Don’t Throw That Shit Away

HELLO my favorite Space Babes.

Let’s talk about holding onto your stuff.

I write a lot of shit. I have tons of scraps of stories, bits of poems, lil snatches of research and whatnots. From one of my fave books about writing, the classic On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King,  one of the lasting lessons for me was to stop throwing stuff away. Way back when I was a baby potato, writing in absolute secret I was terrified of anyone finding out and I was so embarrassed by how bad I was at writing, I’d write stories, read them once and tear them up. If I was feeling particularly upset, I’d burn the pieces.

Very dramatic.

Once I started using computers regularly, I did about the same thing. I wrote stuff, decided I was too shitty to live and deleted them. I did this for probably the first decade (from let’s say age 13 through about 24) of me becoming a writer.

After my first reading of On Writing, the first thing I put into practice was not in fact keeping what I wrote. I still had a bad habit of just deleting anything I didn’t believe in immediately. Back then, I was very vested in being published in very specific ways. I was mainly writing a lot of erotica and copy for a few adult sites. I occasionally got a horror publication here and there.

My criteria for what I’d keep or not keep came down to being held hostage by the Literary Canon. Cis, white, hetero unless it was queer for hetero eyes. That was what got me into the industry. I didn’t believe that my secret work (the baby versions of a lot of what I’m doing now) was worth keeping because I was taught otherwise. On occasion, I ventured into literary Black territory and was usually not rewarded in any way by doing so. There was a time when, I had the audacity to be very Black and Queer on the internet and I lost a really lucrative job because after my employer checked my personal stuff (a blog and whatnot) he sent me a very worried email that I couldn’t really write “normal”.

Fast forward to earlier this morning. I was casting about looking for an older story I was thinking about reprinting and I found a treasure trove of things I tucked away in my cloud storage. In the past five or so years I’ve suffered some catastrophic data losses and computers dying and taking years of work with them so, stumbling on things I wrote in 2010/2011 feels so good.

I spent some time reading some of my early noir, I have the first 60 pages of a super natural/werewolf buddy detective thing I wrote way back in 2010ish. I know that much of the going writer culture is to be terribly embarrassed by your old work. Hide that first novel in a drawer, be charmingly embarassed in interviews when asked about your early work.

I reject that entirely. I am not embarrassed that once upon a time I didn’t know how to walk and routinely shit my pants. Now, I can (well I’m not great at it but) walk and I learned how to use the toilet. I’ve evolved. I’m proud of my growth as a human. I am so proud of myself for learning and changing.

From being confined to writing explicit work featuring a LOT of white people to now I have tucked away in a folder erotica that transgresses gender, race, and a few very creepy kings with impunity. It was purchased by a now defunct publisher so I might go ahead and publish it.

Look.

You cannot step back and appreciate your own growth if you hide where you were. I don’t believe in shame about how we become the artists we are. That is why I’m rarely ashamed to show a first draft. I’m rarely upset that I have a snippet of a story that just will never ever work. I’m proud that I’ve found my voice and having this back catalog of stuff that shows me the way I got here is fucking amazing.

Don’t be ashamed.

Keep doing what you’re doing.

Play. When I say play I mean just fuck around. Never written sf? Give it a shot. Try stuff. Let go and play on the swingset and write a crappy ass horror story or a super cheesy love story. As I’ve said in my creative loveletters, make something ugly. Paint something, put together a puzzle, just do something. Get a weird idea and see where it goes.

Don’t throw it away.

Okay below, find a good chunk of the weird buddy werewolf thing I started and may yet finish.

Continue reading “Don’t Throw That Shit Away”

Lit News and whatnots.

OH hey you. I got news. You want news?

First, go read my newest piece up at Heavy Feather Review. It is a wee tiny murdery bloody thing.

What else?

I am pretty close to reopening a centralized writer page on facebook. I don’t really want to but, I also need ONE spot to promote shit cause, I’m about to have some shit to promote and doing it EVERYWHERE is just exhausting. That said, I’m going to make it lit af, promote other folks. It’ll be awesome. AND I will invite y’all to follow along.

What am I working on?

Most important thing is The OG Self Care Like a Boss Compendium. What the shit is that? Well y’all, after a heavy amount of straight plagiarism this year alone, I’ve decided to put together a big ass weird guide with everything. I’ll be releasing it on Amazon as both an Ebook and a print book. Currently, it is a big ole chonky 52k words and I’ll probably be adding another 20-25. More info when I get closer to the run up to launch.

What else?

I’m writing like a mother fucker. My economic situation took a bit of a shit but, unlike in previous times, I’m not letting that crush my creative drive. I’m not doing freelance. I haven’t frantically tried to figure out how to get another job. I’m dealing and that is huge.

I know bloggin has been slow af.

OH also, a new thing. You can find a brand new look at some of the self care material and some other stuff over on Kofi. If you see something you like please share it with your people.

The OTHER thing about a new facebook author page is that, I am very likely to use it as a vehicle for writing and craft stuff. So for realreal. Keep your eye out.

If you’ve got projects, books to promo etc. Please feel free to drop links in comments and check each other out.

Yeah, Write #390- Death in the Jungle

Death in the Jungle

The corner was busy, always busy.  The same grimy business of survival. Cars passed, girls and not girls on the stroll, bindles and cash got passed. Things are the same forever but, folks’ bodies remember it all. It was business as usual in the jungle.  In the bright of daylight when the shadows hide nothing, shots echo.  

But when they all ducked, nothing was there.

Call Her- Microprose Practice

Call Her-

Microprose practice for Christine.

by Shannon Barber

How to raise them, stand hand in hand, speak and dream together. Sing the scabrous music of the Outer God. Call Nephren-Ka, Goddess of Bloody Tongues.  

Sing children. 

Fm’latgh. 

Burn. 

 Call her- 

Leviathan.

Yeah Write #373- On Post Coital Sagacity.

 

On Post Coital Sagacity.

by

Shannon Barber

My roommate watched me kiss her goodbye. I grinned at him.

“What’s wrong sugar pie?”

I was fuck drunk and slightly slurry.

“How the fuck?”

He gestured at me, then the door, then my crotch. I let him smell her on my breath.

“Pussy sapience. Nighty-night, booboo.”

“Night, asshole.”

###

Side Hustle Thoughts.

I’m in a mood. Buckle in.

I’ve been (as always) looking at my hustles.

Before I dive in here is my view. I still don’t like freelancing that much. I’m not a fan of wading through new bullshit with usually White editors who mean well but ultimately exhaust me and I wind up doing a lot of emotional labor I don’t get paid for. I also don’t like publications that let their readership go fucking wild on authors and just delete the posts but not the articles.

There are a small group of editors I trust and some opportunities I’ve been extended. Some of the problem with that for me is, I do not have the ability to do what equates to a bit more than a part time job especially when the pay is not commensurate with an actual PT job.

Okay.

The essential going advice is pretty much Field of Dreams- If you build it they will come. Most advice talks about offering the good content, promote it, make it available etc. I do that and unfortunately as I’ve said and experienced for like a decade, it just does not work for me.

Again, recently at the behest of some folks who were super hype, I reopened my Swag Shop.  And again, not ONE of the people who asked shared it, looked at it or purchased anything.

I know my price points tend towards beyond reasonable. At one point I was offering up about 110K words of fiction, non fiction etc for 11$ and only one person bought it. I have a TON of content I offer for free via this blog, medium etc. I am always very specific about how folks can help out. Even if you can’t drop a dollar, I always ask that things are shared.

This does not work for me.

Quite frankly, I get the most support if I’m having a public internet meltdown about not being able to pay for something and frankly doing the I AM POOR AND PANICKING dance is humiliating and exhausting.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and every time I try with the side hustles it comes down to this. I do a thing, write a bunch of shit or whatever and after a few days when there are zero reads, no shares etc, I feel completely devalued.

I am a Black Queer non binary femme person. I have to deal with being undervalued constantly in my life. From my dayjob to engagement with people, to the thousands of hours of emotional labor I’ve put in around meatspace and the internet, it is something that is just a shadow in my life.

For a few years now I have tried really hard to believe that if I provide the good shit, the good shit will flow back in return. I had a come to Odin talk with myself and really examined my pricing and whatnot. On one hand, folks have told me to charge more for stuff, that I am worth so much more than the few bucks I ask for.

Yet, the proof is not in the pudding.

Here is what I have come to believe now. It doesn’t matter what think I am worth. It doesn’t. The thing is, I can’t pay myself. I also can’t keep getting my hopes up. I am a terribly sensitive flower. I want so much to believe that the work I do can help sustain my life and do some good in the world, when there is just zero interest or follow up it just crushes me.

On one hand, having started in short literary fiction I am primed for rejection. When I’m in submission mode, I eat rejection. But, that rejection is not the same. It isn’t the build up and then nothing. That is the thing that is wrecking me over and over again.

The truth is, like a lot of other marginalized folks, the people who have shown that material support, who have bought my echapbook and stories and whatnot are in the same position I am.

The truth is, I’m not the beloved type of Black person with opinions so the people in the position to do the most, don’t.

They don’t.

And I’m not even necessarily talking about strangers. I’m thinking about people in my immediate circles who I’ve seen elevate other people, triple funded vacations, therapy everything and I can’t get a share of a link?

Y’all.

Real talk?

It fucks me up. It hurts my heart, it hurts my wallet it makes doing the shit I’m good at harder. And to have the idea reinforced that if I provide, others will provide so jammed down my throat, it hurts because obviously that is not for me.

I have to make a commitment to myself that is loving and preservative of my sanity and feelings.

I cannot give space to the whole woowoo idea that the universe (or my community) will do shit for me unless I am doing my poverty dance. I can’t.

I’m not sure what that means in terms of my work and how I offer things. I may just go to submitting only and freelancing a little and trying other avenues of revenue that aren’t writing.

I dunno. All I know is that I can’t keep working so hard and trying to hard and winding up with a deficit of both coins and good feelings.

That’s it for now.

First draft funsies. CW VIOLENCE. SERIOUSLY.

No really. Violence, allusions to sexual violence. Murder.

This is some srs business.

If you’ve known me for a long time, you know I love a good Dark Violent Femme revenge crime story. The first one I ever wrote way back in 2011 is here at The Flash Fiction offensive. Yes, for real content warning. That shit is violent.

What I’ve put below is a pure first draft. I was noodling and wanted to play.

I had some very specific aims here but, to find out about it you’ll have to wait until Saturday where I will do a follow up and deconstruct what I was doing, how I might edit it, etc.

SO AGAIN

LAST CHANCE BRO.

THAR BE VIOLENCE AHEAD.

About 1600 words, unedited. Right from my brainpan.

#

Two things. Had he been smarter, there would be no story. Second thing, the wrath of a woman with ideas about behavior modification is truly a beautiful thing. Let’s set the scene, shall we? 

Our players: 

She: Brown. Braids. Lip-gloss. Booty shorts. Books. Cigarettes and a mysterious coffee cup. 

He: Brown. Bald. Tragically unaware. Lacking game. Doomed. 

Setting: Quiet street in the hood, around 3 AM. High summer.  

~ 

She always sits on her stoop late at night in the summer, a book in one hand, coffee cup at her elbow and a steady chain of cigarettes until she’s done or tired or whatever she does. She knows He prowls. He’s new, not one of the hood dudes. Not one of her neighbors or somebody’s cousin. Not the him she waits for at night. 

He skulks. 

He creeps. 

She knows. 

She ready. 

He makes his approach She sitting in her usual spot, in her usual cute booty shorts, her Timbs unlaced, cigarette dangling from the corner of her mouth, lookin’ like a whole ass snack.  

“Hey, how you doin’-“ 

She shakes her head, not bothering to look up from the book in her hand. 

“Nah man. Go on.” 

And so, He is curved and salty about it but, like any apex predator he’s patient. He can wait. He’ll shoot his shot another time. 

Days and nights pass.  

He is swift enough to understand that She is a night owl. He can see that his opportunity will come.  

He skulks. 

He creeps. 

She knows. 

She ready. 

He knows from asking around that she ain’t strapped. A few men give him vague warnings about her being crazy but, it doesn’t matter. He knows how to handle a woman.  

Tonight she’s posted up, no Timbs this time, pajama shorty shorts on and flip flops. She reaches to her left and her long fingers grope, then flutter on a soft pack of cigarettes. That drags her attention away from her book and she looks down at the empty pack like it insulted her Mama. 

“Fuck.” 

He smiles. 

He waits. 

He is ready. 

She rises, leaves her coffee cup and book. He watches her walk, her booty almost claps and he wants her right now. He waits. Nobody is around, the bar is closed, the baseheads are all off having basehead dreams. The only light around the corner is the little bodega, the mouth to the alley is ready.  

He is ready. 

The thing about not being from the neighborhood is that, you don’t know shit. Not where the drop pieces are, not where the head stash is, not who might be up and who might not be.  

She knows. 

She ready. 

He sees as she exits the bodega, she throws a peace sign over her shoulder and calls back. 

“No fuck you Gordo. You still owe me ten from the last time. Man, don’t make me tell your Mama.” 

The whisper of profane Spanish and Gordo’s laughter trails her as she walks back up the block. He waits in the mouth of the alley, rubbing his fingertips together. He can smell her, cocoa butter, smoke, coffee, Black girl deliciousness.  

He is fast, not basehead fast but fast enough to grab a handful of her braids just as she passes by. He holds the knot of hair at the back of her neck like a guide and turns her into the alley. 

“Don’t be so rough.” 

Her voice is raspy tonight, husky. Her breath is warm, she likes her coffee sweet and it makes him feel good.  

~ 

Two things. Had he been smarter, there would be no story. Second thing, the wrath of a woman with ideas about behavior modification is truly a beautiful thing. Let’s set the scene, shall we? 

SETTING: Alley. The witching hour. She is looking up at Him. If he were a smart man, or a film man he would recognize the look. The villain emerges through a downturned chin, upturned eyes and the prettiest wet pink flicker of plump tongue. 

He sees the wet on secret wet and thinks, yes. He turns her loose and she walks further into the alley. 

She doesn’t turn around while she tucks her cigarettes into the waistband of her shorts and peels off her tank top. She lets him admire her back as she walks deeper into the shadows.  

He is hard. 

He ain’t ready. 

He is too busy following the idea of a tramp stamp riding her lower back to see what she’s doing when she bends over and reaches under a pallet.  

She moves like a shark. This is her night, her hood and the bat in her hands feels like home. She is Queen Bitch and she plants her feet and swings from her wide hips.  

By the time he registers the low arc of the bat, his right knee explodes and he folds like a paper bag. The pain is enormous, it radiates from his knee to his hip to his balls and he howls.  

No one comes.  

She ready. 

She smile. 

“Listen baby.” 

She licks her lips and lines up for another swing. He swears he can hear the bat whistle as it goes over her head and crashes down onto his hip. He can see her bounce of her pert, chubby little titties and the titanic jiggle of her thighs as she hits him.  

When the pain registers, it is a raging ball of fury that takes his breath and makes him cry for the devil. The pain obscures her fine titties and the idea he started with. The pain rolls through his pelvis like lava, dripping into his balls and making his bowels loose and his asshole clench. His teeth chatter and he can hear sound coming out of him but can’t identify it. 

He is watching her watch him, her head tilted, glossy lips screwed up. 

“You an old head, you know what they say.” 

She swings again and his ribs, dear Jesus his ribs. The breath runs out of him as if fleeing the pain. He can’t breathe, he can’t speak and all he wants is for someone, anyone to save him. 

We could have saved him, had he been a wiser man. 

“Don’t start none.” 

Another blow, she breaks his arm.  

“There won’t be none.” 

She steps back and her pretty face is lit from within. Glee and malice give her a glow under the fuzzy dim light. He sees her teeth, she’s smiling. Everything is going to be fine. 

For her. 

While he writhes he manages to get through his pain and tears to speak. 

“Please, I got money.” 

He paws at his pocket, he’s got a roll. He had planned on treating himself to a bottle after they were done, maybe breakfast later. A little for rent and a few other necessities. She nudges him onto his back and he wails, she squats with her thighs wide open. 

Her shorts pull tight into her crotch and the plump outline of her pussy is clear and close.  

“Go ahead and look. That’s what you wanted.” 

He looks, even in his state of extremis he has to look. 

“Listen, I ain’t gonna kill you.” 

His relief is shaky and he starts to cry.  

“Thank you, I ain’t mean nothin, I was only playin.” 

She laughs, sweet and high and joyful. 

“Oh I know. But, I still don’t like it.” 

She straightens up, drops the bat and pulls her shirt back on. Grimacing she rolls her left shoulder, lip curled. 

“Softball injury. Well, bye boo.” 

He relaxes. He knows once a little bit of shock sets in he can crawl to the bodega and maybe get some help. That is not to be. 

We know what her whistle brings. 

It is late, but not late enough for all of the night creatures to be in bed. We know that the worst of the worst of night dwelling. She knows him, everyone knows him. He is fucked up, a walking burn mouth corpse but, he is from their neighborhood and knows his place. He eases out from behind the dumpster, jiggling foot to foot. 

“Hooo boy you fucked with the wrong bitch boy, I tell you what.” 

He whimpers, confused and uneasy. She looks at the stranger. 

“I was nice once. You got this?” 

The man, the new man, the scabrous oily creature with the perverse gleam in his eye nods.  

“For real?” 

“For real.” 

They smile at each other.  

We see that the man with the evil smile, is the thin burnt version of her. Her smile is not quite that evil, hers has an edge of fun. Mischief. Prettiness. 

“Yeah. I can keep the money?” 

“Course. Get rid of this shit and I’ll see you at home. Come home today. I’ll make you chicken and waffles.” 

She opens her cigarettes and they smoke together while he begins to understand. Let’s watch him, he knows he has met his death. He should have stayed home. What we know, he is learning. Too late, of course.  

She walks away, her booty almost clapping. Holding her dirty hands away from her still clean tank top. The man on the ground looks up at the Grim Reaper. 

“I-“ 

The Grim Reaper shakes his head, we shake our heads, around the corner Gordo shakes his head and she walks into her house smiling. 

“That’s my fuckin’ sister man. My. Sister.” 

His eyes close.  

Our eyes are open. 

What he should have known, we know. 

~ 

Two things. Had he been smarter, there would be no story. Second thing, the wrath of a woman with ideas about behavior modification is truly a beautiful thing. Let’s set the scene, shall we? 

Our players: 

She: Brown. Braids. Lip-gloss. Booty shorts. Books. Cigarettes and a mysterious coffee cup. 

He: Brown. Bald. Tragically unaware. Lacking game. Doomed. 

Grim Reaper: The one she waits for at night. 

Setting: Quiet street in the hood, around 4 AM. High summer.