*GASP!* Flawed Women!

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With some time to kill before my appointment to have my car inspected, I popped into my local used book shop where I regularly hold store credit and cycle my books through over and again. I had no intentions of making a purchase, but quickly ended up browsing with copies of The Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard and Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart in my hand. As I made my way through the tall stacks, I started to tune in to the conversation happening at the register.

The woman working at the shop had struck up a conversation with a customer. The customer appeared to be a woman in her late 60s and the employee maybe in her 50s. They were talking about female characters in contemporary fiction and how lately they have been so disappointed in them. “These are supposed to be our heroines!” the customer exclaimed. They then lamented about the recent wave of unreliable, female main characters who do drugs and are simply *pearl clutch* unlikable.

Of course, I was too far away to jump in the conversation and I’m not really good at doing that with strangers anyway, especially as the dissenting opinion. Now don’t get me wrong, if you want all of your female main characters to be someone to 100% look up to that’s fine. There are a bazillionty books already that have those nearly no-flawed women who against all odds overcome some obstacle that causes all of the inspiration. In reality, that’s not what life is for most of us. We may not also have as crappy of a life as some of the characters we read so, I’m not calling for total reality either in my reading. However, society has already told us that the perfect, seemingly superwomen are the ones of more worth. I’d rather not strive for an impossible ideal. I want the grit that comes along with an alcoholic or mentally ill woman who makes terrible life choices and has to figure out how to claw her way out.

Something in me wonders if the women having this conversation don’t understand that there are those of us navigating the world with these types of issues. I’m not investigating a murder or trying to fake my own death at the same time as I work on my anxiety and depression but, I find having that extra depth to the character pulls me in. Not every book has to have a likeable “heroine.” Every once and awhile I do want my Miss Marple, but I want my Bernadette Fox too. So, make your choices, but don’t get down on those of us who relate better to the deeply flawed. If unreliable women weren’t wanted in contemporary literature, we wouldn’t have 500 books with “girl” in the title on the bestseller list.

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Anxiety and Me (and BEA)

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Coming from a Polish family, I am excited that Poland is the focus of the Global Market Forum at BEA. Plus, I can get real pierogi in Chicago.

I’m nervous. As Book Expo America approaches in just two days, I am not sleeping as well. This is usual for any big event that I am excited about. However, this is the first time I have ever attended a conference of this magnitude. I am well versed in conferences and conventions, but I’ve never been to this type of event. Mostly I’ve been to atheist/feminist/social justice conferences and seminars where I know lots of folks and have built in friends from all over the country and overseas. I am traveling alone to Chicago, but I do have my friend Sarah of the amazing Book Jawn Podcast who I will be meeting up with. I may need to warn her that if she sees me rubbing my legs that I’m on the verge of an anxiety attack and she should tell me to breathe and take an Ativan.

The thing I am most nervous about is keeping my anxiety in check during BEA. I tend to try to plan out my days and stick to a schedule to keep control of my anxiety. I am going into BEA knowing that my schedule will be changed, potentially at the very last minute. Saying that I have no expectations sounds harsh, like I think I’ll have a bad time. But for me, having no expectations simply means that I cannot count on obtaining certain galleys or getting a book signed by a specific author. It’s cool if it happens, but if it doesn’t that’s fine and it does not mean I wasted my time. I am so thankful to all of the book bloggers who have written excellent posts about their experiences at BEA. In particular, this one at Feed Your Fiction Addiction has been a lifesaver.

What I hope is that between utilizing Insight Timer and the information I’ve learned in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness For Beginners I can keep anxiety at bay or at least treat it as it bubbles up. If anyone has any ideas on decompressing after a day full of people in Chicago please comment or Tweet at me.

With all of that said, I’m still super excited. I see this as a challenge and something that will hopefully be a way to gather knowledge not just on the publishing industry and bookternet but also myself. If you see me around at BEA (and the bloggers conference) or BookCon please say hi! Small talk, when about books, is always welcome!