We Need Angry Heroines

This past week, I was looking for clips of a woman throwing something through a window or flipping a table– really anything that was an outward demonstration of anger by someone other than Alan Rickman:

However, before even looking through the abundance of clips/gifs/what-have-you’s, these are the first five searches that Google tried to automatically fill in for me when I typed in “woman breaking…”

1. “woman breaking things with her breast”
2. “woman breaking chains”
3. “woman breaking watermelon with thighs”
4. “woman breaking through the glass ceiling”
5. “woman breaking stuff with her breast”

Yes, that last one is on there twice. Apparently “stuff” and “things” constitute different matter. While this list is so bad it’s funny, it’s also appalling. I’m certainly not advocating that throwing things or breaking windows is the best and healthiest expression of anger (though come on, you know it’s satisfying), BUT this search result points to a bigger problem. To clarify, let me give you the top five Google search automatic fill-ins for “man breaking…”

1. “man breaking into the white house”
2. “man breaking sound barrier”
3. “man breaking chains”
4. “man breaking golf clubs”
5. “man breaking through door”

Let’s recap. If a woman is breaking something, it must have something to do with her breasts or thighs– any body part that can be separated from the woman as a whole and objectified. Or it has to do with not being able to rise at work above a certain level. Or chains, apparently.

If a man is breaking something, he must be actively doing something- whether that’s running into the White House, performing great feats to break the sound barrier, or beating the shit out of a door or golf clubs. Or chains, apparently.

When I finally did search for any number of gifs with a woman having an outward expression of anger, let me just say that there were slim pickings. Now sure, there are healthier ways of dealing with anger than flipping a table, but I think this just goes to show that just as men are generally taught that crying is only for girls, women are generally taught that getting demonstrably mad is only for men. Maybe nobody sits them down and tells them this, but at least in my experience (though I know this isn’t always the case), if a man flips a table, he’s just an angry man. If a woman flips a table, she must be a crazy bitch.

From Silver Linings Playbook

I know a lot of women stuff their emotions and bottle them up to keep from being called a crazy bitch (or some variation thereof), but I think we all know how successful that generally is. I may be reaching here, but let’s not forget that there’s an entire show called “Snapped” dedicated to women who have murdered or attempted to murder someone- usually their spouses.

The point of all this is to say that, it’s okay for a woman to be angry. There’s a lot to be angry about in the world. Obviously that anger should never be used to hurt anyone, but anger channeled in good ways can accomplish a lot, and the world is in desperate need of angry heroines.

When I’m writing, I try to create heroines who are both angry and express their anger without being ridiculed or stigmatized or clichéd. There are far too many girls and women in literature who stamp their feet, or put their hands on their hips and glare, or simply swallow their anger. I want my heroines (both the ones I read and write about) to be powerful, and when all a heroine is allowed to do is stamp her feet, it trivializes her actions and all she can accomplish. I want my heroines to be powerful in their anger.

I want them to stir some shit up.

Also from Silver Linings Playbook

Plunging into Social Media

The last few months, I’ve been wrestling with the decision of how to publish – as well as finishing the current series I’m working on. After much thinking and as many cups of coffee as sleepless nights, I have decided to publish myself. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the main one is that I just want people to read it. I’m not out to become a bestselling author with a summer home here and a fall retreat cabin there. I just want to write books that make me happy, and hope that they may make some other people happy as well.

Note to the universe if it’s listening: not that I would mind a summer home and a fall cabin- that’s just not my goal here.

So, in the grand quest to publish myself, there’s also a million subcategories within self-publishing (that may be an ever so slight over-exaggeration). After looking over all my options, I have decided, however, to go with e-book publishing through Amazon.

At some point you have to choose something, or so they tell me.

At some point you have to choose something, or so they tell me.

Which leads me to the point of today’s post: in addition to teaching by day to pay (some) bills, I am embarking on a rather intense editing journey to get my first urban fantasy book (in a series of four) ready to go. And because I’m nothing if not ambitious, I have also FINALLY (I know, I know) created myself a Twitter. I shall therefore endeavor to keep myself plugged into the world rather than hiding away in my igloo oasis of snow.

It’s time for this little introvert to fly. Or at the very least, jump the hell out of the nest and see what happens.

nest

Of Introverts and Explanations

Okay, so obviously my grand plans to post regularly, following my initial brief hiatus, rather fell through. Since the initial purpose of my blog was to help me muddle through my decision making about whether to stay in or leave my PhD program, and that decision has long since been made, I’ve been muddling since then through what I’d like to actually post about. So, forget consistent themes, and enter random thoughts.

Even though today is Saturday, the one day when I try to sleep in, I woke up early today. And why? So I could spend the day gloriously alone. Shout out to all my fellow introverts.

I’ve been bouncing around for the past few months, crashing with various people in various places because (quite frankly) I can, and why not take advantage of that at the moment. However, that has also made it impossible to have more than a few hours of time purely to myself. Whenever I take the Myers-Briggs personality test, I always max out the introvert scale. A few hours alone is not enough for this girl, nor is a full day by myself at a library or coffeeshop. If there is another person in sight, I am unable to fully unwind.

I’m not anti-social, just selectively social. Being an introvert also doesn’t mean I’m painfully shy or despise people, parties, and being public in general.  But for those of you who don’t understand what introverts are all about, and since there is a lot of misinformation about us circling around the great interwebs, let me give you a helpful list, which may or may not apply in different degrees to other introverts. Being an introvert, for me, means:

1. Just because I will happily talk to the people around me in a check-out line for the two minutes we’re waiting, does not mean I also want to talk to my hairdresser for the entire thirty-plus minutes I’m in her chair.

introvert4

2. I am just as excited about an entire week of vacation where I get to stay at home and not leave the house once (because I had enough foresight to buy groceries and all possible emergency supplies the week before), as I am about a vacation to the UK.

introvert5

3. If you make any sort of comment about how reserved, quiet, or shy I must be, this is my reaction:

introvert1

4. If I have to go more than one week without a day entirely to myself, I get irrationally angry.

introvert2

5. If I have been quiet for a while in a group but then decide to say something, and your reaction is to say, “Oh look, it speaks,” guess how amusing I think that is.

introvert3

6. Okay, so five seems like more than an adequate number of things to describe my introversion. Therefore, I’m done. Now if you’ll excuse me, I am very busy being alone and listening to my own thoughts today. Hannah, out.

Of Midweek Ramblings after a Brief Hiatus

There’s not much that will explain my temporary hiatus from this blog, other than to say I’ve been struggling with feeling I have little to say, as well as struggling to finish the latest novel I’ve been working on (ironic, I know). I had no deadline I was working towards, save for one self-imposed, but those are usually the ones I adhere to most strictly anyway. As far as this blog goes, when I do struggle with feeling I have little to contribute, sometimes I find myself writing (fiction, that is) more during those times, and the last few weeks have been no exception.

I’ve also noticed lately that I’ve been justifying, explaining, vindicating myself to anyone who’s asked me recently what I do for a living (if they don’t know me) or what my plans are now that I’ve dropped out of a PhD program (if they do know me). Inevitably, I say something about my current situation being temporary and that’s okay because it’s been really good for me and blah blah blah meaningless self-justifying words that mean far more to me than to the person who asked me.

And on the rare occasions where I’ve been bold enough to say “Oh I’m a writer, and I’m going to teach at least until I can get my writing off the ground,” they’ve (inevitably) asked, “Oh so what have you written? Is it something I’d have seen?” And of course my reply is no, that I haven’t actually had anything published, save for one novel once upon a high school ago. And sometimes they say okay, and then sometimes they get this sympathetic light in their eyes, as if to convey with just a glance oh you’re that girl, you think you’re an artist but really you’re just going to starve, bless your heart. 

Retrieved from control-z.com

Retrieved from control-z.com

Well, no more (I boldly declare), though I know full well it will happen again. But at least my resolution has changed concerning it. Just because someone is not published, does not mean they’re not a writer; just because no one has paid them yet, doesn’t mean they don’t have something to say; and just because someone has only had a handful of paintings bought by a sympathetic patron doesn’t mean they aren’t one of the greatest artists ever birthed in the world. Fill in appropriate examples: Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, and countless others who may not even be known posthumously, whose own families might never have known or seen their creative genius.

Now, this is not to say that I look forward to great posthumous fame and popularity. If it’s all the same, I’d just as soon receive said popularity while I’m still kicking. But at the end of the day, it’s not about fame or popularity or even money. It’s about having the desire to create, and the desire to share those creations with others. Which is why I have started sharing copies of the most recent stories I’ve been working on, with certain esteemed friends, in order to get their opinions and feedback on them. And which is why I have returned after a brief absence to this blog, where I do not promise deep or long or even particularly interesting thoughts, but where I can share whatever ramblings wander into my own mind, and thank you for letting me share them with you.

Starry Night over the Rhone (Van Gogh)

Starry Night over the Rhone (Van Gogh)

Of New Beginnings and Sometimes

I just saw the movie Begin Again, and first off, let me say that I loved it. It was a beautiful look at art and creativity, at relationships and brokenness, at second chances and new beginnings.  Also it happens to contain some beautiful music. Go see it.

begin again

I’ve been thinking about new beginnings a lot, which shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise since I did just drop out of a Ph.D. program to try to make it as a full-time writer. (If you’re just tuning in, you did read that right.) I think the beautiful, as well as terrifying, thing about new beginnings is that they are occurring ALL THE TIME. In some ways, I have been so liberated by moving to new places, meeting new people, picking up my life and starting it somewhere else; in other ways, I am always leaving so much behind, as I suppose we all are.

But even though new beginnings can come in the form of new jobs, new cities, new relationships, or even just new stages in your life, I think sometimes it’s just as hard to wake up every day and begin, again. Excuse a moment of hokey-ness as I say that of course, every new day holds promise and possibility.

However.

Every new day also holds pain and disappointment and regret, and sometimes the negatives far outweigh the positives of getting out of bed and starting everything again. Maybe art is the only thing that gets you out of bed. Sometimes, art– yours or someone else’s– is the only thing in which you find refuge; and sometimes, in the worst of times, maybe you cannot even find solace in that. And perhaps today, you won’t, and perhaps today, I won’t either. But as my beloved Scarlett O’Hara would say, “After all, tomorrow is another day.”

And sometimes, that’s all we can count on to keep us going. And sometimes, that’s enough.

scarlett

Of LibertyCon

So this past weekend, I enjoyed the sights and wonders that are LibertyCon, a science fiction and fantasy convention in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In a word, amazing. In several more words, it was– as it has been every time I’ve gone in the past few years– a lot of fun and quite informative, to boot.

If you’ve never been to a convention like this one (and even remotely enjoy science fiction and/or fantasy), you really ought to try to find one. There are panels on every possible subject from the messiest ways to kill zombies to how close scientists are to designing actual Star Wars technology. That’s not to mention roundtables on what’s new in military sci-fi, if you still need an agent in the publishing world, and various goods or objects that effectively crippled civilizations throughout history. Top that off with an art show and a dealers’ room filled with more weapons, books, jewelry, and apparel than you know what to do with, and you’ve got yourself a real LibertyCon. Oh, and did I mention that such writing giants as John Ringo and David Drake (and so many others) came to this year’s festivities?

LibertyCon2014

While all of that is remarkably fun, I also enjoy meeting new people there, many of whom come from out of town but just as many of whom live locally. I even met a local artist, Anita Moore, who creates 3D environments for table-top strategy games, got to take a look at some of her work, and was able to chat with her about how in the world she creates such beautiful and lifelike environments.

I also went to a panel on space opera fiction, where an excellent point was made that I wanted to share here. It’s an old adage that you should “write what you know.” While there is a lot of truth to this saying, it should be taken with a healthy dose of salt in certain circumstances. After all, if we only ever wrote what we know, how vastly limiting that would be– let’s face it, entire genres of literature would vanish. While it’s helpful to have a lot of life experiences when you set out to write, I hardly think you have to have experienced everything about which you’d like to write.

Space Opera, courtesy of http://kelpiewinterfall.blogspot.com

Space Opera, courtesy of http://kelpiewinterfall.blogspot.com

I think “write what you know” refers far more to the representation of human emotion. I’d say for the most part, we’ve all experienced fear, betrayal, heartbreak, rage, joy, giddiness– perhaps in varying degrees and all obviously prompted by different circumstances. I think it is the ability to portray these emotions, these things that make us so very human, that is part of what makes good fiction. Now, does there need to be a kick-ass plot as well? Of course. But without good characters who we’re invested in, who feel things as we feel them, the best plot in the world can become largely worthless. At least in the humble opinion of yours truly.

DSCN0822

Of Mid-Week Rantings

Last week, a man accidentally shot himself while driving and died as result. The story consequently popped up on Facebook in a number of people’s posts, as well as I’m sure on a number of other social media sites to which I do not belong. The majority of them were cruel and derogatory, with the following excerpts being actual things people posted:

“I love this. The more people accidentally shooting themselves, the less people accidentally being shot by idiots.”

“Bye bye to another idiot!”

“I’m just glad he didn’t hit anyone with his car (or, let’s be real here, his truck).”

Well. I couldn’t care less which side of the aisle your politics fall on; the fact is, a man is dead. While I don’t know the full circumstances of what happened– other than it appeared to have been an accident– someone’s son, someone’s friend, maybe even someone’s father, is dead.

I also do not care if any of these posts were intended as humor or not, because it doesn’t matter. Although it’s important for everyone to be able to take a joke (which incidentally, is part of what makes South Park so amazing, because it pokes fun at everyone and everything pretty equally), there’s a line when it comes to real tragedy. Lately, that line seems to be one people feel no shame in crossing.

It shouldn’t matter if you love guns or hate them, a man is dead. To use him either to advance your own political agenda or to make yourself feel superior to someone you regard as “less-than” or an “idiot,” is unacceptable. When people call a man like this an idiot and say good riddance, whether they’re serious or not, they dehumanize him. Furthermore, it sets up a dangerous us-them dichotomy, where “they” are the enemy, so it’s okay to dehumanize them.

Human life is valuable, is sacred, and the loss of it should never be taken lightly, whatever the circumstances. The callousness of this dehumanization should never be acceptable. For that matter, that us-them mentality is largely where this two-party system has landed us in the States, and I think it’s safe to say it’s getting us nowhere, and fast.

End rant.

yosemitesam