Shit I Worry about.

While I am getting back to the rhythm of writing whatever I want to and not worrying so much about making money with it, I have unearthed some new writer uh.. let’s be cool and call them neurosis that I seem to still possess.

  1. Sometimes I fully believe that after having so much nonfiction published nobody will ever want my fiction again. This is bullshit because I just got a fiction acceptance a couple of weeks ago after not submitting any for months.
  2. I will/have forgotten how to write fiction. That is just dumb.
  3. But what if I want to write more nonfiction? What if I forget how to do that too?
  4. Am I too lispy to do a reading ever again? What if nobody asks me to read again?
  5. What if when I tell other authors that I am their fangirl I am just being annoying?
  6. WHAT IF I CAN’T?

Rinse, repeat.

This is related to something I read that Warren Ellis said. I saw this on his blog and it had the ring of truthy truthiness.

I’m re-reading Samuel Beckett plays because there is no sun and no spring and permanent winter is permanent. And also I have to re-read Beckett every few years to remind myself that I am a talentless worm humping across a barren landscape and leaving nothing but a thin stream of yellow faeces on the dirt behind me while people on the other side of the horizon are building palaces. I mean, it’s like reading Cormac McCarthy’s prose, or WG Sebald. You just want to eat every painkiller in the house and wash it down with toilet cleaner.

I’ve been doing some poking my toes in SF/F/H and I’m feeling like the aforementioned yellow poop. I’m having the feelings that I should leave the genre stuff because I’m not supposed to write whatever I want. I’m supposed to pick a thing and do the thing.

Now I know rationally that is fucking bullshit and I can and should write as promiscuously as I read. I have never ascribed to the idea that once you write X things that is the only thing you can do well or should do.

Emotionally letting myself just do the shit I know how to do is proving a little difficult. It’s not insurmountable and I have been writing like the proverbial motherfucker for weeks now. My output is not only back to a volume I’m comfortable with but not so much of it is outright trash.

I am also having some trouble not pressuring myself about freelancing and money. Patreon is going wonderfully. Truly. See here (also I’m doing patron/donor exclusive content now you) and it’s all good, but I still have 300$ of a huge bill to pay off and I find myself just not quite desperate but feeling the echo of the pressure to grind it out and make that money.

Fuck my ethics and artistic desires. Make that fuckin money.

If I’m going to keep it 100, I feel like I did my last month stripping in Seattle. Like, fuck everything else I feel like I need to grabby hands all the money in case I never make money again.

This is poverty brain as it interacts with my artistic wants.

I’m writing about that, you’ll see it soonish.

The thing I’m banging my head against is that morally on a personal level, it is more important to me to get into creating the representation I want to see. As that great writing advice I saw somewhere went, write the stories only you know how. That is something I carry with me every time I write something. It is what I use for fuel. Nobody can write the exact thing I am writing.

The problem is that my Asshole Poverty Brain is like, bitch please no. You write whatever pap someone will shove money at you for and be grateful. You don’t deserve to be arty.

I’m working through it, but y’all some days it is so damn hard.

Talking about it and writing about it helps.

Also I feel like it’s important to me to be open about it because this is what I wanted to know when I was a kidlet writer. This is real shit y’all.

Next week I’m going to add a new page for my writing bucket list. I’ll get to talking about Jerry Stahl, more nerdery about myth and retelling myths through various lenses, erotica and some other stuff.

Speaking of erotica you can get yourself some brand spankin (pun intended) erotica over in my shop. Get some hot lesbian lovin’ here is a tidbit:

She took a breath and erupted into noisy joyful sobs. Amidst her tears she was laughing. Bellowing gut wrenching laughter, her eyes screwed shut, her hair a bird’s nest, her face glowing with sweat and satisfaction.

I laughed with her. Her tears did something to me whether they were tears of fear or tears of joy. Seeing this beautiful, calm, prim woman unhinged with her own orgasmic power undid me.


Yeah Write entry #212-Siren by Night

 

Siren by Night

by

Shannon Barber

Inside the warm night she moves as though swimming. Hands in her pockets, headphones on, dark eyes on the moving shadows and what she knows lives there. She eases through scattered groups of night people virtually unseen.

Drawn towards the water and into the deeper part of the night she pauses to listen. In these times the night lives with sirens and the squawking of angry junkies.

She wants to stop and weep as her sisters weep.

She cannot.

She is part of this orange light washed strange world. Part of the dirty street and urban lost.

Her steps relentlessly eat the blocks until the water is only yards away. The susurrus of waves breaking against the rocky strip of “beach” calls her home.

In the dark, she sheds her clothes and boots before walking headlong into freezing water to sing illusions into the hearts of men who pass.

In the deep, she will feast.

She will feast and see her sisters for a blessed night.

And then she will return to her shadows and streets and urban land life.


To answer a few random questions.

This isn’t an FAQ. I have a stash of random questions folks have asked me now and then and I have enough to answer.

Okay, let’s do the thing. Also, these are not verbatim because I’m a lazy fucker.

  1. Someone asked what my first publication was. It was 1994 and a poem. I lied about my age, I was 17 and told no one. It was an angsty love poem about an older woman with auburn colored armpit hair and how she shot me down when I asked her on a date.
  2. What am I looking forward to reading? Old Guy Dad: Weird Shit Happens When You Don’t Die Young by Jerry Stahl, both of Roxane Gay’s books, I JUST this instant found out Joe Clifford (who wrote Junkie Love) has a new book coming out called Lamentation. I’m ready for that. I really loved Junkie Love. Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine uh and a whole bunch of other stuff.
  3. HOW TO GET PUBLISHED. This is the secret. Write that shit. Rewrite that shit. Edit that shit. Edit that shit again. Submit that shit. Get that shit rejected a lot. Sometimes that shit gets accepted. Rinse, repeat forever. That is really just all.
  4. HOW DO YOU WRITE. Ass in chair, standing at the bus stop, at work, on paper, via computer. I write as much as I can as often as I can. Just write. Write anything, just writes. The muse can go get fucked. Just write. Write a recipe, write a blog post, write a poem about how much you suck, just write. If you don’t write nothing happens. Write. Sometimes writing is really fucking hard and terrible, but I do it because I have to.
  5. Do I have a degree? Nope. I barely graduated high school and have no interest in going to college.
  6. What is my opinion about MFA’s/the arguments about them. I honestly don’t give a hot fuck. I just don’t.
  7. What is my favorite horror novel? The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker.
  8. How is Patreon going? Really well. Better than I anticipated. I will write more about it later.
  9. Am I writing a novel? Uh…yes and no. I’m not at actual novel writing stage right now but it is on my mind.
  10. What am I working on? Self Care Like a Boss, a sooper seekrit for now project and more essays about my butt, fiction, and everything.
  11. What am I afraid of? Birds. Clowns (not as bad as I used to be). Mediocrity in my own eyes. Being murdered by police. Large crowds of White ppl.

Uh I think that’s all of them for right now.

Okay I’m still trying to recover from this ass destroying cold. I have SO much to write about here. Soon I’ll do my next installment of People/Things I like. They aren’t really reviews just me talking about stuff and people I like that I want you to know about.  I have to talk about my writing goals for the rest of the year and some other stuff I’ve decided I want to do with my creative life.

Next week there’ll be some new stuff and announcements.

ALSO super exciting I have saved up 10% of my laptop fund already. Check it out on Smartypig. ALSO I’m going to write about Smartypig being a big part of me breaking up with poverty brain. And do me a favor, if you want to use Smartypig for savings too let me know so I can send you an invite.

Okay later y’all.  I got work to do.


On you and your feelings.

Okay y’all.

I’m going to say something that will upset some of you and I want you to sit with it.

The only people who complain in earnest about diversity are White people.

Among the things I’ve heard about books, stories, etc that don’t feature attractive able bodied White people under the guise of “free expression” and the dreaded fear or being PC (note this isn’t verbatim because I’m not trying to throw anybody under the bus):

  • But WHY does X character have to be described as “disabled”
  • That can’t be historically accurate. (In the context of a high fantasy story with an explicitly Chinese character)
  • I don’t understand the dialect (In the context of AAVE used in a story, this person I recall is an AVID Trainspotting fan)
  • Disabled AND Queer?
  • Why did you force Black people into this story?

Etc, etc.

Here is the thing I don’t actually understand about White people who say these things.

Do you not know that there are in fact, actual humans who are disabled and queer and not White? I mean, if the presence of the other in fiction is such a deal breaker, how do you deal with it in real life? If you see someone using a wheelchair on the street do you walk up to them and ask them if they are just being PC by being a person using a wheelchair?

If you see Brown or Black queer people who might also be disabled is your whole mind blown by the fact that they can be those things at once?

If you find out that say a Black lady like myself is SUPER nerd like into space, fairies, Star Trek and sharks does that freak you out?

As far as historical accuracy goes. Can someone please explain to me in a clear, non racist rational way how it is that one can suspend disbelief for talking dragons, fairies, pixies, shrikes, wargs, mother fucking Odin, Loki, etc. etc., but having a not White character who is not just a mishmash of stereotypes, or more than a two dimensional fuckhole for some hero completely ruins the historical factual accuracy of a story?

Real talk.

How fragile must a person be that when they don’t see their reflection in everything, suddenly they just can’t understand anything, can’t relate to anything, it’s all just SO PC to include people who aren’t them…I just don’t understand.

If it’s not based in hatred that is fueled by fear, how does something like the Sad Puppies/Hugo thing take hold like that?

If it’s not panic based on fear of the other why would people still be so up in arms about K. Tempest Bradford’s challenge to try reading people other than straight White Cis dudes?

The people who get so enraged about there being diversity in literature, whether it is SF/F/H or Literary, I know are not dumb. I know that they have probably read books for a long time and are probably aware that especially in the context of the Western Literary Canon it has been overwhelmingly run by cis, straight, White Dudes.

In terms of American writers and readers, especially of the Sad Puppy/WHAT ABOUT THE WHITE MEN sorts, while once upon a time that whole thing just made me angry now I feel pity.

I fully believe that this rage and panic that comes out in these racist, sexist, homophobic movements is a result of not understanding that it is not necessary to be the center of all things at all times in the whole world.

I understand that it can feel intimidating and awful when your voice isn’t the central voice of all things. It takes some work to get used to.

What I don’t understand is this prevailing idea that somehow the inclusion of or even centering of the other equates censorship.

Or that a community saying, hey, this is not the world we want to live in so no you can’t come in equates censorship.

I desperately want to believe that these people who engage in this behavior fundamentally understand the vast differences between censorship, community standards and whatnot.

Ultimately, these behaviors. These indignant responses to the audacity of people not White to demand space, to write stories, to be represented even when they have some unbelievable combo of human traits that seems just so PC- this is what is killing literature.

Literature regardless of genre or level of award being given, it is not a wee tiny box. Art is not a finite resource.

We live in the fucking future man. I mean, right now I can go to several websites I can think of and spend a few bucks and instantly have things to read.

Right now, I can go to google and enter a phrase like “queer science fiction” or “Black author” and find an entire universe of things to read.

Shit does not always have to go to such a shit place White people. It really doesn’t.

And I encourage White readers and writers to do some serious work. Think about the fact that we exist. Yes, all of us weird others with the disabilities, and sexualities and whatnot. We walk around in the real world and a lot of us are walking around in fictional ones too.

Our existence and presence isn’t something to be jammed into a story for PCness.

It is because we are here. We want to be in fictional worlds too.

As much as you might love GoT or whatever fantasy series and see yourself as the hero or the dragon or elf or whatever, we want that too.

Ask yourself and be very, very honest, get deep and go the fuck in, why is it that my face can jar, you out of a fantasy story or make a story unbelievable:

HOLY shit there I am.

HOLY shit there I am.

But seeing this in your imagination is totally fine:

 

I squealed when this came on screen

I squealed when this came on screen

 

Ask yourself why is it easier to imagine a dragon than it is to imagine someone not White in what you’re reading?

Or if you can’t ask yourself. Take this opportunity to explain it to me.

The challenge as I said above is don’t be any of the following:

  • racist
  • ableist
  • sexist
  • incoherent

 


Yeah Write #211 entry- Super-Fab Heaven

 

Super-Fab Heaven

by

Shannon Barber

You know you’re dead. There’s really no question about that. In fact, you remember it quite clearly. You yanked an old lady out of the street and got hit by an ugly blue Buick. It wasn’t heroics on your part; you did it because you’d had a bad day at work and seeing an old lady get run down really wouldn’t have done you any good.

Not that getting squashed did you any good, but it’s the thought that counts right?

This is nothing like what all those ‘near death’ Shirley Maclain wannabe’s say it is. There was no white light, no warm fuzzy feeling. No, it was all cut and dry, crash boom bang fuck your dead.

Now this you’ve been a devout atheist for years. You remember the exact day you decided that faith was a crock of shit. You were seven years old and at Sunday school. The teacher, a middle aged lumpy woman you called Sister Alice had everyone draw a picture with themselves and Jesus.

Now that was your kind of Sunday school teaching. You loved to draw and a picture of you and the big JC; you were all over it. You bent over your paper and carefully drew Jesus. In your mind Jesus looked like the nice old man who worked at the corner store near your house. You loved that guy; he’d smile and sneak you penny candy while your Mom bought eggs and whatever else. He was one of the first adults outside your immediate family you understood and who treated you like a human being and not just fodder for amusing stories to tell the relatives.

You were so proud when you finished. When it came time to show the teacher, you held up your picture, you and a dusky skinned Afro wearing Jesus under a smiling sun and bright blue sky, she gave you one of those pinch faced looks like she’d just tasted something rancid and was too polite to spit it out but, not polite enough not to make that face. The look on the teacher’s face said it all. Then she went and made it worse.

“Honey, Jesus isn’t a…um colored man. Why don’t you try again?”

At the time you didn’t understand it beyond that she didn’t like your picture and it hurt your feelings. All that love thy neighbor shit was just that. Bullshit.

And now this. You’ve died and gone to heaven. All the worst kind of cheesy things you’ve ever seen about heaven are true. You’re sitting in what looks like a fake meadow set from a douche commercial or something, harp music is in the air, and coming towards you is the epitome of blonde perkiness.

“Welcome to HEAVEN! It is super-fab that you’re here.”

As she squeals the words “super-fab” light up over her head in buttery yellow neon like letters. She’s like a cheerleader on an ecstasy and cocaine binge. And all you want is a drink and a smoke and a little blessed silence.

“Oh sweet Jesus.”

You don’t realize you say that out loud until she comes bounding up to you.

“Oh, I’m sorry he’s got a four o’clock, but I’m sure he’ll be able to fit you in.”

She hugs you and you think you’re going to puke.

Every other word she says is either super or fabulous or super-fabulous.

This sucks.

You’d thought about heaven and hell on occasion. You thought that if there were in fact an afterlife you’d spend eternity getting butt fucked dry by Hitler while having to recite nursery rhymes in German or some shit. But this, this is what you think would happen after fifty too many hits of acid and a little too much 700 Club.

While your new bestest buddy Fluffy or Muffy or whatever she said her names is going on and on about all the super-fab activities you’re going to get to do while you earn your wings all you can think is,

“If only I’d have let that old lady bite it.”

 ###

Endnote: I wrote this in probably 2005 as a first foray into second person POV. 


Solutions and whatnot.

I had planned to write about how revisiting Lovecraft has been for me. I reread the Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft (Commemorative Edition). (Affiliate link and not the edition I read but whatever) BUT um.

Okay so how many times or ways can I say holy fuckballs this is way more racist than I remember?

I mean..y’all. No wonder I think I blocked out a lot of it after reading it all as a teen. Wow.

No.

Fuck.

So the upshot is I still love the mythos but yeah. Not gonna do that shit again.

What else?

I’ve been sick since last week. I missed two days of work which if you know me is a big deal. I had no voice for two days, couldn’t even try to fix my Yeah, Write entry. You know what I did? Fuck. All.

I slept.

I also had a lot of dreams involving stuff I’ve been writing lately. That is maybe because I had a fever or because I was obsessing about not being able to work on them because I could hardly sit up without coughing all over and/or swooning a bit. My fever got to the point I sweated out my onesie jammies and I found that deeply distressing.

My body was like, hey fuck your comfort.

Also my work schedule has changed so things feel weird and unsettled. I don’t like that.

Coming up I’ll do another Stuff/People I love post this time about Jerry Stahl. I also will probably talk about the whole Hugo Mess and why I do not fuck with the industry side of SF/F/H and how fucking difficult that is given that I write some of that sometimes and love it. But yeah.

What else?

OH can we talk about how many books I want to read right now? I’m currently reading four not counting my audiobook and it is just not enough. I want more. I want to boss writers I love into writing more things for me to read. Also FYI the chrome thingy to push articles to your kindle is fucking awesome.

I think that’s about all for right now.

Except to say I am SO excited I’ve already saved up 35$ in my wee laptop fund.

Sweet.

OH also I have new stuff coming out soon. Fiction and Non fiction so keep an eye out for those announcements.


Yeah Write #210- Hellbabes Hustle

Hellbabes Hustlers

by

Shannon Barber

 

An hour before open the girls were all inside singing and in varying states of undress and makeup application. Every station had one or two girls in front of the lit mirrors, fingers fixed lipstick smudges, lashes fluttered.

“Nia what have you been eating goddamn look at that ass.”

Lulu a long legged topless girl stood behind Nia, her mouth hanging open.

“Can I?”

Nia glanced over her shoulder and laughed.

“Yeah, go ahead. And I been eating good lately. I was here for fleet week.”

Lulu gripped Nia’s butt in both hands and squeezed gently, cooing pure contentment.

“When you fully transubstantiate you don’t fuck around do you. Like, I don’t even like girls, but will you sit on my face later?”

The room erupted in loud laughter, Eli a medium brown girl with dimples and tattoos laid on the floor howling.  Another girl walked by and stopped to give her two cents.

“Bitch that is the gayest fuckin’ shit you ever said. You want somebody to sit on your face, you like girls that way don’t play.”

Lulu stopped caressing the booty and contemplated before nodding.

“Yeah, you right, you right.”

She bent and bit the other woman lightly before going to go put on her shoes.  The dressing room door opened and a tall woman wearing a red head wrap and skin tight matching cocktail dress hollered over the general din.

“Ladies we have fifteen minutes. Finish getting ready so we can start and please, whomever has been regurgitating bones in the alley can you please stop doing that? We have disposal areas for regurgitators clearly marked. And you put your face together, we are not doing supernaturals tonight.”

A girl turned; from the shoulders up her head was a mass of squirming pitcher plant like mouths on delicate wet pink stalks, the whole mess shook for a moment before a smooth pouty mouthed face replaced it. She grumbled, her voice like something pulled through broken glass and mud.

“Yes, ma’am.”

Mama, the boss smiled.

“I know we all hate this human face business, but we gotta eat. So buck up bitches. And I would like to inform you all that our resident negotiator Desiree set an all-time record last quarter, most souls dedicated to our realm of the Pit. Give her a hand.”

The girls all clapped a few dropped glossy messy kisses on Desiree’s cheeks.

“Oh, and one other little thing- I’m sorry to say to both our regurgitators and our eaters, unfortunately these are rich White boys so don’t eat any of them without their consent. Get with Desiree and I’m sure you’ll all eat well. Questions, comments or concerns?”

A baby faced girl with huge pale brown eyes and a raspy baby voice piped up.

“Mama, can the DJ please play my damn song when I’m stage? I brought it special for tonight. And please don’t forget I’m going as Jasmine tonight. Not Diamond anymore.”

Mama took the notes, nodding.

“Anyone else?”

A few other girls mentioned other song preferences, the resident twerk team settled their stage time, one girl needed a tampon and a hug.

Unlike most of their Pit born brethren, the ladies of The Pink Palace figured out how to stay fed and under the radar years ago. They had done away with exhausting and showy possessions, their chosen worldly occupation kept them  off the radar of The Church by mutual consent and the diverse group of regurgitators, eaters, bone pickers, soul negotiators, reapers, reavers, succubi and other varied species of previously relegated to the Pit demons.

Just before the doors of club opened the more cautious sort might have heard the chittering  clacking and scritching of otherwordly giggling, and excitement.

\All hail the Hellbabes Hustle.


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