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.”

###

Bucket List Progress.

Did I ever post my artist bucket list?

I think not, so here is it in part:

  • Make short poetry film
  • Submit to paying poetry market
  • Do some lit related youtubes
  • Keep Patreon going- up my content and maybe funding
  • Submit to contests
  • Arrange my own little writing retreat
  • Apply for some type of grant
  • Create/perform performance art
  • Write a short horror film
  • Build somewhat of a freelance thing
  • Create and sell writing classes
  • Break into a mainstream something

Those are just some of them.

So far this year I’ve kept my Patreon going. If you haven’t checked that out, here go look at this post. I posted my first YA-Queer romance flavored thing. A little side short story in the Daiyuverse. 

I’m trying to hype myself up to blend Patreon and the Youtubes and do some video. I’m still pretty self conscious about my webcam quality and fake teeth lisp.

I’ve started researching video editing so I can find software I can use.

What else?

I’ve made uh, inroads into trying my hand at mainstream pubs. On the advice of freelancers I trust I set myself a Contently portfolio.  Given my clips I am not sure I fit in but whatever. I figured I’d give it a shot. Why not?

What else?

Just today I made my first submission to a paid poetry thing.

Other arty farty shit.

I’ve decided not to print my own Motherfuckess Manifesta.  I’ve tried a few more times and frankly shit just makes me so anxious and upset because I can’t get it figured out. I am not a Zine Queen. That said, maybe should I save up enough dollars I can do a limited print run?

On the writing class front I have my curriculum for three classes. I want to write some more content and exercises for each and take some photos for them. I’m going to do a dry run on some folks and then release them probably by October.

What else?

I’m trying really hard to hang on to the idea that my goals and personal ethics in terms of what I will and won’t do with my work is okay. That no I don’t have to change so much I don’t like myself.

That said, I’m pretty knee deep in I don’t matter/I ain’t shit feelings and poor kid anxieties. I’m working really hard on not sinking into that, but shit is a fuckin struggle.

OH! Also, I did more work on my laptop *Gertie* and discovered that I didn’t make a bad decision. She’s a good little machine. The problem is mainly that EVEN microsoft does not recommend an OS above 7 for machines like her because they come stock with not that much memory. Not enough memory for 64 bit Win 8.1 which is what came stock on Gertie and has fucked her ALL the way up.

I dipped into my savings again so I could buy some new memory and will install that this weekend.

To help me increase my, uh, side hustling. I got back into the Amazon affiliate program and am building a little store. Basically right now it’s all beauty stuff, but I’ll be adding books, gadgets and other stuff. Consider it my ultimate dream store and if you click/buy I get some pennies. Check it out here. Hopefully with that side hustle and a few others I can buy this for myself in a few months.

So that’s it for now. I’ve got writing and submitting and research to do.

This has been an installment of Be That Shit University.

Where the Artist Dreams Themselves into Reality

I’ve been kind of keeping to myself a bit. As they say I’m in the fuckin weeds again.

The last few weeks (again, a-fucking-gain) have been really emotionally traumatic for me. I was able to make sure a friend was not at Pulse that night, though, the odds that she was were really high.

Other shit has happened.

My heart is aching.

I’ve been squatting in the intersections where I live and work and everything and have had a few Oh. Shit. Come To Jesus conversations with myself.

While I’ve been (still) trying to do some more freelancing, I’ve come to realize more than ever that because I’m who I am, a lot of those opportunities are not for me.

I have been feeling this kind of deep burning guilt. The kind that kills my ability to write the good shit. A bunch of little things piled up to become a big lava rock in my gut.

The thing with freelancing is that I just don’t like how a lot of publications do things. I understand that nobody gives a shit because that’s how they make money, but, I just can’t.

I don’t really want to write bullshit for pennies.

And I’m not good at fast turnaround bullshit.

I feel like I already spend a lot of time not doing the arty shit that moves me. And though I’m full of passions I’m still timid because money is a real fucking thing.

I know if I could churn out more freelancey content and get paid a lot of things would be easier financially but emotionally that makes me feel numb.

The other problem is frankly, I have zero fucking chill. I know I’ve probably  hurt the feefees of some editors because I have a big fucking mouth and I’m not with a lot of bullshit. On one hand, I’m sure that at least one of the White writers who told me that my big mouth and not putting up with racist shit attitude would be to my own detriment were entirely right.

On the flipside, maybe my loud mouth might get through to a person or two someday.

I guess it’ll be okay. I’m still struggling not to feel like I’m doing everything in some bullshit manner because I don’t want to further compromise my heart.

I’ll stay plugging away at Patreon. I’ll have my etsy shop. Sometimes writing will pay for a bill or two and I think that’s gonna be okay for me.

What else is happening?

I’m about to (after I install new memory in my laptop) start learning video editing and maybe I will in fact produce a tiny poetry film this year.

I’ve been working on essays. Narrative essays and some kind of poem like essays about shit I want to talk about.

And some other stuff.

I’m still pretty awash in poor kid guilt but god damn it, I get to make art too. You know?

 

A Confession from your Problematic Fave

Y’all.

I have a terrible confession to make.

Most of my Yeah, Write entries have been not just funsies flash, but, I’ve been experimenting on your readers.

This has been a little bit of a long long con.

I’ve long held the theory that a lot of what makes us not read particular genres isn’t necessarily subject matter or levels of say gore or terror but, in how it is presented. I’ve known people who refuse REFUSE to read anything that looks even pulpy or horrory or romancey because EW I don’t read those genres.

My experiment has involved presenting the reader, you- a thing that is either snugly or loosely genre fiction.

I have given you noir, fabulism, horror, quiet horror, slipstream, Non Western style literary fiction etc.

This week for yeah, Write I presented Lovecrafty fiction. Specifically, it was the quietest of Nyalathotep stories. Folks liked it. A friend of mine asked if it was from my archive of ideas for short scripts.

I was trying to satisfy both the literary reader, the quiet horror and on another level the Lovecraft nerd.

Here is what I did.

One of the hallmarks of Lovecraft (racism and fuckery aside) is the language he used and the names of things. Working from both memory and some resources like this website, I took some of his favorite words and used them in modern contexts:

The Gibbering Loon.

Somewhere deep inside his antediluvian self,

ululations

The next Lovecrafty clue was in how I referred to the mysterious Vivian.

When he lifts his face to look into her eyes, he sees, he sees the secrets of the Sleeping, Dreaming Gods and the black notice of the Outer Gods.

References Lovecraft fans know well.

I also decided to make her unmistakably Black. I have had an ambition to use Blackness in these Lovecrafty stories in a way that heals that particular wound for my inner baby nerd.

And Vivian herself tells us who she is:

“See inside me, I am the Crawling Chaos. I am reborn. Be mine, Detective St. Pierre.”

We Lovecraft dorks know what the Crawling Chaos is without having to invoke the name Nyarlathotep.

What interests me more, is that folks who I know aren’t necessarily Lovecraft dorks, got the terror.

Folks from Yeah, Write and some others I’ve spoken to have not totally understood, but y’all understand without the need for the genre restrictions that might make your eye as a reader skip it because, horror.

I have always believed that how we’re presented with things matters deeply, perhaps more deeply than a lot of folks like to think of themselves, as to how we take in and appreciate a thing.

As a reader, this is just human nature. I don’t think it is good or bad, it just is. And we can recognize it and make the decision to do something else. Read POC, do the year of no cis hetero White male authors.

As a creator, I’ve found that because this is where I live. In these inbetween places. In a place where I just write the shit. Trying to squirm around the constraints of genre work, has played a huge role in my development as a writer.

On one hand it does make it harder to get published sometimes.

On the other, I get to engage in Quiet Horror and sneak into your brain or your bed and live there for a bit.

Ultimately, as an artist the latter is far more satisfying to me personally.

It feels better for longer when someone says, I was thinking about this thing you made for three days.

I also get the satisfaction of representing what I’d like to read.

I get to fully plumb the depths of my own brain without worry or feeling like because I am writing X genre, I must do X thing.

I’m considering my experiment to be successful.

I am writing what the fuck I want to write.

Sometimes I have readers who feel it.

Sometimes I have readers who are like, I don’t know what the fuck is happening, but I’me with it.

I’m into it.

So now that you know what I’ve been doing, I hope you come back to see where else I go.

Thanks y’all.

Thank you for helping me get to this place, I’m eternally changed and grateful.

I was going to do a shout out list, but it got too long. Y’all know who you are.

 

 

 

When Baby Has to Hustle.

Currently this is the List. A To Do/shit baby needs to get done in regards to writing list:

  1. Get laptop more usable. The factory status has problems. I have to go in a fine tune my OS. I have to try at some point to figure out how to pull money out of my ass for more RAM, so I can just yanno, use it to write and google a little.
  2. Figure out budget for saving for a new phone at the end of summer.
  3. Finish an essay and send it off.
  4. Try to figure out how to pump up Patreon a little bit.
  5. Reconfigure my outlook at home so I can use it on the go. Can’t be done until #1 is sorted.
  6. Finish getting reprints up at Medium.
  7. Start collecting The World.
  8. Finish transcribing notes about stuff I still want to write about.
  9. Organize cloud storage.
  10. Count poems
  11. Organize poems
  12. Talk to people about said poems.
  13. Work out a possible methodology of getting writing classes going.
  14. Sleep sometime.
  15. SCLAB.

So..yeah.

Later boothangs baby got shit to do.

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.

Flash Friday- Smutty edition.

I have had a hell of a week. So how about some smutty flash fiction to start the weekend?

I have a terrible and wonderful love/obsession with Vagina Dentata.

Here, have this little dreamy piece about it.Next week, I’ll do a sample from my writing classes I’m working on featuring this piece and an exercise.

Enjoy.

Gia’s Secret

I blame my loudmouth roommate for this entire situation.

When JJ got home from her date with Gia.

I heard her say-

“Goddamn Gia is a toothy cunt.”

I think that is what she said. I don’t know I was too busy being drunk and low key in love with Gia.

What I heard was-

“Goddamn Gia has a toothy cunt.”

Had I not been so drunk I would have understood.

I was drunk because I had just broken up with my girlfriend and upon hearing that my roommate was going on a date with my crush I did the sensible thing. I bought an enormous bottle of cheap wine and took the couch.

JJ stopped to lean over the couch to look down at me.

“You should call Gia and ask her out on a date. She is way more your type than mine. And you should probably go to bed. You’re really drunk.”

I don’t remember JJ putting me in bed or stripping me. I do remember her taking my bag of chips away and putting a bottle of water on my nightstand.

After she left me, I lay there turning over the idea of Gia in my head.

My cunt started to burn, I felt the blood moving, my lips swelling and wanting to be touched. I waited, thinking about JJ’s comment.

“Gia has a toothy cunt.”

Toothy cunt, toothy cunt. I closed my eyes and pictured her fine, lean brown body. I’d seen her naked before. Shit, I’ve seen almost all of my friends naked. We have stripped together, tricked together, been photographed together. Yet, I could not remember if I had seen teeth or not.

Gia is sleek where I am not. She is muscled and tight, catlike and androgynous in a classic kind of way. I wonder if she still has that precision trimmed bush, verdant in a tightly controlled way that is beyond sexy. My fingers move between my own thighs as I imagine the topography of her cunt.

Are her lips dark like the ones on her face? Do they have that petulant mean curve, do they fold soft and wrinkly as wilting fern fronds? Could I get them to swell and spread with just one finger? Just one finger dragged slowly just where they protrude, just a tickle. Just enough to promise more but not enough to deliver.

I saw myself with my face between her strong thighs, dipping my tongue into the crenulated secrets of her cunt before peeling her lips open to tickle her sharp secret teeth.

Eyes closed I imagined dipping my tongue just inside her, just enough to feel the slick of teeth on the tip of my tongue.

Unwise as the desire might be I wouldn’t recoil from the slick smoothness, I would smile against her. I could almost taste her, feel her lithe, muscular body twisting, warning me of the danger to come.

Against the backdrop of my closed eyes, I tried to paint her, lips full and dark, slick and revealing the barest sliver of deepest wet red. Wet as a screaming mouth full of danger.

I’d want her fuck hungry, ready to devour me whole.

I neared orgasm the world grayed out around me, I must have passed out because I woke up with a fuzzy mouth and my hand wedged between my thighs.

I couldn’t remember coming or not, but I did remember vivid dreams of a flash of teeth, old ivory buried inside hot wet red.

The beauty of my fixation is that I have a date with Gia tonight and I hope to come home tongueless.

 

Be That Shit University In Session

Okay, so I was thinking last night about my whole data situation and how this happens at least every two years or so.

This whole problem could be avoided if I lowered my output. If I stuck to my hour-two hours at night after the day job and catch as catch can on weekends, this wouldn’t happen. All my stuff would be safely sitting on my laptop Gertie.

I did try that.

Unfortunately, I do my best work when I have multiple streams of creation. My moods are shifty and my brain power tends to wax and wane. I think a lot of that is a result of my formative baby writer years were all about me churning out EVERYTHING because I was still working so hard on figuring out what I really wanted to write.

So while I know how to make this not a thing I’d have to deal with outside of hardware failure, I don’t think I’d be doing my best work if I limit how much I write.

So I take the chance.

In other news.

While I am recovering I’ve hit a couple of personal writerly milestones recently.

I’ve had some donated/sold work about body politics sent off into academia. In a you are my expert, let me give you money kind of way. That is pretty great.

I have two pitches out to big swing magazines.

I have tentatively worked out how to get out my first writing lesson/class.

The main hold up with the writing instruction is that most of the sites people use to sell their classes I just don’t have the start up money. I don’t have a good camera for video. I just don’t have the resources to do things in the way my research has found that it is done.

I thought I had a shot at teaching through another site, but I think because of my day job schedule and inability to do phone meetings that went off.

I am working on it. I think I have it figured out.

Setback or no, I am on that mother fucking grind.

This is Be That Shit University.

This is Write that Shit.

This is how I survive.

Now my current plan is to get my pitches together to send to the big swing things. Write like a motherfucker.

Work on writing classes.

Perhaps, submit some fucking poetry.

Be That Shit University is now in session.

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.