Yeah, Write #208 entry- Bumble Bee Goddamn Arizona

 

Bumble Bee, Goddamn Arizona

by

Shannon Barber

“Bumble Bee goddamn Arizona. Bumble. Bee. God. Damn. Arizona.”

M stood in the dingy little room, yanking the laces of her corset, her movements so violent her curls bounced as vigorously as the tops of her pale brown breasts.

Her companion, her faux husband cowered in the corner out of reach. He knew better than to intrude on one of her frequent tirades. From Missouri to their current predicament he had enough bumps on the head from thrown lamps and bottles to know when not to speak.

“Bumble Bee- come on we’ll make money. There’s gold. Eric, there is no fucking gold here. There is no fucking brothel here. There is not even a goddamn bar here.  There is a post office and this room.  Help me why are you just standing there?”

Eric smiled behind her back and gently untangled her laces. He knew once she was unrigged and lounging in bed with something to drink.

“I know. If that sin buster son of a bitch had kept his cock holster shut we would be fine. But you know how they are. Now, I saw that Miss Nancy in the post office eyeing me. I promise I will get us taken care of and out of Bumble Bee Goddamn Arizona.”

When she was free of her corset and other underpinnings he let her hair down and dug his hands into her thick black hair. She let her head loll and the brimstone was out of her tone.

“Why, my dear Eric, are you not really my husband?”

He smiled and kissed her long neck. He patted her bottom and turned her toward the rickety bed in the corner. Eric tucked her in and kissed her cheeks.

“Because darling, if I weren’t a homosexual I would just be a Sunday Man and that would be boring. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a randy Miss Nancy to seduce. Go to sleep. If you’re good girl I’ll bring you back something to eat.”

M smiled and subsided. She was tired and as he preened and fussed with his hair, her eyelids fluttered down. Before he stepped out she opened her eyes and smiled dreamily at him.

“Someday we’ll have our own place. Our own.”

Eric kissed her forehead and headed out to meet the man who would finance this next leg of their trip. It felt good to give her a break for a few nights.

“I know love. It’ll be ace high and all our own.”

 ###

PS-

For info on my slang check out this Western Slang dictionary I found.


Patreon and this is serious business.

Okay, so as y’all know I’ve been talking more openly about the financial aspects of my writing.

See posts here and here.

After a lot of thought and hand wringing, some tears and shame spirals I’ve decided to ask for help.

See my new Patreon page here.

Here’s the real poop.

I can’t produce the kind of writing that moves me when I am too stressed out. The things I’ve been trying to do to make my writing sustainable in terms of it not coming out of my limited household budget haven’t been good for me.

I can admit that writing current events in terms of news stories and whatnot is not how I operate. I’ve been trying really hard and it stresses me out so bad I get upset and fall into a terrible shame spiral and feeling like a faker.

I am not a journalist. I don’t really want to be. Reportage is not in my wheelhouse. Writing that way is just not for me. And that being what it is, my ability to make more money freelancing is a bit limited.

Further, honestly a lot of the places I could potentially write for and be paid I plain don’t like. I’ve had to sit with this for about two years and the fact is, I don’t like being the only author of color on a website. Or when it is websites that don’t talk about the things I am passionate about writing about, it is just so stressful and sometimes so disappointing to be the One Big Brave Negro.

The next thing is this.

I know what I want to do. I know what I want to put into the world and a lot of it is just not going to get me paid. While philosophically I can deal, financially I just can’t. I have cut out so much of my budget, I have skipped stuff and gone without. I want to do more and I just need help.

Basically, if you click over what I’m asking for is help covering the basic stuff. Professional memberships, software upgrades, eventually hardware upgrades. Travel to AWP next year and maybe a reading or two until then.

With some support via patreon and the few freelance things I can make it.

Okay if you have questions please let me know.

As with all the things if you can’t help with dollars, signal boosts are deeply appreciated. Tell a friend, shit tell five friends if you want to.

Thanks for reading.


E Tu Horror Markets?

I spent a good portion of the day getting into some horror markets.

Uh.

Y’all, yes I’ve been away from the horror markets for a long ass time. I have some issues.

First one.

Manuscript format.

While yes, I understand why people stick to it, what I don’t really like is that that format does not fit how I write. I use paragraph breaks and other things both for effect and for aesthetics. It’s just how I work and as I learned with Bernie, trying to jam that into manuscript format just changes the reading experience in a way that I feel detracts from my work as a whole.

That is something I’ve tried to change. It just doesn’t work for me and I don’t really know of a good reason to make it a genre thing. By comparison the literary submissions I’ve made aren’t nearly so precious about sticking to that one format as being the only acceptable format.

This leads into another point I’ll get to later.

The next thing is the snail mail submissions.

I mean, can we please PLEASE be in the future here? Back in the day when emailed submissions were few and far between I saw a lot of editors wax poetic about how very serious someone who submits via mail must be and how they took those submissions more seriously.

Can we not?

Additionally to go along with that while I’ve been researching I’ve seen some of the ugliest websites with awful navigation, updates that don’t match (buy the new issue but our news section hasn’t been updated since 2008) type stuff.

Even with big deal pro mags, I keep seeing this and it makes me feel uncomfortable submitting. If I am as a potential submitter am supposed to be professional enough to adhere to modified or stringent manuscript formats, how to phrase the cover letter yadda yadda, I do expect some of the same. Update your goddamn website. Or at the very least say, we’re not updating this anymore catch us on facebook or whatever.

Work it out. As a reader I don’t even want to buy a new issue if things look abandoned on the website front.

Next thing is a little controversial but what the hell.

As I was reading through various submission things and reading stories that I’ve had bookmarked for a while, I keep seeing some disturbing patterns.

I will also touch on this next week because I have one HELL of a deep review for y’all.

The amount of what I find to be weird conservatism around certain things bothers me deeply.

I have seen a lot of no bad words, or only justified bad words (the fuck does that even mean).

Side by side, I find horror markets far more constrictive and uh, stuck on the idea that if you use a lot of profanity or if a story is very violent it is just not good enough because obviously those things are bad.

My view is this.

Horror in general is not a nice place. It is a wide place, a huge place where stories can have not one fuck uttered and not a drop of blood spilt and still be amazing.

Stories can also have a lot of profanity and oceans of blood and be amazing. I don’t see or understand why there has to be such a chasm between the two.

I also don’t see why the former seems to be the correct aesthetic.

Who are these readers who are seeking horror but can’t handle someone saying fuck?

Can we not have all of these things?

As a reader it feels squeamish and very narrow.

For me as both a reader of, lover of and writer of horror I want to have the space to get into shit that is very uncomfortable.

For instance.

When I was submitting this story around prior to it getting picked up a lot of the feedback was about changing it to make the narrator genderless.

Mainly because, of course the me I was working with were uncomfortable with the gratuitous violence as fantasized about by a woman.

I’m not saying that is exactly what’s going on in the industry, but it has shades of it.

I want horror that gives me something to be haunted by. I want to not be wondering how many naughty words or bloody bits got taken out.

This leads me to also think about that whole clean app bullshit. No Clean Reader. My dear friend wrote about it, read that here.

Okay indulge me for a minute.

If I am a writer and I say fuck. We the reader can believe easily that after the work has passed through varying sets of hands, the word fuck was meant.

Writing doesn’t happen by magic.

I believe in both intentional writing  and intentional reading.

I am so beyond done with the idea that readers are innocent flowers who get smacked in the face by evil. I try to read reviews when I book shop and I wind up so angry.

This book had SEX IN IT OMG. You bought an erotica book.

This book IS VIOLENT. THIS HAS TOO MANY BAD WORDS. etc.

If something is adult oriented, I feel like it should be expected that there might be some adult oriented shit in it. That might be violence, it might be bad words, it might be eroticized violence, it might be a Yeti butt fucking the ever loving shit out of a prince.

I am just nerd ranting now. I’ve gotten off topic.

Shocking right?

Okay so back to horror and my work.

I feel like the industry is not really for me right now. The things I like to play with and discover and explore are not curse, violence or sex free enough for most of the publications I’ve seen.

The other problem is that this stuff is not literary enough for lit mags. It is horror. Proudly horror with demons, ghosts, paranormal shit happening.

I don’t know.

I guess I just don’t understand how it is I could read upwards of 25-30 horror magazines in recent history and find so much of the same stuff.

A lot of it was beautifully written. Lovely great stories. Some excited me quite a bit.

But things were kind of homogenous.

The same gross outs- periods, fat women, etc.

Carefully non profane language.

Well done but I am missing the edge. The fear. The thing that makes me love horror.

That being what it is, I will probably continue to keep mine in my little etsy shop. I posted a few etsy links up there and I have a new story available in the shop right now.

Experimental horror involving drug use, disbelief, demons and change. Content warning.

This is grown folks lit.

There are bad words, pretty wicked dude, demons, desperation and metamorphasis. Filtered through the lens of a former drug addict. Here is a taste:

Once upon a time I had a golden arm. For a while my entire life revolved around the acquisition and shooting of as fine a grade of heroin as I could afford.

Speaking from that experience, I am what us professionals call alpha sad dog junkie. I lived it for a long time. Among some of the other junkies I knew at the time I was king sucks dick for horse type.

I know need.

I’ll talk about that story next week and how it came to be. Get it here and use coupon code WARG95 for 25% off your whole purchase in the shop.

Next week I have a huge announcement to make, a big ass squee filled book review, more Yeah Write and some other really awesome stuff.  So come back.

 


Some Business and then some nerd thoughts.

Business first.

We know I don’t do a whole ton of ads but if you look on the right hand side there under the paypal thingy, I’ve added an affiliate link to Audible. You can try it out for a month and get a free audiobook. I LOVE audiobooks and honestly it works out for all of us. So if you wanna do that, it’s there.

Second bit of business.

I am announcing a major thing next week and am going to need some help and probably a little proverbial bum rubbing soothing type shit.

OKAY

So, Yeah Write this week holy shitballs. Focus on Historical Fiction.

Honestly while I’ve read a good bit of it, my entry this week was the first time I’ve ever tried to write any. I’ve always thought of historical fiction as kind of a no go zone for me personally. A lot of historical fiction I’ve read I just haven’t really cared about.

Why?

Well per usual Whiteness. WHitewashed history from everywhere in the world is just not really my jam at all.

Now my first instinct was to go ancient history. I’m a fanatic for ancient history and considered doing a flash piece to take place in Babylon.

But then I started thinking about my own history. I turned 38 last month and I was thinking about the history I have witnessed and how it is rare that historical fiction has touched on my history as a Black person in America that doesn’t involve slavery.

I flashed on Rodney King. I was in high school at the time and I can tell y’all that shit devastated me. To that point while I already knew to mistrust police in general and avoid speaking to them when possible, I had not really experienced that type of violence in my life.

I remember watching that man get beaten and then in my very White area having to hear what people said about him. Memories like that led to things like this piece.

During the Riots I started learning how to see them outside of the lens of Whiteness and little old teenaged me, mouse me realized that I got it.

I fucking understood. In my heart, I wanted them to burn down the entire city. I felt in my heart that I understood and connected with that level of rage.

Fast forward to me writing that piece while standing at a bus stop.

I wanted to dip into that time and a voice. I was thinking about girls I knew like the narrator. I had the voice I wanted. And the time and it happened.

I also played with the sense of memory and remembering. She wasn’t really telling the story but thinking it so I played with the tenses a little. Past, present and past at the end. I did do that on purpose based on how I remember things.

Now I’ve written some stuff before that was set in the past but, I hadn’t really made the emotional connection to calling it historical fiction because that is not what I’ve seen historical fiction be.

And let’s pause there.

That is something pretty profound to me.

From reading (affiliate links sorry)  Ancient Evenings: A Novel and things like that as a kid, even when they were about POC it wasn’t ever Black lit.

Or if it was historical and written by a Black person, it wasn’t ever historical fiction it was Black fiction only.

There was an important emotional and visceral connection I had to make. My history is history.

That is at the core of a lot of me finding my voice and using it. I have had to emotionally and viscerally reclaim things I thought belonged to (as I would have said at one time) real writers and as I would say now Whiteness.

I am 90% sure I will return to that voice from that story. Stories like hers and others that are floating around in my head deserve to told and honored as history.

Okay that’s all for right now.

 


Yeah Write #207 entry- Riots

Fifteen minutes after the news of riots broke, Demarcus showed up banging on my door.

~

“Sissy open up, open the goddamn door.”

The baby starts screaming and I scoop her up before opening the door. I know how I must look. My eyes are wide and dry even though I’ve been crying. I’ve had on the same raggedy Compton tee shirt and I must stink.

Demarcus comes in and takes the baby; he’s so good with her.

“Go take a shower babygirl. I’ll watch her.”

His eyes are full of fire but his tone is gentle. I do what he says; the shower has been long overdue. Della has been sick and I haven’t been able to do anything.

When I come out in a house dress to find Della cooing up at Demarcus, he doesn’t hear me and I hear him murmur to her.

“We won’t let them do you like that.”

She burbles and he kisses the dimples on her fat little hands. When I see that he’s crying, I pad into the kitchen and bang around making coffee to give him some privacy. When I come out he has the news on and Della posted up in the crook of his arm.

“You feel better?”

I sit next to him and nod.

“Yeah, are things bad out there?”

His upper lip curls and his dimple flashes.

“Not yet. It’s gonna be. Listen, you stay in the fuckin’ house. Only open the door for one of my boys. I’m gonna send them with some stuff for you and the baby.”

“But-“

He cuts me off with a gesture.

“Don’t. You take what you need. You have enough food for a few days?”

“Yes, sir.”

I feel small and scared. He gets up and puts Della in her playpen and sits back down. He puts his arm around me while I cry and shake.

He shotguns the last of his coffee and stands up.

“I gotta go.”

I walk him to the door and he hugs me tight.

“You got your piece?”

I smile up at him.

“Yes, Daddy.”

“You got that number in case shit happens?”

“Yes, Daddy.”

He smiles back down at me, his dimple reflects mine. I am so glad he found me when he got out.

“A’ight. I love you babygirl.”

“I love you too.”

~

Fifty-eight people died. When detectives knocked on my door the smell of my burning community followed them in. They weren’t there for the stroller, the diapers or the formula. I knew why they were there.

I said goodbye to my Daddy and his dimple the way I said goodbye to South Central with bitter tears and terror and hope.

 ###

PS

I will probably talk about historical fiction (read here) and trying it out for the first time. I’ve never done it before and why I’ve never done it before.


Some thoughts on art and sustainability.

Okay so the main part of my financial OH FUCK OH FUCK OH FUCK emergency is pretty much over and I can settle down and think. What follows is some real talk.

As things settle down on the household front I’ve had some time to think about my writing and what I want out of it financially and whether or not that is actually in reach for me.

At first thought I panicked. The idea of any kind of patronage beyond what people have done for me (the tips, using my affiliate links, the chromebook, pants when I needed a pair) just freaks my shit right out. I’m not a person used to having people do such kind things for me and emotionally while it is wonderful it’s also super hard. I don’t know what to do and get overwhelmed.

This part of creating is so new for me. Knowing that I have reached out from the void and touched people enough to buy things I’ve written or be supportive of my voice is just overwhelming. It’s great. Yes it is fucking awesome but it’s also scary.

That is something I just have no clue how to navigate but I am working on it. That bit of OH SHIT OH SHIT has been downgraded to awww shit yeah.

SO that part I’m getting a handle on.

The next part is the idea of doing something formalized like Patreon presents a fuckload of issues and pushes a lot of my buttons.

First problem. When someone suggested I try out Patreon my first instinct was but who the fuck am I? A lot of the folks I know who are/have used patreon have huge followings.

I don’t think I do.

I mean, I’m not sure?

Do I have the uh, right to ask this? I feel like I already ask a lot. Read my shit that might make you hella uncomfortable, spread the word. That feels like a lot.

This comes from me doing this by myself.

I have (for my entire adult life and through most of the things I do) this idea that I in particular am not supposed to ask for help or support on this level.

Cue cognitive dissonance like a mother fucker.

On a logical level I know that if I could wrangle even like 60$ a month through something like Patreon I would in a few months be far enough ahead to not only get the bare bones shit taken care of but to maybe resubscribe to PW or buy the external harddrive for back up that I need.

When I boil down the what do I want out of this patronage idea it’s mainly a little bit of space to relax.

I have been told by people that I do deserve to have financial support and payment for my work.

Accepting that as a thing I can even think about has proven to be way more difficult than I anticipated. The first time someone said that to me without any buts or if you did X, I ugly cried in the shower because I never thought that would be a thing I could expect or think about.

I feel like it’s really important for me as a human being to document this stuff. THis is the stuff I wanted to know about when I was a wee kidlet writer.

Also this shit is just fucking hard.

So the takeaway for me is that I need to consider this.

I need to remember that yes it is in fact okay for me in particular to ask for support. Also to be sad if I can’t make happen what I want to happen.

I am working on really narrowing my focus as to what my needs are so I can articulate it for a possible patreon thing.

That’s all for right now.

Things are happening that are exciting.

But also scary as fuck.


The View From the Bottom. I did the math.

In an attempt to soothe away some of the anxiety I’m having right now I made a list and did the math to figure out what would keep my writing sustainable.

When I say sustainable I’m talking about things like memberships, software, and hosting. I’m not talking about making any profit at this point.

I’m not going to detail the specifics but here’s how it breaks down:

  • Yearly not counting any hardware (computers) +/- 10$ is 287.16
  • Monthly that is 23.93

That seems pretty cheap no?

What that doesn’t provide for is when my computer(s) break, no travel or time off from work for readings, no writing conferences or other educational/networking events.

This year I elected to skip more than half of the things in my budget. Mainly because we’ve had some family expenses that have eaten up a lot of our savings. There is no room in this budget to enter my work into any competitions, submission fees, books of the educational variety.

Given that in my life outside of writing shit is difficult economically speaking, trying to do these things as well has proven to be stressful and depressing.

Now we know I hustle. When I can there is XOjane but that is not all that regular. I don’t have the time for something with a heavier commitment. This is why I opened my Etsy store but frankly that is not all that successful. If I make 5$ a month with that it’s pretty cool.

That being what it is I’ve thought about maybe trying out Patreon.

I feel like if I could lift some of the financial stress I could improve my output and free up enough brain space to write more of the shit I want to write.

Enter writerly self doubt.

I am not famous. I’m not sure I even know enough people with a few dollars to spare a month to do this. Real talk I feel like a lot of folks like my work but not enough to support it in that manner.

I had another idea of doing monthly dispatches (kinda like the Rumpus letters in the mail but via email) for a flat few bucks a month type deal.

Again, I have to factor in the likelihood of enough people being interested in order to make the work involved worth it.

I hate thinking about that part, I want to be one of those I DO IT FOR THE ART types but that is not my life.

My thought process also involves things like:

  • Going to/performing at readings both locally and far away as Portland. I would need to be able to take the time off of work, have travel options. Things like if the reading is in the Capital Hill neighborhood here in Seattle, there is the cost of buses (from my home that is about a 2 hour bus journey, and if my partner is coming maybe more to cut down walk time), taxis (from my house to the middle of downtown is 35$) etc.
  • Enough spare money in the budget for books. Not pleasure reading but things more craft related.
  • Money for maybe a local small conference or workshop. I’ve never been to one I got the most out of but I’d like to try.

Also maybe enough little bit of profit to buy a pair of shoes or get my nose pierced. Enough to save up for next years AWP, enough to maybe buy a brand new totally up to date real laptop.

And most importantly I want to keep the more necessary things out of the household budget. It just stresses me out too much to be taking from that when I know my partner needs medication, to re up his bus pass, new shoes, new cane tips. We need a new shower head, our electric bill is fucking ridiculous right now etc.

I don’t need or want to be rolling in cash.

I really just want a little freedom. A little less stress. A little more space to do more with my work because I feel like my writing is going really good places. But I can’t go those places if I’m so stressed out I’m having nightmares and the fiery shits.

I’m not usually so open about this stuff. On an emotional level it just destroys me that basic sustainability is so close but not close enough. I’ve already sacrificed my entertainment and other for me for fun things, I don’t have new shoes, I don’t have clothes for Spring.

Shit just fucks me up.

So I’m going to keep considering patreon and just try to get through it without giving myself an ulcer.

That’s all for now.


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