Hustle and Grind updates.

Ooohkay.

Head on over and check out my Patreon update. I’m in the process of figuring out how to make it better for patrons and for me.

I’m not entirely sure what to do. To be honest, I’ve gotten zero feedback as to what folks want to see so I’m half assuming that means nothing.

I’m not sure.

I’m working on it. I was going to say more but I don’t really want to spill my purse and insecurities today.

What else?

OH I’ve launched my merch store. Currently I’ve got tees and stickers. I have full poems on stickers and will be designing some slightly fancier ones. I’ll be doing some other stuff as well. I’ve linked it on the right down there under my etsy widget.

I’m workin.

I’m workin on stuff.

I’ve not abandoned my big dream stuff, I’m rethinking it.

I’m very committed to keeping my dream things accessible to folks who are poor like me but I also want them to contribute financially in a positive way to my life. I don’t know how to do that exactly yet.

Shit is so hard. It is very emotionally taxing and apparently a big anxiety trigger for me. I hate feeling like I’m just doing it all wrong. Not that I’ve failed because I’m good at failing, but that I’m fucking it up and have no chance not to fail.

This is the part of arting that has made it difficult for me to do it.

That said, the most interesting part of how things are turning out for me is this. As upset as I am about dayjob stuff or other poor people poverty bingo bullshit, I find I’m saying, yeah I don’t have time for that I have art to make.

AND I don’t only say it to myself, I fucking mean it.

As seriously in need of cash that I am right now, I am not panic pitching to places I hate. I am not forcing myself to smile and deal nice with editors I’ve seen show ALL their racist asses.

I still feel like this and say, fuck you pay me.

Emotionally, this is huge progress for me. I’m not sitting here with burning guts and panic shits and crying because I’m not able to turn off parts of my heart to make a buck.

I’m also super privileged in that I have some support. Folks who believe in my heart and my art. Even when I hate both.

So that’s what’s up.

More news possibly later this week.

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Another Turn of the Wheel- Big Promo post.

Oh hi.

I’m gonna keep it 100 as usual. Recently (last night) a source of some of my extra survival income has abruptly dried up.

After some panic, I’ve got myself in check and I have a bit of a plan to bring in more monies.

Some folks have asked what I need.

Promotion.

So if you haven’t bought til now, now is a good time. Let’s start with some lit.

First up, Etsy.  For under 11$ you can get everything I have listed. That’s a whole lot of poetry and literature. You can get two slipstream stories featuring different Magical Black Girls and the as yet not notorious Motherfuckess Manifesta. Now, due to fees and whatnots, likely this will be the last month I have Etsy going so go get it now. Don’t have 10.50$ to spare? Please, PLEASE share the link to the shop. Tweeter, facebooks, whatever.

If you want to drop a tip in my tip jar and stuff, you can do that here. 

Want some bang for your tip? Head over to Medium where I have a good amount of exclusive content that was very time intensive (my series on Diversity in lit is a good example) and a lot of labor. You can also share those links and encourage folks to kick down some coin.

I will be reopening my Teespring shops with some new tees. I will make a post about that.

Now for transparency, let’s talk about my situation.

(I’ll be updating my Patreon to reflect what’s going on as well)

In the Spring there was a corporate level change at my dayjob that changed the frequency I get paid. The consequence of that has been that I have to use 95% of one paycheck to pay just my rent. And generally speaking, the last week of one moth and the first week and a half of the next are tight. We (my partner who is disabled and gets a small amount of disability) have to cover rent, food, medication for the partner, and any incidentals out of that check+his disability.

 

After that, we were able to reconfigure stuff. I’ve been using my Patreon money and a bit of other money to cover survival stuff and bills between paychecks.

Now, because I’ve had to shift pattern/side hustle money into survival money, I’ve not been able to really save up for things like a camera, start up costs for my writing lessons/classes. I’ve cut back on my for funsies stuff. Due to this situation, I’ve decided to cut back on my passion project writing (Medium mainly) so I can use what energy I have to pursue more freelance work.

For those who hate it when folks like me ask for money let me (I really don’t want to get trolled about this) explain what I’m doing to mitigate my need for extra cash/donations/sales:

Stuff I’ve cut from my budget:

  • Audible
  • Beauty Con box (quarterly expense)
  • No self-care/skincare/haircare purchase this quarter
  • Two domains left to expire (annual expense)
  • Twice a week coffee at whatever coffee place.
  • Postponed buying a new phone, extra glasses, tablet, birthday piercings for Uniballer and I etc.

I’ve also not been dividing writing/hustle money and dayjob money. It’s ALL household/survival/life money now.

I have, as I mentioned, a plan in place to get my teespring open and keep it running. I have some other plans that will take a bit more time to get in place, but will hopefully bring in that extra long term bit of coin.

I say this because I hate it when people assume that if you need help you are doing nothing.

And honestly given my stress levels right now I can’t deal with that.

So here it is. Basically, please boost my links, don’t be an asshole to me about it and if you can toss me some coin that’s cool too. Thanks.

 

 

Catastrophe

Posting is going to maybe stop entirely for a hot minute.

I’ve had a catastrophic data loss. While I was doing backups everything got corrupted and is pretty unusable.

I have a few things tucked in odd places, but I probably lost 3.5 months of work.

All of my pitches in progress, my Patreon project, uh yeah.

I’ve kind of passed, tears.

I’m kind of at numb and upset and working through how to get back to where I was.

I have so much to try and do. I have pitches I need to rescind because the pieces are gone.

I need to figure out what to do about Patreon for the next two months. I’m feeling like I deserve to have patrons bounce even though it would be financially devastating.

I have ONE thing I thought someone had already gotten but hasn’t. I still have it.

So FML.

After rent and bills, hopefully mid June I can get a new drive and this bracelet USB drive I’ve got my eye on. I had just gotten a lot of done/old stuff moved to backups. Something like 22-30gb.

I still just want to sit down and cry.

That doesn’t even take into account a fuckload of racist fuckery.

That said I posted a new thing at Medium last week. Go look.

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.

 

 

 

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.

Bad Advice for Writers and Artists.

I wrote over on Medium about the eh, non edible nature of the promise of exposure as payment for work. See that here.

Over the years I have been given a metric ton of awful advice. Some of it has come from a really kind, loving place, people who want me to live the artist’s life.  Some of that advice as loving as it has been to put it kindly tone deaf and as if people don’t know me at all. Or it has come from a loving place full of shiny privileges.

If you’ve been here for a minute you know I’m not the one for that.

So let’s talk about bad advice.

Actually first I want to show you a couple of things. This article about how some very popular positive thinking adages can turn into gaslighting. Read it.

Next I want you to read this by one of my favorite writers Daniel José Older. This is my favorite part:

Beginning with forgiveness revolutionizes the writing process, returns it being to a journey of creativity rather than an exercise in self-flagellation.  I forgive myself for not sitting down to write sooner, for taking yesterday off, for living my life. That shame? I release it. My body unclenches; a new lightness takes over once that burden has floated off. There is room, now, for story, idea, life.

My dearest homies. I used to be one of those self-flagellation writers. I really believed that my perceived failures were because I had “excuses” about not writing. Never mind being half homeless, hungry and desperate. Never mind my jobs and hustling. Never mind all of it. The Pantheon of The Most Successful of Us say you write every day. No matter what, otherwise, it’s your own fault if you’re not having the success they have.

I’ve said it before and will always say it. Suffering or hunger or poverty or stress etc don’t always make for the best work.

So no you don’t have to write every day on a work schedule. This is the type of advice that while well meaning ignores things that matter to a lot of us. Jobs we work 12 hours a day, kids we need to care for, school etc. Thing is, these are not “excuses” in that shame inducing sense that you are not trying hard enough or are just being lazy.

So yes, I consider the whole worship of daily writing as being the One Twoo Way to be bullshit.

And frankly if you are gaslighting the fuck out of yourself how can you produce your best most wonderful work?

That said, write as much as you can.

We here at Be That Shit University believe that it counts.

Did you do work on your novel?

Fuck yeah.

Did you write a shittastic poem?

Fuck YEAH.

Did you write a blog post?

FUCK TO THE YEAH!

I am not a believer in fetishizing the process. Finding the perfect chair and the perfect 2 hours of silence or music.

It is a huge privilege to be able to have your ritual and have it be the all of your process.

A lot of us just do not have the time for that.

We don’t have the energy.

We have bills to pay and children to raise and spouses to love and selves to care for.

How about some good advice?

  • Don’t ever stop learning about your craft. Comedy, writing, editing, painting whatever it is. The beautiful thing is that if you can read this, you can googlefy some shit and learn something new any damn time you want to. The gatekeepers of knowledge about your art are not as strong as they used to be.
  • Read promiscuously. Let everything you read leave a mark. If you are a writer especially, you must be a reader. Read outside of your own experience. Read POC, read Queer folks, read YA, just read. If you don’t have time or energy for full books, read blogs.
  • Write that shit. If you have to write on a notepad doc on your phone (AHEM ME), if you need to write with pen and paper, if you need to write a listicle about why Shannon gives such fucked up advice, get it.

The thing is, the proverbial Artist’s life is not for all of us. It would be awesome it it was. It is a life I think I’d like to lead if it were possible without being homeless and starving because neither of those things is fun to me.

Also if you are an advice giver, understand where you’re flinging your advice.

Don’t tell a poor author (like me, this is what spurred this entry) that if I’d just go to more events (that cost me money and don’t pay), took the exposure (that also doesn’t pay or feed me), take more classes from other writers (that costs me money) etc and then be surprised when we don’t react well.

At this point my reaction is always, how much are you paying me, are you paying the equivalent to my wages from my dayjob if I have to try to leave early, are you going to also help me take time off to recover? Paying for transportation? Kicking in so I am able to eat lunch all week?

This is also brought to you by the fact that I would like to create some downloadable writing courses that are inexepensive, accessible to folks, and not just for writers trying to get published. Something low cost enough to be open to most people.

So yeah.

That is the sorta content I’m working on figuring out HOW to make that shit happen.

Now my darling loverfaces.

My official AWP author appearances thing will be going up tomorrow. And I’ll make sure if you’re gonna be around you know how to find me so we can selfie and I can maybe be your literary pusherman.

 

Haterade. Some thoughts.

I just read an article over on Medium called The Cult of CruelIt put me in mind of some of the things people who hate my writing have told me over the years.

Among those who are presumably (as they self identify in comments/messages)  White men the complaints are always somewhat the same (most of these are essentially verbatim):

  • I’m a big racist cunt.
  • I’m a fat bitch.
  • My writing is technically unsound.
  • My writing is too “loud”
  • All I know how to write about is being Black.

Other folks who hate my work and have hated it from when I fatty blogged to everything else. Some tidbits from their feedback:

  • I give terrible advice.
  • My writing style sucks.
  • I use a language I don’t understand.
  • Sometimes I code switch a lot.
  • I’m boring.
  • Repetitive.
  • Shannon just sucks.

Once upon a time I took a lot of this to heart. When I was blogging there was a period of time where I tried really hard to sound more professional. I tried not code switching, I tried to cite only scientific studies and shit. For a while I thought that I had to change these things because critique in whatever form is always valid.

Here’s what I learned and what helped set me free as an author.

In my regular walking around life a lot of people don’t like me. Some because I have a piece of metal in my face, because sometimes I laugh really loud- lots of reasons. For a long time I’ve just accepted that as a thing. My philosophy in my walking around life is as follows:

If I’m not the kind of fat bitch you fucks with, I’m not the kind of fat bitch you fucks with.

Shannon Barber

As a kid I experienced a few years of intense bullying, other heartbreaks and surviving my own depression and whatnot. At heart, I am a deeply sensitive person and for a long time every “criticism” told me how I could improve as a human being.

When I was around 21 I was hanging out with a friend helping him get some drag make up looks together and I remember mentioning that a person we both knew called me a dumb cunt not in a friend type of way and how hurt I was. I cried because I was very nice to this person, never rude or mean and he just hated me.

My friend looked at me and after fussing at me for crying my lashes off said some magic words,

“Who the fuck is that bitch?”

That stopped me dead in my tracks. Who was that bitch?

……….

Nobody.

Fast forward to me having opinions on the internet. Given the vile things that folks have said to my face in meatspace, just about everything folks say to/about me online kinda doesn’t make it into my airspace.

Last year my friend Dena wrote this piece at The Rumpus about death threats. She and I were texting about it and I was laughing. The thing is, if I took these things to heart every time, I’d have no time to write.

Every time I’ve had a DM or email telling me I’m gonna get doxxed, raped, murdered etc I’ve had to take time out of my day to figure out what the real threat level is.

When it comes to anything less than threats of physical violence or rape, I kinda don’t care.

When I was writing at XoJane and was told I was being hate read, and watched some of these hate readers realize they ALSO hated my blog previously and then smugly talk about how much I suck, yeah it hurt my feelings. Yes i took some time to try to digest some of what was said to see if I was in fact dead ass wrong.

I went and read the forum thread where I was mentioned a good amount and had a realization that, well fuck I’m just not for these people.

The most sage writing advice I was given once upon a time was that my work in particular is just not for everyone.

When I’m told that I’m being hate read I have learned to not try and engage. When I was writing for XoJane I did ask a few people in earnest what the problem was but didn’t really get solid answers. I also learned that poking a little bit of fun at these folks is a nono.

The biggest lesson I learned is this.

Hate me, my work, my face, my fat ass all you want to. That’s perfectly fine. I know that I am not the flavor for everyone and not everyone is my flavor.

If you’re clicking the stuff I get published to hate read, thanks brosef. I still get paid even if it is a measly 50$ (there I go poking fun again, but seriously, I was told it is laughable to be getting a measly 50$ for an article…LOL) I still get paid.

Next thing, being told I suck probably won’t ever stop me from saying things.

A big one I had to learn is that people hating every word I type doesn’t usually end up in me getting fired from a thing. That was a hard one to really take in. At Xojane after the first go round, I thought I’d be asked not to contribute again because obviously, that was not my audience. I wasn’t asked to stop. I found an audience there in spite of the bullshit.

Here’s the thing.

In the context of the whole world, there are a shitload of people who will never like, approve of or generally give a fuck about me or you.

That being what it is, we don’t have to write to change their minds. You can’t, really. It’s like when someone says to you while you’re walking down the street, “I hate your ugly fucking shoes.” Well, you’re wearing the shoes and walking and that person is not offering to buy you new shoes so you keep stepping right?

Haterade is not really your problem.

If your name is ALL over the place because your thing, whatever your thing is, is going well for you, your haters are just gonna have to put on their big person panties and hardhat and survive.

The next thing is, sometimes Haterade means you are doing exactly what you need to do. You are making some segment of people uncomfortable and it’s unfortunate that they are lashing out at you, but maybe you’re making that bit of difference.

Lastly, I know we all sometimes hate read. The difference between those of us who do sometimes and those of us who take it to asshole levels is that we leave it alone.

Here’s the thing. Hate something you encounter, but don’t follow that person around trying to get them fired, trying to take food out of their mouths etc.

Now, naturally I know there are times when the above is the right action. I believe you know how to use your own discretion.

If things get to trolling or you feel endangered take action. Otherwise, leave them haters alone. They are doing what they do and you can’t fix it or them.

Tomorrow I’m gonna talk AWP and where and how to find me if you’re so inclined.