When things are real.

This is what I’ve been doing a lot of but not enough of:

workbeforework

Arty n instagrammy.

What else have I been doing?

Writing like the proverbial mother fucker.

I’ve been writing a different form/style of essay lately. They are likely unpublishable but I’m enjoying them except-no that’s a lie- the parts that just scorch my soul.

I’ve got a little series at Medium going about diversity in lit. You can check those out here.

I’ve been doing pretty well with my writer love letters. 

I’m having yet another bout of what magazines can I read/deal with that aren’t doing really bullshit things that bother me. I could call them all out, but I’m not going to, I just would like to have stuff to read where I won’t be shitbombed with bullshit.

What else?

OH something super important happened. I started this weird little experimental thing months ago. I wanted to meld together a cowboy story (as inspired by a reread of the original (amazon affiliate link, sorry bbs) Gunslinger book) and a story I’d listened to probably from Pseudopod maybe? I dunno, I had mermaids on the brain.

In my head, I wondered (because every piece of fiction I write starts with what if) what would it be like to make a legend or myth, the sort of thing you tell around a campfire, about a dry dissociated world, a cowboy and a siren. I started with siren.

It took me about 6.5 tries to get the voice and POV right. And all in I probably wrote well over 10K words on this one piece in the last six months or so because I kept feeling unsatisfied with what I was doing. It felt trite and not what I wanted to hear.

I finally finished it last week and it’s a chubber story at almost 4K. I reread it this weekend and holy fuckballs I’m kind of really into it. I created an entire base for a mythology that could go lots of places. That’s what I wanted.

As I get older I’m finding that rather than having a random idea and just going when I write fiction, I have things I want to accomplish. Things I want to try to get into a particular fictional framework and when it happens I just feel so happy.

I find this turn of events and change in how I write very interesting. The process has changed for me and I am really into where I’m heading I think. As long as I don’t fuck with myself too hard about it.

Okay that’s all for today. I have stuff to work on. New Daiyu to work out.

 

When it Burns or rather I beez in the trap.

Lately, as I’ve been working on The Poems (current name of my untitled poetry book thing) I’ve also been working on some fairly emotionally intense non-fiction.

Today I finished an essay thing that is about how I experience anxiety. It’s not really something I necessarily want people to read, I feel a mix of shame and ridiculousness and like it is a risk I don’t know if I can afford taking. Writing it hurt. I talked a little bit about it on twitter, but the truth is I feel flayed.

I am feeling the mix of feelings where I’m very keenly aware that I have a not entirely unexpected expense (I need to buy a new phone soon) and I know I should write something more saleable and that’s what came out. That piece in particular is like a piece I have out already in that it doesn’t end on a note that really engages with bigger issues. It is intimate in that at the end, we (reader and writer) are face to face, nose to nose breathing the same tainted air that came out of me.

Neither of these pieces (and at least one other that is in progress) is what I intended to write. I wanted to write something bigger, something that engages with the big issues. That at the end comes out like a powerful telling and calling to The Issue at hand. That’s not what happened.

For years, I have avoided writing intimately this way. Mainly because, I don’t always have the wherewithal to cut that deep in that way. I can write about being harassed and being a Black person in the world and what that is really like in this age. I tell myself this is because I’m good at Big Issues. I’m good at making the connection from my lived experience to racism and sexism etc. I know how to do that.

I also lie to myself and say that I’m not good at intimate. That showing my scars this way is not in my wheelhouse. Leave it to the famous lady writers who lead workshops on writing dangerously and writing from the body. I explain it to myself in terms of profit. They are already famous enough to do this and make it. Their bills are paid, mine are mostly but not comfortably. Their risk is as risk goes, not the type of risk that takes food out of their mouths. The risk for me is food off the table.

I tell myself, this is stupid. Why are you doing this? Why can’t you write to sell? Why can’t you write on spec? Why can’t you write something about lipstick that doesn’t involve Blackness or intersectionality? Why can’t you write something that will titillate just enough, but won’t burn? Why can’t you write timely? Why? Why? Why?

Rational writer me understands that these questions are part of my anxiety brain and will pass. That I know why, it’s just not what I do and logically that’s okay. There’s room in the big bad world for all of this and what I do. I know. Sometimes, it’s okay.

And then I poke around in my drafts and I see blood. Part of me sees it wasted, not profitable because I have bills to pay. Part of me sees freedom and my naked heart on a page in a way that baby me would have cherished. That part of me knows that while I have an aversion to pain porn it is important to be a vulnerable, sad, anxious, fucked up Black person with problems. That part of me knows that vacillating between being proud of me for saying HEY I AM FUCKED UP and being ashamed is natural and saying that I do vacillate between those things, is valid and necessary.

I know that.

I feel that, fuck it, I don’t know it, I feel it. That is the level of importance that representation means to me. I know that right now my 39 year old fucked up baby self can be conflicted about this and work on it and express it because that is part of who I am.

I am conflicted and wounded.

I beez in the trap.

I don’t say all of this to engender pity. Don’t feel sorry for me. Understand that my honesty about my situation in life, whatever it is and how I talk about it, isn’t’ about your  out eyes it is about mine. I have to remember that yeah, I’m poor and I’m terrible at ambition in the proscribed ways, and I’m bad at even nodding at journalism and I’m not palatable to a lot of people and it’s fucking great.

It’s not pleasant. It’s not lucrative. It’s not even easy 99% of the time.

But really, if I’m honest-

it is satisfying.

I think baby Shannon would maybe be disappointed that things like dayjobs and bills have an impact on the work but, baby Shannon would read all of this and feel it and feel seen and validated. So right now, I’m okay.

I’m anxious and a jittery shitbucket of terrible feelings-

but I’m all right.

The work hurt but I’m okay.

 

Writing Bucket List

Okay I am in dire need of limbering up my lil brain so let’s talk about bucket list stuff I’m either writing about or have plans to write about.

Non-fiction first:

  1. I want to/have been making notes on writing about the romantic love of my Queer Femme friends. I realize hetero ppl have JUST fucking discovered this and I want to talk about it, especially in the context of marginalized Femme People being there for each other when the rest of the world wants us dead.
  2. I want to write about how when I most needed role models, my role models were sex workers. Not the thin, pretty White kind who are always top notch blablabla, but girls on the streets. How when hardly anybody gave a shit about me, they quite literally saved my life. And how much I loved them and how they set me up for what is turning out to be a lifetime of loving and identifying with sex workers who are not on the “glamorous” or pure tragic end of the spectrum of experiences.
  3. A probably super snarky guide for the writing world on how to stop saying diversity and being about shit. That’s in progress.
  4. The highly syncretic nature of my work and a more in depth look at why that is a problem for publishing as it exists now and the problems that poses for me as a creator.
  5. More real talk about perimenopause and bodily shit.
  6. I want to write deeply about how alienating and terrible I’ve found the freelance industry to be. From the racism I’ve experienced at the hands of non Black writers who are totally not racist and are totally allies, to the issues I see with what is published to the problem of White writers straight up stealing from POC writers and getting their coin for it and generally being shit.
  7. A (kinda?) funny essay about a bad dating experience I had written to correlate with a rom com.
  8. A defense of fast fashion that is instructive and doesn’t skim over the fact that poor people need pants too.

These are all pretty much in progress. Some are more time intensive than others. There are some other things I want to/am writing about. One of them is an issue with using Brown/Black avatars in games I’ve played only to have that become the basis of harassment and how I’ve stopped playing those games. I’d like to insersect Blackness, representation and sexism, and ask a lot of questions. BUT, I don’t want to get GG up my entire ass and I can’t afford a lot of their fuckery so I haven’t.

What else?

In terms of fiction I’m pretty ass deep in slipstream/spec fic. I haven’t been doing Yeah, Write but it’s on my mind.

I’m trying really hard to finish some straight up high fantasy but it’s been difficult because I feel like I lack a proof of concept? I mean, the two stories I’m working on are not at all what I’ve ever read in fantasy for the most part other than one being kinda romantic and swords and shit but I’m doing stuff that is uh, not super out there logicall but it is very Black and not here for White centered fantasy I dunno. It makes me nervous.

Also I am in the process of figuring out how I want anthologize The World. It’s gonna be pretty labor intensive so I’m waiting to really get into it until after Gertie (my laptop) is fixed.

I think that’s all for now. I have a lot of stuff I want to do today.

OH no wait one more thing. You can go here and get yourself an about weekly little love letter from your fave indie author. This week I talk poetry, fear pooping and feelings. It isn’t a formal author newsletter but it is the closest to one that I want to put out.

That’s really all. I love y’all. Thanks for hanging out here.

What had happened was.

So officially I’m working on a legit poetry book from Lark Books. No for real like they said my name and I feel like I can tell people, that’s one of the things I’ve been working on really hard.

Lily from Lark peer pressured me into it and it’s pretty fucking great. I find it really scary due to the fact that I still wrestle with considering myself like a real actual legit poet. I don’t know why I resist that so much, it scares me. My poems are not as, uh low key as I make them out to be.

I don’t know. It is the same kind of tension I feel with myself when I think about/talk about being an artist.

It’s scary because it’s vulnerability on a different level than other things. In my head poetry is art and art is being entirely not naked, but armorless.

So this his huge and scary. It is what I’ve spent 80% of my time writing.

The other 20% I’ve been writing some new essays. I’m working on one about all the shit White people say about diversity, inclusivity and whatnot in the literature and goddamn I’m sarcastic.

I’m also uh, working on the Daiyuverse and some fiction here and there.

So blogging has slowed all down, but shit is happening. I’ll post some stuff for funsies soon.

I love y’all.

Also, seriously, this coming month will be a great time to go throw down a buck a month for some Daiyuverse action. Shit is starting to heat up. I will likely release some of the new chapters/rewrites in my Etsy store down the line if folks aren’t keen on Patreon.

Okay, that’s kinda it for right now. I’m in the midst of a major energy crash that is a combo of perimenopause and a migraine that can’t decide if fuck my brain or fuck my brain twice.

Goodnight loves and stars. I miss y’all.

Yeah Write# 272 entry- The Goddess Cycle #1

The Goddess Cycle #1

Innana

by

Shannon Barber

When the sweet brown girls call, she comes. She weaves herself from their dreams and candles and incense smoke. The sweet brown girls know her when she moves into their circle. They call her Mother and Lover and General.

Her body made them feel good. Her pot belly and jiggling thighs and sagging breasts takes their breath and fear.

“H-hello sweet children.”

Their tongue feels strange on her lips, but she can manage a greeting. She understands their words, their language comes to her in song and prayers.

She dances with them, all naked and in love and free as wild weeds.

The girls know her names and respect the old dead tongue she knows intimately. She stops their dancing and settles each one to hear her prayers.

The first is lovely and shy, her cock lays half hard on her thigh and she lowers her eyes.

“What is your prayer?”

The girl murmurs,

“I want to be a Mother.”

She is blessed with the cupped palm of the Mother against her groin.

“Get your wife with child.”

The rest of the girl children ask for similar things. One wants to change her body to be fertile, another wants to grow her garden, another to be a nurse. Each gets her blessing until she gets to the last.

The last child does not sing nor does she grin. She stares at her Mother, her Lover and General, calls her with the scent of blood and need.

“Yes, Child?”

The girl has her fists clenched into tight little chubby brown balls and her body vibrates with rage.

“Mother, my Lover, my General. I want to fight. I want to go to war.”

“If you want to go to war child, can you name me?”

They stand up together and the child puts her fists on her wide hips.

“You are the Queen of Heaven.”

The Goddess nods.

“Louder.”

“You are the Daughter of  Sin and Ningal.”

“More.”

The girl’s heart thumps and she pounds her chest with one fist.

“You are she who descended into the underworld and returned. You are my Mother. You are my Lover. You are my General and we want blood.”

The Goddess howled and the divine light of war blazed from her eyes.

“My sweet child. Come, I will teach you the ways of war and the sacrifice of your enemies shall be my glory. Eli baltuti Ima’ ‘idu mituti.”

The naked girl  repeats the ancient words with pride.

” The Dead Will Be More Numerous Than The Living.”

The others cheer and rise, dancing again. Their ululations and sweat and love will carry their goddess and their sister into battle.

The other Gods look and see and smile.

Even old Delight of Frigg smiles at this new crop of prayers and songs.

“God Speed dear Innana. Goddess speed.”

###

On Rejections and Thangs

Behold first a list of places I’ve been rejected from in the last few years. These culled from my Submittable (OH sidebar: if you ever need help with your Submittable account their CS is FUCKING STELLAR. Like really great.) account.

I MADE THIS.

Publisher *Interrobang Magazine*Bone Bouquet*Portland Review*Two Serious Ladies*Corium Magazine*Black Fox Literary Magazine*Menacing Hedge*kill author*Quickly*Jersey Devil Press*Looseleaf Tea*MUD LUSCIOUS PRESS*Red Bridge Press*d.ustb.in*Cease  Cows*Wyvern Lit*The James Franco Review*The Butter*Storyglossia*Necessary Fiction*Atticus Books*Knockout Literary Magazine*Girls with Insurance*Linden Avenue Literary Journal*The Molotov Cocktail*Word Riot*Camroc Press Review*SmokeLong Quarterly*Vending Machine Press*The Rusty Nail*Side B Magazine*Curbside Splendor Publishing*Used Furniture Review*fwriction : review*Word Riot*Belletrist Coterie*The Offing*Specter: A Curated Literary Website*The Offing*A-Minor*Word Riot*Bloom*The Midwest Coast Review*Leodegraunce*Eclectic Flash*fwriction : review*Stone Highway Review*Specter: A Curated Literary Website*Metazen*tNY.Press*ExFic*wtf pwm*[PANK]*fwriction : review*Camroc Press Review*Used Furniture Review*Unshod Quills*BLACKBERRY: a magazine*Gravel*Birdfeast*Necessary Fiction*Slit Your Wrists! Magazine*Wilde Magazine*10 000 Tons of Black Ink*Monkeybicycle*Counterexample Poetics*deactivated TOSKA Magazine*Little Episodes*Gertrude Press*ABJECTIVE*Battered Suitcase*The Monarch Review*Out of the Gutter Online*[PANK]*freeze frame fiction*Publishing Genius*Menacing Hedge*The Citron Review*Dark Sky Magazine*DREGINALD*Behind Closed Doors*Barn Owl Review*decomP magazinE*Necessary Fiction*Word Riot*The Rumpus

So if you get through that, you’ll see some repeats. Places that are in my mind big swing and miss type submissions.

I’ve been reflecting about the process lately since I don’t submit on such a rigorous schedule anymore.

I was reading something about rejections and I frankly refute the idea that it is always the writer.

The thing is that if you are writing from a perspective or about marginalized people in a way that is not the accepted (generally when it decenters Whiteness, heteronormativity, etc etc) there is an uphill battle, whether people who are closer to acceptable want to recognize it as part of the process or not.

After doing the submission thing and research things and reading thousands upon thousands of pages of what journals/mags publish, the struggle is real. I look over this little rejection list and this one from my race to 100, there are some I can point to as having probably been based on how I was telling stories about Black folks or Queer folks, rather than just my shitty writing.

Of course, there are times when I look back and cringe because things can always be better, tighter, more perfect, etc.

However, after going back through a lot of that work (and many of those pieces found homes eventually) and looking at the language in a lot of rejections (not just from this list but over a ten year period) I can say that I’ve seen some patterns and the patterns have fit in with my research.

Here is where I invite editors to pay some full attention, marginalized writers too:

  1. If I go through say five back issues of your thing and I see no POC, no stories about anyone other than White people in whatever form, I’m 99% sure if I submit a story about POC/other marginalized people you won’t take it. I often envision the, we love your work, but no fit yadda yada. For me, over the years, this has been a thing a lot.
  2. If you have words like diversity, inclusion or anything related and you haven’t done the work in your previous however many issues, see #1.
  3. If I’ve been reading and following your thing and you have a few POC or other marginalized folks and tend to only publish certain types of narratives, whether fictional or not, or the only POC you interview fall into a few distinct categories, see #1.

Etc.

One of the habits that has been ingrained in me since I was a wee baby writer age 19 in 1996 carefully copying addresses out of the back of Poets&Writers, I read where I want to be. At one point after I had my own computer (I think I got my first one in like 2001?) I had dozens of pages of individual notes on publications. I transcribed them from PW, from websites, from notebooks. I had a system. I spent two months writing like a motherfucker as much as humanly possible, I spent a month editing everything and then a month submitting.

This habit has remained with me, though I have learned to use trackers (GODS damn I wish someone had told me to do that back then) and figured myself out in terms of the truth of what I do, I’ve learned to read more closely and that is how I’ve figured out my system for parsing rejections and figuring out where to submit.

There have been times where I’ve spoken with editors, I can think of a few who really went to bat for me because I did not fit their standard narratives. That is gratifying.

Experience informs how I deal with my rejections.

In this phase of my writing life, I’m not as interested in trying to blaze trails.

I’ve got a big fucking mouth and I do indeed talk a lot of shit and occasionally name names. I’ve decided that rather than hold that in, I’m letting it out. I’m sure that will cause me rejections over time. It’s fine.

I realized during AWP and some subsequent interactions with lit world folks that I just don’t have the energy or mental health reserves to be one of the brick wall busting types.

I’ve hit fuck it.

I’ve figured out that I feel okay being a terrible self-published author.

I’m fine trying to hustle fiction out of my Etsy store like a literary pusherman.

I don’t hold out hope to be raised up by the loving hands of some literary agent.

I don’t really care if I get the Big Book Deal.

I’ve discovered the depths of joy I feel when small indie bootleg ass presses tell me if I do X thing, they want first look.

I’ve discovered the joy of putting something from my heart out that is flawed but touches other hearts.

It still fucks with me that people don’t buy my shit when I sell it.

It still fucks with me when I read things and I don’t see myself or other marginalized folks represented.

It still fucks with me when the literary community is largely a burning tire fire of racism and bullshit.

After all this, the real lesson is this.

This is a grind. Rejection alone won’t be the end of you. It is up to you as an artist to decide how to deal with it.

Now if y’all will excuse me, I have anxiety to deal with and shit to do.

Data Loss Update X-Posted from Patreon

GOOD NEWS!! (I’ll be cross posting this to my writing blog)

I found my older, less reliable flash drive that has backups from about a month and a half ago.

I checked it last night and here’s where I am at:

I have recovered Chapter 1 of the ongoing Daiyu rewrites.

I have some incomplete other fiction works that I will be able to redo.

My pitch list is gone so I have to redo that.

My submission tracking spreadsheet is gone.

I lost four entire short stories.

Some SCLAB stuff.

Blog posts for my new blog. 

And some other stuff.

Solutions:

Thanks to a donation (THANK YOU HOLY SHIT) I have on order a replacement thumb drive 32gb.

I was able to purchase some extra cloud storage.

I am moving the stuff from my old thumb drive to my new cloud storage.

I activated (FINALLY) my outlook that I;ve had for ages. I will be moving some of my submission info etc for safe keeping.

I also did some trouble shooting and have figured out that part of the problem was fubar’d settings on my One Drive along with a shit port.

SO going forward, I’ll be able to catch up.

I can breathe.

I have so much fucking work to do.

For Patrons, if I can manage to get your next chapters rewritten I’ll send it out at the regular time. If i can’t get something satisfactory I’ll send y’all something else but it WILL be good. Likely a first look at a whole new thing I’ve been trying.

Thank you as always for your love and support. You’re all just the bees knees, the cats pajamas and everything good in the universe.