“Least Threatening Woman in the World” Self perception and writing

I am the least threatening woman in the world.

When I sat down to write about something, that’s the sentence that flew off my fingertips:

I am the least threatening woman in the world. 

And then I thought about what it means.

I

That one is sort of obvious.

Least

the smallest extent

Threatening

There’s a lot of definitions for this one, but I think that the one my brain was going for is “causing someone to feel vulnerable or at risk”

In the world

Wicked hyperbole because I’m an author and we’re into hyperbole.

But seriously, I am the sort of woman that even the most insecure people don’t care if their spouse texts. This is essentially true in all things work and life related.

Or am I? My perception of myself is pretty unthreatening, but one of my friends recently told me I have no chill and I could totally throw-down. He meant it as a compliment. Another friend told me, “You are so super mellow and chill. What was he talking about?”

Different people perceive us in vastly different ways, but even how we perceive ourselves can be all over the place.

So, when I think, “I am the least threatening person in the world,” am I actually just falling into a writer stereotype of self-loathing? Am I really saying, “I’m ugly and boring and nobody is intimidated by me because I’m basically nothing?” Or is it something else?

And why do so many of us writers (and comics, and artists, and bankers, and humans) do this? When this negative self definition is obviously not a helpful tool.

Writers and Self Loathing

Back in 2015, the New York Times asked two writers on their thoughts about writers and self loathing. 

Thomas Mallon wrote, “The aggrieved writer’s immortal longings represent, finally, a loathing not of the self but of the human condition, a desire to thwart the tragic fact of death. Writing has always offered a particularly good means of doing that.”

I read that to a friend and he rolled his eyes. “You aren’t self-loathing. You’re self deprecating. There’s a big difference. You’re afraid to claim your success. I think it might be a woman thing or a New England thing or something.”

“Are you telling me that I’m afraid of being successful because I’m a woman? Or because I’m from New Hampshire?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Hm,” I said because honestly? That’s a pretty big assertion that takes a lot to unpack.

Or maybe the self deprecation is because of my New England-ness and me being a woman and told not to ‘toot my own horn’ because it’s “tacky.” But maybe it’s also a thinking thing. Writers think a lot. We think about humans and society and our place within it. We think about character growth and motivation and that means that we sometimes think a lot about our own selves.

Anna Holmes wrote in that same Times piece, “Although I don’t buy the idea that self-loathing is a requirement for writers — I know too many writers, particularly men, who hold themselves in perhaps higher esteem than they should — I do think that writing demands a certain amount of self-awareness, and that self-awareness and self-loathing can be two sides of the same coin.”

Being judgmental about who we are, knowing our own flaws and faults, it can be hard. It’s hard to face our lack of personal perfection – not just for writers, but for all of us. And while we often give our friends and family space for errors or ‘flaws’ or screw-ups and forgive and love them anyway? That’s not always so hard to do with ourselves. To be self aware means to know we are imperfect. But our imperfections aren’t the end of the world. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that.

Making Ourselves a Trope

And the thing is that when we write about writers? We are making ourselves a trope and often continuing that cycle of negativity. I remember a couple of years ago when I had a five-second meltdown about how I could never watch another movie or television show about a writer.

“It makes me depressed,” I sputtered. “They are all just — they are either super wealthy or alcoholics or creepy.”

Apparently, I’m not the only one who has thought this. In 2017, Ben Blatt published a survey of some literature called “Writers are Self-Loathing: 50 Writers on Writers, In Fiction.”

Okay. It’s fiction, not movies, but it’s all about our culture and how we define ourselves.

Blatt wrote, “Writers don’t have the best reputation and they have no one to blame but themselves. Instead of writing stories where writers are attractive, heroic, and strong, they describe the writers within their own works as eccentric, depressed, reclusive, broke, and egotistical.”

Blatt gives example after example of writers putting writers down, defining them in not a very positive light.

Here are some excerpts that I took from his Signature article.

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I’m going to beg the rest of you out there, don’t define yourself as miserable, as nothing, as non-threatening, as invisible. Don’t believe yourself to be the trope. And maybe think about why that trope is there? Negative self awareness and self loathing and self deprecation. It’s like an evil trinity that holds us back, keeps us down. We don’t need it.

Writing News

Time Stoppers!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Timestoppers3_005

I’m WRITING BARN FACULTY AND THERE’S A COURSE YOU CAN TAKE!

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

 

Apply Now!

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Steam of Consciousness isn’t a Dirty Word Phrase, People

Shaun: Two weeks ago we were hanging out at a friend’s house and Carrie met a woman who was talking about writing, and how it helped her through some tough times and how she loved writing, but didn’t think she could ever be one.

“It’s all stream of consciousness,” she said as if it was a bad thing.

This of course broke Carrie’s heart.

Carrie: To be fair, my heart is easily broken. Like last week, when one of our friends said that Shaun is the best part of the podcast because he’s funny and I’m trying to be informative. Heart broken for me. Happy for the Shaun.

Anyway, since I’m informative, stream of consciousness is a term that William James created a little over a century ago and it means

“… it is nothing joined; it flows. A ‘river’ or a ‘stream’ is the metaphors by which it is most naturally described. In talking of it hereafter, let’s call it the stream of thought, consciousness, or subjective life.”

That’s taken from Literary Devices Net, which was quoting Mr. James.

Toni Morrison, Jose Saramago, Beckett, Joyce all use stream-of-consciousness as a narrative construct in their stories.

Shaun: Honestly, our entire podcast is pretty much a stream-of-consciousness narrative.  Tomorrow on Carrie’s regular blog, she’ll have some writing tips about using stream of consciousness.

Dog Tip for Life:

Live in your moment, go with your river of thought.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD:

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that your literary constructs or devices or voice isn’t cool. You do you.

SHOUT OUT:

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

WHERE IS THE PODCAST?

It’s right here. 

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s  out! You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

I’m WRITING BARN FACULTY AND THERE’S A COURSE YOU CAN TAKE!

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

 

Apply Now!

 

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Steam of Consciousness isn’t a Dirty Word Phrase, People

 
 
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Mommy Fears (in Honor of the Emster)

In honor of the Emster being home on leave this week, I’ve conjured up this old blog post about my mommy fears and her innate Emster capabilities.

What I find interesting about this is: 

  1. How openly neurotic I have always been.

  2. How she has always been kick-butt.

 

Here you go: 

Okay. You know how when you’re a mom you have these certain levels of fear when it comes to your kid? Well, most moms do. Sorry to all you people who are not moms or aren’t neurotic. You will probably be bored with this blog post.

 So there’s the deepest level of Mom Fear, which is that:

1. Your child will be kidnapped on an airplane like in that Jodi Foster movie where she ends up blowing up the airplane in a feat of total mom awesomeness.
2. Your child will be assaulted or violated.
3. Your child will be murdered/seriously injured or threatened to be like in that Denzel Washington movie where he’s the bodyguard but he might as well be the dad because he is so amazing to Pita and she even names her teddy bear after him.
4. Your child will marry a ghoul:

Mommy Fears-2
Please do not marry him, Em, at least not when he’s like this.

But then I have what I call the Secondary Level of Mom Fear, which includes:

My child will starve because I have no income.

My child will become a heroin addict because I suck, etc…

My child will become a monster full of hate.

But also on this Mom fear level is this one:

My child will get on the wrong airplane at the airport.

And yep… It happened.

So the Emster was done with this super cool Fresh Film Program in New York City (thanks to amazing author and human Saundra Mitchell) and she was flying home to Maine. Em did everything right:

1. She got a car and had money to pay it. She got in the car at 8 a.m.
2. She told the driver she wanted to go to US Airways at Laguardia Airport.
3. She buckled her seat belt. Gold star, Em! Gold star!

But then things went wrong. There was an accident. Traffic stalled. She was stuck there for about an hour. But finally they move again. The driver drops her off at the airport, but wait — He drops her off at the United terminal. Em realizes this once she gets inside. She asks for help. Twice. She runs to the shuttle for the other terminal. The shuttle bus doors have just closed. She looks hopeless.

Em is the one smiling with teeth. 😉

Hopeless doesn’t work. So, instead she goes into Looking Cute mode. The shuttle bus doors magically open.  She asks the driver for help. He tells her to hop on. She does. There are a MILLION stops. They get to the terminal. She goes to the kiosk to get her boarding pass but she doesn’t have a credit card and can’t pay the $20 for her luggage. Someone else helps. She gives them cash. They don’t even make her weigh her suitcase. Score! (Note: Shoes are heavy. Em likes shoes).

She finds the Security Screening. She goes through. She finds her gate. It is 9:30. Her plane is supposed to leave at 10. There is nobody milling around like normal. Em being the astute little camper that she is, goes to the woman at the little podium/counter thing and asks if this is the gate for the Bangor, Maine flight.

Woman: That flight is closed.

Em: !!!!!

She decides to look cute again.

 Em is still the same one.

Woman (speaks into walkie-talkie): MUMBLE MUMBLE.

Em: ?????!!!!

Woman (to Em):
Okay. You can go out. The plane is on the tarmac.

They let her through the doors. She rushes to the airplane, climbs up the stairs, gets on, looks at her ticket and then says to the flight attendant:
Is this the plane to Bangor, Maine?
Flight attendant person: No. This is the plane to Buffalo.

Em:

Flight attendant person:
The Bangor plane is behind us, I think.

Em runs down the stairs, across the tarmac and towards a plane that was completely obscured by the Buffalo plane. She drops things on the tarmac. She picks things up. She runs. She scrambles up the flight of stairs and says, “Is this the plane to Bangor?”

It is.

But wait!

Her seat is gone. They have given it away because she is late.

“NO!!!!!!!!” Em screams.

But they let her sit in the exit row all by herself. She buckles up and makes it. Nobody kidnaps her. She does not fly to Buffalo. She flies home.

She is amazing.

And cute.

And resourceful as heck.

Me: You will write about this some day.

Em: I have already lived it once; I do not want to live it again.

Writing News

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun. She’s heading to Houston, North Carolina, and Virgnia soon, just to talk about it. How cool is that?

My Post copy 6

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! (WSS) six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

WSS-Testimonial-Mountains-1-300x300

And finally, for the month of July, Carrie’s book FLYING is on sale in ebook version on multiple platforms, which means not just Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically Men in Black meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with chocolate-covered pretzels.

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Proof of the sale-nature of July.

 

Thanks so much for reading my blog! Please comment or say ‘hi!’ if you feel like it!

 

xo

Carrie