Nanowrimo the halfway point

Nanowrimo-2017

It’s hard to believe, we’re already at the halfway point of the month. Time flies when you’re having fun I guess … a little bit too hard however if you ask me. The weeks have been flying by faster and faster and I feel like I’m missing out on so much. Maybe that’s just me or maybe more people have been affected by it. I constantly feel like there aren’t quite enough hours in a day. And with working full time and writing in the evenings my day seems so packed.

Writing-wise I can say that I am way behind on the schedule but I’ve been doing better. Anyway there is a schedule provided by Nanowrimo and there is my schedule and those two have never been quite the same in all of these years that I’ve been participating. So at this point I can still say that I’m not worried but I guess that’s not all that surprising. I mean why would I be worried. If I don’t make it to 50 000 words by the end of this month there is no man overboard, it doesn’t really matter.

I guess that it’s more difficult for me to reach 50 000 words because I’m not writing a new novel or one big story but rather short stories and blog posts. Therefor the writing process is different, since you write shorter pieces and then you have to come up with your next idea to write about. But I think that I’ve been doing pretty good especially considering how little I’ve been writing these last couple of months. And creative writing was really something that I’ve not been doing at all. So the fact that I have been writing a couple of short stories has been a huge relief for me. Creative writing has always been a huge part of my life but since I’ve been struggling so much I have also been feeling extremely blocked at the same time and that doesn’t help at all.

These past couple of days I’ve written a couple of short stories based on different prompts ranging from 300 words to 1500 and the one with 1500 words is still a work in progress so that’ll be longer. I guess around 5000 words in total – we’ll see where it ends. Right now every word written is a word more than I had at the beginning of this month and that surely makes me happy.

So what have I been writing this past half of the month?

First of all there are my blog posts related to Nanowrimo. Nanowrimo 2017 – a little look ahead to November. Nanowrimo kick-off write in – our writer’s groups first write in of this years November and of course my review of the first week. Of course I wrote a review on how my first week of Nanowrimo went, and I told you all how I tell stories.  There was another Nanowrimo update and my post about our yearly Nanowrimo the Ikea meet.

And I’ve written some other posts which I felt like sharing with you all. Of course there is my monthly review October in hindsight. This time it was followed by 300 times Grey’s Anatomy about one of my favorite television shows and the amazing way these episodes – all three hundred of them – have been written. Furthermore I’ve written two posts about Glow, this one – explaining what it is and the history behind it. Followed a second post about the actual Glow review.

I wrote a short story called ‘Death Day’ – based on a prompt I’d read a while ago which I really liked. At birth everyone has the date they will die tattooed on their arm. You were supposed to die yesterday. I now wrote one story, but I’m thinking of writing a few more based on this prompt because it has potential for more. The story that I wrote so far is one way to look at the situation.

The second story is a funny story about taking ‘A Hike’, where nothing is what it seems. It’s a really short story but it was fun to write.

The third short story is called ‘The argument’ and I started writing the story purely based on dialog. I let it rest for a day or so and then rewrote the same story but added in all the details without adapting the dialog I already wrote and I think I succeeded. That was a fun exercise to do! I think I might do that more often. In fact I wrote that after I wrote blog about Grey’s Anatomy. I definitely tried to write a strong dialog scene – like the scenes I admire so much on Grey’s.

At this moment I’m working on two new blog posts, one is the first part of a book review but I’m still reading the book and that is also the reason why I haven’t finished it yet. And I wrote a blog about #MeToo, but I’m unsure whether I will ever post it.

There are a couple of other things I’m working on. But those aren’t done yet.

 

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Glow

Glow

Here it is my review of this years edition of Glow 2017!

Glow started this past Saturday and it ends next Saturday with the Glow run – because nowadays every event needs their own run. This edition they set out a route which is about six kilometers long and it leads mostly through the center of Eindhoven. When it comes to the length of the route it is comparable to the previous years but it feels like everything is much closer together and more concentrated in the city center. Which in my opinion makes it an easier walk.

If you are around the Eindhoven area and want to have a fun night out go to Glow, I can highly recommend it. It’s a lot of fun, the weather at the moment is quite okay – it’s not too cold and currently it’s dry which is very important if you’re walking around especially in the evening. Although I do recommend wearing something like a thermal clothing – I sure was happy that I was wearing my thermal mountain bike shirt underneath my softshell jacket.

Part of the route is very close to my home so it literally only took me a minute maybe two to reach the route. I started walking the route around 6:30 and I was back home at 8:30, so it took me just under two hours – I think that most people need three hours to walk the route especially if it is the first time you see something like this you tend to take longer. And most people go for a drink or something to eat at one of the food courts. There is hot chocolate milk and gluwein! The Gluwein is really good!

What astonished me was the fact that they literally started the route with the biggest exposition of this whole edition. I personally think that is not a smart move, it literally is the biggest and most impressive part of the route. It would have been better if it had been more towards the end of the route. Of course you can start the route wherever you like but most people start at the railway station. It is after all the most central part of the route an obvious start point for people who come from outside of the city since all the public transportation arrives there as well. After the Blob we passed a couple of buildings – buildings which are pretty much what Eindhoven represents – the old Philips Factory buildings and neither one of those were used.

Again a strange choice but maybe they choose to not use them this year because they have been used often in the past. The soccer stadium only had an indoor show, which you have to pay for – I didn’t see the show, so I can’t say anything about that however what I can say is that they did nothing to outside of the building. It just looked the same way it does every other day of the year. They lit up the mosque, it was another projection on the inside as well as the outside of the building. It looked good yet at the same time a little bit predictable. The design on the outside of Hooghuis looked very similar to what they had made a couple of years ago. Though it looked pretty cool, it was a simple design where they made good use of the exterior of the building. We went straight back into city center towards the church – there was a huge projection covering the whole front of the church, it was really bright colored and beautiful.

Almost at the end of the route was an area on de Dommel (a small river that runs through Eindhoven) where kids from different schools had created small floating buildings painted with neon paint and lit by black-light that lit up the river. It looked really cute – they always have a project made by the children of Eindhoven.

The thing that I probably liked the most was a really small project which looked so cool. It was literally a piece of plywood with pepper foam and a light. That was it. Sometimes things can be really simple and give a beautiful effect. If the light was placed in the correct position you could see the shadow of a face appear on the plywood created by the shade of multiple different pepper foam bars. It looked really good, very special. That really was my favorite installation – simple yet beautiful.

If you have the chance to see Glow, do it! Really it is worth it, the atmosphere is great the small food courts along the route However if you’ve seen it before, especially multiple times the magic kind of fades. When Glow first stated I always loved to take my time to look at all the installations. But when you’ve seen eight of nine Glow’s you kind of seen a lot of things already in a In fact nowadays it’s usually the smaller things that make the bigger impression.

 

 

Nanowrimo – The Ikea Meet

Nanowrimo-2017

Today is our yearly Ikea meeting, I don’t know it’s a thing we started to do a couple of years ago and in all honesty if we don’t have one it would feel strange. Like it isn’t really Nanowrimo – for me it’s part of the process. Just like the Kick off party the last Saturday before we start Nano and the Thank God It’s Over party (TGIO) in December and our weekly meets at the library.

Yesterday I had decided that I would go for a mountain bike ride in the morning hoping to clear my head and get ready for an afternoon of writing. Unfortunately it’s raining and I really dislike the rain and since I was sick with a fever only last week I think it’s best to not push it at the moment. So now I’m sitting here writing this instead. Jessica Jones is on the television – gotta love Netflix – which reminds me I just read the other day that Krystin Ritter (the actress who portrays Jessica Jones) is an author as well. She has recently released her first novel, Bonfire on November 7th. It sounds like the type of book I would love to read. I need to check that out later, she’s getting really good reviews but most of them are written by obvious fans although they all claim that is not the reason why they love the story so much. I read an interview with her and what she told was sounding very promising. She’s a very avid reader herself and now also a published author.

Outside my window the world looks gloomy – rainy weather makes it seem like it’s a lot earlier in the morning than it really is. Like dawn isn’t really here yet or just about to happen. For some people nine in the morning on a Sunday is very early. But I was awake so I decided to get up and start doing some things so I can at least claim that this has been a productive day despite all the writing I’ll be doing later. A day like this however is perfect when it comes to writing. You can sit down and not feel guilty for sitting inside and writing all day because it’s not like there is anything else you rather do.

The wash is in the washing machine and I’ll be doing a short training later on, something I’ve been doing these past couple of weeks. And then I might get some reading or writing done, depending on what I feel like. I know I’ll have to write more this afternoon so if I don’t have any strong ideas of what to write I might opt for reading. I’ve been reading ‘The Circle’ by Dave Eggers. A very lightly written book with huge implications – it’s a scary thought completely loosing your privacy. I’m curious to see where this story is going and once I’m done I will write a review about it. But that’ll be something I’ll be doing later, hopefully later this month – it should be this month because I’ve read about three fourth of the book so far.

Let’s do some stats, it’s day twelve and as I’m writing this its about 10 in the morning. Right now according to the Nanowrimo 1667 words a day I should have been at 20 000 words. But I’m only at 11 000 words. So in total I’m 9000 words behind. It should be doable – yeah, it is doable to catch up. Maybe not in a single day, but I’ll get there.

The Ikea Meet

We’re at the Ikea, I arrived around one in the afternoon. I first wanted to take a look at some things in the store which was why I was here earlier than expected. And I was join around one thirty by two other writers from our group. For a write-in I guess that we made pretty good word count. We did talk and we did get distracted by all the people who are shopping and eating in the Ikea restaurant. Because lets face it watching people is always a fun thing to do, especially since sometimes you might get an idea for a character or a situation which you can write about. But all in all we also did get a lot of writing done. My total at this moment is 2000 words! Which means that I have written more than the daily number of words for the second day in a row and even a little bit more than that. So I’m very content with the progress I’m making. Don’t get me wrong at this rate I will still finish on December 18th. But I’m working on bringing that date down to lets say … November 30th.

So once I go home I will continue writing for a bit longer and see if I can get a little bit more words in to close that gap a little bit more. Every word extra is a word more than I had previously and a step in the right direction.

 

Nanowrimo update

Nanowrimo-2017

It’s the second weekend of Nanowrimo and I am trying to catch up on my backlog. I’ve been behind this whole time and I have no idea if I will catch up in time for the end of the month. I guess we’ll see what happens on November 30th, there are still 20 days left in this month and I’m going to make the best of it. I’ve had some good days and some bad days writing wise, yet so far I have not exceeded the daily word count in fact my daily word count as of this moment is at 850 words. And if I don’t start doing better soon, there is no way I will ever catch up on my back log. Especially knowing that I probably miss out on writing time in the last weekend completely.

Yesterday we had our second library meeting and it was fun, especially good to see that three people who were new last week joined us again for this meeting. And two others had told me beforehand that they couldn’t come but they’ll be back next week. It’s good to see people come back for more meetings, it means we must be doing something right. I guess we are doing good as a group. We, the ‘Epic Blue Unicorns’ have been going strong for five years now every year we have a couple of people who stay with the group.

This morning I decided that I was going to the movie theater first, I wanted to see Thor Ragnarok. I actually had wanted to go last week on Sunday, but I became ill on Saturday night and I was forced to stay at home. This morning I decided that I was not going to take any chances. I wanted to go see that movie today. I loved it! There is much humor in the movie – I really like those Marvel movies. When the movie ended I had some shopping to do and when I came home I started writing.

Will today be the day that I will catch up? Even if it’s just a little bit. Right now it’s close to seven in the evening. It’s Saturday night, so I still have some time left before I have to go to bed. I’m sitting on the couch probably not the most productive way to write but it’s what feels good at the moment. I don’t feel like sitting at my desk. I have the television on, which probably for most people doesn’t help either but to me it feels good. I live alone and I struggle with that fact. When I get home there is no one waiting for me, no one to talk to and if the television isn’t on there is no sound and no movement. So I’m used to the television being on like all the time when I’m at home. Lets face it I’ve been falling asleep with ASMR for the last couple of years. I need sounds around me. I can’t stand the silence, even when I’m going to sleep. I get that there are a lot of people who like to write in silence but to me it feels comfortable when I hear sounds around me. And it doesn’t really make much of a difference to me whether it’s music, a television show or a documentary or if it’s the sounds of people around me when I’m at the library or in a cafeteria. Right now I have Guardians of the Galaxy playing on the television. While I’m writing this post. And right about now I’m doing pretty well. I am almost at the daily word count and I have almost reached ten thousand words. Granted I should have been a hell of a lot closer to twenty thousand words but that is only a number.

For tomorrow we have another write-in planned, this time at the Ikea. We always do that during the month of November. On one Sunday we go to the local Ikea and we sit there for hours to work on our stories. It’s easy, there are drinks and food for a pretty low price and they have enough tables and chairs with electricity outlets for us to make good use of. Expect another update tomorrow.

Glow

Glow

The City of Light

I live in Eindhoven, the fifth city of the Netherlands also known as ‘de Lichtstad’ (Lightcity / City of Light). The reason it’s called de Lichtstad is because Philips was founded here in Eindhoven on May 15th 1891. Nowadays we all know Philips from their consumer and medical appliances, yet in the beginning stages of the company it was mostly known as a light bulb factory. But soon they started to expand their company and they also ventured into research. However for the longest time they kept making light bulbs. There are still old factory buildings all around the city, nowadays they are used for a lot of different reasons none has anything to do with producing light bulbs anymore. In fact the Library in Eindhoven where we spend our Fridays during Nanowrimo is one of those buildings – known as De Witte Dame (The White Lady – it is a big white building).

The Light Tour

So Eindhoven is known as the city of light and the city is proud of that fact. Often when they organize something in the city there is an element of light in it somehow. Years ago they started with the Light Tour – and that is a direct reference to WWII liberation by the Allies. Apparently at the time the people of Eindhoven welcomed the Allies with lights behind their windows. And now every year on the 18th of September the Light Tour starts. I doubt that many people know the origin of the light tour but it’s a fun thing to do during the dark months of the year. And In 2006 they added another event to light up the dark times.

Glow

Glow was first held 2006, so this is the eleventh edition of the Glow Festival. Every year designers from all over the world come to Eindhoven to show their ‘light-related’ installations. I’ve been walking the route since the beginning when it started it was really small but now each year the installations get bigger and more impressive and the number of people who come to visit Glow gets bigger as well. I’m looking forward to seeing the show but I’m definitely waiting a couple of days because this weekend is the opening weekend and it is going to be extremely busy and I am so not looking forward to that. I mean, every day is going to be busy of course but today and tomorrow will be crazy busy!

Take a look at these pictures of some of the installations from these past couple of years. And if you happen to be around come take a look. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed! I will write an extended review when I’ve walked this years Glow Tour.

300 times Grey’s Anatomy

GreysAnatomy-300

This morning I was reading this article about the 300th episode of Grey’s Anatomy that is airing this week.

It’s Nanowrimo and you might be confused and thinking that this is a very random post, it literally has nothing to do with writing. However I think you’re wrong and I will prove it to you!

If the 300th episode of Grey’s Anatomy is airing this week I can guarantee you that I’ve seen 299 episodes so far. And I have loved that show from the very first episode. One of the main reasons why I love this show is the amazing writing. The show is called Grey’s Anatomy – named after the ‘main character’ Meredith Grey. But in my opinion naming her the main character is ridiculous. The show might have been extremely focused on Meredith in the first season but soon they started to show other characters as well.

Before Grey’s there was ER the biggest medical drama ever (with 15 seasons, GA is currently on it’s 14th season) and while they had a huge cast as well the main focus was the hospital and the way it all worked and you only got glimpses into the lives of the doctors and nurses. However in the case of Grey’s they choose to focus more on the characters. And I loved that, they gave it just that little bit extra that I had always missed on ER. With ER I always wanted to know more about the people behind the doctors. So from that first moment on I was hooked. Even though that was the part that I loved I also have to admit that Meredith is far from my favorite character. In fact I think she has been my least favorite character for a long, long time. But I liked the interaction between the group of year one interns. The show kept growing and expanding on characters and while there might be times were certain characters are mostly in the background there will also be a time where they can shine. And I really like that, the different characters and their story-lines bring something new to the show. The power of this show is that they keep renewing themselves and that they aren’t afraid to shy away from certain topics. The characters they create are well rounded, yet flawed and human and that is what I love.

The biggest thing I love about Grey’s is the writing and the person to applaud for that is Shonda Rhimes. I think she’s an outstanding writer who’s created some of the best moments on television. That is of course my opinion but for me the main reason why I love this show. I’m often blown away by the writing of the episodes (the same goes for the other shows Shondaland produces) and the feeling they are able to express through simple dialog. Because often these particular scenes are very simple in the buildup and staging yet strong in the dialog.

Favorite onscreen couple

I was reading the article and they asked cast members and writers what their favorite onscreen couple of all time is. I personally was really surprised by the fact that no one, not a single person spoke about Callie and Arizona. I know it ended badly but they had some amazing scenes together and I will forever be a ‘Calzona’ shipper. Even though I know that both of them have moved on from their marriage to one another there will always be a little bit of hope in my heart that roots for them. I still believe that they are endgame.

No one mentioned them and I think that it was a very defining relationship on the television at the time that it happened. From the first second Callie was added to the show I fell in love with her. I loved that woman she was so different than the other women on the show. I remember thinking the first second I laid eyes on her; ‘Wow! I hope she’s gay!’. Which is ridiculous, I know. Especially when she fell in love with George. But in the end I was right and she was at least bisexual, so I identified with her because she gave being bisexual an identity. And I really hope that in the future more shows will do that. Because we’re all people and loving someone shouldn’t define who we are it’s after all only a small part of our lives.

I could never quote a bible to anyone but that is simply beating them at their own game. And the perfect example of what I meant by a simple scene – the setting is very basic a room which doesn’t say anything but the dialog does. And to this day I still get goosebumps when I watch this scene. It’s so powerful!

The scene was followed by one where Arizona goes to Callie’s dad to talk to him and the same thing happens. They are just standing next to one another and she simply talks and he listens.

Callie’s father; We’re not gonna do that.
Arizona; Most people think I was named for the state, but it’s not true. I was named for a battleship, the USS Arizona. My grandfather was serving on the Arizona when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and he saved 19 men before he drowned. Everything my father did his whole life was about honoring that sacrifice.
I was raised to be a good man in a storm.
Raised to love my country, love my family and protect the things I love.
When my father, Colonel Daniel Robbins of the United States Marine Corps, heard that I was a lesbian, he said he only had one question.
I was prepared for, “How fast can you get the hell out of my house?” But instead it was, “Are you still who I raised you to be?” My father believes in country the way that you believe in God. And my father’s not a man who bends, but he bent for me because I’m his daughter. I’m a good man in a storm.
I love your daughter and I protect the things I love.
Not that I need to, she doesn’t need it.
She’s strong and caring and honorable and she’s who you raised her to be.

Grey’s Anatomy – Season 6 episode 5 – Invasion

I hope to one day be able to write powerful scenes like Shonda Rhimes does for Grey’s Anatomy, to put that much feeling into a couple of simple looking sentences. For now I’m looking forward to that 300th episode and I hope that there will be many more in the future.

TGIT! Thank God it’s Thursday! And in a couple of hours we get to see the 300th episode!

 

How do I tell stories?

Nanowrimo-2017

The reason for writing this post is not because I’ve found the holy grail of writing or something. I think either J.K. Rowling and George R. R. Martin have that in their possession. This is merely something I thought of after reading through a whole discussion on the Dutch Nano Facebook page (if you are Dutch and participate in Nanowrimo, join us).

First I want to throw one of the biggest myths out of the window. No, writing a novel is not easy! Especially since most of us ‘writer wannabees’ do this next to our study or work. So it is often done late at night or in the weekends. Writing stories is difficult and in my honest opinion sometimes a tedious task. But everything starts to come together it’s what makes it all worth.

There are just as many ways of writing as there are writers. What works for one person will not work for the next. That is why it’s so hard to tell someone how to do it. I have been writing stories for at least the last fifteen to twenty years and no I’m not a published author. But over the course of time I’ve used many ways to write stories – some things worked for me some things definitely didn’t. The key is to see what works for you and to try and incorporate those things in your workflow. If you do that over time you can find your way to write you next story.

Triggered

I know one thing for sure I need to be triggered! And by triggered I mean that I can not sit down at night with no idea at all and just start writing. I can get triggered by almost anything. Most people see triggered as a negative word, but what I mean by triggered is that I need to get my idea from somewhere, sometimes that might be from a song, a news item or a television show. What you must know about me is that I was originally a fanfiction author. And I’ve been trying for quite some time now to write original stories, but it is a difficult transition. The main reason why it’s so difficult – for me at least – is something I didn’t realize while I was writing fanfiction. When you write fanfiction the characters are there, the setting is there and the back stories are already written. You might not know everything there is to know about the characters but we fanfiction writers are really good at molding and bending the stories to our likes. In my case that was very obvious, I think there is a need for more lesbian or bi-sexual characters so I’ve made quite a few ‘originally’ straight characters gay. And I don’t need much to accomplish that. For the most part the original information is still valid, but I changed little details and created my own story. I loved writing these stories, the whole creative process of it as well as the reaction you get from readers.

Moving on from fanfiction

So when I started writing my first original story I had this really simple idea – similar to the type of ideas I would have while I was writing fanfiction. I had a female character, a lesbian female character who had lost her girlfriend in an accident of some sort and she would do basically do everything and anything to get her girlfriend back. But dead is pretty final even in this world that I had made up. And then she hears about a group of scientists who think that they can travel to alternate universes. And she wants to become part of it and as a journalist she claims that they need her skills to tell the world about what they had discovered.

That was the idea I had, but what I didn’t take into consideration is the fact that you need a setting, characters and backgrounds and in this case an alternate setting and doppelgangers for my characters – at least for some of them. I had literally only thought about my main character, what I wanted her story to be. But before that was all I needed to worry about so that was my first mistake. I started writing with not much information to go on. And I thought that I could wing it. Somehow I did make it to 50 000 words, don’t ask me how. I knew that I was just making stuff up as I was going along. In the end those 50 000 words were riddled with plot holes, one after another. And I can assure you of one thing, I never did anything with it. Problem is that I could never get the science part down – not even a little bit. It was the idea of alternate universes that really spoke to me but I The Doctor has his sonic screwdriver and in Stargate they have obviously their stargate. However thinking of some ‘new’ technology without sounding like a total nut, that is so not my forte and I realized that I could never do it any justice at least not the science part – the terminology and all that. So I decided to skip that idea even though I still like it.

The next year I still had this story in the back of my mind, I wanted to do it justice and I had figured out a way to write the story differently. Focus more on my main character and her struggles. I started the story earlier on, so you could see the relationship bloom between my main characters and feel the pain the pain when she lost her love. I wanted to write a love story and the whole science thing would still be part of the story but it wouldn’t be something I would be focusing on. Again I made it to 50 000 but I never worked on it past November. I am so done with writing once November is over that I struggle to continue in December of course December is also a busy month at work and in general with the holidays and all that.

I have tried different ways to prepare for Nanowrimo, I’ve tried the snowflake method. I read several books and followed websites, to try and find the perfect way to get a good story going. So far I haven’t succeeded. But I’ve figured out that there is no guide to the perfect story or outline. One method might work for that particular person, but it might not work for the next. I try it but if it doesn’t work, I move on. I take with me what works for me and  and I hope that one day I will find what works for me. In my opinion there is no guideline on how to tell your stories. When we start Nanowrimo we basically pledge to write 1667 words a day for a month. Let’s face it that is a lot of words. Of course you can technically write them in under and hour if you do three twenty minute word sprints of about six hundred words each. Sometimes words sprints work and sometimes they don’t – in my case I can often chuck whatever I wrote into the bin and start over.

You can even see it with very well known published writers, some might write thousands of words a day, while other writers take years and years to complete a single book. Like I said no two writers are the same or follow the same steps. I have been reading some books on writing and how to do it, I have tried different methods from those books and websites with varied success. Yet, from everything I read and tried I took what worked for me. And using those methods is how I try to write my stories.

There is no simple answer on how to tell a story or how to write one for that matter, you just have to sit down and try it.