Storytime.

The weather in Seattle is warm and windy today.

So I want to share about me being a baby writer.

Before I had my own computer I worshipped pen and notebook. I have always loved fancy little journals, but always wind up buying steno pads. When I was about 21 and had a day off from my phone sex company office job, I’d take about 5-8$ and head up to the Capital Hill Neighborhood in Seattle.

Remember, I am an Old so back then Cap Hill was full of street kids, Queers, poor folks, etc. It was way less prone to dudebro shitbag behavior and the violence that brings.

I’d take my little money and buy the biggest coffee, I could afford and head into the park. I would lay in the grass in the sun with my coffee and watch gutter punks lay about, guys cruise each other, sometimes the gutter punks I hung around would come over and I’d read them my poems or help them patch their clothes and we’d talk about writing being magic.

That was magic.

I kind of miss writing that way, even though I was so self conscious about it and put an entirely different kind of pressure on myself then than I do now.

Back then, my goal was to magic up myself a full, complete book of writings. Then I would find myself some very wealthy benefactor who would parcel out my pieces to publishers while I gallivanted.. uh no let me be real fucked my way around the world.

I look back at baby me and just kind of chuckle.

You had a GREAT idea kid.

Even though writing was a thing I did in secret, as in I didn’t tell my friends or family but shared it with strange street kids and it was really difficult and traumatic, it was okay.

I learned how to write with absolute abandon. At that time I often burned my journals when I was done with them so I wrote like my words wouldn’t exist and that taught me a lot.

Okay, I’m an OLD and I am yammering.

So here have some news. I have some new stuff at Medium so go have a looksy.

Things will lighten up around here soon. I’ve got many irons in the fire and a fire in my belly.

I’ll be all right y’all.

 

 

 

Hustle n Grind

Posting is probably going to be a little light for a hot minute.

I’m yet again working out my hustle.

Things are shifting.

Some good news though.

After weeks of panic and anxiety shits, I think I’ve figured out how to reconfigure my budget (not my dayjob money) and how to make a little bit more. I had to let go of some financial goals that right now I just can’t be dealing with.

What else?

I’m still working on the bloody monster piece. I have an idea of what to do with it but it’ll take another 6 weeks of work at least before I can even consider it.

I’ve submitted some fiction and poetry around. Both of those things feel a little uh, time waste-y. I still feel some type of way about it and realize that it’s going to continue to be very difficult for me to get the kind of traction in fiction that I really want in traditional outlets. It just is. That said, I’m also no the fence about hustling it myself because let’s be real, I’m not famous enough for that many people to buy my fiction because they want it.

That is a hard thing for any writer to just say. But the stats I’ve been keeping over the last couple of years bear it out.

See also my failures in marketing, my SCLAB failures. My skill set and uh, being not that famous I guess have put me on the path of oh well fuck me running.

I’ve thought a lot about it and talked it over with trusted friends and I guess it just is what it is. My Etsy store relaunch was profitable for about five minutes and as of a week ago is no longer. I am not comfortable being that writer who is all BUY MY SHIT on every fucking social media platform. I try and it just feels so disgusting to me, I hate myself for doing it and that kind of stress interferes with the writing.

A lot of the methods of marketing for indie folks I’ve studied often leave me feeling more invisible, more completely out of my depth and ultimately more depressed and anxious. It leads to a type of anxiety that makes creating very difficult and puts me in a real bad place. So I’m just not going to do those things anymore.

So what’s left?

I don’t know. Maybe I will just offer up all my fiction for free. Maybe save up what I can to try and launch my writing class things I’ve been working on for like two years.

I just don’t feel like I can get the kind of traction I need to make it all contribute to the sustainability of my writing life. And being that fiction is my first real deep, true love, it just really fucking sucks.

I am feeling kind of heartbroken today about it. I think a lot of that has to do with I am deep in OH FUCK I must MUST provide more economically for myself and my partner because as it is, we’re going to be eating dollar store ramen and our health and (you see where I’m going) and unfortunately my failed fiction shops/income is just another weight added to that.

Hopefully, if some stuff goes right economically I can revisit.

I don’t know.

I wasn’t intending to go all into shit like that today. But I promised I’m keeping it 100 and this is my reality.

It ain’t the artist life I wanted, but it’s the one I have.

That’s it for now. I’m going to try to put up some scheduled posts. I’ll be updating my where to read my work page because soon because some things are out of print, some things are new.

Now I return to my fuckin hustle.

Showing up Bloody.

Recently, I’ve been trying to deal with some trauma that I thought I had pretty much handled. Poverty trauma that reaches deeper than I realized it did.

I found myself having a really terrible day, flashbacks, really awful feelings, repressed panic attacks, bad enough to give me the shits for three days.

So I did what I always think is the thing to do and started writing. I started an essay (maybe my first long form) that is a testament to a lifetime of mental illness and how it has manifested and how the idea of the Strong Black Woman almost killed me.

The thing I’m most surprised about is that given my memory issues (related to my sleep disorders mainly) is the clarity of certain memories. Smells, how my skin felt, I close my eyes and see it. This is beyond confessional writing, I’ve done a ton of that over the last 20 years. This is exposure.

This piece is not the sort of confessional, I can smirk about and shrug because Shannon is gonna Shannon and not be embarrassed. This is stuff that makes me cringe. I want to say I’m sorry if I ask anyone to read it because it burns me. I know it will hurt the people who love me to know that has been my life and in some ways still is.

I’m fucking terrified.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I find being a memorist of any seriousness fucking scary. I know that in the scheme of Black writers and Black people and Black women, especially, what I’m working on could be one of those important little pockets of solidarity. I’m considering pitching it when it is closer to being done.

As I’m thinking about/researching that, of course I stop to wonder outside of a handful of pubs I already know, who would give space and cash to this story?

I know it is still very hard for the world (Lemonade or no Lemonade) to see that Black people have feelings, that we are human beyond the photos of our bleeding, broken bodies or scoring points or generally being acceptable but not quite human enough to see into. I know that when some people look at me, they want the Sassy Shannon Don’t Take No Shit and Don’t Need Nobody type. I know.

What I don’t know is where do I go to be a different facet of the purple lipstick wearing loudmouth? Where do I go not to rail about racism or other fuckery, but to show the world my emotionally bloody self?

I don’t know.

Or maybe I will self pub it as a mini memoir.

Who knows.

What’s important for me right now is to get it written. To confess. To strip off the last vestiges of the stone faced person I thought I wanted to be and show up naked and terrified but fucking there.

I’m there and right now that’s what matters.

Puppies, Hugos and Good Lordt.

If you’re not familiar with what I’m referencing here have a look.

Looking at a lot of conversations in blogs etc about this whole shitshow y’all, if I’m going to be honest, it really makes me even more hesitant to enter the arena.

A lot of what I’ve seen said by whatever flavor of puppies is automatically booting work that I do out of hand because “message’ which I generally read to mean about anything but White straight men.

For me a lot of my fiction is escape. My non-fiction tends to draw the uh, day to day version of pupppies of one sort or another. The White men who email me to tell me how “loud” and “terrible SJW” I am because I write about my life and that often includes my Blackness. The same type who, when I was just a little online journal writing type, would first ask to see my tits or to meet up and when I said no would call me a nigger bitch.

These are the same type of dudes who will correct me about any number of dumb things usually ending with, well YOU’RE THE RACIST.

And I’ve been following this since it started.

Thing is, the fact that this is still a fucking problem that I watch a lot of authors I respect both personally and professionally either be very stressed out about this or show their racist ass.

I watch and read all the commentary and links. I read a lot of the books in question.

At this point, all this whole situation does is show me more reasons I don’t even want to fuck with the industry.

It’s not that I wouldn’t love getting paid for my genre work, reaching a wider audience and all that shit. I just don’t want it ruined. I don’t want yet another part of my literary life to be speckled with this flavor of bullshit.

Not too long ago I had a pretty good sized list of mags and whatnot that would help me in getting SFWA membership. I had stories ready to shiny up and fling out into the nerdverse. Now, nah.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got the same amount of side eye for the horror areas as well. Especially given some professional organization fuckery that occurred right after getting a pretty warm sell on joining up and getting back into the horror genre in a larger fashion.

I keep telling myself things like the following:

Posi Brain: No, it’ll totally be fine. You’re being paranoid not everything is awful.

Non Posi Brain: Bitch whet? You saw that last note, we got right? You’re being a dipshit. Nothing is fine. Everything is awful.

Remix- repeat.

All this said, I don’t think I’m gonna be fuckin with it. I am stressed out enough. I hear enough about ALL the reasons why anything I say ever whether fictional or not are, somehow the end of White men everywhere.

My audience isn’t huge nor are they throwing big dollars but, I feel like we get each other and that feels good.

That’s how I feel about it for the couple of people who’ve asked me. Basically, I see it and I don’t like it so I ain’t fuckin with it.

Now, speaking to my audience, oh hey you.

Rewrites on The Daiyu Saga have begun and if you want to see the second draft of my first urban fantasy novel as it goes along, all it takes is like 2$ a month and BOOM access to every chapter and love letter that goes along with it. Head over here to check it out.

In other news, I will have some new lit in the etsy shop soon and you can still get this bad bitch right here, for a few dollars. Come get all your life.

 

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Plans Of The Writer

For those who aren’t supporting me on Patreon, I’ve announced over there that I’ve started rewrites on my urban fantasy novelette in progress working titled The Daiyu Saga and those chapters will be the new Patron only stuff.

That done, I will likely list a bunch of my source material on Etsy along with some other stuff.

I’ve also been thinking about what to do with The World  (go back to last Sept to read them all) I still have a deep interest in putting them together in a collection of linked stories. I’m thinking I could do that as a kindle book, try it for KDP select and that way a LOT of folks could read them for free/I wouldn’t need to manage the way I do my Etsy stuff.

I’m also working on SCLAB stuff and essays.

My output right now is pretty consistent and I’m pleased with it. I put a new piece up at Medium about marginalized writers and risk.

While I’m very happy with what I’ve been writing lately, what I’m not as happy with is that I’m again finding myself in a pressurized position because economically, not one of these things is really viable for me in a way that helps me life my actual non writing life.

Intellectually I know that even as things are, my partner and I still have our little apartment. He’s got the medication he needs. We have food.

Emotionally speaking, if my non writing life is the toy I am these birds. Inside my brain there are cats, hamsters, puppies a carnival wheel and a class full of first graders hopped up on Mt. Dew all losing their collective shit at top volume pretty much all the time.

My Poverty Brain has kicked in full speed with anxiety kicker.

I will say that unlike previous years, the shit fuckery in my head isn’t causing me to be unable to write so there’s that.

That said, I’m stuck at that point of making some of this shit profitable while battling a whole host of other feelings. Those are feelings I will likely keep to myself and a few friends because reasons.

So that’s what’s going on.

I might schedule up some posts here because I have ANOTHER thing. In a few short days, I’ll make my triumphant return to personal blogging.

Come and check it out, subscribe and hold on to your butt.

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Aww YISS!!

Now I’m going to dayjob and work on shit.

Grind grind grind grind.

Try to make them extra coins.

And stay calm.

Yeah Write Entry #263- Down Home

Down Home

by

Shannon Barber

Mama said I’d know when the time was right. She skipped all the magical menses bullshit and woowoo sparkly nonsense. She sat me down and told me straight.

“I can’t tell you one way or the other if you got the gift or not. If The World wants you and you got what it want, it’ll call. Stop worrying about it and go do them dishes.”

I waited until I was thirty goddamn years old. I had accepted it. I would not be like other women in my family that way. I did not have the magic.

Two weeks after I turned thirty I felt it. I saw the Shadows gathered in the corner of my living room and I felt the heartbeat of The World. I felt the pull, I felt the need deep in my belly. Lower than lust, deeper than need, it pulled at the marrow in my bones.

The World did not call me home as I thought it would. Not my real home at any rate. It called me home to a swamp full of dank nightmares and thin places. When the air touched my skin, that is when it all really happened.

“Sss, errr, esss, ood. Mmmmm.”

The first voice came on the first current of hot wet air, the rest joined it in a susurrus of hissy, sibilance that I felt on my arms. I felt the little silky summer dress lifting away from my body, I felt them as silken paws of sensation.

“Stop.”

I signed desperately. The World, may have been speaking, but it did not listen. These were not things of the world and my body wanted them. I wasn’t speaking to them, I was talking to me.

My body opened to the voice of The World as it had never opened to any lover. My skin craved subvocalalizations that thrummed against me as if my skin was nothing more than the thinnest thing between air and something full of liquid and fit to burst. I was broken. Naked and brown in a hot swamp thousands of miles away from my Mother and on my knees.

I heard none of it. I felt it in the waters of my body, I felt fricatives devouring my cunt and the plosives I yearned for exploding against my eyelids and the tender flesh at the nape of my neck.

The World took me more completely than any lover and touched me deeper than any God. It called me to touch me with fingers made of language I will never hear.

I don’t know what it means. This was not my Mother’s calling.

I am the living secret of The World. I am deaf to the world and my body feels the true voice of The World and I don’t mind. I’m no Mage or Warrior, no Beholder or Scrivener. I am only a Secret.

The World wants me and it will have me.

###

Hustlin’ Hustlin

So.

I am on that hustle because frankly I want to buy some summer clothes that fit my ass and my aesthetic. Also baby got bills to pay.

I also decided to do a digital version of my poetry chapbook The Motherfuckess Manifesta And Other Poems. The print version will be handmade and not the exact same book. I am taking my time with that because I’m terrible at book building.

 

You can go check that out here. I also relisted my Lovecrafty Story Doe Mouse. Deer Mouse. Rabbit and Bunny.  I even added a tiny bonus Crawling Chaos story.

What else?

You can also read more flash by me over at Catapult. 

I think that’s all the news for now. I’ll be starting to deliver some brand new stuff to folks who support me via Patreon. Shit is getting exciting up in there.

What else is happening?

Essentially, I’m struggling to settle into my new/current experience of poverty. Those first couple of months of the increased cost of living haven’t been gentle. I have stress rashes, I’ve had panic attack shits and I’ve choked myself out creatively speaking. Shit is so hard.

BUT, I’m trying really hard not to completely freak out.

I’ve got some freelance paychecks coming in later this month and next month.

I’m sort of on target with writing new stuff ish.

I’m trying.

But shit is fucking hard y’all.

That’s it for now. We may or may not step into The World tomorrow. I have a thing for that, but it’s not quite what I want. I’m on that heavy experimentation tip again so we’ll see if I can pull it off.