Sophie Gregoire Trudeau: Too Confident, Would Be More Likable If She Had No Self-Esteem

Dislcaimer: This was originally going to be a handful of tweets, but there ended up being too many. I’ve literally done zero research, so it’s all a combination of opinion and things I remember from recent media hullabaloos about SGT. 

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau seems to possess the ability that all wives of famous-for-being-handsome powerful political figures seem to possess*. The ability to unfailingly piss off a large portion of the general public by trying her best to survive the barbed and gendered targeting of the media against her.

There’s nothing like being the wife of a political leader to bring out the internalized (and explicit) misogyny in CBC Facebook commenters.

Since before the election of Justin Trudeau in October 2015, Sophie has been in the media’s spotlight–at first largely for her fashion choices. It seemed like the media was looking for a Canadian Kate Middleton; they wanted to fondly envy/critique her clothes and make little jealous jabs about her heartthrob husband. There was some buzz about her charity work and her feminism, but it mostly about how hot a couple her and Justin make.

Of course, as soon as SGT started doing things other than wearing nice clothes, the good ole internet commenters popped up to remind everyone that wives of political figures ought to be policed for their every action.

Using nannies, requiring more staff, singing at certain events are all things that can be critiqued, and those critiques can be critiqued.

SGT is by no means perfect, and no one is letting her forget that.

Heaven forbid that a public female figure think she’s capable of anything other than mistakes.

So when Sophie stood up at the Press Gallery dinner and sang a tongue-in-cheek song about those things that the media and public won’t let her forget–nannies, extra staff, singing, and attention-seeking–at the same event where Justin Trudeau implied Obama gives him wedgies and Tom Mulcair gave zero fucks, you can guess whose joke received the least online appreciation.

People are generally unforgiving when women attempt humour at public events. Humour is for men. Women who attempt to be funny (especially about themselves) are just desperate and want to be perceived as likable. Obviously.

What did surprise me was this comment, posted by a woman on the above Facebook post of a CBC article about the Press Gallery dinner, paired with a video of Sophie’s singing:

This one has too much confidence & someone please cut those puppet strings. I remember the P Trudeau days & Margaret [**] was all about getting attention as well. Need to tone things down a bit…

Justin Trudeau, Sophie Gregoire
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang via the Star

If you scroll through the comments, a fair share of them lean on the side of “oh look what an annoying, attention-seeking emotional lady human ugh get her out of my royal sight.”

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau is a person with a lot of traits. Because she’s a human. She makes mistakes and has flaws and can be thoughtfully critiqued from political/feminist standpoints.

Being a woman who is “too confident” is not a flaw. I’m not even sure it’s possible for a woman to be too confident. I’m not even confident posting this on my teeny corner of the internet.

Thanks to our friend the patriarchy and its super fun binary gender system, there’s a lot of things one has to have/do/be to be accepted by ~*society*~ as a Successful Woman.

You have to be beautiful, intelligent, composed (no one like a hysterical woman), friendly (to everyone including the media), socially aware wives and mothers who make the best decisions to personally and independently care for their husband and children while maintaining some sort of career.

It’s easier when you’re a middle/upper class able-bodied white cis lady who’s married to the most politically powerful dude in Canada, of course, but there’s still a lot on that list you gotta fulfill to be a Successful Woman.

When you’re also the wife of an important white dude, if the patriarchy thinks you messed up, you get a nice big spread in some national newspaper/newscast/news oulet for evverrrryyoonnneee to see and weigh in on.

Being a woman is hard enough in a system that devalues femininity, and it’s a bajillion times harder for many marginalized women in ways that it isn’t for people like Sophie Grégoire Trudeau.

Anyone who either is a woman, knows a woman, or has watched a Dove commercial knows that confidence and self-esteem in girls plummets when she hits puberty and enters into the arena of patriarchy-policed expectations of womanhood.

Confidence in women is often construed as bossy, bitchy, attention-seeking, shrill, or fake. SGT and other women who are public political figures–the women who appear to have the most confidence–face criticism for their actions and words in ways that imply that confidence in women is impossible without doing it wrong.

So Sophie Grégoire Trudeau has confidence. That’s worth something. She’s setting an example for girls and young women that confidence is strength and humour and that it can be used to mock the patriarchal and capitalist media that devalues women on a daily basis.

She is able to use her confidence to survive the public, political life she shares with her husband and children. The fact that she sung a song about the media making fun of her singing is not only funny, but super gutsy.

sophie-1.jpg.size.custom.crop.850x567
Cliff Owen via the Star

Like the laughter of women is hugely political and important, the confidence of women is political and important.

SGT is not perfect in her role as a human. She is not a perfect feminist. She is not a perfect anything, because that’s how our horrifying species works.

But she is confident, and confidence is one of the many, many things women should not be tearing down each other over. Women have yet to receive the gift of too much confidence, so in the meantime, appreciate her sassy-ass parody of the version of herself that the media/CBC Facebook commenters believe her to be.

Justin Trudeau, Sophie Greogire Trudeau
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang via Huffington Post

*Margaret Trudeau, Princess Diana, Kate Middleton, Sarah Ferguson, ’90s Hilary Clinton

**I’m super interested in the constant comparisons between the mothers and wives of political figures (Margaret Trudeau/Sophie Grégoire Trudeau; Princess Diana/Kate Middleton) in terms of their relationship with the media. SGT has received a lot of “like mother-in-law like daughter-in-law” comments for being attention-seeking, vain, embarrassing, much like the comments Margaret Trudeau received during and after her marriage to Pierre Eliot Trudeau. If you find any articles about this, please send them to me!

2016.

Hey 2016.

I’ve been waiting for you.

I’m afraid of you, a little bit. You’re all fog and mist and muddled reflections in waters that never seem to settle.

I don’t know what you’ll do to me

–where you’ll take me

–who you’ll throw across my path

–who will fall off if the path is rough

–what art I’ll see

–which landscapes will becomes the most familiar

–whose smile will be my favourite.

There’s a lot I don’t know about you, 2016. You’re a tall, dark, handsome mystery.

We have things to do, you and me.

Little things, mostly.

Westminster Abbey
This lanky, exhausted, bedraggled Libby got to see Westminster Abbey in 2015.

2015 was the year of big, strange, weird, wonderful, messy things.

2015 gave me a massive push from behind.

I tripped through 2015. But it was the almost-not-quite-a-face-plant that I needed.

I’m grateful for 2015.

You, 2016, I think you will be a good transition year.

A transition to where or what, I don’t know. But that’s why I need you.

 

– Resolutions –

I make resolutions every year, 2016, and I never keep them. They loll around on my bedroom floor until February, and they usually end up kicked under my bed.

Resolutions are my biggest dust bunnies.

This year I’m making small resolutions. If they end up under my bed, they will be mouse dust bunnies, not mammoths.

Tiny, tiny resolutions. So tiny they’re cute and a little bit disconcerting.

  1. Write a sentence every day (other than on Twitter).
  2. Drink more water.
  3. Read (at least) 15 non-university required books. Preferably diverse ones. 
  4. Go on a solo road trip.
  5. Watch an Audrey Hepburn movie.
  6. Finish a painting.

So here I am, 2016.

Have at me.

 

 

Country mouse in the city (WINTER EDITION)

Nova Scotian winters have a notoriety for being unpredictable, messy, and invoking the good humour of its residents. As someone from a rural area, my experience with snowstorms entails school cancellations, Dad plowing the driveway and section of the dirt road with his little Kabota tractor, and sitting clandestinely around the warm glow of the wood stove, waiting for the snow to melt off the internet antenna so we can check Facebook to hear the news from neighbours throughout the community.

This is the first urban snowstorm I’ve had to endure (the last snowstorm class was happily cancelled and I stayed curled up in my little apartment all day). No, today was my first venture out into the Arctic city.

Living five kilometres off campus, I foolishly thought I could hop on my regular bus and make it home before dark.

gcyjp

LIES.

Rookie mistakes.

I’m not going to continue whining about the weather because we all know exactly what it’s like if you live in a place where it snows in excess.

I am, however, going to marvel about the wonderful things that happen when you walk through Halifax during a snow storm.

The two buses I attempted to travel on were stuffed full of people who had shared weather and bus-related jokes with me at the bus stop. The bus drivers were so cheerful I wanted to hug them, and thoughtful enough to let people off in the middle of traffic with the promise that if they saw them later, they would pick the enduring traveler back up.

After making the executive decision to get off the bus following twenty minutes and twenty metres of distance achieved, I headed out into the final frontier.

[I would like to take this moment to apologize to my boots for calling them bulky and ugly.

You are perfect, Boots, don’t you ever change. Your steadfast tread protected me from the snow-covered sidewalks that had deceptively hid their icy intentions underneath. Your thickness prevented the mutiny of my toes from my feet. You keep doing you, Boots.]

Chances are, if you’re walking because the buses are stuck in traffic two kilometres deep, other people have also abandoned ship bus. These people become your allies, your companions, your Fellowship of the Ring. They become Viggo Mortesen, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean, John Rhys-Davies, and Elijah Wood.

Because guys with beards get even better looking when tromping through the snow like a wild ranger, amirite?

These companions are the only living things you can see within visible distance (which, to be honest, isn’t very far).

By the time you leave backed-up traffic behind, there are no cars heading into the city, and the roads are empty and the sidewalks are ankle-deep in snow. I opted to walk on the road, something that is the only option in rural areas anyway, but occurred to me might not even be legal in the city. (Can someone please tell me if I committed a crime or not?).

Viggo Mortesen and Orlando Bloom stirred up a conversation a few metres in front of me. “When did you start?”  “Around five.” “Oh, same.” “Do you want some water?”

At this point it’s dark and everyone I encounter is red-cheeked, sweaty, and panting because let’s face it, Halifax is literally just one giant hill and snow is damn hard to walk in if you’re not an athlete or in possession of snow shoes.

On a flat stretch I caught up with Sean Bean, who had passed me on a particularly steep hill due to my lack of physical strength and fullness of bladder. (Sidenote: use the bathroom before heading out into a snowstorm). He asked me how long I’ve been walking (an hour and half since my departure from campus) and I asked him where he started from. We both chuckled tiredly at his remark about it being good exercise, wished each other luck, and went separate ways where the road split.

Elijah Wood was carrying two bags and lugging a suitcase on wheels up a hill as I was going down. He joked about his travels as we passed. I hope he got to where he was going to, and that it’s less blizzardy there.

IMG_20150202_180904265There is a moment, when your companions are gone and you pause to take a breather, that you realize how quiet it is when there’s no cars. You can actually hear the snow falling. You can hear silence, something that in the city you feared was lost and only available in weekend visits to the country.

So thank you, Halifax. Thank you for making a massive mess of the roads and turning the most good-natured people out of the buses and to the snowy trails to each individual’s Shire, each person’s home. Thank you for providing a little bit of companionship during my ninety-minute trek, and for the moment of peaceful silence in between the snowflakes.

Thank you for #stormchips.

And I will thank you even more if you cancel classes tomorrow. 🙂

Safe travels everyone!

10 gift ideas for one university student from another

Despite the fact that Christmas is still more than a month away and that I hate the over-commercialized monstrosity that November 1st-January 1st has become, Christmas is beginning to be unavoidable. I bought eggnog on the weekend, I’ve caught myself humming Christmas carols, and I started mentally saluting those who have decked the sidewalks of the city with the first tricklings of twinkle lights.

Christmas is coming, and along with it, a slew of online pieces declaring the best thing to get the X in your life. Most of the items on these lists are cute but costly, and the lists of adorable DIY gifts are oriented to talented people who have time.

University students have neither an abundance of pocket money or the time to make something thoughtful for the important people in their lives at Christmas. While I don’t completely buy into the idea that everyone IS COMPELLED BY THE BLAZING PITS OF CONSUMERISM HELL to give presents to absolutely everyone they know ON PAIN OF DEATH, I understand the desire to give your friends and family something for the trouble they go through in simply knowing you.

So here we are, you on that side of the screen and me on this side. Hi. Thanks for still sitting there. You must be pretty cool.

Finding gifts for your family will be a little easier–you’re likely more willing to spend what little money you have on the people who created you and are responsible for your survival up to this point. But what about tes amis? I mean, you love the people in your tutorial for That One Interesting Class You Have, and you still feel like the members of your high school gang are your beloved homies, but you can’t buy cute things on Etsy FOR EVERYONE.

And with finals taking place just before Christmas, you’re going to be too busy sleeping studying to make a hundred decorative clay owls.

Here are a couple gift ideas for your fellow university student. 😉

1. FREE BACK RUBS.

Seriously. University is stressful, and everyone is tense and tired by the time the end of the semester rolls around. Maybe they’ll return the favour. This could be a bonding experience. Or maybe it could be creepy. Mostly it’ll be awesome for them. Maybe they’re cute and this could be your chance. LOLOL.

2. FUZZY SOCKS.

Dumbledore and Dobby got it right. Socks are awesome. And cheap (thanks, Dollarama). And come in a variety of colours and patterns. Not to mention super practical because winter is coming and chances are, like you, your friends have yet to invest in a pair of decent winter boots. This makes socks all the more welcome.

Master has given Dobby a sock!

3. COFFEE/TEA DATE.

Take your pal to a cute cafe (or Tim’s–never undervalue Tim’s. Tim’s can still be cute) and buy them a hot beverage. It’s like three bucks, two if you don’t get a latte. Your company is the real gift here. If you really wanna treat someone extra special (high school homies, what up? Long time no talk except on Facebook!) bring them back to your apartment/dorm and MAKE them tea. Cost goes way down. Also you can cuddle and talk about things that ought to not be discussed in public.

4. TOILETRIES.

If you go to Costco and buy a ton of soap, set aside a chunk for a bro. Us new adults, we’re not used to remembering to buy that stuff, so if you distribute some no-name toiletries to your friends a few less people will have to wash their hair with Sunlight Oxi Action dish detergent until next grocery day. Just put a bow on it.

(Bonus points: toilet paper. It’ll seem like a joke gift, but it will be put to use.)

5. CONDOMS?

Could also be perceived as a joke gift. Also very much free at your university’s student union. This is the cheapest and lamest of the cheap and lame. But hey. You never know. VOILA.

6. PAJAMA DANCE PARTY.

Recommended location: public place.

Recommended music: soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy.

Recommended attire: Santa pajamas or Star Lord costume,

Fun guaranteed. Film it. Post it. Become an internet sensation.

7. BUILD AN OLAF TOGETHER.

Everyone loves building snowmen, and for many of us it might have been awhile since we birthed one of those snowy creations. Snowball fights may or may not ensue. Weather dependent.

8. MASON JARS WITH STUFF IN THEM.

Or other kinds of jars. Like Kraft peanut butter jars. Throw in a bunch of stuff and decorate the lid with a bow and their name.

Ideas for “stuff:” tea bags, chocolate kisses, hot chocolate mix, candy canes, (or even condoms or socks).

9. ANY VARIETY OF CHEAP FOOD, BASICALLY.

Crackers, Mr. Noodle, Tim bits, Dollarama chocolate. A mini jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread. I’m sure they’ll eat it, because you know you will.

10. DO THEIR DISHES.

Lol I’m kidding. It’s Christmas. No one wants to do dishes. Take a nap together.

Country mouse in the city

Country mice, my brothers and sisters.

Having spent the entirety of my life surrounded by woods, fields, golden rod, and camouflage and/or plaid shirts, the jump from rural Nova Scotia to Halifax has been a bit of a culture shock. Where are the barns? Where are the farmers? And what are these “crosswalks” you speak of? Thai food? You can get that here?

There are so many people.

People everywhere.

(Shut up, I know Halifax is a small city.)

It’s different here.

I’ve interacted with more strangers in a month than I have in my entire life. I’ve met a bajillion people, some of them on the bus (s/o to the lady who bid me good day), some of them on campus (day students represent), and some of them around the city as I walk from bus stop to bus stop (s/o to the Newfoundland couple who waited forever with me).

 

Everyone is busy, walking fast with purpose behind their smartphones and really cool sunglasses. There are so many young people. I’ve never seen so many people between the ages of 18 and 26. Everyone is attractive and hip and apparently we’re heading back to the late 1990s/early 2000s in fashion (I’m not sure how I feel about that). All hail grungy band t-shirts.

No one here wears camouflage. No one. It’s bizarre. The ratio of camo-to-plaid-to regular clothing in my hometown is something along the lines of 23:15:2.

Kids in the city walk to their bus stops by themselves without fear of being mugged or stolen (country students like me are scared of walking by ourselves in daylight because someone is obviously going to steal a fully-grown adult in a street with 100 witnesses).

The houses are extremely close together. People don’t have yards. (Growing up in the literal woods, this is weird for me to grasp.) The air smells like fast food, car exhaust, and butted out cigarettes.

I miss the smell of golden rod and asters and the earth exposed when corn crops are harvested. I miss the smell of fresh lumber and the woodstove.

flowers
At my country home I have a field of wilde flowers in my backyard. #oscarwildepuns

Buses.

Buses suck.

(If you follow me on Twitter you’ve no doubt been made aware of this).

Until I moved to Halifax, I have only been on a public bus once, when I was little and my cousins took me to the Discovery Centre. Let me describe to you what it’s like to take the bus from the perspective of someone who grew up isolated from civilization.

It’s a giant metal tube full of suspiciously oozy smells that may or may not be wafting from the dozens of people crammed into it. You have to sit next to people (touch them) who in the worse cases, smell like they’ve never showered and sing to themselves, and in the best cases smell nice, leave you alone, and don’t make shifty eye contact (also sometimes the gods are nice and you sit next to an attractive guy with a beard and a lunch box and he gets off at the same stop as you). If you’re terribly unlucky, you sit in a wet seat (sometimes on a day when it hasn’t rained in a week) or have to stand and hold onto those sticky yellow poles for dear life.

Some bus drivers are cranky. Some are hopelessly friendly and I want their energy. At least one of them looks like Stanley Tucci.

You also have to pay attention to where you are, because you’re brand-spanking new to the city and you know nothing, Jon Snow. Google Maps is your lifeline. You sweat (partly from being in a nerve-wracking tuna can, but also because what if you end up in New Brunswick by accident???). You have to decide how early to pull the slimy string-thing — too early or late and you’ll be walking. Then you have to figure out how the doors open. Some of them open for you, others you have to wave idiotically at, and others you have to push like the little brother you never had.

Buses are always either super late so you have to allow an extra 45 minutes before class just to ensure you’re there on time, or they are super early, so you miss it and have to wait for the next one. Goddammit guys, make up your mind.

Also, traffic. In the country traffic consists of two cars, three trucks, and a tractor (sometimes with a manure spreader).

Giant stone columns are a very pretty trend here. Stone columns are VERY Fall/Winter 2014.
Giant stone columns are a very pretty trend here. Stone columns are VERY Fall/Winter 2014.

Don’t get me wrong. Halifax is pretty cool. Walking downtown makes me crave to see it as it was 100, 150, 200 years ago when everyone wore top hats and the harbour was full of tall ships and you could buy candy for like a penny.

I love the contrast between 100-year-old buildings with stone Grecian-esque pillars and the blue-glass office towers next to them, and the old townhouses with chipped pink shingles like a ruined manicure next to that. There’s so much history and culture, both old and modern.

Art is a thing here. It’s everywhere. Festivals and random sales on the sides of the roads and poetry readings.

I can walk two minutes and buy a coffee, something I could never do before. The fact that there’s so many shops, businesses, and general PLACES is still overwhelming.

I’m going to university with people who share my interests and love of learning. My professors are amazing and so deeply intelligent I just kind of sit through lecture with my jaw on the floor, drooling on the notes I should be taking. My mind is in a perpetual state of blown-ness.

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, “The country is cool, but you can’t spontaneously buy $8.00 cheesecake there.”

Have any of you made the leap from rural to city life?

libby rambles about feelings with gifs

**this is not my typical type of blog post. you are now entering at your own risk into a zone of experimentation and sleep deprivation**

 

 

 

 

i should really be in bed right now, i really should, because i have to get up in the morning like most people and do things like most people and you know, just be a person, because that’s important.

but i also have this nice little piece of the internet with my name on it, and it’s here for me to use, so here i am, flirting with midnight like the saucy rebel i always knew i could be. see this lack of capitalization? total rebel.

i’m going to take some creative licence with my tiredness and ramble on more than i usually would, because usually i like my online presence to be somewhat dignified, or at least controlled ridiculousness — but i am far from dignified or controlled right now, and that’s okay.

high school is done, which hasn’t really hit me yet. i finished my last exam, harassed people into signing my yearbook, and kind-of-celebrated by sleeping in on a friday morning, wherein followed a whole lot of loud music in an empty house whilst wearing a ginormous knitted sweater. because that’s an important detail here.

i’m done. well, not really. there’s still other high school graduate-related things to do, like prom, graduation itself, safe grad, and of course, avoiding all the parties the Class of 2014 will be (and is currently) partaking in. i’m figuring out what life will be like without going to the same building five days a week for the majority of that day. friends will be moving on, i’ll be moving on, new friendships will be attempted, i’ll need to learn how public transit works pretty soon, i need to make actual life decisions, and i can’t decide what is the scariest out of those five things.

i’m in an anxious state of nerves, angst, excitement, and frankly, exasperation. i’m on edge. this isn’t how graduation is supposed to work. i’m supposed to be standing in the sun roof of a car going through a tunnel, screaming about being infinite and such. or maybe i’m getting that mixed up with something else.

this frustration is aggravating. i hate being frustrated. i’m a firm believer that personal happiness is more or less the main goal in life. i’m the type of person who tries to be happy even when maybe i’m not. i’m the type of person who wants everyone to be happy with themselves, even if i really dislike them as a person. happyhappyhappy. be happy dammit. i know happiness is more complicated than just deciding to be happy, but help yourself out. you’re the only person you have left when everyone else has gone home.

 

ordinarily i like to identify myself as a pretty self-confident person, and i retain that sense of self. just, i’m kind of drowning here. not drowning to the point of certain death, just enough water to fill my lungs that it makes breathing more difficult than it should be.

so between trying to find a job, preparing for prom/graduation, searching for the reason of my existence, and resisting the urge to fan-tweet Phillip Phillips, things are a little chaotic under this total serene image of utter calm.

i am 100% okay, and so is everyone else, they just don’t know it yet. there are bigger things we’ll encounter later that make post-graduation feelings of anger seem like kittens playing in really soft toilet paper.

so i’m okay. i’m excellent. and so are you. time for bed now.

good night.

 

 

The Truth Will Out: The Age Closet

Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, by their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years.

~Oscar Wilde

Greetings, Internet! I’ve recently had a bit of an online identity crisis. This has happened before: flashback to 2012, and then my super long extended blogging hiatus in which I abandoned Let Them Grumble and created this blog/website/thing in August. Since I started blogging two years ago, a lot has happened to me.

I’ve been published in three anthologies. I self-published my first collection of poetry and short stories.

I have met some wonderful people online and in person, and haven’t followed any of your blogs nearly as diligently as some of you have followed mine.

I’ve changed my main blogging topic from Anne Boleyn to writing to feminism and everything (and I mean everything) in between.

I’ve switched countless themes and two domain names and attempted a character blog.

I’ve grown in the last two years. Every post, comment, like, and follow has impacted how I perceive other writers, history fans, feminists, bloggers, and people in general. And I wanted to thank you all for that — goshdarnit I don’t care how cheesy I’m being. I know I sound like Bilbo Baggins at his one hundred and eleventh birthday party, but I swear I’m not going to pop on a magic ring and disappear again.

When I started blogging, I made the decision to remain somewhat anonymous. The main reasoning for this (other than online safety) was because I wanted to be taken seriously as both a blogger and a writer. I know I’ve posted some very non-serious things, but I didn’t want who I was to impact how people thought of me and my writing.

I was afraid of being stereotyped because of my age.

Of course some of you knew how old I was, or guessed, and obviously I wasn’t a 95-year-old woman judging by my profile photos, but I didn’t want my age to become relevant to my content, even if it was a compliment. I wrote my first blog post just before I turned sixteen. Now I’m eighteen.

I know those of you who take the time to read, like, and comment on my posts don’t care how old I am because you’re fabulous anyway, but there would have been those skeptical to read the blog of a sixteen-year-old rambling on about the validity of Anne Boleyn’s reproductive organs or researching for novel-writing. I didn’t want to be labelled as a “teenage blogger/writer.” I wanted to be a blogger. I wanted to be a writer. Period. No stigma of teenagers attached. I didn’t want anyone to think, “Oh that Libby. She’s so cute thinking she’s a writer, and she’s only 15-18.”

So, the little italicized voice asks, why are you coming out of your age closet, Libby? 

And yeah. I take selfies.
And yeah. I take selfies.

Since I joined Twitter I’ve interacted with several “teenage bloggers/writers” and these are the ones that inspired me to come out of my age-caged turtle shell. Not only are they successful at both blogging and writing, but they have a certain pride regarding their age. They don’t care that they’re XX years old, but it is a part of their life and it is something many of them talk about in their social media outlets. I loved “meeting” them online. There’s an entire online community of teenage writers that I had no idea about. They were fascinating. I wanted to support them because I understood. I had things in common with them, things I wanted to say “Me too!” at, until I remembered I was keeping my specific age locked away in a dungeon so none of my adult followers would judge or label me, consciously or unconsciously.

I want to be able to relate and reach out to other writers/bloggers/feminists who happen to be in their teens. I want to support them and swap experiences with them.

Do I want my age to suddenly become centre stage? No. But if my age makes it easier for others to share their experiences or for me to share mine, then I will happily add the phrase “teen writer” to my online bio.

I’m tired of hiding in my age closet. It’s unnecessary and inconvenient. If I want to tell you about the time George Elliott Clarke visited my Advanced English class, I will. (Sidenote: it was fantastic.) If I want to give advice on how to apply for scholarships, I will. (Sidenote: user discretion is recommended.) Where I previously avoided talking about age-related activities, I will embrace them.

So yes. I am a teenager, and it does take up a considerable amount of my life. Unlike some writers I have tests and exams to study for, research papers to write, and preparations for university to make. I haven’t seen a whole lot the world yet, but I will. I like teenage things and adult things. I’m afraid and excited for the next stages of my journey — writing, publishing, attending university, and otherwise. I want my work to continue to be taken seriously, and hopefully more seriously as I accomplish more in the coming years.

My name is Libby, and I am an eighteen-year-old writer, blogger, feminist, and chocolate addict extraordinaire.

I Am Not My Main Character

On this beautiful Thanksgiving weekend, let’s be thankful to all the people who’ve ever asked an author, “Is Mary Sue’s story based on yours? You and her are a lot alike!” Without those people, I would not be writing this.

In the dozens of novel ideas I’ve had and started (most of them not making it past five chapters with few exceptions) I have not based my main character on myself. They were all their own individuals with their own quirks and flaws and habits and experiences.

But people just love asking writers if their characters are based on themselves. It has happened to me, and you see it all the time in author interviews.

And once an author admits that yes, my punk-rock ninja boarding school heroine is based on myself, it doesn’t ring the same. Mary Sue is based on the author? Well, that’s, that’s….that’s cheating! Why couldn’t she just write a memoir? Isn’t that, you know, pretentious? Wow.

Suddenly people are treating the author the same way people treat those unfortunate souls who announce their love for One Direction. “Oh, well, I guess that’s your choice…but we’re not friends anymore. I’m deleting you from Facebook.”

Very not cool.

The next step up (or down?) from this is when writers take themselves and make them better. Thinner, more confident, usually with added combat skills and some steamy romantic interest. This is even worse in the eyes of people who find this out. It’s just…weird to most readers.

But here’s the deal. My characters are not me, nor are they better, stronger versions of myself. That being said, a lot of the times the easiest things to write are things I know best. “Write what you know” mantra. That includes certain circumstances and certain reactions. First hand experience is the most accurate way to present the same situation in writing, and I incorporate this into my storytelling. It could be something small, like a joke I shared with a friend, or a similar reaction to the wedding of Will and Kate.

There are aspects of my life that make for good reading. So why not include it? It isn’t intended to be a reflection of my life or the way I live it, but it makes my characters’ lives a wee bit more genuine.

But these are far and few in between. Great Aunt Emily in my WIP, for example, is a total figment of my imagination. I never had such a great aunt (thankfully). There are a few exchanges between characters that are snapshots from dialogue with a friend, and little annotations about things like rural life (e.g., the smell of manure in July) or the woes of going to a small high school.

Taking this another step deeper, I like telling stories that are “real” and “relatable.” I mean, who doesn’t? That’s the obvious goal of every writer. I grew up in a small town — a village, technically. The cow to person ratio is something like 6:1. You always get the “small town girl/boy” protagonist dominating YA stands, but this always bugged me; if they have their own high school, or more people than cows, then I don’t see it as “small town” simply because of my own experience. I relate best to 6:1 cow-to-people communities. I want to read about them.

So I’m writing one.

It’s not my life. I am not Ingrid Fletcher. Her story isn’t mine. We share similarities and some characteristics, but if I wanted to write my own story I’d write an autiobiography or start a hardcore diary. I’m a bit of a bookworm. Ingrid is 100x the bookworm I am. Ingrid is 100x shyer than me. Her friendships are different, her opinions are different, her habits and flaws are different, her deepest darkest secrets are completely her own. I’m just helping her explain everything to the reader in the most accurate way I can, without, you know, going skydiving so that one scene is all the more genuine.

No sir. I am not going skydiving for Ingrid’s sake.

Do you incorporate aspects of your own life to your writing? Is your protagonist a slightly different version of you?

Somewhat random, but hey. So am I.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Short stories are my one night stands

Short stories were not normally something I could find enjoyment in or share a connection with. Often they appeared to have no meaning or leave me feeling confused about what had happened and why.

Short stories need to be quick and profound.

The tone and topic in which you write a short story should be, in my eyes, dozens of times more powerful than a piece of 80 000+ words. It might not have a plot line at all, but simply be describing something: an emotion, an event, a person, some nameless thing that the reader never even gets to identify with. Short stories are supposed to make you think, question aspects of life that were previously thought to be established or unsettle concepts that need to be unsettled again. Many short stories are 500 words of dialogue attached to a character in a specific moment in his or her life. I can read novels for that and get their whole story. Give me a short story. Make me think.

I used to hate writing short stories. I loathed it. I never understood how you could get a beginning, middle, and end in so few words. How can you get action? Romance? Villainy? Betrayal? You have only a few hundred, or a few thousand, words to use to portray these things that so often make or break a plot and draw readers in.

But I’ve written my fair share of short stories over the years, little blips of characters or scenes that had no place in a novel but found their way into my head nonetheless. I’ve come to love writing short stories. It’s a bit like having a string of lovers. I can love each one, learn a bit about them, have my way with them, and move along to the next without feeling guilty I abandoned them in pursuit of something new and interesting. I don’t worry about what’s going to happen to them 25 years from now. I don’t feel bad about what happens to them because, frankly, I don’t know them well enough to care that much. They’re one-night stands. Exciting, pleasurable, non-committal.

This meme is my favourite. I couldn't resist.
This meme is my favourite. I couldn’t resist.

In my recent anthology (of which you can buy a print copy by emailing me at libby.maire@gmail.com, or wait for the ebook edition later this season), I have a couple handfuls of short stories. I love them. They’re so fun. They’re dangerous. I can skip a beginning, an introduction to a cast. I don’t have to introduce anyone if I don’t want to. Anonymity is great. I can dive into the middle. The middle most likely isn’t the climax of the person’s life, or even their day, but it’s the middle of a moment that for whatever reason is worth writing about, and hopefully, reading.

My attention span isn’t the greatest. I get bored and distracted and look for something shiny to play with like a crow rooting through a pile of garbage. I’ve only completed one novel (I refuse to count the novel I wrote at age 13 because it’s shameful to read). I’m supposed to rewrite it within the year. It hasn’t happened yet, though I did do the majority of the outline. I started two novels this year. One made it to the 10 000 word mark and I’m still chipping away it — but slowly, slowly.

I just get so distracted. By books, by the internet, by writing short stories, by editing photos and reading blogs and sketching and sewing and and and —

See? I’m even distracted within this post.

But back to short stories.

I decided to start another anthology (to be released around this time next year if all goes well), this time a series of short stories all related to each other. I’ve written three of the pieces so far, and hope to write fifteen or so more. Fifteen more fleeting pleasures to be had. Fifteen more delicious and sinfully delightful one-night stands to experience.

Here I go, to a place where distraction can happen and loves abandoned. A world of short stories. A world of one-night stands.

I mean, it’ll get lonely after awhile. But I have my WIP novels. They are the strong relationships in my life, the ones that keep me together and challenge me, the ones I have to work out problems with. I can have fun with them, too, but…it doesn’t feel as naughty. 😉

I’m back blogging, baby!

Terrible title, I know. But I couldn’t resist.

Blogging is a lot of work, which is why for the last several months I was on a blogging hiatus over at my old blog, Let Them Grumble. During this time frame, I put together my first collection of poetry/short stories and wrote 10 000 words on my new contemporary YA novel (huzzah!).

But I missed blogging.

This is why I’m picking it up again, but not on Let Them Grumble. This is my new blog. Welcome. Greetings. Live long and prosper.

I’m still going to be focusing on working on my current project (I want the first draft to be finished by the end of October), but I’m planning on posting once or twice a week — about writing, reading, interesting things I read or write or find. Pictures or rhymes or rambles. Thoughts or questions or ideas. Perhaps a quote. Perhaps a word.

But the fact of the matter is, I’m back blogging, baby!

271008_557533950939529_99435568_n