Bad Girls

As part of my on going homework, I read. I should read more than I do, to get a feel for what works narratively, how to pace a good story, because books are effing awesome, but I do read.

At the urging of a friend, I set aside my current books (in no particular order)…

…and downloaded by first eBook, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Jeegus. I was up way too late. I couldn’t help it, Flynn sucked in with the spot on character voices: annoyingly perky (I’ve met people like her) and unnecessarily bitter (him too). The voices of the two characters are a great contrast, so too is how they remember certain events. It really feels like I was listening to two different people talk.

I was hooked.

This morning on the way to work I googled the author and found this article  on her site about how women can be bad, be violent and plain nasty, and something clicked. It’s kind of like the ‘Strong Female Character‘ debate, where women are allowed to be a certain kind of strong but only until the man shows up. Personally I think it’s just a new fetish going on in the fiction industries, but YMMV on that. Flynn mentions that she found a similar dissonance in the mean girls of fiction: women ‘go bad’ because of [insert reason here]. Maybe they’re stressed and lonely and lash out. Maybe they’re jealous of the heroine/Hero’s love interest. The explanation varies, but there’s almost always an explanation, especially if the Bad Girl is supposed to be on the protagonist’s side.

Sure there are women out there like that, (I’ve met some), but I’ve also met a number of women that are just mean and aggressive because that’s who they are. Women that snipe with comments more devestating than hollow points, or twist the knife while asking ‘don’t you think?’.

Flynn articulates what I’ve been thinking about the ‘Bad Girls’ of fiction. Be it movies, prose, or video games. Some people are just mean, like some are sweet. Some people are aggressive, and it isn’t delineated by gender, so much as personality. Female violence is a different beast than male violence, but it’s there. And it’s there in a simmering, lurking prevalence that doesn’t seem to show up much in fiction. Maybe that’s because women are still tokens, or if there’s more than one in a story they are often siblings or rivals. At least in SFF. Where are the frenemies in the fellowship?

Things are changing, and improving, but as a beginner in this world of writing, this sense of full-ness, with it’s sharp edges and sandpaper grit is something I want to pull off. Building a fictional world is complicated and full of pitfalls, but without well-rounded characters and cast, it just feels empty. I don’t want to write empty stories. I want to write stories crammed full of personality and people that don’t necessarily get along.

Like Flynn says, we as women aren’t given tools to articulate the weird aggressiveness/sexuality/violence that many of us go through. But I need to learn how to articulate this, if I want to keep growing as a writer.

The work never stops.

-Alice

2013: In which I actually submitted things.

Okay. So I think I’m not alone in saying ‘holy hell 2013 you’re a mean drunk’. After seeing someone summarize their year when it comes to writing on a forum I frequent, I thought it’d be a good way to see where I started and where I am now. Especially since I’ve been struggling a bit in the last couple months (yay Plague!)

The Good

Smiling Shark

Technically I submitted my first story in 2012 to The Hero Comes Home 2. But I also submitted it on Dec 31st, so I’m counting that as 2013 regardless.

Before 2013 I’d never thought I could submit anything and have it considered being close to ‘good’. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a long way to go before I am considered ‘good’, but there was this weird invisible fence that I’d made up that kept me back from trying to get published.

Then this dude came up to me and tried to sell me this lady‘s book, and got all pushy about joining this writing thing called Nanowrimo. So I went and met a whole bunch of lovely people, who told me about markets and I joined the facebook groups and learned about what kind of markets look for what kind of stories.

I’d started writing a horror story about pomegranates when the Hero Comes Home 2 crossed my inbox and so I sat down and wrote, edited and sent off the story in 5 days. #thatshowIroll. Totally expected it to get sent back with a ‘definitely not. never. ever.’ in red text. Instead I got a personal rejection.

The pomegranate story received an offer, which I can tell you was even more surprising.

Call it beginner’s luck, or call it 15 years of writing in my basement and on RP sites finally paying off, but I’ve had a number of personal rejections this year that are crazy elating.

Cons Attended: Ad Astra, WorldCon, CanCon [panelist]
Total Submissions:
23
Form Rejections: 13
Personal Rejections: 6 (including 2 ‘you made it to the final cut’ heartbreakers)
WOTF: Q3 – Honourable Mention, Q4 – SEMI FINALIST
Pending: 2
Sales: 1!!

The Bad

So like I said at the top of the post, 2013 was a mean drunk. I lost a total of 4 family members in the first half of the year alone, including my grandfather and an aunt. To say that I was emotionally exhausted would be a bit of an understatement. While at first I kept writing, I realised that grief was taking a toll on the tone in my stories, so I set it aside for a while.

Sad Cat

I didn’t want to ruin work that had potential by infusing it with a sadness when the story didn’t warrant it. I think that this was the right decision, although it did set off a cascade of missed writing goals in the last quarter of the year. Continue reading

Strong Stomachs

So I read this post today on Random House’s blog. I’m not sure I can quite articulate my opinion without the help of some famous online faces.* I’ll quote directly from the article which can be found in full here: David Gilmour on Building Strong Stomachs. Well he’s not wrong, but it’s not the books that are testing my stomach…

* please note all opinions are Alice’s and not the owners of said famous faces. They just accurately represent my reaction. Emphasis in quotes my own.

04

…usually the University of Toronto doesn’t allow people to become professors without a doctorate. You have to have a doctorate to teach here, but they asked if I would teach a course, and I said I would.

Well while it seems a little… ‘fancypants’ to drop the word ‘doctorate’ so much, it is pretty neat that the University asked him to teach. Usually the term used is just ‘Associate Professor’ though. Because most universities don’t let people without Doctorates be full Professors.

I’m a natural teacher, I was trained in television for many years. I know how to talk to a camera, therefore I know how to talk to a room of students. It’s the same thing.

tardar sauce

As someone who has dealt with TV reporters as professors, and later as an instructor herself, NO. NO THIS IS WRONG. Continue reading