When I am Too Much

Recently, I had an essay published in one of my bucketlist magazines. See it here at The Offing. I have a story to tell y’all about publishing and what happens when you are in fact too much.

That essay came about because I was contacted by an editor I am familiar with and they asked if I could do a piece about race and gender. The first version of this essay was more dry. It lacked flavor to me and I felt like I was trying to engage too many things when this story was very enclosed to me. The original version had lukewarm feedback and the editor wanted more.

I did this version and to me this is it. I’ve been experimenting with trying to place more literary styled essays in not lit mags specifically. A successful example of that is here at Wear Your Voice.

Editor #1 had reservations. Some of their feedback:

  • I lead with fear of death as a Black Man
  • I refer to my masculine gender expression with a personified phrase “the boy”.

However, the most tap danced around feedback came down to the fact that this work doesn’t engage with gender in the way that they wanted. They wanted Sassy Black Queen and got Terrified Black Femme. The suggested edits stripped specific mention of Blackness to turn it into a #metoo piece without the connective tissue.

A story that is not mine.

I decided not to go further with that editor because the story they wanted was a pastel version of my story with a rainbow on it and not a memory and meditation on a real fear in my life.

I shopped the piece as it appears at The Offing around for a while. Most responses were lukewarm and boiled down to, yes this but not like this.

Much of the feedback was tentative and trying very hard not to say, this is way too Black while saying, this is way too Black. One editor said that they didn’t think it was broad enough. For a memoir based issue of a magazine. I read broad as relatable to White folks and I noped out. The feedback was never about the quality of the piece. Every editor said the work was solid, it was always related to my expression of Gender, Blackness and fear.

The problem here is this. If you are not a marginalized person and you are seeking work from marginalized people, insisting on “broader relatability” backfires. You won’t get authentic work. You won’t get the best work. If you can’t engage with things that aren’t strictly uplift, either mention it up front or don’t seek the work.

This is the same problem I talked about in this entry,  When in the Wear Your Voice piece I talk about being denied humanity, this is what I am talking about. I am talking about the idea that work from marginalized people must be palatable to whiteness is to deny us our humanity. When folks insist that, my story about gender expression and sexual harassment end on a more chipper note, that is a denial of what actually happened.

To demand this shiny version of someone, the happy ending, the creator is turned into a 2d version of themselves and that is erasure and it feels shitty. You can’t ask for the realness of talking about identity, and then say, no not like that. It just don’t work.

Back to the piece at the Offing. Chanda specifically told me they loved it and it made me cry. I’d put it on Etsy for a minute because y’all know that’s how I do. If I can’t sell a piece to a magazine I’ll do that. Or put it on Medium etc. Or tuck it away for later. Here’s the thing.

My experience with gender expression isn’t theirs and yet, they still enjoyed the work. I’ve heard from readers who are White cis folks who felt something and enjoyed the work. Some folks who read the piece thinking it would just be a nice read because they are not Black Femmes and found some part of themselves in the work.

And it is, what it is.

A note for editors.

If you want to feature or highlight marginalized folks, take what they give you. Don’t try and plasticize it or tone it down or make it nice for non marginalized folks to read. Be uncomfortable. Be willing to let your readership be uncomfortable because, isn’t that what art is.

That’s it for now.

 

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Hustleverse and Art and Shit.

OOOKAY y’alls.

I’m on my hustle and we got THINGS HAPPENIN.

Let’s start with some evil empire (amazon) links.

An older book of mine I put together as part of my beginning idea of showing how the sausage is made is Wayward WordsI transcribed things out my notebooks, some flash pieces and poems. I talked a bit about them. It’s a little thing you can read on your Kindle app and enjoy for a little bit.

Next up, I was in Thuglit Issue #5 and that was a fave story I’ve done. I’ve really enjoyed running around in crime fiction and the whole issue is pretty solid.

Want something a little racier? I was in an issue of Infernal Ink with some pyro crime erotica. Get U SOME!

Full disclosure about my amazon links. I get a few cents on clicks and buys. They discontinued their store program so I will be making a page of book recs with said links. Yes I know terrible however, bitches gotta eat.

Now some more direct stuff.

These links will give me more cash in hand.

I’ve reopened my Etsy Store. I’ve included a brand new Etsy exclusive essay. I’ve reopened Etsy to get ready to list some handmade shawls and I’m pretty excited.

I’m also still fundraising. We’ve got almost 1400$ all in for lingering move related bills and staying alive. I hate it but, we gotta stay alive.

If you’re a paid Medium member. I put a new thing behind the paywall. Claps are free y’all know. Also, if you’re paid and like what I’m doing, throw some claps on other pieces.

I’ve also got some free stuff happening.

Read about why, yes the fuck I will unfriend over politics. And appropriate to this post, a little thing about Making a Difference.

Something that I believe in is, helping folks on a small scale. We can’t all be the viral helpers and sometimes, the best route is to just help folks stay alive.

Can’t buy? Totally okay. Share links. Tell your friends that you have a homie in need who has a variety of ways to provide support.

Show up.

If you don’t want to do that stuff, I got tip jars too.

https://www.paypal.me/WordsnThings

https://cash.me/$weebeasty

https://venmo.com/Shannon-Barber-5

Later this week, I’ll be posting up some new free to read stuff about writing. Follow me at Medium for that. Want a loveletter to your creative heart? Subscribe here and get a tiny vacation weekly from the trashfire world.

Updates, Books and readings.

First up let’s talk about the books I’ve been reading. Yes Evil Empire affiliate links ahead.

BOOKS Y’ALLS!

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha) by Tomi Adeyemi. AHEM. Y’all. I will do a full dorktastic review after a reread but um. OKAY> AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHSHIT SON. If I’m gonna be fancy, this is the Diasporic Dream of Baby Potato me. If I’d had this book at a crucial point in my youth, I probably wouldn’t have given up all magical type literature for more than a decade. A complaint I’ve seen around is that it isn’t a complex plot etc and I think that is misguided. This is a book intended for teen readers so, adult epic fantasy lovers probably won’t like it. That said, I love this book. The magical systems, the world building, the evolution of the characters AND I HAPPEN TO KNOW THE NEXT ONE IS ON DECK. A really wonderful read, if you’re Black and know smol Black humans who like magic, get on this.

Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias. I’m on my reread of this book so I can do a review and y’all. I think someone gave me a copy of this book and said, read this you’ll like it. I do like it. Gabino has a gift for coming out swinging and the pace is not fast but it feels relentless. It is dark and violent and there is grace in his characters. If you like it dark and violent and pretty, read it. Bigger review soonish. ALSO check out his work in a fave magazine of mine, Shotgun Honey.

Other book news I’m hype about. Y’all know I love me some Joe Clifford and I happen to know that his book Junkie Love has a fancy new print coming up in Sept with a whole new forward by another of my beloved writers Jerry Stahl WHO also blurbed Gabino’s book. I’m really hype for that.

What’s good lit world?

I’ve been reading some great stuff. I’ve made a habit of checking tweeter in the morning and y’alls I know so many fucking great writers.

Go read this by Kristin Chang in the Offing. It is so beautiful and just…I made a velociraptor noise while reading because WOW.

My friend Chiwan Choi wrote this and holy fuck it is beautiful. If you meet him, go to one of his events or just see him on the street you should buy him some cookies immediately.

Podcaster and all round bad ass homie Nia Levy King is running a fundraiser and please check it out. Donate, share it. These books are so important. This is vital work.

Y’all know that one of the few places I feel good about freelancing at is Wear Your Voice Magazine. My last piece there is one of the best I’ve written and they need help. Indie media is so important so again, check out their Patreon and if you can’t support, please for real y’all share the links.

Let me take a break here to say again.

It doesn’t matter if you can’t contribute financially. SHARE THE GODDAMN LINKS. It is free. It takes two seconds and if you knoiw 2k more people, or different people than I know, that is more eyes, more eyes means more opportunities for support so get on it.

What have I been doing?

WELL I have been a busy wee beast. I poeted at an event last night and it was really nice. I read at an event called Margin Shift and Y’ALLS! A thing happened for the first time. TWO PEOPLE there had seen me read previously. And said so. Also I talked to other writers/people about my work and stuff and didn’t pee myself or faint.

I sold some books, folks enjoyed the reading a lot. Overall it was on the way better end of reading in Seattle. I’ll write more about that later.

I had this wee witch poem published over at Yes, Poetry.

I’ve been using Medium as a bit of a clearing house of sorts for stuff I have in drafts, stuff living on my phone. Funnily enough. Now that I’m not doing any paid content, both engagement and readership has gone up. In March/April when I wasn’t really posting I had about 400 reads. Posting a few times a month, my reads are in the thousands.

So it holds up my point that a LOT OF PEOPLE including those who already pay for Medium don’t give a fuck about tossing me a few coins.

Sooo new stuff over there. Including a lil screed on how yes the fuck I will unfriend people over politics and I ain’t ashamed.

OH also earlier in the week I posted up a little essayish thing and free bite of the Daiyuverse. Go visit Bayou Cane, meet the St. Pierre family and get you some free shit to read today.

Last thing, as a way to encourage myself to do more digital arts, I opened a red bubble shop with a few prints. More are coming.

OH ONE MORE THING. Come sign up for my loveletter. It was a newsletter but mostly I talk about being a creative person, struggles, fun shit, tell you how much I love you. No spams. All ham. Loveletter link was busted and is all fixed up.

Dassit for now.

 

Hustlin updates and stuffs.

So I know it has seemed bleak but, here’s the thing. When I figure out how to work, I fuckin work.

The method I’ve adopted for now is write like a mother fucker, accept some freelance, submit to literary shits, get rejected rinse repeat.

My other hustle is my Patreon. Let’s talk about that a little bit. I don’t make much at Patreon, a couple of hundred bucks that pays for some bills. It is one of my favorite things. Some of y’all are new so let’s talk bout what I’m doing there. I’m writing an ongoing urban fantasy very queer Black n brown ongoing story. I’m calling each novella length chunk a Cycle and my goal is to just write in this world (a magical Seattle and currently a few other spots) and play.

When I talk about the Daiyuverse this is what I’m talking about. It is where I go to play. I am creating a large magical system, I am connecting POC cultural and diasporic spiritual magics. This is not vaguely European fairyland. It is absolutely Queer and not a White centered world and I just love it. Part of what makes it fun for me is that the curtain is pulled all the way back. We’re into cycle 2 and I’ve left in my own editorial remarks, mistakes, do overs.

This is a naked first draft. This is (to paraphrase Jerry Stahl again) me naked and fucked up at 4 in the morning writing and it is wonderful. I don’t ask for a lot, I don’t do tiered anything. Regardless of how much you are in for, you get usually a little letter and about 3k words of the verse. Sometimes I toss in extras, WIPs, essays or whatever. Once life is settled I’m thinking about doing some Patron only videos about writing or stuff.

It is great.

Now let’s talk freelance. I’ve just made my re-entry into freelance and I am so proud of the piece. You can read it here at Wear Your Voice. CW for racism and some hard shit. One of the reasons freelancing can be the shits for me is that, writing easy stuff is not really my lane. My fluff gets deep regardless of subject matter. I want to write about fuckin eyeliner, I talk about Western Beauty standard bullshit.

As emotionally taxing as my non fiction can be for me to do, it is just who I am as a writer and human. It me. I fought it but, it is just who I am. The same day the above piece went live, I wrote this lil thingy on Medium because some folks were bothering me. I spat it out and kept it pushing which is how I work.

I toss little jokes in with my seriousness because I’m a goofy mother fucker.

One of the things that all the marketing advice for writers in the world won’t give you is that sweetness of connecting with your audience. I know who y’all are and I fucking love the shit out of you. Yes, I do talk about how/when/why my audience doesn’t give a shit but, I know a lot of you do and that’s deeply meaningful to me.

WHen stuff like this column by a fave magical being I know named Misha went live, I read it and got teary eyed at the bus stop because when people tell me that something I said touched them, the fucked up hustling isn’t so fucked up. I’m still poor and not in the best of health but fuck y’all, I do feel the love.

While there has been a pattern of fuckery in my literary world, there is a bigger pattern of when my words do what I want them to and work themselves into another persons heart, that makes it better. When (this happened a while back) a shy young Queer person on the bus, whispers did you write at XOJane about self care to me and when I say yes they light up and say thank you, that is the realest shit. When I get dms saying, yo that poem was fucking fire.

I think a lot of my life has lead me to this point. I’ve made the decision not to play the recommended game. Fuck that game. I’m not going to compromise, I’m not going to shut up, I’m not going to filter myself so I can make money.

I will still freak out about money because I’m poor. I will sometimes write lengthy shit about how much I just want to sell some fuckin stickers or whatever. That said, I can hold that and hold space for doing what the fuck I want to do and writing what the fuck I want to write, because that is who I am.

It me y’all.

My dreams may not be lucrative and won’t buy me new make up but, I believe they will fulfill my soul and that my friends is what I want.

That’s all for now. I love y’all.

OH yeah new loveletter later today about trusting your process and taking a leap. Come sign up. No spams. All love for your hams.

AYYYYYY we OUT HERE in 2018

Ahem.

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

What’s good 2018?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nah.

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

Truths:

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

So what am I gonna do?

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

That’s all the fuck I need to do.

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

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

That’s what is going down.

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

I love y’all.

 

HOLY SHIT 2018

Well here we are.

Holy shitballs we made it.

Please pat yourselves on the back.

Now, what is in store for me this year?

First up some ch-cha-changes.

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

Other stuff is a surprise.

So how about some 2017 numbers?

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

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

Acceptances:

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

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

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

What else happened in my lit life?

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

David Brooks · 

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

Christopher Crafton

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

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

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

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

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

I’m still fucking here.

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

And you know what?

I hit fuck it.

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

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

Fuck it.

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

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

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

Because fuck those people.

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

I have shit to do and art to make.

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

What else?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s all.

As I like to say:

WELCOME TO THE PIT MOTHER FUCKERS!!

Updates, Stuff n thangs.

OH hey y’all.

I have SO MUCH NEWS Y’ALL.

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

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

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

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

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH*gasp*AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

Ahem. Holy shit. Holy shit HOLY SHIT.

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

Ahem.

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

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

What else?

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

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

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

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

That’s pretty much it for pub news.

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

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

You can read some standalone Daiyuverse here at wattpad.

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

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

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

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

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