Category Archives: indie adventures

Trouble Mind.

This is really not my week.

I am going to try not to be super specific so if this comes across kinda vague yeah.

So to start my week I was invited to participate in a sooper sekrit speshul invite only writing group.

So on going to said writing group and following their rule of posting 1-2 polished works, I checked out the other writers.

There was one other woman who wasn’t active and a whole lot of White men.

So I posted links to this and this and as per instructed waited for my “critiques”. I did not mention that the second piece was nominated for a Pushcart thingy, I did not mention really anything about myself.

My “critiques” were pretty much that I should write about White people (“normal”) and that my Lesbian narrator from the first story wasn’t “sexy” (mainstream porno lesbian for straight dudes basically).

Not one word about craft, no suggestions where lines could have been tightened up. It was a long thread about how “off putting” and totally not racist it is to expect that I a Black Queer Author should keep things White n Right.

I did not comment I pm’d the moderator/the person who invited me and expressed my discomfort and judging from other threads I did not want to turn shit political because that is not what I was there for and I am kind of at political saturation.

The response was to tell me not to be so sensitive and that I should be “professional” and take the critiques and say thanks. There was also mention of the race card, social justice having a place and time and writing for a “broad audience”.

I deleted my original post and left the group without a word.

Then I got a message on facebooks from a rando dude type who mentioned being interested in my work. I said thank you and accepted the friend request  (I don’t have an actual author page and accept most requests) so lalalala new fb friend lala.

Today I woke up to two messages one saying Hi Ms. Barber (always a bad sign) followed by a fucking unwanted and unasked for dick picture.

Fucking christ.

I responded by saying a.) fuck off and b.) I’m reporting you. Before I could figure out how to block and report there was another message telling me how much he “loves and respects Black Women” and he “Didn’t mean it”.

I finally got his ass blocked and reported to facebook. By the time I got to work his page was gone. Lucky for him I guess because I had intended on putting his ass on blast all over social media.

I was hoping nothing else would happen today and planned on doing some stuff.

THEN i get a very long email from an etsy customer who is very very angry at me.

She purchased my essay about why I don’t identify as a feminist a couple of weeks ago and apparently just read it this morning. She had also purchased a few other things.

So in this note she lost her shit because not “all” white feminists “are that way” and there’s no such thing as Black and White feminists, about how she “used” to be such a huge fan and was rooting for me.

Now she will never read my work again, which is fine it’s obviously not for her anyway. And demanded I return her two dollars which I did.

All this combined with last night spending about an hour screening and deleting racist messages across my social media accounts and everything right now I just feel so down.

I feel some type of way about all this.

I mean that writing group thing.

Of the authors in the group, I was among the mot widely published. I have experience, I have insights but I don’t write for White dudes so I’m not good?

I feel a lot of things and they all mush up into fatigue and dismay.

It makes me wonder that regardless of how hard I work, how good my shit may be, this is just going to keep happening.

I have decreased how much I engage with these things but that does not protect me from shit.

This is why I talk about Black women have no safe space.

This kind of stress and fatigue makes it really hard for me to work on my Self Care book because I don’t want all this badness to infect it.

So I am going to try and hide out.

Listen to music and play with some other stories that White people will probably tell me are terrible because they are outside of Whiteness. I will strengthen myself from that. I will read some good poetry and listen to it on youtube.

I am going to protect myself as best I can because I have to.

I have to survive.

I have to write.

If I don’ write these stories who will?


What’s good?

Stuff is good.

My 90s rnb station is good.

It is also good that I am hard at work on the revised bigger and more badass version of my self care book.

I’m calling it v2.0 and I am covering SO many things. Caring for your body, make up, testicles, buttholes all of it.

To celebrate I put out my essay on why I refuse identify as a feminist with bonus material. You can read the whole first chapter of the self care book.

What else is good?

I turned 37 this past Sunday. It was a nice birthday, I got myself all dolled up. I ate a lot of food and I bought myself a few little presents.

You can look at my tumblr to see me looking all witchy spring cute.

Okay I have a pot of tea. I have ideas and I am going to work on something other than the self care thing.

And here is a gratuitous picture of the author with her hairs did AND shit I forgot to tell you I finally got my veneers. I got nice teeth.

And thank you again those who donated. I feel so much better and less stressed.

Okay behold the author at 37 giving you some 90s RnB diva by way of Old Goth Realness.

faceOkay that’s all.

Tomorrow I’m going to post a shitload of links about lit things I’m excited about. So if you have anything you want promoted, please drop a link in the comments.

 


Wow I wind myself up like the Windup Bird.

While I have been plugging away in fits and starts at some unfinished work I keep thinking I need to do a thing this year.

What thing?

I am thinking I would like to write a novella. I’ve had an idea/some characters knocking around in my head and I want to get it down on paper.

The part I get stuck on is what do I do with it once it is done?

Here is where I let out some of my neurosis.

I am afraid of a few things.

If I focus on said novella, which will naturally make my time devoted to short stories and non fiction lessen, will the little (to me huge but whatever) success I’ve had in the past couple of years go away?

If nobody cares/knows who the fuck I am what do I do with this novella?

I am not a big deal in any sense of the word. I’ve been published a bit, not hugely. I’m trying to be a bit practical but my gut says fuck being read and write the shit.

So I guess I will try to produce some small works, make sure I put my Duotrope subscription to good use (that is a whole other thing) and write the shit.

I think I am going to try and schedule novella time and other shit time.

I think most of my hand wringing about this is misdirected anxiety.

I have made some changes in my financial/everything else life that are good but nerve wracking.

I’ve wound myself up.

I do in fact know what to do. I need to calm down and do what I do.

Write that shit.

Rewrite that shit.

Write like a mother fucker.

If you’ve read me for a minute you know I’m a really nervous person by nature and tend to wind myself up sometimes. I’m trying to yanno not do that and failing a bit.

Time to rally.

Also if you’re coming to AWP and wanna see me read/talk to me/possibly have my aggressive berserker hug attack unleashed on you drop me a note. I will also be posting information about my reading soon and hopefully if things work out there could be video of me reading.

Okay so that’s all for right now. I think I just had to get that out and now I can go do what I need to do.

Later this week I’m going to do a big ole geeky review of a book I really love and then I will probably make another nerdy fangirl I want to read these books post.

AH shit before I forget you can read one mroe new poem by me over at The Camel Salooon.


Please do not ever do this.

So this weekend I got a note from a reader.

This is not a happy story and I was enraged on Saturday when I got it but I’m calmer now but we need to talk about this.

So this reader who lead their note by proclaiming their Whitey Whiteness basically told me they are “disappointed” that not all my writing is like my piece at Literary Orphans. Apparently this bit tickled this person:

This hurt is never small and has taken root in my soul. It is pain that reaches down and pulls at the things most private and most sacred to me. It blooms nausea and flaming shit.

Rather than telling me that my piece was well written or good or even thought provoking this person went on to tell me that they read some of my other work and was disappointed.

So basically this person wants m to be their pain porn presenting Negress.

When I asked for clarification about their disappointment basically this person told me I have the potential to write the “next Beloved” or something like it.

For those who haven’t read or seen Beloved it is fucking brutal. Don’t get me wrong Toni Morrison is one of my heroines but seriously, I will never read that book again because it hurt that much.

So here’s the thing. My piece at Literary Orphans was not fiction. That is my real life. That is my vomit, my flaming shits, my anxiety my real fucking pain and it was not meant to be entertainment for White people. I will never write that kind of thing just for White people to learn something or feel good about themselves that they are not guilty of (at least that they will admit to) whatever I’m writing about.

It is not for you.

As a matter of fact if you read something like what I wrote there or any of my posts or observations about my Blackness and my life and the only thing you get out of it is feeling like a Good White Person or a Nice White Lady kindly do not tell me

Don’t send me notes praising my ability to lay my racial pain bare for your fucking amusement.

Officially if you haven’t gleaned it before, this is a hurtful shitty fucking thing to do.

It makes me not want to share that sort of thing publicly.

Don’t write me to tell me how pleasantly surprised you are that I write/speak so eloquently.

Don’t write me to tell me how “bold” I am for telling my real truth.

Don’t write me to tell me how not racist you are.

Frankly if you (claim to have) read my work and you reduce more than 20 years of my work to “I wish there was more about race” (pain porn) fuck you.

I don’t honestly know how authors more famous than I am deal with this. I do want to be read by people with diverse points of view. I like it when people want to engage with me but, when people act out of pocket and demandy but sign off with a winky emoti (because obvs. a winky makes EVERYTHING permissible to say) I lose my shit.

My writing in all the forms and ways I do it, is not really always about one thing. I write a lot of things. I experiment. I try new shit. Sometimes said shit fails miserably (see my recent poems I’ve written, they are awful) and sometimes they are pretty great.

The ONE thing I cannot stand in my life is the expectation that I am only capable of a single mode of expression. I’m not here for that.

Ugh fuck.

This is the part of sharing non fiction that frustrates me.

I don’t want people reducing me to the one thing they want to fap to.

So I don’t know.

I’m just- fuck okay you want some pain porn here it is.

It fucking hurts me on a deeply personal level to be reduced to a source of pain porn entertainment for anyone.  Don’t tell me that shit.

Who and what I am is not summed up in that one piece.  That one piece is a part of me and not all of me.

I need to stop here but let me just say that if you as a reader are disappointed that I don’t lay bare ALL my soul deep pain, fuck you keep stepping. I am not here for you nor am I here r that.

This is probably why I am not more famous.

So yeah. That happened and I really hope it doesn’t happen more because I honestly can’t handle it. At least not right now.

In other news I will be adding some more things to read for a dollar or two in my etsy store. Keep your eye on (if it is not there wait a few minutes and come back) my little etsy widget for updates, reprints and original etsy only stuff to read. Eventually you’ll find some of my crocheted items as well but not before Christmas I think.

 


So holy shit y’all.

First up some really awesome news that I’m really stoked about.

My story “My Hood” that was published in Animal: A Beast of A Literary Magazine got Pushcart nominated.

I am so excited and thankful that they loved that story as much as I do. I had submitted it to a few straight up horror/(supposedly) experimental horror and no go. Their submission guidelines were floating around in my head after I’d read it from I believe either Duotrope or a link on facebook. I am so pleased.

So even if I don’t get a spot I’m still pretty stoked. It is really nice to have work that is special to you acknowledged.

You want to hear a funny story?

So a few years ago I wrote an essay and sat on it for a while before Junk: A Literary Magazine picked it up. Now at the time when it was published I was really happy about a lot of the feedback I was getting. I was really just trying out non fiction, seeing how CNF might fit in with me. And then the editor Tim Elhajj who is himself a writer I like and a great editor to work with sent me an email about something called A (the? some? fuck) Pushcart.

Y’all.

I had no earthly idea what that was, if it was good or what. I went and bought a very old very used copy of one of the collections and was pretty impressed.

So that is pretty awesome and feels kind of intense.

I should confess here that sometimes when people I really respect are enthusiastic about my work in any capacity I get really nervous and feel like I might crap my pants. I don’t know why but it both thrills and terrifies me.

More so when I realize that people I don’t even know sometimes really like my stories. Holy shit?

Holy. Fucking. Shit.

So back to this story.

I remember tinkering with My Hood for about two months before I figured out how to tell it. I knew I wanted to push the focus (coming at it from a genre horror perspective) away from white kids in the suburbs and into a place where there are shapeshifters and in this neighborhood they are people of color. So our little heroine is a serpent.  A Child of Apep who is the Egyptian serpent god. I wanted to take things out of a more European werewolf mythos to a this is just what we are type mythos.

There was also a Child of Sekhmet (lioness), the Crow the Coyote.

There is something deeply meaningful on a personal/spiritual level to me to write outside of the normative White horror creature thing.

That being what it is let me talk about my nanowrimo novella for a moment.

I did not win Nano this year. But what I did do was start something I believe will come out fantastic.

This world I have created in the setting of Seattle, South America, Mexico City, Texas, New Orleans and some of the characters are just being met who are from New York- this world exists outside of European White magics; this is completely outside of that.

Not only is it outside of that world, I have built in to this world the fact that these people of color are purposefully outside of that world. They are not involved with it by choice.

That is pretty intense.

I am also doing some fun things with it. In the beginning I use tight first person present tense POV. Each character narrating their moments. Between those I use the Chorus as a nod to Greek tragedy and as a way of explaining certain things to the audience. My overarching goal with that is to have the reader know so much more than the characters. I want the reader to want to feel like the characters are about to get in a head on collision and want to warn them.

I want people yelling at the story NO NO DON’T STOOOOOOOOOP the way I do at the TV sometimes.

In the second part of the book I switch to a broader third person.  The switch might be a mistake but I want there to be a clear demarcation between getting to know you and holy shit this is happening.

I”ll keep y’all updated. I decided I will release it I’m just not sure via what channel yet.

So that’s all for right now outside of the fact that I have a shitload of writing to do.

Off to write like a mother fucker.


Work work work.

And of course now I have that goddamn song Whistle While you Twurk by the YinYang twins stuck in my head.

Outside of doing Nanowrimo I’m working on a few other things.

First one is I am doing a thing at an AWP adjacant event. That’s pretty much all I can say about it right now but I am really hoping I can get my shit together and do something that is about: beauty, horror, ugliness, monstrosity (my own), giving 0 fucks and the power that lies therein. There may be some costume and performance arty bits involved. So it’s going down.

I also did a new thing.

At the suggestion of a reader I’ve started offering (very few right now) some instant downloads of stories via etsy.  And just for readers of this here lil blog if you spend a minimum of 1 dollar you can use this coupon code WERDPRESS (case sensitive) for 10% off. Currently I have two stories available but I will be adding another few this week.

I will probably sell a few crocheted items there as well. Eventually once we get a good quality printer I have an idea of making some fancy little art card type things but with tiny stories or poems on them. I have also be asked a few times if I could collect some of my entries from my personal blog and put those up as well. I may do that.

What else?

OH. So since I’m going to AWP and doing the whole shebang should I get some moo cards? Or no since I’m not famous and nobody cares?

I just don’t know.

I have been making a few submissions here and there. A couple of swing for the fences type. I just got around to pulling a couple of things and sending a query.

I have to confess it drives me insane when polite queries go unanswered for months. I’d appreciate even a fuck off we hate you or a pls wait editors are buried type response. Silence kills me.

In addition to my nanowrimo novella (which I will nerd very hard about sometime soon) I started an essay on the process of self loathing and paranoia that some of us writer types can indulge in on occasion. I’m hoping it comes out funny, we’ll see.

I may or may not re-release my original self care guide with some fixing because I haven’t had time to do the new version for Femme Identified people as of yet.

Okay I think I’m done for right now. I have a mother fucker of a migraine and it makes me feel like headbutting my work station until either my skull cracks or I see dead people. I dunno man.

 


On Nanowrimo.

Prior to yesterday at work I had no intention of actually doing Nanowrimo this year.

I had no ideas, no plan, nothing.

And then after a few awful false starts a thing started to happen.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it but a while back I started my first attempt at an epic fantasy type thing and wrote very little. I don’t think that is my jam.

And now this.

I’m writing what I’m going to say is urban fantasy fiction about people of color. It takes place in Seattle and thus far I am not including Whiteness beyond the stuff people of color talk about all the time.

At least not as the main draw or the main magical tradition.

What feels the best right now even though my actual plan is still not a plan, is that my main magical POC is a Magical Black girl.

Do you have any idea how much that means to me?

She is foul mouthed, overly sensitive, has a particular weakness for threesomes with fae folk of varying sorts and gives not one fuck. Not. One.

There is also a Brazilian battle witch, made to fuck shit up, and she gives not one fuck about that. She is coming from a place where she has had to fight tooth and nail to not only hold on to her identity as a witch under the thumb of a rogue Catholic sect but her identity as a Black person who is both sexualized and desexualized because she is dark and clearly Black. She does not give a fuck she is not here for that.

This is on the heels of yet another awful racist twitter hashtag fuckarow. I don’t want to rehash it but honestly it hurts my fucking soul. The daily proof that Black people, Black women especially can’t have fucking anything ever just breaks my heart. I’m so full of that heartbreak doing Nanowrimo this year is serving me a bigger purpose. it is therapeutic. In this world I am creating, I don’t have to fucking deal with people who think it’s funny to essentially wish me out of existence because I am a Black woman.

Honestly in the last month I have seen more aggressive racism and the sort where Nice White People just don’t realize how racist they are being than I have in a while and it is taking a toll.

As I said in this essay (which yes I know I should take down and redo but I don’t want to) and this one there is no safe quarter for me anywhere. There is literally nowhere on the internet where I am safe from racism. There isn’t anywhere I am safe from sizeism. No LOLS, no nothing.

The other day I spent 45 minutes taking racist comments off of a video I made about how to oil treat your hair.

As an antidote to this I”m doing the ONE thing I know how to do and that works. I’m making my own world. And you know what at the end it might suc but I will probably make it available for sale anyway because this world needs more magical POC. It needs more safe places for us.

I’m also wearing the most glorious purple wig and am a glamorous mother fucker because if I can’t find safety I can at least wear fucking armor.

Here’s a gratuitous photo:

pixiegirl

 

I have decided that until I see fit to stop I’m going to look the way I want to as long as I feel like it.

I’m ready for war at this point.

If I hit 9K by Weds I’ll post a good chunk of the thing.

So that’s all.


Resonance.

First go read this article about Ntzoge Shange.

This bit resonated with me on a deep level as I am editing some stuff:

“Spell-check ruins my work,” she said. “It fixes all my slang and dialect into standard English. So I’m caught in a tangle of technology that feels very foreign to me. My characters don’t talk necessarily in a normal American way of talking. They talk a little different. So I’m having a struggle with the grammar.”

A couple of the stories I’m in final edits on have non standard English. The battle with spell checkers feels epic. Especially in the dialogue.

At times I worry that some editors won’t recognize AAVE when I use it or other English variances for what they are and I am getting rejected for that reason. I don’t worry about it often or at least try not to.

Then of course there are the bits of other languages that I don’t always translate.

That naturally puts me in mind of that Junot Diaz quote I love so much.

“Motherfuckers will read a book that’s one third elvish, but put two sentences in spanish and they [white people] think we’re taking over.”

It amazes me how often those words in particular are rattling around my skull. Especially on occasion when reading book reviews. I’ve actually given up on reviews in general. Too often people complain about shit I don’t understand. Why if you don’t like seemingly ego centric people would you read a memoir or autobiography of any kind? Why would you expect that to be something more journalism than anything? Seems dumb to me.

What else?

I have had some good feed back and some stupid feedback from my piece in Literary Orphans.  I’ll talk about it another day. Right now I’m just so spent. Dayjob stuff has been hectic and I’m only managing about a quarter of my usual output. Not to mention not having the energy to fix/update my website or even start my femme self care guide. That level of frustration is what brought you my previous post.

Months like this all I want in the world is just some more energy. Some more time. Fuck the energy give me time. A young writer I talk to over on tumblr on occasion asked me recently how do I do all these things and the only answer I had was because I have to. I have to write, I have to submit, I have to grind or nothing happens. Shit health or no I will do what I have to do.

Um, not much else is happening. I’m reading three really great books right now.

I’m reading 2666 by Roberto Bolano  on audiobook right now and it’s so strange and beautiful.  It actually had a violent scene that made me uncomfortable and that is something I treasure. I listened to it twice and wow.  This is my first Bolano book and I’ll probably devour the rest of his catalogue whole.

The other thing that this book has made me think about is what do I want to contribute to literary fiction?

I have my personal mini notches. But I rarely think about that big picture where I’m looking back from the old age home or whatever. I will probably write about that soon because it feels important and necessary. I think prior to this I wouldn’t think about it because it feels like a big deal thing to think about. Fame or no, I do have thoughts about what I want to leave behind and the impact however small I want to have.

I’m also thinking about (because I’m reading a paperback about the mafia killer Richard Kuklinski. I have been fascinated by his life for a while. What’s interesting to me is that the documentaries and shit I’ve seen don’t even come close.  Also it’s making for really good research for an idea I have.

I have a few other thinky process posts in the works. I’m still percolating.

And that’s all. Dayjob beckons and I should eat so I can actually finish reformatting a submission.

To quote Erykah Badu- They sleep. We Grind.


I Wrote a Thing and it was Hard.

Remember the super important thing that made me vomit and freak out and whatnot?

It is live. Head over here to see my piece in Literary Orphans via Anna March’s new column Anna’s Foundlings.

Honestly I am still feeling uncomfortable that people are going to read it. I don’t mind looking like a total asshole in my non fiction work. I don’t mind if people think I’m a total bastard.

What does completely undo me is feeling emotionally naked. Writing about Blackness in such a personal way leaves me feeling like I want to shart, vomit and fall down.

So basically I was doing it real right.

This part sums it up:

This is not what I wanted you to know.  This is not what I wanted to write. I wanted to write about how much I love the Dune saga, I wanted to tell you how hard I squee about Star Trek. I wanted to be beautiful and eloquent.

I feel like I failed at beauty and eloquence the same way I do in day to day life. Sometimes all I have is emotional blabber that pours out of me and then I have feelings and I don’t know what to do with myself so I get angry.

As hard as that piece was to write and show to anyone, I am going to do this again. As a friend said, I’m a masochist.

So how about some other stuff to read?

Via the darling and wonderful Frances Varian I found out the also talented and wonderful Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is doing some awesome things in workshops. Go check that out on her website here.

The talented Eugie Foster (I talked about her here) has cancer and needs help. Get details here. Go to her blog here, buy her books. Tell people the things.

If you are a lover of SF/F type stuff and love podcasts go here and listen.  The Pod needs help.

Zander Vyne has a new book out at Burning Book Press. Fine ass erotica. I’m familiar with Zander’s work and really dig it. Pick it up/read about it here.

 

Speaking of fine Erotica go read this at Remittance Girl’s blog. Just do it.

Also by Remittance Girl over at the ERWA blog she posted an interesting thing about POV. Go read it.

So that’s all for right now.  The dayjob is making me feel vaguely suicidal and I have work to do.

Hopefully soon I’ll make it through my epic to read list and do some new reviews. As always if you have stuff to read or you think I’d be into drop me a link in the comments.

 


Face Down Ass Up

…weeping.

Well I’m not physically face down ass up weeping into my pillow. It’s more of a metaphorical state.

So.

Shit y’all.

I made it through my important deadline without stroking out.

I will tell you that it was non fiction and writing it gave me the shits. And then I threw up after sending it to my editor and had a meltdown thinking I had done the absolute wrong thing. I hadn’t. She loved it and more details when it is going down.

Since then I have written the most hateful/sex/death/war poetry. I don’t necessarily consider myself a real poet but I do like to write it when the fancy strikes. Lately it’s all very dark, and that’s fine.

Another word about poetry. Because my poems tend to be quite personal, submitting them to places is entirely nerve wracking to me and I feel like a stressed out poseur. I do it anyway.

I have little else to report. I am sitting at 99 rejections in my race to 100. It has taken longer than I thought it would and I am impatient to get to it and get to more rejections. This is good in that my publication rate is good but I don’t have as much material to submit as I’d like. Per usual I will take off Nov/Dec to restock my word larder.

And likely in Dec I might make my end of the year swing for the fences submissions. Or not, I may meet these people at AWP and I don’t want to do that while thinking HOLY FUCK YOU HATE MY WRITING.

My dark erotic/art thing is still going to happen. I’m taking my time with it so it is exactly the way I want it to be.

I’m a bit unhappy with my pace and output right now. Not that I’m not writing I am- I suppose I’m just greedy as fuck. Not having a good size backlog of stuff to fling into the ether is weird. Weirder still when I realize that I’ve had a lot of stuff published. Do other people actually do that? Does it astonish other authors that people like their shit?

I’m just getting over a cold, it’s 2 AM and I have more work to do.

To quote Ms. Badu They Sleep We Grind.

OH PS I’m posting in my extra words blog again. Go here and read some shit.


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