 30w
And another winner:

Christopher Crafton

Except that being called ‘white’ IS stereotyping.
There is ZERO genetic basis for lumping pale skinned people into a monolithic category. None.
Not genetically, nor culturally.
Don’t believe me? Try walking up to a Israeli in Jeruselum and telling him he’s the same as a Palestenian because they are both white. See how long it takes to get knocked on your ass.
Like · Reply · 18 · 30w · Edited
I recall a few comments also calling me personally cancer, racist, cunt etc. One of the reprints was in a local magazine and after reading some comments from local people, I was glad they didn’t include my photo. I was “told” things like:
  • I should give the author some real problems.
  • Shannon is rude.
  • This is anti-white propaganda.

2017 was also the year that specifically my work in various spaces to deal with Whiteness got me doxxed with some other folks.

I spent a lot of this year screening racist filth out of my inboxes, I blocked some here, I had to hear about it from friends and frankly, it really fucked up a lot of my year. I clocked in threats that covered everything from you’ll never get published in X magazines, to I’ll rape you, to I’ll teach you a lesson bitch to we’re going to tell everyone in the industry what a racist you are.

I landed a few FB bans. One for having the phrase White people in a status and two other times for saying men are trash.

After all that stress and dealing with my partner being really ill, bills and shit you know what?

I’m still fucking here.

The threats, name calling, doxxing, having my posts on FB reported, etc. Yes they slowed me down during the latter half of 2017 because I had to make some hard decisions about my work.

And you know what?

I hit fuck it.

2017 really cemented for me the fact that, there is not a lot I can say without somebody calling me a racist. Set boundaries for White people? Racist. Talk about Whiteness as a cultural construct that is hell bent on fucking up shit for everybody? I AM THE REAL RACIST.

And you know what? I can only assume that my work is hitting the right nerve. Change hurts. Learning hurts a lot.

Fuck it.

I also learned that sometimes I reach out into the blue nowhere that is the internet, and I touch folks. When I hear that my newsletter/loveletter thing made someone feel good. Or when someone says to me, I read this and was pissed and then I realized I needed to see this it is fuckin great.

I learned that wading through the people who devalue my work for whatever reason, and through the people whom I make so uncomfortable they are willing to try and take food off of my table and fuck up my life in general- I can get through it.

I can get through and still do what the fuck I am meant to do.

Because fuck those people.

For every Pepe avatar having shitfuck to the “reasonable” White feminists who are actively working to silence me- fuck em.

I have shit to do and art to make.

I have a life to live and ain’t nobody got time for that.

What else?

Later this month the little beautiful poetry book I wrote is coming out. These fuckass people almost ruined what is a dream for me.

gasolineheart
[image description: a square image with round purple sequins, yellow text overlay says: Gasoline Heart Shannon Barber]
I FUCKING MADE THAT.

I am so proud of it and have so many things to say.

You can have that later on. Pre-order for shipping in a few weeks here.

So really, 2017 was a lot of painful lessons. A lot of realizations about myself, my work and where I fit in the world.

And a lot of great support. Beautiful friends. Amazing writers. Great books and stuff.

I hope 2018 brings me some new stuff. New adventures. Big Swing pitches and submissions.

That’s all.

As I like to say:

WELCOME TO THE PIT MOTHER FUCKERS!!

How a Cowboy is Born. New Mythos

Welcome loves!

I’m going to be doing a new thing. Over at Patreon, I’m going to be posting some craft essays with some extras. I’ll reprint the essays here without the extras. What are the extras you ask?

Might be a WIP, might be a curated playlist, might be a writing exercise. Want to get in on that? Head over to Patreon and drop a dollar a month. For real that’s all it takes and you’ll get that AND get in on that Daiyuverse action.

NOW let’s get on with the mythos. Go get a snack, I’m going in.

Welcome to Nerdtown population you and me.

You ready to get down with some deep dorking about writing and myth creation? LET US NERD!

Few things before we get going.

If you are a Patron, you’re seeing this about a week before I blog it. That is a new thing, we talked about it and here it is.

If you are reading my blog and want early access to craft shit, WIPs and stuff, join me at Patreon for as little as a DOLLAR A MONTH YO!

Ready?

First for reference material I’m going to be referring to my cowboy/mermaid myth that was in the first issue of Rigorous. Link here, feel free to follow along.

Let’s get started.

One of the things I enjoy playing with is myth creation. I’ve long been a fan of mythology from the European classics we all learned in school to myths from the African Diaspora, Afro-diasporic religions, indigenous religion and myth. I love it. For our purposes I’m considering myth to be a broad umbrella term that covers religions, mythos worlds like Lovecraft, etc. Vampires, werewolves, fairies, Gods/esses. All that stuff is mythos for us.

For me creating or remixing mythos is a combination of what if, I wish and let’s roll with it and see what happens. I am using the I wish method to create an expansion to what we can consider a Western by introducing mythic magical elements. As we see in the Cowboy and Mermaid myth, I took the idea of a long gunslinger (inspired by a re-read of the Gunslinger) and I had very specific things I wanted to do:

  • I wanted to inject Blackness into a Western.
  • I wanted to figure out, what would happen to the mermaids in a dry dessert world.
  • I wanted to give the sense that there was a mythos/reality in place in this world.
  • I wanted to tell a magical story the way I would tell a realist story.

Before getting into mythos remixing, it is highly importance to do your research. Remixing doesn’t mean you can take what is sacred and poop on it. I mean, you can but it is a dick move and nobody needs to be that person. For the new cowboy myth, I’m working with, as I was starting it I had a basic framework to deal with.

  • Another lone cowboy on foot
  • Vengeance (inspired by watching the reboot of the Magnificent 7)
  • Loas
  • A huge black horse
  • GAYS

These are, in terms of classic Western mythos, very disparate things. Westerns have Christian churches, steely eyed white dudes and gays well, we know.

How did I start?

The great thing about being a writer is that, you get to make it up as you go along. My basic is this. We have the lone, broken hearted cowboy on a mission. Why? (SPOILERS) his town was destroyed by oil/railroad barons. His family, everyone is dead. Classic right?

I decided to give our gays very prominent role. They are going to be the bridge between the classic Western, they fucked up my town now they gotta die, to the mystical. I don’t want to disrupt the Western so much as tweak it, instead of finding the sheriff, our cowboy is going to be taken to visit a Loa who, in this world has several manifestations and it is just how it is.

In creating or remixing mythos, don’t dither. This is where you as a creator need to drive it like you stole it. For mythos creation, I recommend some notes. If you get nerdy like me, sometimes a framework as opposed to a full outline is enough. You can use my bullet list method, decide on who is telling the story, what is in the world, what myths you want and go. Be bold, own it and don’t be afraid to just go for it and see what happens.

Now back to our cowboy.

In this story, I wanted to create a world where the Loas are the dominant gods. And they hang around but, I don’t want them to be presented in the horrible racist way a lot of things to do with Afro-diasporic religions. Frequently, we are presented with the scary ignorant savage trope and that is crap. So, prior to starting I did a lot of reading by people who are practitioners, I paid close attention to how they talked about the way they feel when they communicate with their Loas.

For me as a writer, part of my general mission in my creative life is staying in my lane and being as respectful as I can to the material that influences and inspires me. I feel it is my responsibility as a writer to do my research and consider carefully how to use the source material. I want to show actual love and appreciation and not the I LOVE U I DO WHAT I WANT type.

If you are a White writer, inspired by cultures outside of your own this is triply, eleventy million times more important. If you want to think of it selfishly, you don’t want to be dragged in public and to be bigger about it, you don’t want to insult and demean the people you are appreciating.

What next?

Next, we play.

Not enough talk about writing includes this and I’ve found it to be an integral part of my process. Even when I’m writing serious material, I want to play. I want to fool around in the world I’m making, play with detail and textures and speech. Writing fiction doesn’t have to be all serious business.

Now how about a lil taste of the new Cowboy myth?

“Thank you kind sir. It has been too long since my shadow was welcome across any doorstep.” Warmed and calm the man took a table and ordered himself a feast. Salty fried potatoes, meat patties, beer and a request to the piano player for something bubbly. The piano player refused his coin and sat rocking before playing an effervescent bright tune that had every toe tapping. As the sun set outside, the café began to fill with a colorful array of patrons.

No one treated him like a stranger, folks nodded, some stopped to talk to him and one tall freckled man with a ginger afro and gold hoops in his nose sat and presented the man with a little cake. “Hello and good evening sir. My name is Andreas and you are?” The stranger smiled at the cake then the man. “My name is Francis. Good evening to you, eh may I?” Andreas nodded, “please do or you’ll like hurt my husbands feelings. He makes little sweets for folks and you look like a man in need of a sweet. I recommend having it with a brandied coffee.”

Once the coffee came, Francis bit into the little cake and closed his eyes. Heady vanilla so strong it was almost musky followed by the slight tang of spices he couldn’t name made him see stars. “Your husband, has a gift sir. This is the best cake I’ve ever head, pray don’t tell my Mama Gods rest her sweet soul. What a gift, how can I repay your kindness?”

Let’s talk a little about my process and how this story is being shaped.

Okay strap in, I’m gonna show you my brain. The initial push for this story came from the cover of the Hank Williams song, I’m So Lonesome I could Cry as done by Johnny Cash and Nick Cave.

I like to sing this version to myself and as I was doing so on my way to work, I had a vision of another cowboy. Said cowboy hung around my brain not saying anything for a few weeks and then my partner and I watched the reboot of the Magnificent 7 (excellent, very enjoyable eye candy) and that first glimpse of Denzel as a cowboy, my cowboy started talking and said, “I want every one of those motherfuckers dead.”

The general arc of this story reflects my personal interest in the manifestations of the vengeance narrative that doesn’t just involve some rando angry white dude. I have a thing with that and well, I’m just gonna go with it. I’ve not really tried it out pairing it with a Western aesthetic so, I figured why not?

Throw in some Zydeco music, my person relationship with Baron Samedi and frequent conversations with my personal group of dieties and here we are. The soundtrack for Black Rider is moving from a lot of Johnny Cash, Dr. John, The Blues Brothers, Buckwheat Zydeco, and the exquisite version of Psycho by Teddy Thompson from that awful Psycho film reboot soundtrack. Film=garbage, soundtrack=100%.

I’m not totally sure how our cowboy is going to meet the Black Rider or if he will. I don’t know yet, I’m leaning towards he will because I want to try my hand at writing a big ass gun fight influenced by the Haitian Revolution and the mythos surrounding how it got started. Why? Why not!

Okay my loves there you have it. This is how the Cowboy in this myth is born.

Next time, I’ll talk some about how the voices of things manifest in my brain.

Questions? Comments? HAVE AT IT YO!!

 

 

 

Oh the Pearls and How they are clutched

Recently (again) someone is not supervising a very famous white writer and their use of social media and she has been (again) showing her whole ass.

This time it is presumably over the concept of sensitivity readers.

Y’all.

Every time I see (usually) some white writer get their drawers in a wad it goes like this:

OMG I WRITE WHAT I WANT!

HOW DARE YOU CENSOR ME!

I’M NOT RAYCIST UR RAYCIST OMG U RAYYYYYYYYYYYYYCIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIST HOW DARE YOU!

The remix:

OMG HOW DARE YOU SAY THIS RACIST ASS RACIST THING I WROTE IS RACIST HOW DARE YOU CENSOR MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

Or:

OMG Y DON’T U FUCKIN BROWN PPL GO DO IT URSELVES GOSH!

Brown (or other marginalized people) do it ourselves:

OMG THIS IS NOT INCLUSIVE!

HAHA SO CALLED DIVERSITY HUH!

OMG UR SO RAYCIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISSSST!

Then:

OMG HOW DARE U DO………………

I mean.

Y’all.

Let me tell you a thing.

Ahem. Marginalized people being pissed off about racist/ableist/homophobic (pick however many) material being published is not the product of the SJW internet super takeover. Nor is it a result of triggered millennials. If you say that, you obviously have not paid attention to marginalized people for the last I dunno for fucking ever.

The difference now is that we can be heard. We can be in contact with each other and solidarity, when it is not for you is a mother fucker ain’t it? Big publishing houses getting scattered letters from hurt marginalized people is way easier to ignore than an army of us saying, no this is bullshit. Fix it.

I know for a lot of White writers it may be shocking, but most of us others know what you are saying when you refer to us as bullies, when you judge our often very deep and well thought out writings about whatever bullshit is going on as “knee jerk” reactions and you point to other famous white people who have no stake in the game who say it’s no big deal or identity politics ruin everything blabablalba, we see you.

We see you and we know what you mean.

And those who are in the gatekeeping positions, when you outright or low key cosign this shit, we know.

And when you wring your hands and publicly lament the lack of diversity in your magazines and whatnot, well you made that bed booboo.

I will say again that censorship is not made of simply being told that you’ve done/created something that is a problem.

Censorship is not made up of folks seeing what bullshit you’re on and talking about it with or without your participation.

It isn’t even when a bunch of angry people take the internet to tell publishers that we don’t want the shitty shit you made that is harmful to us released.

Why is this not censorship?

Nah. I’m not doing that today.

Also honestly I feel like I’ve written everything serious about this that I want to.

Here are some links to shit I‘ve already said.

Year in review post is coming. Then my plan for 2018.

My end of year loveletters are pretty awesome, come read and subscribe.

OH I have a new feature at Patreon. I’ll be posting writing craft essays that will appear here later on. The versions here will not usually have whole stories or things attached so, for some crafty goodness come drop a buck a month and get the Daiyuverse AND writing shits.

It is fixin to be lit!!

Updates, Stuff n thangs.

OH hey y’all.

I have SO MUCH NEWS Y’ALL.

If you’ve been rolling with me for a while you know sometimes I save up good news and then I throw it all at you like confetti. Get ready.

First up, Y’ALL Y’ALL Y’ALL!!! My baby is born!

Gasoline Heart my lil poetry book baby is available for pre-order. Looky here. She is so pretty and ugh fuck. Y’all.

ALl I could do when my publisher said it’s gone to print is respond as follows:

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH*gasp*AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

Ahem. Holy shit. Holy shit HOLY SHIT.

If the FCC hasn’t burned the internet to the ground I am working up a virtual tour/readings and will let y’all know.

Ahem.

Next thing is, y’all I got one more publication for the year. It is a bucketlist item. I GOT PUBLISHED IN THE MOTHA FUCKIN WANDERER Y’ALL!!!!!!!!!!! See my poems here.

Y’all, most of my favorite poets are/have been in there. The poems published there were each rejected from a LOT of places, essentially thanks but no thanks rejections. Most of my poetry (in case you’ve ever wondered) has traditionally gotten that type of response from the pobiz. Thanks but no thanks, thanks but we don’t do confessional/personal/blabla. So this is huge for me. Especially with the baby on the way. I have an essay in the works about it but yeah huge deal.

What else?

My much rejected essay about some of my literary influences is up at Medium behind the paywall. Here’s a taste:

I did what I’d taught myself to do. I read every word JT wrote that I could get my hands on. I studied it, I read about it, I remember writing in a journal why I liked it, how I liked it. And then I wrote my very first personal essay. It was, of course a hot mess, scrawled in a red glitter Wizard of Oz diary. It was a gory blow by blow about a terrible relationship-ish situation I’d found myself in.

I wrote it with gusto and terror. I wrote about how, as terrible as being abused was, I was happy to be wanted sometimes. My language was simplistic, I relied heavily on using vulgarity and explicit sex to hide my real emotions. It took me several weeks to write and I was so proud of myself when it was done. I typed it up on a computer at the library and printed it out, I read it in secret late at night alone and hid it deep inside my mountain of things.

Find it here. Feel free to throw claps or pass it along to friends who are down with Medium paywall.

That’s pretty much it for pub news.

In side hustle news. GOOD NEWS!! Patreon decided not to go ahead with the terrible fee schedule change. SO that means, Imma be expanding that shit.

More about that in my end of year wrap post later.

You can read some standalone Daiyuverse here at wattpad.

Um yeah. I think that’s all in the news you can use.

I have been grinding in the background, trying to get ready for large life changes. Writing like a motherfucker.

Hopefully before the end of the goddamn year I will finish my new pro website AND shit.

As usual I’m flailing into the future fully hype and terrified.

That’s it for now. Coming soonish, my end of year wrap up, some news and whatnots. And I’m gonna do one last giant link list so y’all, drop them links to your stuff in the comments.