Notes from Stay At Home Weirdo

First things first, look at my new baby.

newb b
[image of a Samsung Chromebook]
SO after much trial and error, I was able to get this little beauty with the help of friends for my birthday (it was 03/16) and I love her. This is last years model and she was under 150$. At 11″ and just over 3lbs, this is the perfect machine for me. The full size laptop I bought last year is a fine machine but just not for me. It was too big and I couldn’t figure out how to work on it comfortably for a long time.

She doesn’t have a name yet.

So well. I’ll assume we’re all in a state. And I don’t want to talk about it right now.

Instead let’s talk about some of the stuff I’m working on and reading rn.

Later this week I’ll be reviewing Gabino again because god damn.

Also some AMAZING NEWS. I will be making my Weird Fiction debut this year. I wrote a tiny thing and it will be in a future edition of Weird Whispers from Nightscape Press. I am so excited to work with them and be on their roster. The publishers are good people. The other writers they work with are fucking stellar. Please go check out their store.They publish a lot of good shit.

What else?

I am not working at home for a variety of reasons. I am going to work on the daily. It isn’t awful.

AH so coming up more book reviews. More craft nonsense. I’ve had my lil chromebook *still no name..weird* for a bit and that lil bb is just perfect for me to work on comfortably so, MORE WORDS.

Oh also if you are lacking stuff to read. Head to this new area of my website and you can download pdfs to read. If you are so moved, feel free to tip me out. I’ll be adding more soon.

I’m struggling but trying. I’m working on some things. Including some dorky ass craft notes. I’ve got some Daiyuverse news.…which will probs be part of the craft shit I’m working on.

I think that’s all for right now. Later taters.

Book Review- On Being Human by Jennifer Pastiloff

Nikki+–+On+Being+Human
[image description: a photo of the book On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking up, Living Real, And Listening Hard
Okay buckle up babes.

If you’ve been here a while you’ll remember Beloved Jen from this post.  AND after months let’s get it going with my review.

At first blush, On Being Human*   and really Jen’s stuff probably doesn’t seem like my shit. Like I hate doing yoga and on the surface at first glance, nah. But, and if you remember from my last post I don’t recall how I got aquainted with Jen but, I’m so glad I did.

The thing I love about Jen and her book is that, it isn’t a blow sunshine up your ass type of book. In terms of memoir, I don’t really like the sunshiney redemption arcs. This book gives us an intimate look at and ride with her through a lot.

We go through death, pain, shame that ride, whew chile.

I love this book because it reflects a lot of the tone and emotion of things I’ve wanted to do in my own work. Less than 20 pages in, is where I got hooked.

“I have spent my whole life trying to hide who I was,”

Full disclosure, when I first got the book I very literally stopped on that paragraph on page 14 and put the book down for two weeks. That was me for so long. For years, I spent most of my energy beating myself with my shame(s). For me when I read memoir, there is frequently a moment like this, I have to put it down and exhale because for a second, I know the writer. I am them.

OKAY on to some nerdy shit.

In terms of memoir I have read them fairly widely. I prefer my memoir to be a little messy, not overly fancy. Jen uses a clarity of language that is plain enough to be very, I hate the word but it is very relatable. Unlike a lot of folks in the self helpy area of the world, Jen is not afraid to say fuck and mean it.

If you follow Jen on social media and you read the book, you know this is real. To steal half of one of her favorite phrases, it is no bullshit. I appreciate that both as a reader and as a writer. Often when folks reach a particular area of fame within their chosen area of the lit world, suddenly they aren’t the person who ever said fuck or shit or how they actually feel about anything.

There is a grace to Jen’s work that is honest and grounded. There is a LOT of woo in the world of self helpy, yoga stuff and this book is not that. There is a depth of exposed humanity that is why I like her so much both as a writer and as a human being. This is work you can hold on to.

This work is meaty and has flesh. It has tears and will probably give you some cries and some giggles. I think there are a lot of us who might see reflections of our own paths in life without the, aspirational aspect of a lot of this type of work that turns me off. Jen isn’t posturing as the person you want to be. In this work she’s showing us her heart and that is what I like.

So TL:DR this is a great fucking book. I will reread it again. I will continue to enjoy her work and humanity and sometimes, this is the best part sometimes, I think of that line from page 14 and I let out a breathe.

Neither of us has to be that person anymore and that is a beautiful thing. This book is about more than a glow up.

Read it. Get to know one of my favorite humans.

Next review we’ll be talking about another fave human of mine, Gabino Iglesias. Stay tuned babes!

Death Threats, censorship and musings.

BIG OLE CW on this post babes. There’s gonna be talk about racial harassment, death threats, rape threats etc through my career. I am not going to direct quote but it is going to be a ride.

Ahem. First I need you to read/look at two things. First this piece by Roxane Gay. And this, BIG CW on this one good buddy.

In terms of internet writing I am ancient. I have been doing this shit for a long ass time. I’ve been involved in various kinds of bullshit over the years. For the I don’t know how many troll and rage and hate comments, messages and emails I’ve gotten over the years, death and rape threats have been a constant.

I remember the first death threat I took seriously and what I said to earn it. I was still figuring out my non-fiction work and was writing kind of airy arty farty proto essays mostly about sex. I had written about having been approached by a “Dom” who wanted to do some Gor based race fantasy shit I was not there for.

I was in the middle of my joyous slutdom and wrote about how bummed it made me to get constantly rejected in public by dudes like this but how uncomfortable it made me to have them want me to be their Black Pussy experience.

I got this email from an Angry Dom, from an email with a local to me IP address (remember when you could tell SO MUCH from just that) and from context clues I was 90% sure he knew who I was. It was one of those moments when I didn’t know what to do or how to feel. I’ve had people threaten and use violence against me in meatspace, I knew what to do in that instance.

I wound up ignoring him.

Over the years, I’ve made a lot of people angry with my words. When I had the audacity to suggest that fat people are human and shouldn’t be abused, I recall an angry pastor who prayed for my slow death. I’ve been threatened with death and rape for having opinions about poetry, for being Black and alive, for having a vagina and saying things.

Whenever I see people who seem to think that these things don’t actually happen, Or that the discomfort of white women especially is tantamount to the dangers marginalized people face when we say anything. Often, these things are not the same things.

In my experience, when publishing houses start to back up their authors who have in fact fucked up, often the “violence” comes off to me as so low key.

dragged
[image description: a white man holding a sign that says in all caps, they finna drag you]
This might be a character flaw but look. If you’re getting absolutely fucking dragged. DRAGGED. It is uncomfortable. Sometimes it can feel scary, personal and like your life is in fact in danger.

It is not the same thing as having published something and opening your email to a hundred emails all saying, die nigger.

Not the same.

An example from my life.

A famous conceptual poet who’s name I’m not fucking mentioning because his stans are shitbirds, did some things and I wrote about them. Yes I fucked dragged him, dragged some other conpo folks, I went the fuck in. I did.

What that was, was yes a little violent in the context of yeah hard words.

It was not, hey u X poet you piece of shit I’m gonna murder you.

Not the same thing y’all.

This whole situation is one I feel like I will get embroiled in again. Not this one in particular because it is not my lane but, it is literally the same bullshit I have heard for so long.

The deliberate mangling of what censorship is, the wailing of a White woman who fucked up and is facing consequences and the ways in which the publishing industry will work to protect her and not the people she caused harm. I been here. I hate it.

If you have not experienced this, I don’t wish it on you. That said, I really want to encourage especially white people to really read all the links you can find in the Guardian there. I want you to go into it with the knowledge that you’re gonna feel some type of way and I want you to sit with it and not retreat into the kind of fragility that results in this shit happening.

Now some other links.

Myriam on Latino Rebels.

Me on the effects of racial harassment on me. 

Me on racism in the lit world.

I am quoted in this piece by beloved Dena Rash Guzman in the Rumpus on Death threats.

I think that’s all.

Oh Uncle Steve..

Before I get going, let me give y’all some background.

I have loved Stephen King since I was 8 years old. The first adult novel I read was ‘Firestarter’. I thought it was verboten so I hid a borrowed copy and read it feverishly whenever I could until I finished it. I have been a lover of horror since.

As an adult I have struggled with my love of King. I wanted to excuse his Magical Negros and constant fallback to racist tropes. I tried.

My love of his oeuvre and the impact on the artist I am not withstanding, I gotta once again realize that Uncle Steve ain’t here for folks like me.

ohnobb
[image description: a tweet by Stephen King that reads: …I wound never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me to do otherwise would be wrong. Dated 4:20 AM Jan 14, 2020
Unky Steve tried to walk it back but look.

This issue is something I’ve spoken about for ages. I’m not gonna rehash. But let’s get a few things 100.

  1. This position assumes all things are equal. They are not.
  2. This position assumes that, things like institutional racism, sexism etc has no bearing in the arts. They do.
  3. It is just a goddamn bad take.

The main problem with people in Kings position making these type proclamations is that, he is in SUCH a position of influence. Like when I wrote about Phil Anselmo from one of my fave bands Pantera doing Nazi-esque shit as “jokes” I have the same issue here. Yeah, he might not have meant it that way but, there is an impact.

Like Phil, I fucking still love the dude. If I knew either of them, I’d probably just be like BRO WHAT THE FUCK IS U DOING….because I care about them. I enjoy their art.

Here’s the thing.

When people in positions of influene, like Mssrs. Anselmo and King, say and do dumb shit like this, there is a large part of their fans/followers and people they influence in their respective arenas who absolutely use things like this to back their own bias and put it into action.

The problem is that, it is #20-dingdang-20 and we HAVE to stop allowing White liberals to say shit like this and pretend like it is fine. It is not fine.

Had Uncle Steve been paying attention to his own industry for I dunno the last 15 years, he’d probably be well aware that in his most famous genre in particular, women, POC, etc have not been exactly welcomed with open arms.

We who are not cis white hetero men, don’t have the luxury of sitting back and resting on the quality of our work. We never have. Here in the year of fuckery of 2020 we still don’t.

As it is, right this minute. There are many white people in influential positions in horror publishing who are publicly neonazis. This is happening now.

How about a storytime? This is post Racefail ’09 and happened to me a few years ago when I decided to maybe start easing my way back into the horror area of lit life, I went to an event where there were HWA people.

It was some bucketlist shit for me. Many moons and out of prints ago, I was super close to making enough pro horror sales to qualify to be a member. That is all I wanted in life. Now, you may or may not know that in meatspace, I can be kinda shy and skittish. I’m a feral cat in a dress and easily startled. BUT when I wanna meet folks, I sweat and get it done.

I met some folks from the org and they were nice white folks. Generally welcoming, I don’t know if they were local to me. BUT, when we started talking authors, neither of them (and they were both older than me) had heard of not one SINGLE Black writer I mentioned. Most of the writers I tried to talk to them about were members in good standing, several of them were quite prolific and included Tananarive Due.

Tananarive Due.

……………

Y’all. It was enlightening to me.

The fact that they had NO IDEA of contempary horror writers who were producing work for big houses at that point, and weirdly they were all not White….

For a bit further sauce, around the same time I had been contacted by a small (no longer around) horror start up mag. They knew of my work from my porny horror I’d had published years earlier, they were nice White folks who said diversity a lot.

They liked a lot of the horror stuff I like. They solicited work from me. I may have the bones of the story somewhere but basically, it was a hood ass haunted house story. Very classic haunting and yes in the hood without the smirk. Hood kids, one of them with a root working Nana,

Their style of editing was quite eh, handsy. They wanted to work in a very collaborative, edit as you go type of way that they framed as “shaping” and “development”. I wasn’t a fan but I really wanted to be in their debut issue with a fat ass Blackity Black Black horror story.

As we worked, most of their inquiries were thinly veiled white folks being amazed that Black things exist. A lot of the story was hooked to 90s r&b and they questioned if their audience would recognize it. See also questions about if their audience would “feel” things like:

  • Mentioning braids or beaded hairstyles
  • Very light AAVE
  • Endless questions about things folks in the story did/knew about. Black biker gangs, passing mention of thins like Rodney King (remember this was very much placed in the 90s),

Etc etc. It became very clear to me that their discomfort was not the story itself but the absolutely unapologetic Blackness. That this story was not centered in the White gaze and thus was not “relatable”. They never questioned the quality of the work. They loved the idea but not the execution in that it was not, centered in the traditionally super whiteness of Horror.

I pulled out. I couldn’t take it. I felt so beat down and defeated. After that, I bounced off of horror for a long time. I didn’t read a lot of it, I didn’t follow the industry. I stuck to tried and true faves until the Anti-Blackness in those (UNCLE STEVE) was too much for me.

So look.

We can’t keep pretending that all things are equal in any sense of the word. Uncle Steve, please stop. This shit is exhausting. Read the link below and follow the links in it. Y’all can we fuckin not.

#StokersSoWhite: 2016-2018, the fall of tokenism at the HWA by Sumiko Saulson. 

Horror Musings- Ma and #ownvoices

I saw the movie Ma recently and (spoilers in link) and I have some thots. Buckle up. SPOILERS bro.

On the surface of it, Ma is a pretty okay movie. Good amount of suspense, interesting main antagonist but, by the time they started to “reveal” Ma’s backstory it was really too late. This was obviously not written by a Black person. I checked and sure enough, nope.

From the start, this had potential had someone Black written it. Here we have Sue Anne, one of obviously very few Black folks in this town and we (we as in probably mostly Black folks lezbehonest) know some shit happened. When you are one of few Black folks in any very white place, shit is gonna go down.

Perfect set up for a psychological thriller where you Sue Anne get your revenge by killing the kids of the folks who fucked with you. However, this is where #ownvoices is so important, in spite of how magnificent and menacing Octavia was in this role, the lack of providing us even glimpses via flashback, nightmares, something left the later mentions of stuff having happened empty to me.

In the end, regardless of the performances (I also really loved Juliette Lewis playing a grown person) there is a disconnect in this film. I could tell very quickly this was not a Black story. From wiki, this is the problem:

He read Scotty Landes’ script of the film, which Blumhouse Productions had bought the day before.[5] Although the original draft was written with a white woman in the title role, Taylor immediately thought about Spencer.[4] He went out to the hall, called Spencer, and asked her if she would like to be in a horror film;[5] without reading the script, Spencer boarded the project.[5]

The issue is that, you can’t just plug Blackness into any story. You can’t always just say NO BUT MAKE THEM BLACK and have that make the Blackness in the media you’re creating work. To put a finer point on it, if you’re going to bring in that racism and misogynoir into the story, the men who wrote it have no clue about how those things could make a monster like Sue Anne and for me it fell flat.

This is where I would say the solution is sensitivity readers/writers. I think Blumhouse really missed a great chance to look at a script and say, we need Black folks on this to make this story better. If you want to:

“I want to do something really fucked up.”[5]

Do the damn work.

This is why #ownvoices is so important. This film could have been so much better. Deeper. Richer. A more terrifying experience.

Overall, it was ok. I’ll probably watch it again for Octavia’s work alone but, really if you’re gonna make a Black ass horror story, consult some Black people.

If you’re gonna use a racism trope, use it. Don’t drop it in cause you’ve switched your main antagonist to be a Black person. This is an instance where I want to cheer but I feel like, y’all coulda done more. Blumhouse has the cash. Do the work. Take a chance on doing something great and fucked up.

In terms of horror fiction, this is a great set up. It is rich territory to explore and we need more of it. Just, not done by a team of white folks.

I think that’s all for now. Coming soon, book reviews!!

First up next week, beloved Jen Pastiloff then beloved Gabino Iglesias. WOO!

 

Yeah Write #456- Call Her

 

Call Her

by

Shannon Barber

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

### 

 

2019 You Raggedy Motha Fucka.

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

SO 2020. What is gonna happen?

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

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

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

I was let down, defeated and hurt.

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

The way out is through.

NOW.

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

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

……………….

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

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

Will I write a book? Maybe.

I dunno.

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

What else?

I’m doing my loveletters again.

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

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

Dassit babes.

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