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!

Advertisements

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.

 

 

Help: How does one run a writing workshop?

Dear writing friends,

During the summer I was recruited to run a four-hour writing workshop (aimed mostly at teens) in October. It’s October. The workshop is a few weeks away, and while I have some ideas, this will be my first time. I’m new at this. Any and all advice (regarding exercises, do’s and don’ts, anything at all!) from you lovely people will be welcomed and received with great enthusiasm. Please feel free to leave a comment, message me on Twitter, or email me at libby.maire@gmail.com.

Thank you!

Libby xxx

Photo by yours truly.
Photo by yours truly.

In the Village: EBSNS supporting young artists

“Think of the long trip home. Should we have stayed home and thought of here? Where should we be today?”
― Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop is one of those poets few people know about, but there’s no particular reason she isn’t a household name. A writer who went on to earn international acclaim, she spent some of her childhood living with her grandparents in Great Village, NS. I’m not entirely sure why every Nova Scotian isn’t yelling her name from the rooftops, but Great Village is one place where Bishop is praised and raised proudly to the lips of many of the people I’ve talked to.

I first became involved with the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia (EBSNS) three years ago when I entered their writing contest for the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Festival, celebrating the poet’s 100th birthday in 2011. The contest revolved around the theme of home, an homage to the fact that Bishop’s own writing often reflected back to her childhood in Great Village.

I was pleased and honoured to find out I was one of the winners of the contest, along with several others in different age categories. As a wee, shy fifteen-year-old, reading my short story at the festival in August 2011 was daunting, but there my love of reading to others took seed and began growing — plus I met Laurie Gunn and Sandra Barry of EBSNS, author Sheree Fitch, and took a poetry workshop with Anne Simpson. This time spent in Great Village among passionate poets and painters, along with other young writers, was the first big push in continuing the idea of turning my writing into a career (still entirely not sure how to do that, but heading that way nonetheless).

In 2013, the EBSNS published Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop, a collection of all the winning entries from the contest. The launch was once again an inspiring experience, and one of the first times I was able to see my work printed in a legitimate printed form you could, like, buy.

When I got an email from the EBSNS inviting me to read at the new cafe, In the Village, of course I jumped at the opportunity. The afternoon featured several young artists (poets, painters, writers, and actresses) with a connection to Bishop: Maria Duynisveld, Laura Sharpe, April Sharpe, Anneke Stroink, and myself found ourselves at the microphone in St. James United Church. The talent I heard and saw today once again reminds me that I am far from alone in the prospering front of young artists.

For Maria and I, this was a flashback to our participation in the Centenary Festival three years ago and a reflection of how we’ve changed since then; Maria shared this reflection in her reading.

What the EBSNS has done for me and other young artists is remarkable. As I’ve written about in the past, I’m a strong advocate of supporting young writers and giving them the opportunity to have their work shared with the public and with other artists of a similar age. It’s hard being taken seriously, and the reward of seeing the genuine emotional impact our work has on others is what young artists need to keep pursing their goals, dreams, and talents.

The importance of receiving such support is paramount to young people. They need to know their work is good, valued, accepted, and cherished, or someday they might stop doing what they love. Many people write or paint or act for themselves, but having the chance to be supported by those working and volunteering in the field, or even just as an enthusiastic patron of the arts, can be the difference between a hobby and a career.

The support from those I’ve met as a result of my interaction with the EBSNS is some of the support that has done the most for me and my pursuance of my writing career. Thanks to the EBSNS, I’ve been published, had the opportunity to share my work multiple times, have met some truly wonderful, kind, supportive people, and have firmly established that I’m headed in the right direction. Merci beaucoup, mes amis!

For more information about the EBSNS, Elizabeth Bishop, and Great Village, please check out these sites!

The Elizabeth Bishop Blog

The Elizabeth Bishop Society

The Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia

Poems by Elizabeth Bishop

 

I did some writer things

If I’m a writer that means I’m a writer everyday, right? I don’t just don on the writer hat when I’m writing or doing writer things. I always wear that hat, right? Along with my human hat and chocolate addict hat, yes?

Of course, some days I don’t feel like a writer at all, just a stressed, unemployed student with hardly any time to read or write thanks to university preparation, job searching, and upcoming graduation. It’s been awhile since I felt like a “writer.”

Last week I was feeling particularly writerly, however. On June 12 I ventured with Zozie to Calabay Cafe in Truro to participate in a night of music and poetry, organized by local poet Chad Norman. The night featured local musicians Brian Porter, Dave Hayman, and Dale McCabe, and poet Paul Zann along with Chad and myself. Paul Zann is amazing reader. If I can ever read as engagingly as he can, I will be perfectly happy.

It had been awhile since I had done a reading in public, and I forgot how great it is to share poetry (and music) with people who enjoy it as much as I do.

Naturally I’m an introvert, and for the most part pretty quiet, but I love reading to others and hearing others perform. Whatever nerves I have (most of them being stamped out through seven years of 4-H public speaking) vanish when I start with introducing whatever it is I’m reading. Poetry is something I’m happy to share. I enjoy it. And it’s when this happens that I remember that I am a writer, not just an anxious, penny-pinching student.

And, to show you how small Nova Scotia is, two of the audience members were past graduates of my high school (one of who was a lovely gentleman kind enough to buy my book).

Calabay Cafe is beautiful, the staff is wonderful, and the chai lattes ARE TO DIE FOR (THEY ARE GLORIOUS CLOUDS FROM HEAVEN IN A MUG). I highly recommend stopping by — the chai lattes alone are enough to make me go back.

What else have I done to make me reaffirm the ownership of my writer hat?

I did an interview with Colchester Weekly, posted on the Truro Daily website.

I sold the seventieth copy of my book (which is currently out of stock, by the way).

I’m in the process of designing a bookmark.

I’ll be publishing something (it’s a surprise) at some point in the very near future.

And I’ll (hopefully) be able to spend some time this summer working on my YA novel.

Bonne chance, mes amis!

Libby

 

PS: Chad Norman is organizing the third annual RiverWords Poetry and Musical Festival for July 12th in Bible Hill, NS. I participated last year, and this year has a great line up. Spread the word and help support local artists. 🙂RiverWords 2014 (2)-page-001

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.

Rainy Cafe

I just wanted to pop in from my busy life and share this with you!

This came up on my Facebook newsfeed a couple weeks ago, and I’ve been using it ever since when it comes to writing or get work done. (Who are we kidding? Writing IS getting work done.) You can fill your ears with the sound of rain, the sound of a busy café, or both. You can play with volume and whatnot, but this has been a surprisingly helpful focus agent for me.

Happy writing/reading!

Keep on loving, dudes,
Lib

Enter the rainy café here.

oscar wilde world

Art is Seriously Messed Up

Art is seriously messed up. Smearing pigments across canvas, smudging charcoal on paper, sewing stitches into fabric to create a unique something, carving out chunks of wood or stone to make a likeness of someone or something that maybe never existed. Blowing into a brass tube with holes cut into it, or plucking strings on a wooden vessel to create notes to create something called music, shaping white-hot metal and gluing broken pottery together.

It can be realistic, it can be disgusting, it can be heartbreaking, it can make you laugh. It can be the most unrealistic, otherworldly thing you’ve ever laid eyes on. It can be like looking into a mirror. It can be like looking into every curve and whisper of the human mind and soul. It can be confusing, it can make no sense, it can have absolutely no purpose, rhyme, or reason.

What I think is beautiful you might think is ugly. What you find beautiful I might find repulsive.

It’s messed up, art is.

Art is waking up at three a.m. with an idea, and stumbling out of bed and smashing into the wall because you can’t find the light switch. It’s not being able to find a pen or pencil, and so you write a poem with a crayon on a napkin from the floor of your car. It’s giggling maniacally at what will surely be a masterpiece or slamming your fist in frustration because this isn’t what you wanted. It’s pulling out your hair and drinking obscene amounts of coffee and tea and spending days locked in your house wearing pajamas. Art is quiet and slow and rolling and honest. It takes time. Or maybe it doesn’t. It could take a second, a snap of a camera shutter. It lies. It makes another reality, a better one or a worse one.

We obsess over it. We lose our minds, our money, our lives.

We hold onto art from centuries and millennia and civilizations past, we worship it in glass cases and with cotton gloves and anti-contamination body suits. We study it, teach it, love it, hate it. We argue about it. About the medium used, about the artist who made it, about the year the artist was born and who his/her parents were, about what it means, about where it came from, about the symbols and hidden messages that may or may not have been included within its walls of paint and stone. We spent thousands and millions of dollars collecting it, making it, learning about it.

We judge others based on their art, we value their worth to society with their art.

We scorn artists who can’t make a living at their art and hail the few lucky ones that manage to.

We can be ashamed of our art, keep it hidden and protected like the wounds in our souls. Sometimes no one else ever sees it, and sometimes people see it without understanding it.

Art is everything and art is nothing. It is power, and yet renders us powerless at its feet.

Art is seriously messed up.

And I think that’s why we love it.  

 

Creatively Lost: Watch the Snowflakes

It’s not that my mind is empty.

Far from it.

My mind is a blizzard, and every idea a snowflake.

Banks of ideas are depositing themselves into shelves of my brain, accumulating, growing, heaping into what I’m sure will become mountains, the kind you jumped off of as kids and scraped your jaw to pieces at the bottom of. Those kinds of mountains.

But catching a snowflake? You can hold out your hand as they fall around you, and take a glimpse as they settle on your mitten, but you can never make them last long enough to memorize their every detail.

You can take a shovel and dig at the mountain, but then all the snowflakes jumble together so you can’t tell one from the other.

You can take tweezers and pluck one up and put it on a glass slide stolen from the biology lab and keep it in your freezer. But then it’s not the same, not fresh, not pulsing from a recent exit of the heavens or electric from nestling with its brothers and sisters in the bank of snow.

So, you can see, my mind isn’t empty.

No, no, not at all.

I just can’t catch the damn snowflakes.

Sure, I have a WIP novel that has grown from a single snowflake to a tiny snowball. I have a small snowball for a themed anthology. I have a pinch of packed snow for another anthology.

But to build on them?

I can’t get the snow to stick, to wrap layers and build.

And there are so many options.

What to do, what to do?

The snow of ideas is overwhelming and underwhelming, like the fiftieth time a person from Hawaii sees real snow (though I’m not from Hawaii and grew up with snow) — weird and out-of-world, but by this point rather mundane.

Until I figure out what the heck I’m supposed to do with this snow before it gives my mind an eternal snow day, I’m going to curl up with a Christmas mug* of tea, a handmade quilt, and The Book Thief and let the snowflakes fall.

Advice from anyone with experience in snow-removal/nurturing?

This is what my mind looks like. It's pretty, btut Click for source. http://hdwallpapersdirectory.com/real-snowflake-falling.html
This is what my mind looks like. It’s pretty, but chaotic and confusing when you start to watch individual snowflakes. Click for source.

*Christmas mugs = the best part of Christmas, after family dinners and candy cane hot chocolate.

What I Want in a Book

I have a book problem.

I love to read. When people ask me what genre I favour, I usually laugh and reply, “A little bit of everything!” I read mostly classics and YA fantasy and and sci-fi and poetry and biographies and histories and the occasional romance. I read quotes and blogs and magazines and dictionaries. I read the backs of cereal boxes and labels on people’s clothes. I read some books that are popular and some that aren’t.

I like adventure and discovery and a strong female character. I like small towns and bookworms and tall, dark, mysterious strangers. I like star-crossed lovers and ill-fated relationships and I like reading about the banter between siblings. I like flirty things and daring things and weird things and sometimes murderous things. I like make believe worlds and real worlds, and I like wise, old mentors with beards and witticisms.

Prince Charmings with a dark side, collections of exotic teas, and funny uncles with top hats and awful comb-overs. I like scarves and rain boots (which sound so much more poetic than rubber boots) and something that won’t take a lot of energy to read but will still make me think about life differently. I like sexy things but think sex in books is a bit unnecessary. I like things that are realistic but don’t like reading about things that go against my strongest morals.

I like books that remind me of mellow music, elegant music, angst-ridden and pure sadness music. Books that remind me of bleached out photographs from the ‘70s and old radio shows and my childhood.

My favourite books are the ones that taught me something, whether it be a moral or an idea or a word or character development. Some of them are just pretty. They sit nicely in the nooks of my brain. Not all of them are deep, dark, disturbing novels, but some of them are. Some of them are light and fluffy and simply easy to read.

I like elements of Alice in Wonderland (“It’s a vegetable. It doesn’t look like one, but it is.”) and Pride and Prejudice (“They parted at last with mutual civility, and possibly a mutual desire of never meeting again.”) and Harry Potter (“One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”) and The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place (“Uncle had learned long ago that obeying a rule in fact but not in spirit was very hard on people who say we for I and who do not allow dogs on their premises.”) and Fade (“So he endured. Did not cry.”).

These are things I like in books.

I know it’s a tall order, and that’s why I’ve yet to find ONE book that contains ALL of these things. If I found a book with these criteria, I daresay it would be my favourite book of all time.

The books I turn to when I’m bored or feeling a little blah are the books I read and read again when I was a pre-teen: A Riddle of Roses and The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place and Walk Two Moons and Stargirl. They aren’t particularly deep and don’t leave me exhausted like Game of Thrones or Emma, but instead leave me refreshed, rejuvenated, in love with life again, and maybe a little poignant that life doesn’t turn out for everyone.

I love these books. I still read them, still love them.

I want to read books like those books, but for a YA/NA audience. Give me a 17 or 19 or 21-year-old Margaret Rose Kane of Outcasts or a Stargirl as a university undergrad, with the same tone of voice the original presented to my pre-teen self.

So, to suit my picky, aimless search for the perfect book, I think I may just end up writing it. I want the whimsical, witty themes of my favourite pre/early teen novels with more mature content. I want to read it and be changed but not scarred or exhausted. I want to laugh and maybe cry at its pages. I want funny uncles and dark prince charmings and adventure and feminism and bleached out photographs of the ‘70s.

These are what I want in a book.

And I’m taking matters into my own hands and writing a book I want to read.

I mean, to write a book and have it meet the standards I described as “my favourite book ever” is only a wee bit pretentious, but if I want a book like I’ve described, I imagine a couple other people out there would like to read it, too.

What do you look for in your own “perfect book?” Have you found it? Have you written it?

November, Movember, NaNoWriMo, and Chocolate

IT’S NOVEMBER. You know what that means! (Besides Movember and eating mass amounts of leftover Halloween candy, that is.) It’s National Novel Writing Month — perhaps better known as NaNoWriMo. Are you ready to pour out 50 000 words in 30 days? Are you prepared to write 1 666.6666 words every day for one month?

I’m not. I love the idea of NaNoWriMo, the idea of just writing everyday in a community of people doing the same thing. I know some people take it seriously, and others do it for fun, and I know many participants sign up without the purpose of “winning.” I considered actually signing up this year, but I’m such a competitive person I know I would probably end up frustrating myself with the fact that there’s no possible way I can write a novel in a month. I’m too busy. I don’t have enough time.

So instead of totally abandoning the concept, I’m doing my own little writing fest, which I know many others are celebrating as well, in conjunction with NaNoWriMo. I’m calling it National Write Something Everyday Month. Unlike in NaNoWriMo, where the math dictates an average of 1 666 words a day, I’m just going to write something. Whether it be a short story for my upcoming anthology (June 2014) or a paragraph for my WIP or a creative list of things to do, I’m writing something, anything everyday for the month of November.

Yesterday I wrote the brainstorm for this post. Today I wrote this post and have a couple paragraphs intended for this evening. Tomorrow it could be a poem and maybe the next day I’ll come up with a really clever sentence. Just a sentence. Just one. But it will be something, and that’s what NaWriSoEvMo is about.

Something.

Are any of you participating in NaNoWriMo, or is NaWriSoEvMo more your style?

Enjoy your Halloween candy, and your mustaches!

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!

A Post in Which Libby Summarizes A Lot

Time! Wha — who? I don’t understand.

The leaves have turned, and whenever I have the opportunity to be outside, I take especial satisfaction in hearing the crunch of them beneath my boots. Boots! Sweaters! Scarves!

Reading?

Well, yes. But no.

I read Laura Best’s Flying With a Broken Wing last week — or the week before? — and I adored it. I had planned on doing a full review, but, you know, time. Cammie is a wise and witty protagonist, and the community is a stunning setting for Cammie’s story. I didn’t want the book to end. Sequel? Laura? I would love to know what happens to Cammie. My sister, to whom I lent the book, came storming up to me with the words, “I hate Aunt Millie. And I love Laura’s book! It’s SO good! But Aunt Millie. Eugh.”

What else?

Novel writing. Sort of. I found my lost brainstorming notebook and am doing a lot of brainstorming — mostly in my brain, though, and as notes in my phone during my transit time.

Tea. Definitely. It was a key player in getting over my annual September/October cold. And comforting me.

Life decisions. Yes. See above line.

Busy. Y-E-S.

Back to writing. The Night is Starry  should be published as an ebook sooner than later, hopefully, and I’m selling print copies a la “from my car.” Another anthology, yet untitled, should be published this summer, this time a series of interrelated short stories based around a university art project and the students involved.

Pumpkin spiced latte. I need to try one, but haven’t yet.

What else am I reading? Right now I’m reading Cibou by Susan Young Biagi upon near-forced request from a friend. She literally put it in my hand and said, “Read.” That was in June…but hey, I’m reading it, and loving it. I feel bad for putting it off this long.

I actually have blog posts planned, in which I will actually share actual ideas and they will not be me blathering on about how busy and uncreative I’m being. But for now, what are you reading? Have any recommendations?

If you’re interested in keeping update to date with some of my smaller musings and rambles (which I promise are at the least as amusing as a bathtub with clawed feet and at the most as amusing as Benedict Cumberbatch talking in his sleep), follow me on Twitter!

Cheers!
Cheers!

WOTS, Oscar Wilde, and Fall

Yesterday across the country thousands of authors, readers, and publishers flocked together to celebrate reading and writing in Canada! The weather was perfect, often as we remember September days to be, and bookworms bustled around the Halifax waterfront — quite literally. Tents canopied over stacks of books and book paraphernalia and booksellers and, well, more books. Readers occupied seats as local authors read from their creations, bags of reading swag and brochures sitting on their laps and clutched in protective hands, and under one tent a bucket played home to finger puppet versions of Oscar WIlde, Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe, and Mother Theresa. Mr. Wilde had the honour of coming home to live with me. Miss Austen will join him next year, and eventually I’ll have more finger puppets than fingers!

WOTS is always a blast. This year a couple of my writing friends and I spent the day wandering through tents and stacks of books and stuffing our bags with The Hobbit posters and flyers for local publishers and businesses. At one point, only an eager swarm of approximately 75 people deep separated us from Jian Ghomeshi. We managed to glimpse the top his head. We also took the opportunity to pose for awkward/hilarious pictures at various landmarks on the waterfront, like the famous Dr. Suess-esque lamp posts, and with the Bookworm.

One of the highlights of the day was meeting the lovely Laura Best, author of Bitter, Sweet and Flying With a Broken Wing. Laura and I have interacted through our blogs before, and it was great meeting her in person! I’ll be reading Flying With a Broken Wing through the week (I’m so busy it’s ridiculous) and I’m very excited!

In other news, it’s fall! My favourite season. Full of purple asters and ripening apples and pumpkins, and the edges of the leaves are tarnished red and gold. It’s time for scarves and knitted hats and boots (not that summer prevented me from wearing any of these…). The air smells alive with dying things and things getting ready to sleep for winter, and is meant for crisp evenings reading with a mug of hot tea.

Can you tell I’m thrilled at the arrival of fall?

I’m hoping to get more writing done this season with the world providing daily inspiration — work on my next anthology and maybe, just maybe, dip back into my WIP novel.

In the meantime, did you attend your local Word on the Street? What’s your favourite season? Any new books to read this autumn?

 

Jobs for Writing are Non-Existent

If you’re a writer, you’ve probably been told this at least once, or some variant of it. Perhaps it hasn’t been said directly to your face. Maybe it was the look in their eye when you mention a new short story or novel attempt. Maybe they snort or laugh, thinking you’re joking when you say you’re a writer.

My mental reaction. 😉

Well, that italicized voice in your head growls, thank you for your love and support.

Oh, we know they don’t say it to be mean or rude or to crush our dreams (if they did, I suggest new friends). They had benevolent intentions in saying it . Probably because they don’t want us to end up stubbornly writing poetry in a box under a bridge across from a MacDonald’s with a big NOW HIRING sign on their billboard.

Because really, JOBS FOR WRITING ARE NON-EXISTENT. How how are we supposed to support ourselves, and possibly families, with silly words our brain makes up and our fingers spit out? That doesn’t sound plausible. Like, writing as a job? Excuse me while I try not to laugh in your face.

Please.

And then you wonder, did they tell me this because they think I’m a terrible writer and are too nice to say it outright? Are they jealous about my writing skills? Am I suffering from delusions? Do they not want me to be happy? Are they so unhappy that they want me to be unhappy with them? Does no one love me? Why do I exist? 

We writers, especially young and new writers, tend to have vivid imaginations and rather tender egos when it comes to our writing. Please kick cautiously. We might break. Questioning our writing, ability to write, and future in writing is akin to insulting our purpose for living. You did NOT just say that. You didn’t. I’ll pretend you didn’t, because otherwise I’ll have to curse your family. You threaten what makes me happy and I’ll write you into a dead character so fast you won’t be able to repent your lifelong overuse of exclamation marks.

Yes, writing as a career is tricky and trialing and yes, sometimes it doesn’t work out. We all know the odds of us becoming the next  JK Rowling or EL James John Green are very, very slim. We don’t expect our stories to hit the big screen starring Johnny Depp and Zoe Saldana. We don’t expect to sell millions of our very first novel. Heck, we’re lucky if we e-publish a short story and someone decides to pay the $0.99 for it.

But there are jobs for writing. The only job for writing is not titled BEST SELLING NOVELIST. There are plenty of jobs out there. You may have to look. You may be rejected (well, you will be, multiple times). You may cry and scream and pull your hair out because, man, deadlines and expectations and I have no knowledge about the eating habits of earth worms and gaaaaaah.

But they exist. THEY EXIST. (Can you hear me screaming?)

Journalists, reporters, screenwriters, commercial writers, speech writers for politicians, freelance journalism, magazine contributors, bloggers, songwriters (hook up with a local band!), travel writers, biographers, poets, advertisers, playwrights, spoken word writers, campaign writers (social, cultural, political), e-zine writers, university professors, GREETING CARD AUTHORS, comic book writers, video game writers.

Heck, edit essays for students. Tudor Tutor someone. Write reports for companies or businesses. Be a ghost writer, if that’s your thing. Some people are too busy to run their own websites. Design posters. Make word art. Team up with a couple people and start your own magazine addressing issues you care about.

Writing is often the principle part of our being. If we didn’t have that part of ourselves, what would we have? I, for one, would be lost. I wouldn’t be me. I wouldn’t be as happy.

I’m willing to set aside the dream of BEST SELLING NOVELIST if I can only be content and you know, live in a house of some kind. I want to be writing. It might mean writing articles about the eating habits of earth worms, but I’m okay with that. It’s writing. Writing is what I breathe for. It provides me with the most amount of self-fulfillment I could imagine.

Sacrificing that would be, frankly, stupid.

Maybe I believe too much in personal happiness, but to me happiness is the purpose of life. And the first step to being happy is being happy with yourself. And I’m my happiest when I’m writing, thinking about writing, reading, thinking about reading, and talking about reading and writing.

I’m not willing to give that up because “jobs for writing are non-existent.”

To everyone who has ever told me this, this isn’t a direct jab at you. I’m just ranting in general. You helped me write this. So thank you. 🙂

Yes, I should be writing because it increases my happiness. It would be stupid to not write. Always listen to Gaiman.

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

 

The Night is Starry — Coming Soon!

Hey guys!

Covers are done, final edits are completed (I’m praying to the grammar gods that we didn’t miss any blatant errors), documents converted, and the manuscript will be sent off tonight!

It won’t be long now before the coil-bound version of The Night is Starry is available for purchase! A digital version will be made available later in the summer, and I’ll keep you updated on that.

It’s quite exciting, self-publishing for the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last! Already I’m bursting with new ideas and stories to share, and I can’t wait for Night to be published so I can start some other projects for you.

As for blogging, if you follow my other little place on the Internet (Let Them Grumble), then you’ll know that I’m on a blogging hiatus. It was simply taking too much of my time to both maintain a blog and really make progress on writing my novel(s), but with this website I’ll attempt to update you on forthcoming projects and perhaps the occasional personal ramble or two.

Happy reading and writing, and may all your adventures be successful!

Libby