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!!

 

 

 

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Craft Notes- Deconstructing Desiderium*

Okay.

Buckle up.

It is fixing to get super nerdy today.

First, open this entry from the other day so you can see what I’m talking about.

I did one last Yeah, Write for the year. I posted a little erotic flash story I wrote on my phone titled Desiderium.

I’m going to take it apart and show y’all what I was doing and why I made the choices I made with it.

First the title.

Desiderium is in the group of Latin words relating to desire.  I am a major nerd about things like where words come from and while I was perusing wiktionary for inspiration, I found this:

Etymology[edit]

From dēsīderō(want, desire, wish for; miss, lack, need).

I had bookmarked the entry for desiderium, I have had the word, knocking around my brain for a little while. The other thing that is always rumbling in my brain is the concept of limerence as it was introduced to me by Remittance Girl a few years ago. I can’t remember the context of how it happened, but I do recall that conceptually limerence interests me as a thing to explore.

What the fuck is limerence?

For simplicity, let’s work from this definition from wiki:

Limerence (also infatuated love) is a state of mind which results from a romantic attraction to another person and typically includes obsessive thoughts and fantasies and a desire to form or maintain a relationship with the object of love and have one’s feelings reciprocated. PsychologistDorothy Tennov coined the term “limerence” for her 1979 book, Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love, to describe a concept that had grown out of her work in the mid-1960s, when she interviewed over 500 people on the topic of love.[1]

In the context of themes I want to play with, I wanted to explore what I call Dark Limerence.

The place where things get weird and bloody. That said, I didn’t want to explore it from a kind of typical Dude sees girl, dude stalks girl..y’all know.

I like to explore lust and limerence through the lens of a female perspective that lives firmly in the taboo. Violent sex, aggression, predation. The very typically “masculine” methods of seduction as presented to us as romance or erotic.

While I’m playing with these themes, I also want to avoid the rape fantasy. Not because I dislike or disapprove. I have zero opinions on whether or not women can have them.

I want to avoid it because often, women are presented only with rape fantasies as a means of exploring eroticized violence and I don’t like that. I think it’s limiting and silly.

I also like to play with the erotic being presented in such a way that maybe it’s erotic but it’s not really explicit but it is absolutely grown folks business.

This narrator, she is in the throes of the kind of memory that makes you wriggle around in your chair because your crotch is tingling. In writing it I wrote it to appear like this:

I want.

I need.

Black wings, a flutter against my skull. I see you and can’t stop the thoughts. Is this mania? When I see the skin beneath your ear, all I can think about is how soft it is, how vulnerable. Teeth or blade? Kiss or bite? Predation. Lust.

I use the two short phrases: I want. I need. To give the reader a moment to start to understand what is happening, the narrator is telling us that she needs. I used the right justification in order to give a visual to almost hearing this in dual voice. The Id “Id rattling the bars. I am a shell.” is almost fighting with itself. We have the simple but powerful phrases: I want. I need. And then we have the poetry of black wings and these questions.

This voice is a secret voice. It is the sort of voice we tend not to see women have in literature erotic or not. This isn’t performative sluthood, this is desire-need- with a big bold face.

I use italics in a few places more for visual aesthetic reasons than any other.

At the end, I bring it to where you the reader know what she’s thinking of. Rough sex. But, I don’t give you enough to figure out the context. Is it make up sex? Hate fuck?

Later, when we are spent, bruised and battered we will weep.

Drop salt tears on my breast, your cock hard again in my hand.

This isn’t a desire we often get to see from women. We see her move from talking to herself, to talking to her lover. She’s talking to both of us and at the end again, tells us exactly what she wants and who she is.

I am want.

I am need.

*I am longing for what is lost. 

A few things about the end here.

I very purposefully used a vague sense of time in this piece. We don’t know when any of this happened, if it happened, if it is fantasy or what? This could be playing out in her head on the subway, in traffic. She might be washing dishes and having this fantasy/memory.

I did that on purpose. I had a more concrete ending to the original version of this piece. The original ending was that she got home and beat up/fucked her partner.

I scrapped it because in terms of when I wrote prose poems/flash fiction, I love leaving it wide open. I know a lot of readers hate it, I hate it sometimes, but when it works, it leaves things that crawl under your skin and I like that.

The last line with the asterisk is also an easter egg if you’re a nerd. You’ll notice that the title is asterisked

Desiderium*

And the last line *I am longing for what is lost.  

The last line gives the meaning to the title if you hadn’t already figured it out.

So there you go.

If you would like a writing lesson for the day here it is.

Tuck away things you learn from other writers. There are times when while other artists talk about their work, what things mean to them it might help you identify something you like to play with.

And play.

Play with themes, play with what words make happen in your head. Play with tropes and commonly held ideas about how people are supposed to be.

Have some fuckin fun y’all.

Yeah Write Entry #298- Desiderium For RG

 

Desiderium*

by

Shannon Barber

 

I want.

I need.

Black wings, a flutter against my skull. I see you and can’t stop the thoughts. Is this mania? When I see the skin beneath your ear, all I can think about is how soft it is, how vulnerable. Teeth or blade? Kiss or bite? Predation. Lust.

Thoughts, bubbling like black water. Thoughts red and bloody.

I want.

I need.

Id rattling the bars. I am a shell.

A caress that precedes a slap, your hand around my throat. A threatening squeeze that echoes in my cunt.

I want.

I need.

My nails in your back, dragging skin until thin blood mixes with hot sweat.

Later, when we are spent, bruised and battered we will weep.

Drop salt tears on my breast, your cock hard again in my hand.

I am want.

I am need.

*I am longing for what is lost. 

###

PS

I will craft nerd about this tomorrow and explain a thing. Also it is dedicated to and inspired by one of my Muses Remittance Girl.

Giving what I have right now.

I can’t be in so much pain and anger today.

That said, I’d like to share some beauty.

First up, please enjoy a little video of me reading my story The Beloved of Colel Cab you may need to crank the volume, my new phone isn’t the greatest for video but here you go. Feel free to share it, like it, subscribe to my youtube channel. I will have more lit vids coming.

If you’d like a copy to read or read along (I am working on a good transcript) click here it is available as a free post at my Patreon. 

I have some new self-care stuff coming. Emergency stuff.

I have a new piece of work a prose-poem thing on Ink Node.

I am very well and truly out of spoons and this is what I know how to do. This is what I can give to my community. Some things from my heart that might be a bit of a respite.

I also offer up the pieces on self-care I wrote a while back and put on Medium. Take them and share them if you know folks who need them. Here and Here.

Check this slipstream flash story. It’s a happy little thing.

And one more, a favorite story of mine. A little Queer Flash fiction love letter to my fellow Brown Femmes. Check the link for the story and an interview.

This is all I have right now. I’m so not okay I have nothin else.

When I have something, it’s yours.

Until then, take care of yourselves and each other and I love y’all.

When things are real.

This is what I’ve been doing a lot of but not enough of:

workbeforework

Arty n instagrammy.

What else have I been doing?

Writing like the proverbial mother fucker.

I’ve been writing a different form/style of essay lately. They are likely unpublishable but I’m enjoying them except-no that’s a lie- the parts that just scorch my soul.

I’ve got a little series at Medium going about diversity in lit. You can check those out here.

I’ve been doing pretty well with my writer love letters. 

I’m having yet another bout of what magazines can I read/deal with that aren’t doing really bullshit things that bother me. I could call them all out, but I’m not going to, I just would like to have stuff to read where I won’t be shitbombed with bullshit.

What else?

OH something super important happened. I started this weird little experimental thing months ago. I wanted to meld together a cowboy story (as inspired by a reread of the original (amazon affiliate link, sorry bbs) Gunslinger book) and a story I’d listened to probably from Pseudopod maybe? I dunno, I had mermaids on the brain.

In my head, I wondered (because every piece of fiction I write starts with what if) what would it be like to make a legend or myth, the sort of thing you tell around a campfire, about a dry dissociated world, a cowboy and a siren. I started with siren.

It took me about 6.5 tries to get the voice and POV right. And all in I probably wrote well over 10K words on this one piece in the last six months or so because I kept feeling unsatisfied with what I was doing. It felt trite and not what I wanted to hear.

I finally finished it last week and it’s a chubber story at almost 4K. I reread it this weekend and holy fuckballs I’m kind of really into it. I created an entire base for a mythology that could go lots of places. That’s what I wanted.

As I get older I’m finding that rather than having a random idea and just going when I write fiction, I have things I want to accomplish. Things I want to try to get into a particular fictional framework and when it happens I just feel so happy.

I find this turn of events and change in how I write very interesting. The process has changed for me and I am really into where I’m heading I think. As long as I don’t fuck with myself too hard about it.

Okay that’s all for today. I have stuff to work on. New Daiyu to work out.

 

Yeah Write# 272 entry- The Goddess Cycle #1

The Goddess Cycle #1

Innana

by

Shannon Barber

When the sweet brown girls call, she comes. She weaves herself from their dreams and candles and incense smoke. The sweet brown girls know her when she moves into their circle. They call her Mother and Lover and General.

Her body made them feel good. Her pot belly and jiggling thighs and sagging breasts takes their breath and fear.

“H-hello sweet children.”

Their tongue feels strange on her lips, but she can manage a greeting. She understands their words, their language comes to her in song and prayers.

She dances with them, all naked and in love and free as wild weeds.

The girls know her names and respect the old dead tongue she knows intimately. She stops their dancing and settles each one to hear her prayers.

The first is lovely and shy, her cock lays half hard on her thigh and she lowers her eyes.

“What is your prayer?”

The girl murmurs,

“I want to be a Mother.”

She is blessed with the cupped palm of the Mother against her groin.

“Get your wife with child.”

The rest of the girl children ask for similar things. One wants to change her body to be fertile, another wants to grow her garden, another to be a nurse. Each gets her blessing until she gets to the last.

The last child does not sing nor does she grin. She stares at her Mother, her Lover and General, calls her with the scent of blood and need.

“Yes, Child?”

The girl has her fists clenched into tight little chubby brown balls and her body vibrates with rage.

“Mother, my Lover, my General. I want to fight. I want to go to war.”

“If you want to go to war child, can you name me?”

They stand up together and the child puts her fists on her wide hips.

“You are the Queen of Heaven.”

The Goddess nods.

“Louder.”

“You are the Daughter of  Sin and Ningal.”

“More.”

The girl’s heart thumps and she pounds her chest with one fist.

“You are she who descended into the underworld and returned. You are my Mother. You are my Lover. You are my General and we want blood.”

The Goddess howled and the divine light of war blazed from her eyes.

“My sweet child. Come, I will teach you the ways of war and the sacrifice of your enemies shall be my glory. Eli baltuti Ima’ ‘idu mituti.”

The naked girl  repeats the ancient words with pride.

” The Dead Will Be More Numerous Than The Living.”

The others cheer and rise, dancing again. Their ululations and sweat and love will carry their goddess and their sister into battle.

The other Gods look and see and smile.

Even old Delight of Frigg smiles at this new crop of prayers and songs.

“God Speed dear Innana. Goddess speed.”

###

Yeah, Write #269- A Rookie No More

A Rookie No More

by

Shannon Barber

“The fuck is this?”

One of the two men frowns, the other smiles and leans over to kiss the smooth brown cheek of the Black woman sitting on a pussy pink couch.

“Viv, this is my new partner, Detective Nathanial St. Pierre. Nate this is Vivian.”

Nate offers his hand and Viv offers hers ready to be kissed. He does so and shifts uncomfortably. Something about her big eyes and accent he can’t place makes him uncomfortable.

“What you want? I have shit to do. Drinks?”

Both men shake their heads.

“No thank you mi amor. I need your skills and the rookie needs to learn. Usual fee, we’ll meet you at The Gibbering Loon.”

Viv looks up at Nate, her large eyes unblinking, Nate resists squirming barely. She smiles and dismisses them with a wave.

In the car Nate starts bitching right away.

“Man Martinez, this bitch better be worth it. Something is wrong with her. She some kind of strawberry? And tonight? What is the Gib-“

Martinez chuckles.

“Shut up. Just be ready. I’ll pick you up at 9 and wear black. We gotta look nice to be out with Vivian. Don’t fuck this up with your bullshit. Now let’s get lunch.”

Martinez dresses carefully, black linen long sleeveless tunic over butter soft leather. While he lotions his big brown, heavily tattooed arms, he imagines Vivian stroking his skin with her long soft  fingers, can almost hear her huge deep laugh. He drapes himself in her favorite medallions. There are four each with a likeness of her in various forms. Yes, he feels fine.

Nate is not so careful. He pulls on a pair of black pants and a slightly too small black button up leftover from his waiter days. He waits for his partner, storing up his gripes. He hates being subordinate to Martinez. He’s so smooth with his whole Latin lover schtick.

Martinez arrives driving his matte black 300 and Nate hates him more.

“Well, I guess you tried.”

“Fuck you. What are you trying to be?” You look like Fuckin Blade.”

Martinez laughs and pulls away from the curb, he says nothing else.

The Gibbering Loon is the kind of place you wonder about when you drive by. The black facade is plain and almost seems to brood. At night it comes alive, beautiful and strange people ease in and out past a single black door.

Inside two headed bats and faceless sphinxes hold court from the walls and corners, Nate stands, nakedly gaping at everything.

“Listen, I worked hard to cultivate this. Don’t fuck it up, rookie.”

Nate can’t understand how he hears Martinez’s words above the din of laughter and music. Somewhere deep inside his antediluvian self, some unutterable terror rears itself up and cackles and makes great ululations of protest. The fear pops a sweat along his bald head, he wants to run.

 A few drinks in and Nate is outside of his body and fear. His mouth smiles and when he sees Martinez fall to his knees he follows suit. Vivian emerges from deep shadows clad in yellow silk and clearly naked beneath the thin fabric.

Nate feels his body rise, he feels it walk towards her open arms and lay his cheek against her dark breast. When he lifts his face to look into her eyes, he sees, he sees the secrets of the Sleeping, Dreaming Gods and the black notice of the Outer Gods. He understands.

She holds him softly and whispers in his ear.

“See inside me, I am the Crawling Chaos. I am reborn. Be mine, Detective St. Pierre.”

Nate breathes in the tenebrous darkness of her, he is hers.

She leaves him and Martinez is there, grinning his smooth grin.

“Somos hermanos. Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

Detective St. Pierre nods.

“Somos hermanos. Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

###