Yeah Write #456- Call Her

 

Call Her

by

Shannon Barber

Outside of Vegas I found the place. I parked and sat in the cold and waited. A coyote sat in the dark watching, waiting with me. From nowhere and everywhere we heard her song in the sand. The Pisces sang from her ancient grave. And we sang along.

### 

 

2019 You Raggedy Motha Fucka.

I am real done with 2019. I made an ever growing playlist I’ve titled 2019 Girl. BYE. Hit shuffle and come climb in my brain.

SO 2020. What is gonna happen?

……….well. Okay I’m so sorry I don’t have a huge special announcement.

I honestly have no clue what is going to happen. For the first time in a while, there is no literary hustle.  None. I have no plans. I have no super secret book plan. I have ideas of course, like we all always got a fuckin idea but, I’m not putting the pressure on to try and write the thing that will bust me into some low level of the mainstream.

Can we have a lil real talk? I had one too many flirtations with said mainstream. One (or fucking a good dozen) too many situations where, my ideas and concepts were SUPER tempting for magazines and publishers but as a person, and the person doing those things was not.

I was let down, defeated and hurt.

That said, all of that and folks straight up plagiarizing me and and and..and my dry pockets took me to a place where I was sad enough to consider just, not doing any of this shit. I needed that. I needed to a.) realize if I wasn’t making any forward progress whatever I decided to do was kind of a moot point and b.) I needed to cry it the fuck out and be mad and get through it.

The way out is through.

NOW.

After a lot of upset and shit going down I realized the most important things:

  1. I am who the fuck I am. A lot of people, A LOT OF PEOPLE hate everything about me. They hate my fiction, they hate my essays, they hate my blog posts, they hate my fuckin face. And that’s fine. I side with Katt Williams on this, they doin they fuckin jobs.
  2. #1 being what it is, why should I break myself down in order to please people who are on a real tip, NEVER going to fucks with me on that level. Even people who know me/are in my community. A lot of people are not checking for me and that’s okay too. It is frustrating because I want to do so much but, it is fine.
  3. MOST IMPORTANT. I’m gonna do what the fuck I want to do.

……………….

So that is the energy I’m taking into 2020.

I will write what the fuck I want. Some of it might be published some not. That’s fine. I’m not going to keep up that lil flame of hope for the mainstream to notice me. I’m tired of that.

Will I write a book? Maybe.

I dunno.

The small plan I have is to get a new smaller computer. I gave the 15″ HP I got last year to my partner for Christmas. I can’t use that machine and yeah.

What else?

I’m doing my loveletters again.

But mostly I am writing like a mother fucker who fears no fucking publishing house.

Basically, I am no longer holding myself to requirements I didn’t make up you know? Honestly, the prescribed path to writer/creative success is not mine. Trying to walk in other folks shoes hurt me so bad. I’m not taking that into 2020.

Dassit babes.

Happy New Year. Please be safe. Use rideshares, don’t drink and drive and let us walk into 2020, like the bad mother fuckers we are.

 

What A Frickin Year bro.

OKAY so let’s do recent news then my annual navel gazing look back at my own fuckery.

First up. My last publication of 2019 is one close to my heart. This essay was solicited, rejected, submitted, rejected a lot. Here is a taste:

Cultures around the world covet Blackness. Our skin tones, our styles, our hair, our features until, those things are attached to an actual Black person. Many of us have lived through harassment, job loss and general public humiliation because our style is too ghetto, our hair is inappropriate. I was raised to conform. Keep my hair straight, not be, act or look too Black. Blackness and my expression of it was constrained by the White gaze.

I was not taught how to love myself or how to be a human being.

III

Nothing about my physical appearance has ever been “right” save for a time during an extended eating disorder relapse when I was thin. Most of my life I have been chunky or fat. I am not able bodied. My teeth are not good. My skin is not clear. My hair is, frequently a mess. What began for me as a shameful secret has become the key to my personal liberation. My morals are, abhorrent to American culture.

Read it here at Queen Mobs Teahouse.

What else? I’ve resumed my newsletter/creatives loveletters. I moved over to Substack so come check em out. The year end big ole chonk one will be out probably soon.

This leads me into a little bit about what I’m doing with my work, what I’m working on and stuff. So I won’t be doing any super deep essays for a while. No new shit about racism, Anti Blackness etc. Y’all I honestly just can’t. I’m burnt out. Uh here’s the thing. I don’t think I will make my writer bones writing that shit. I’m not the one and that’s fine. Yes, I am good at writing those things. Yes, it matters deeply to me but, my language and who I am as a person and how I write just tends to cause problems and I’m tired.

In my continuing quest to figure out how to be more sustainable in my art, this part of my craft is just too much for me right now. The publications that fuck with me, most aren’t able to pay a whole bunch and I’m not mad at them for that, indie media is a struggle. I am very mindful that the payment I can get, often doesn’t counteract the cost of the rest of the bullshit.

This is brought to you by the fact that an entry I wrote here a few years ago, STILL makes white people so angry I get shit about it. I wrote about the experience at the time here. 

Thing is, I’ve long stopped equating the idea of folks seeing my work being totally worth it. Frankly, for me seeing (shit pls do not take this as haterade) that, I can’t be or am rarely considered to be the type of Black writer to get the seat at the table and the cash without a heavy fee (as in, toning it down, blablabla) it just hurts too much.

My body of work is out there. I am free with link sharing but I’m not sure I will do more of that in an intentional manner.

So this is also part of me doing the work of finding my lane. Y’all been here, you know that this is important to me.

Freelancing=not my lane.

Resource creator for my community=not my lane. I’ve failed in that because I don’t think I have the trust of communities I’m in so yeh.

I think that for 2020 I need to focus on just being the little weirdo potato I am. In this long ass process of letting go of one version of being a successful writer, I’m stumbling along and mostly just trying not to be fully lost.

Essentially, I’ll post stuff where/how I feel like in the moment. I’m not going to go real hard about trying to hustle my Medium or Kindle links. I just don’t have the energy to do all that and get pennies in return. It is not only time consuming but also, y’all it just hurts my feelings.

So there tis homies.

I will likely not post again until the new year. So I love you. Thank you for riding with me through the years. We gonna be okay.

Love,

Shannon

 

Yeah Write #452- Harold in the Afterlife

 

Harold in the Afterlife

by

Shannon Barber

He was excited to see 150 new emails in his inbox. The world had given him the gift of solitude in his communications. No more ridiculous chanting, no more exhausting transmogrification on demand, a simple button push and voila, everything he needed to get it all done. The little ding of an email sent or received had become his greatest pleasure.

He thought he would spend the rest of his eternity quietly tapping away on his miracle machine with dignity and organizational beauty but, no. One email, a single line and the dreaded high importance flag.

“Fifteen minutes.”

He left his little safe space and appeared as summoned. He stood with his hands folded in front of him, trying to look pleasant. The Boss looked at him over his glasses.

“Harold. We need to talk.”

“Yes sir.”

The Boss nodded.

“Harold, you are not an administrator anymore. You are dead. You are a ghost. Do your job please. Those emails you send, they don’t go anywhere. Please, you are assigned to full manifestations and shadow person appearances. We have tried to work with your needs and this, situation is untenable. It has been fifteen years.”

Harold sighed and squirmed.

“Yes sir.”

He looked so dejected and heart broken, The Boss held up a finger and tilted his head back. He hated to see such a face and made a decision.

“Harold, we’ll be moving you into this new industrial office park. It was built on desecrated ground. They have a lot of those computers you are so fond of. You can get in there and do whatever you want. Send emails, block emails, uh do the YouTube.”

The grin that spread across Harold’s misty face was beatific for a moment.

“Oh yes sir. I would like that very much. May I go right now?”

The Boss nodded and Harold dissipated. The Boss shook his head a little and muttered as he got back to work, “once a bureaucrat….”

###

Updates And Stuff To Read

Hello darlings.

Your problematic fave has some news and stuff to read.

An essay I’m terribly proud of finally found a home. Head on over to Queen Mobs Teahouse to read my ‘Make Me a Monster‘ essay. This essay which is, me at my rawest and realest got itself a lot of rejections included one that was from a solicited submission.

How about some hustle updates? Recently, Medium has changed how they calculate payment. I have put some new stuff over there and in absolutely non shocking news it doesn’t do well. I am trying to stop hurting my feelings with analytics but, frankly while yes I make about .60$ more a month or so, most people aren’t interesting. So on one hand, yay I made 1.87$ last month, I also offered up more than a few thousand words.

Other hustles, the holiday patreon drop off has begun. I’m not super worried about it. That is just what it do. Also as history has shown me, when I’m talking expansion that drives off patrons still so…eh.

On to Amazon. In the kindle publishing thing if you make your work available for Kindle unlimited you can make a bit of coin from page reads. I do not have any page reads since Sept 7. No sales of any of those pieces since Sept 25. I did one two week run of advertising to people I don’t already know. 600 impressions, 0 clicks, 0 sales. So I ate up my profits. I might make .52$ by new year. In total, for 2019 I made 35.46$ Minus advertising and when I tried FB advertising, my profit is about 4$. My two fave things I have available are the tiny horror collection Flashes of Discomfort. And the short story Bernie’s Warg. Those are affiliate links.

I think that’s it for hustling. I am trying really hard not to focus on it. It is so hard when you know that just a little more financial success would change so much. It is also hard because I know how I am and frankly, like I have said eleventy times before, I’m gonna write the shit anyway.

So I distribute stuff as I see fit. I’m doing really well at noting when things flop and why. I’m doing better at not getting bogged down in my financial failures. Emotionally, having my work not read/enjoyed etc isn’t the part that burns and that is so frustrating to me. It is a struggle but, we out here.

I think that’s all for now. 2020 is lookin up. I have one for sure thing that’ll be out third quarter. Maybe I’ll stop fucking around and write a real book. Another one. I dunno.

That’s all my loves.

OH OH wait..hold up.

I might be relaunching my creative loveletter thing. I am not sure yet. Stay tuned.

Jaggery and Cream – Flash written on the bus.

 Jaggery and Cream

by

Shannon Barber

 

Her lover likes to paint the slight concavity of her empty sockets. Daisies today. She always sits still and allows this silly indulgence, it keeps her lover quiet for a while,  their rants softened by contented soft humming. “Pretty, pretty. Flower baby.” She smiles at the soft nonsense.

“What color daisies?” She can feel her lovers soft sweet smile, “white in the left, blue in the right.” She doesn’t smile so as not to disturb her artist. Her lover has the smoothest most gentle touch, for monsters their lives had entwined into a softness that rarely showed itself for what it was.

She likes to feel the heat of her lovers breast. The naked hot weight of it resting on her near skeletal arm a hot reminder of life. Her lover in their turn loves to brush their long nipples against the ridges of her body, the protuberance of eat gnarl of bone far surpasses anything else.

They are jaggery and cream. All and nothing. The emptiness of after the end and the full ebullience of the beginning. They go on forever.

When her lover is done, her blank eye sockets run with color and life. She smiles and knows her lover has tears on their cheeks. “I only wish, I hadn’t taken your eyes. But I love that I took them.” She always forgives her cream lover. Always.

Where I come from. Influences. Nerdery Ahead.

Oh hi there.

Let’s get in our way back machine and have a look at a little flash fiction yours truly had published in 2009.

First the story and then under it, we’ll talk some deconstruction and what I was doing at the time. CW: eroticized murder.

By Her by Shannon Barber 

July 21, 2009 

 “Shall we?” 

The smoky tenor voice of the woman standing in the doorway brought him back to the reality of his situation. Suicide via sexual fantasy fulfillment, the only proper end for a man like him. Of course, all of the things people had said about him over the years are true. Pervert, dilettante, masochist of dangerous proportions, and so it has all come to this. 

“Yes of course.” 

He walks over and takes her hand, bends to kiss it. There are to be no names in this exchange, it had been meticulously arranged by a third outside party for a modest fee, a matchmaker of sorts to those with exotic and dangerous tastes. 

“It’s a pleasure and an honor madam.” 

Ever the gentleman, even in the moments before his last orgasm. The woman smiled at him clearly pleased. 

“The pleasure is mine sir.” 

Arm in arm they walked up the hall to a lavish bedroom that belonged to neither of them. This part another provision of their outside party, a place for the thing to happen, people to clean up the mess and dispose of the body. Everything to create the penultimate fantasy come true. 

It is a bonus that the woman, the avatar of his death is his kind of beauty. Fleshy, large busted, wide hips and an ample butt. He could almost picture lush big meaty thighs, he wondered absently how long her nipples might be and contented himself knowing he would find out. 

“Take your clothes off. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” 

He does as told, folding his black slacks and black shirt neatly. Stacking his boxers, shoes and jewelry atop them just so, fastidious even to the end. He lays on the bed waiting, watching his cock twitch into alertness. He hears the woman enter before he turns to look at her. She is naked and breathtaking. 

“You’re exquisite. Thank you.” 

She poses for him, framed right arm bent to hide the hand. His eyes fixate on her bent right arm, he knows what she has, the knowledge burns until he asks, his voice breaking. 

“Show me, please.” 

Slowly, terribly slowly she shows him what it is she has. A hunting knife, huge in her small hand, the blade gleaming and pristine. A frisson of fear, delight and anticipation runs down his spine to settle in his cock. 

She crosses the room, smiling at first his erect cock then his face. 

“I’m glad you like what you see. Now shut the fuck up and get ready to die.” 

Her tone changes, turns cold and his smile brightens then his eyes close. Ready to die just as he had lived. 

##

SO what exactly was I doin?

One of the things I got really interested in at the time was the idea of presenting the erotic without the explicitness literary minded folks tend to run screaming from.  I still feel some type of way about that but we’ll do that another day.

I also as ever have an interest in the idea of eroticizing violence or murder in ways that don’t depend on rape tropes. Or scorned woman or some “psycho” dickhole pretend Patrick Bateman fantasy. My interest comes from the book Lolita.

BUT Y SHANNON!

Here’s the thing. The first time I read Lolita, I think I was about 15. At that age, I was drawn to Lolita herself as some archetype of sexuality that resonated with me on a deep level. I was drawn to the desire at that age to flirt with sexuality. In presenting Lolita as this object of obsession by the terrible yet elegant Humbert appealed to me. It appealed to me in the same way *due to my genders being fluid as fuck* that reading a lot of gay fiction about hustlers and rent boys.

I wanted to both be the man and the object of lust. In my mind at that age, I had no right to or link to desirability. I was pretty well convinced that I would never be the object of that level of lust and it fascinated me.

I reread it in my 20s and I was struck less by that identification with Dolores herself but, the beauty of the language of something so terrible.

I have always been fascinated by the beautification of terror and horror. I love to play with the language of a horrible thing by making it beautiful. I like the lure of it. I like the idea that I can feel like I’m being stroked with silk and then BAM oh shit that was…terrible.

Another author who influenced me heavily in this direction is the magnificent Dennis Cooper. I’ll do a list of other of these influences below.

Thing is, one of the things what I do in my work is find those silky paths to bloodshed and mayhem. I like to explore things like predatory desire expressed by women and non cis men. I like exploring places where, being that I was raised and socialized to be a woman I was taught not to explore. Especially not to explore in a way that is pleasurable and outside of the purview of the white cis hetero dude view.

So below I’ll link/cp some of my other early work in this vein and then a list of authors and artists who have had an impact on this trajectory.

A poem reprint from June 2006. Originally in Zygote in my Coffee.

Bitches
by Shannon Barber
You stare at me as if I should know better.
You look like I should be jealous.
Jealous of your smile and wily ways.
You part my lips in the semblance of a smile.
Eyes that are not mine stare from the mirror.
Bestial beauty.
Barely constrained by civility.
I look closer.
Yes eye to eye with the enemy.
I smile – She smiles.
Obsidian eyes gleaming with cold fire.
I say I’ll eat you alive.
She says I’ll finish you for desert.
Slowly she is no longer the stranger.
This skin is my own.
The glittering eyes I begin to recognize.
And I am no ghost.
I smile and give her a wink.
She smiles and winks back.
We say – I don’t love you but I know you.
Love will come soon enough.
The woman I was-
The woman I am
Together behind black eyes and secret smiles.

~ This was 13 years ago and I believe that my use of words like bitches and my love of the Self Vs Self are rooted in this era of my work. Self Vs Self was also heavily influenced by one of my favorite artists Hazel Dooney. The evolution of that influence culminated in this piece of erotic literary flash. Self Vs Self, originally printed in Sleep. Snort. Fuck. June 23, 2010. You can also see some of my earlier mythos remixing happening here.

A recent piece where I play with these things was from Heavy Feather Review. Blood Fugue by yours truly.

OKAY actually I’m gonna do some book recs that put me on the path.

*Amazon affiliate links cause coins.

See A Grown Man Cry/Now Watch Him Die by Henry Rollins.

Wrong: Stories by Dennis Cooper.

Junky by William Burroughs. 

The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things by JT Leroy

City of Night by John Rechy. 

Suicide Blonde by Darcey Steinke 

Adulterers Anonymous by Lydia Lunch.

The Demon by Hubert Selby Jr