Thoughts on Expensive Lit things

Or why no I’m not applying to ALL of those conferences, residencies and whatnots.

Before I get into it, understand this is no shade to those who can. I’m going to talk specifics to me and my lived life.

Ookay. We’re going to talk about why the famed residency etc type things that you apply for with work samples and cash are not really going to be a thing for folks like me. When I say folks like me here’s what I mean:

  • Poor
  • Breadwinners
  • Caretakers
  • etc

Now when I’m talking cost here, I also have to take in the following:

  • Do I have paid vacation time from work?
  • Can I use it?
  • Do I have sick time accrued in case I get sick?
  • Can I -get- that time off?
  • How long would it take for me to save to cover costs if a scholarship isn’t granted?

We’ll assume that for the spots I’m mentioning, I get into them.

So let’s start with four of the most famous that I know of. Breadloaf. Hedgebrook. Clarion West. And a personal holy grail Vona. We’re going to pretend I’m applying for all of them.

So all in, just to apply I’d need to have available:

105$. (+if after an early deadline an extra 25$ for Clarion)

Now because I’m a practical kind of potato, I’d also only rest easy if I had the deposits available for potential acceptances:

I could only find deposit info for Vona which would be another $200.

Now. In terms of work for me that is almost half a weeks worth of wages. At a total of 330$ is more than a month of groceries for my family so it is a significant chunk of change.

Now let’s say I get in in the same order as above here are my fees:

$3,395 BL

$0 for H for a residency.

$4,200 for CW

$1100. V.

Except for Hedgebrook each of these is more than my two week take home pay paychecks. So for a base just me getting to do the thing, is in general about a month of wages.

This doesn’t include transportation. Hedgebrook is in WA but, to get there I would spend at least another 100-200$. Getting a Lyft from my front door to where I work costs me about 30$ not including a tip and that is ten miles. Hedgebrook in Freeland WA is more than 40 miles from where I live. To take buses that far north (I know from experience) can take up to six hours. It is 3-4 in a car.

If we calculate travel for things not in WA, it’s going to be at least $300-400 bucks.

Now I’ve been told in the past that great success requires great sacrifice. I have also been told that to get myself to these things, presuming I got accepted I should do the things, fundraise, save money, side hustle. The community will have my back.

In reality, not so much.

Let’s use my trip to AWP2016 as an example. That year, I was named as being part of some bully squad because I loudly and frequently objected to AWP giving primacy and promotion to racist poets. I was supported in this. A lot of people really wanted me there. About 9 months prior I started fundraising. As is my habit i was very clear about needing help and support. In almost a year I raised about 200$. The ONLY reason I was there was because of donated membership and a lot of scrambling and debt.

The fact of it is, even to move I’ve been fundraising for over a year and just recently got to about the quarter mark. My side hustles including things like dollar stories, sold nothing. My merch shop sold nothing. The community does not support me or my work in a material way historically. There is a very small number of people who do, including folks at Patreon. This number has remained the same for about five years or so regardless of what I’m offering or why.

So I’d have to rely on my day job.

To go to let’s pick the most expensive and say Clarion West, that would be more than 2 months of my wages. That is without paying rent, buying food, providing my partner his medication, not buying my own medication just straight paychecks.

if you’re new, I am the breadwinner in my tiny famfam. My partner is completely disabled and gets the least amount of assistance available. I make less than 25K a year take home including my side hustles. I am a working poor person.

Now in order for me to attend a few weeks of something I would have to be able to save vacation time for more than two years. However, only 40 hours carries over yearly where I work. So I’d be able to use that to pay for 5 days. My sick time accrues more slowly and this instant, because I got sick in January and had to miss a couple of days, that would give me another 8.42 hours.

So five days and 8 hours.

So I would have to go without pay or income for the time of the workshop entirely. I would also have spent about 2 months of income to do this.

Even with a scholarship to cover tuition, that would not change missing time off of work for which I could lose my job. I would still go without income.

Some folks say, do the one day workshops. These cost $150. Let’s say I want to go to the one Nisi Shawl is doing. April 8, 2018, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. So it would cost me, 8 hours of vacation time, the equivalent of about 9 hours of wages. In transportation the location is approximately a 2.5 hour (first part during rush hour) ride for me.

Outside of the initial layout of cash, let’s estimate that the real life cost would be about 3 times the cost of just paying to put my ass in the seat.

I say all of this because this is the reality of telling folks that these programs are radical and accessible. Financial accessibility is a thing. This is why, I don’t enter chapbook contests, why I closed my etsy store, why when I say I can’t/won’t do this stuff.

On one hand, fuck yes shit like Vona is amazing. I know alums, many of whom have gone on to huge success and that is fucking awesome.

Unfortunately, banking on a future maybe success is not enough for me to starve my family. I’ve said before, poverty ain’t romantic. Food insecurity, not romantic. I have fiscal responsibilities that mean, I can’t in good conscious put a maybe success ahead of putting food on the table.

There you go.



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


  • 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.

[image description: a square image with round purple sequins, yellow text overlay says: Gasoline Heart Shannon Barber]

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:


Updates, Stuff n thangs.

OH hey 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:


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.


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.


Nanowrimo, Writing and stuff.

Hello adventurers!

I see some of y’all are about that Nanowrimo life and I say, Go FORTH AND DO ALL THE THINGS! WRITE THAT SHIT!

My personally philosophy about Nanowrimo is that you can use it however you need it. The first few times I did it, around 2011 I mostly needed to figure out how could write something longer than say 3k words. I knew I could write but that much? Yes I could. I found that while my little novellas were the hottest of shitty messes, I learned a lot about myself as a writer.

Also, having that sort of small (for me, i was VERY shy even on the internet back then. I KNOW WEIRD RIGHT) community of people who liked to cheer me on and encourage me to just write that shit was invaluable to me. I learned what it was like to have someone say yes, YES YOU DO THAT SHIT who wasn’t already a friend.

The other things I found doing Nanowrimo is that while no, I was not one of those fabled folks to get book deals and shit. I did start finding out how could/do write fantasy. How I want to present certain things. The Daiyuverse was born during Nanowrimo. I wasn’t cutting teeth the way I was cutting teeth in literary fiction at the time.

I was devouring words and methodology and while I was devouring I was playing. I was doing like this here:

That was how my nerdy little soul was getting down. Wild. At the time, I felt that the only way to be a “real author” was through very specific channels. I believed in the idea that if I ground it out in short fiction, someone who expressed interest in my work who was also in a position of power would publish it and BOOM REAL GROWED UP WRITER.

For me, this view was part of my angst over not having much of a formal education. I was trapped in this shame bubble and it was hobbling me creatively. I had such grand dreams of not only being a literary mega super star AND a horror queen AND a memorist AND  AND AND.

What clicked for me in my nano adventures was this.

All I have to do is write. I am a writer. And that’s fine. Not only fine, it is fucking amazing.

I heavily credit doing nanowrimo for years with setting me free in a way I was not able to find elsewhere.

I know a lot of people poop on the idea of just churning out words. It is kind of counter intuitive.

That said, if you really want to just run with something, nanowrimo is a great chance. I believe fully in the art of Writing Like A Mother Fucker and if you don’t know how, now is a great time.

Now this year I’m not doing nano proper. I’m actually making it my goal to have rewrites on Cycle 1 of the Daiyuverse done and in December have the ebook available for purchase. That is my goal for the month alongside getting out this chunk of cycle 2 to my patrons.

Also on a personal note. So, I’ve been/am being doxxed. I don’t have much to say about it aside from it has really bummed me out. Naturally that’s putting it lightly but I mean, it’s not the first time. Probably won’t be the last. So I’m dealing with it.

I dunno.

On one hand it makes me hesitant to really get some of my side hustles started but also eager to do them.

That said.


Here is what we’re looking at. Some original Be That Shit University Writing 101. The class I’m designing can be applied to any type of writing and focuses on doing that shit. I have some methodologies both digital and analog, some poking and stuff.

My market isn’t really people who already know how to write. Y’all I will get to. I’m looking at helping folks see and let loose their writing. This can be for fun, as an addition to an in place creative practice. Maybe you just wanna find out. The prices will be accessible and I might be open to offering select discounts.

I got you boo.

No bullshit. No intense literaryness.

Just you and me, talking like this. Available at your liesure via  a downloaded kit. You’ll get a couple of flash pieces, some poems and I’ll even include an unedited free write along with suggestions of how to write like a mother fucker, some timed exercises.

Consider this, if you like an intro to writing some shit. No pressure. No promises. Just no bullshit information.

I’m still getting my materials together, but I decided fuck it. I can’t do video right now, I still really enjoy teaching and talking about writing. I have wanted to do this forever. Boom here we are.

And the only real reason I have the um thangs to do this is because I know so many wonderful talented humans. Like best selling writers, writers who’ve never published a thing, artists, poets, SO MANY AMAZING PEOPLE.

And the women and femmes in my life.

I know women and femmes in my life who hustle so hard and so beautifully it just, y’all it makes me want to sit down and cry for joy. My community is pretty fucking great.

SO my darlings.

To keep up on when I release my classes and to get artsy fartsy opinions and musings come sign up for my newsletter. 

Wherein the Poet dreams of the most lit release party.


There will be a lot of video links here.

I’m dreaming of my ultimate literary event. My event. So also things might get NSFW.

Picture it:

An assemblage of grown ass folks because I don’t write kids lit. First the house lights come down and there’s a stage and a pole. A THICC stripper comes out, her act starts with this song. Thicc means: A descriptor meant to designate a woman with a shapely figure and is typically somewhat chubby.  They often will have an hourglass or pear shaped body with emphasis on the shape and size of their buttocks and thighs. It’s my party, I want fat strippers.

Start with some slow grind.

Maybe if I was dressed right we could do a little duet to something like.

And I would run it more like a burlesque show. No live tipping just some rapt attention for some amazing stripping.

Then a little break and a reader. Possibly someone who writes erotica or something else super sexy. Then we’d need to bring things up a bit and I would have my own personal twerk team. I’d really need a multi gender, multi sized twerk team in all black and everybody in booty shorts. And I would need a lot of my people who love twerking as much as I do to be up front to cheer.

Post twerk team, I would need to have another break. Maybe for a little twerk contest? Poets twerk. Readers twerk. All butts all skills welcome.

We’d wind down the stripping and twerking and I’d read. I’d read some poems and maybe some porn. I’d do an ask me anything. Or maybe I’d read from the work being launched and tell a story. I tell funny stories.

Actually wait, I think after twerking there’d be an intermission. Time for folks to pee, smoke, grab a nibble or something to drink or medicate.

THEN I’d read and storytime.

After that, I’d post my chunky ass at a table and sign shit. I’d likely stay put because mingling at these events never fails to freak my whole shit out.

And I’d have the most fabulous witchy art hoe outfit. Titties out. Face beat for the Gods. Very glam, a bit creepy.

I mean………..if I’m gonna fantasize.

If the world was my oyster I’d have some live music too. I’d invite artists I love and have them have tables of stuff to buy or trade. I’d invite zinesters and sex workers. Have a big ole bazaar of awesome and sexy.

I’d ask friends with patreons and things who couldn’t be there to send me business cards to tuck into swag bags.

I wouldn’t want it to be only about me but about us.

That’s how I dream about the literary life I want.

The literary life I imagined is full of sexy beauty and me having the ability to support my community by providing events or just space to say, hey you like my shit, check out this shit here.

That’s where my brain is at right now.

When the Big Guys Fuck Up

Hello world.

I had a tiny unplanned hiatus that was mainly due to stress and then a nearly week long cluster headache attack.

SO now that I’m all back first up an announcement.

I made a little splash re-entry into freelancing. I made my debut at Wear Your Voice Magazine. My first listicle and the first time I’ve written about race in a while. Predictably, a lot of White folks are mad as fuck at me. I’ve gotten some weirdly violent dick pics, I was informed by a friend that I got put on a list of dangerous racists.

Yeah okay, y’all do you.

I’m good.

Working with WYV is pretty great. They have been on my bucketlist of pubs for a while and I’ve yet again hit literary fuck it and I wrote the listicle and sat on it for a while and then voila. Opportunity came a callin.

Now that I’m doing a wee bit of freelancing let’s talk about some shit.

First read this.  

There have been more than a few people writing about the big house publishers ghosting, ripping them off for both money and ideas etc and y’all….

Looking at (this includes private info shared with me that I have the ok to talk about but not in specifics) the dates of a lot of what’s finally being outed, during my darkest moments of feeling like the biggest asshole impostor ever, this was happening to other writers.

Me being me, I believed a lot of my failure was down to simply how much I suck. Of COURSE a publication would take my pitch and give it to someone better, of COURSE when I did land something, the editor disappeared and further emails went unanswered.

While I was busy burying myself in anxiety and depression over my failed career as a freelancer, I saw people who truly have a habit of writing and publishing trash. Not fun this is silly bus time reading but gross, racist, ableist, just ALL the terrible things trash. I watched them post those bylines proudly and then have complete meltdowns and tantrums if they got pushback.

I saw a lot of the same people pull that, then go out into the world to crow about how bullied they were for their work.

And then there was me, wanting to expand my little horizons, write some stuff.

Y’all this shit fucked me up so bad. I still am feeling some fallout and I think of how I felt then and y’all, it wasn’t JUST ME.

So if you’re in that place, it’s not just you. Yes, sometimes shit happens but the real point here is that sometimes there is bigger shit happening.

That’s all for now.

Be cool to each other and coming soon I’m gonna have a big ole nerdy post and a few more announcements.

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

To answer an age old question, often I get my ideas from tidbits of things.

I tend to refer to it in my head as my fly on the wall inspo.

I get a lot of inspiration from tiny pieces of things, day to day happenings on facebook friends statuses, tidbits of conversations I overhear when I am commuting, the sound of an accent on a particular word or a voice. I notice and remember the hitch in how someone walks.

I tend to get specific inspiration from particular voices, I hear them as the narrators/characters as I write them. It’s almost like I have an audiobook while I’m writing the thing. The voice often just starts yammering and I need to write to keep up.

The other thing that happens is a full story just craps itself in my brain. It is like, what if this, this and this and then this, GO GO GO GO GO GOGO.

When I was a young potato writer, a lot of the time I thought that was the end of the game. Voice(s) poop out the story, I catch as much as I can of it on paper and then it is done. Now, I realize that often the initial poo is just the framework. It is the uh, well, we know I’ll murder a metaphor so let’s go with continuing the poo theme.

The first rush of getting the story down is like having gas. First is the bubble guts and then, PFFFFFFFFFFT.

So initially it is super exciting and feels amazing. I mean, is there anything more satisfying in life than having your belly blowing up or having bubble guts and FINALLY, whoosh. You fart. You feel your belly deflate. Maybe it makes a hilarious noise, maybe it is just such a relief you want to lay down. That is how that first expression of the big idea.

Okay, I’ll stop with the poop.

There is a physical component to this particular type of inspiration for me. I feel pressure in my body to get it out (like a fart), then the relief of getting that part done and then often I feel like I HAVE to get to the tinkering, the rewrites and the remolding of the story until it is what it wants to be.

I feel the pressure in my belly (like right now I’m constipated as hell) and while I work on these stories, I squirm around, trying to get into that magical comfortable place where I can find relief. The act of writing becomes a mix of the intellectual and the physical. I ride the space between bodily doings and brain doings.

It isn’t really a dignified state. I feel very animal and out of control in this state. Whatever alien voice or thing that the story needs to be, takes me over and I obsess about it until it is what it tells me it wants to be.

This is sort of how I used to imagine it felt to be taken by the muse. In all the flowery, purple prose I read as a kidlet, this is what I thought it meant. Except not as gassy or poopy, I thought it would be more sexy.

It’s not sexy.

It is pleasurable in the very base sense of the filthy body and the noisy brain doing something together for once. Co operating rather than my brain playing forty seven radio stations while my feet go numb because I ignore that I have a body.

I store so much in my body, when the moment happens that I can move some of that onto the page,  I feel like I’ve done something right.

So there you have it.

Ideas, come from having to fart and or poop.