A year in hindsight

For me 2015 started and ended on a bad note and the middle of the year wasn’t much to speak of either. No, 2015 surely wasn’t what I expected it to be. There is not much you can do about it. Some things just aren’t in your control. So instead of focusing on the bad things this year offered me I want to focus on the good things.

I’m pretty sure that this is a year I’ll never forget and I have (privately) written more than enough about the bad things so there is no need to document that for futures sake.

So let’s see what I can come up with in the 2015, a year in hindsight review.

Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge

On January first I started participating in the Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge. I signed up for 50 books, a huge number (for me anyway) which I knew I wouldn’t be able to reach by the end of the year. However the reason why I did it was because I wanted to make sure that I would get started right away, otherwise I would just procrastinate and most likely never really start. I read 21 books throughout the year even more than I had hoped for. I will make a separate post about the books I read and the extra challenge I added for myself.

Winterberg

My parents took me with them on a vacation to Winterberg, a small town in Germany which is normally especially busy during the winter because it is in an area close to the Netherlands where you can ski and snowboard. We were there in the summer and I had the best time, it was the first time – that I can remember – that we were somewhere without an ocean or a lake in sight. I didn’t really know what to expect but I loved it. It was really what I needed this year has been filled to the brim with stress. And those couple of days – also because I didn’t have my phone the mini-usb was refusing to load my phone – were spend in complete relaxation.

Nanowrimo

I was convinced that this year was doomed, it would have been the first year since I started Nano that I wouldn’t make it. Especially since I was having such a hard time in my personal life. But I made it. And so far it was the best Nanowrimo experience ever. While I was writing I found myself in the flow constantly, no matter how tense the situation was my story allowed me to step away from it all. It was an escape, I was happy that I found it because I’m not sure if I would have made it through November and December as well as I did.

Yoga

Another thing which helped me make it through this year is yoga. If anyone would have told me that I would ever be this invested in yoga I would have laughed so hard. It was something that I didn’t get, a bunch of people sitting on mats doing impossible positions and calling it relaxing. Yes, I was one of those people who’d said all of those typically comments made about yoga. And now (for the past two years) I have been one of those people. It has helped me to stay calm during situations in which I normally would have flown off the handle, which would have made the situation worse for myself.

My colleagues

Let’s face it, without them I wouldn’t have made it through this year. We are all in the same difficult and hard to explain situation, besides us no one really knows what it was like, what happened and what has been said and done to us. The way we stood up for each other and the way we stuck together is what kept us all strong no matter how hard or difficult the situation became. We made tough choices – no, strike that we had no choice, we had to do something which no one wanted to do. We did it together and it made the load lighter for all of us.

My family

Without them where would I be. Not where I am today, certainly I wouldn’t be feeling as good as I am right now. I sit here with a smile on my face writing this. Ready to put this horrible year behind me, and step into the future.

#GirlLove

I want to share this once more, #GirlLove because I think it’s important and an easy way to make the world a better place.

2016

What I hope for in the new year is not impossible, neither is it a big thing I just want to stay true to myself and continue to be this strong person. Because in these past few months I have surprised myself in a very positive way and I am proud of myself. And I like this person that I’ve become, so my wish for the new year is to continue to work on myself and more importantly I want to feel this positive about myself.

Maybe that is what I needed to learn in 2015, to finally love myself and be positive about myself.

Anyway, I wish you all the best for the new year and may all your dreams come true!

I almost wrote ‘May the odds be ever in your favor’ … but that would be weird.

2016

Advertisements

#GirlLove

This is something I haven’t done before but sometimes you just need to try something new.

I want to share with you all this video called ‘The #GirlLove Challenge’ by the amazing Lilly Singh aka ||Superwoman||. If you haven’t watched her videos on YouTube you’re missing out. But please before you watch the other videos take your time and watch this video first. From the beginning to the very end, there is an important message she wants to share with all of us.

Did you watch it? Good. If not do it, really it’s inspiring and it might not at all be about what you think it is about.

A video like this is something we all need to share, we need to show people that this needs to stop. Women shouldn’t hate other women, girls shouldn’t bitch about other girls. But it’s a problem, we all know that it is. We have all been at that spot were another girl said mean things about us. Or maybe we were the ones talking about other girls or we participated in a conversation with some friends. There is no doubt about it, we’ve all been there and we’ve all taken part. This video might be the first time we realize it, but it’s never too late to change our ways and with the end of the year in sight we might want to choose a different New Years Resolution for 2016.

||Superwoman|| on average reaches about 7.2 million people with her YouTube channel, about 6 million subscribers are girls and women. Six million is a huge number, but that is not enough we need to make this video spread like an oil-spill. Every girl in the world should see this. I love how she reached out to other YouTubers and friends to help her spread the message.

Who do you admire?

I would have to say Beth Hart. When I  first became a fan it was 1999 – she was at a radio show performing live, a radio show which I normally didn’t listen to but for reasons unknown on this day I did – I immediately needed to know more about this woman. I could only find a few songs but there was something about her voice that connected with me. I had a hunger to know more about her and to hear more songs. But at that time there was hardly any information, the internet wasn’t the way it is today. All I knew was that she was very addicted to drugs and alcohol and that she was in a really bad place. I found a couple of short videos on YouTube and that really scared the shit out of me. She looked horrible, really skin and not focused at all. At that point I was convinced that there was no way she would ever get back on a stage and do the things she does today. In 2004 however I was very surprised to hear that she was going to perform a show in Paradiso, Amsterdam all the way over here in the Netherlands. I knew that she was from originally from LA and I never expected that I would be able to see her perform live in front of an audience, especially not in the Netherlands.

A ticket was purchased quickly – the cheapest ticket in my history of concert tickets, I might add – and I was eagerly awaiting the day. January 15th, 2004 – I’ll never forget that day. I was surprised by the woman who stepped onto the stage – she was almost unrecognizable. She looked so much different from what I had seen in those pictures and videos. Healthier and most of all, happier. She was so grateful to everyone that came out to see her and so grateful to be there. Both happy that she was alive and still able to perform. She promised that she would be back and as soon as the tickets went on sale I purchased them. I’ve seen her perform over the years – I think – about twenty times, each time is special and no two shows are the same.

Beth Hart hit rock bottom, more than once but each time she came out stronger. And today she looks better than she’s ever done before. So healthy and happy, she’s not afraid to tell about her struggles and she certainly doesn’t hide them. She warns people not to make the same mistakes she did and through spreading the knowledge I’m sure that she’s saved people from making the same mistakes. I’ve never met a more inspiring woman in my life – and I’m grateful for the chance I had to tell her that. I’m sure that she has no idea who I am, but I’m grateful that I had my chance to tell her that I admire her for who she is. And I can’t wait to see her perform again – it’s been too long – I want to hear her stories and laugh at her jokes. Her music inspires me, her voice warms my soul and her words resonate with me. I admire her.

Do you know a woman or a girl like that? Let me know, I would love to hear the story.

Also if you think that this is an important message to spread. Please do so by sharing the video and spreading the #GirlLove. If you do please make sure that you use the hashtag because it will help the @malalafund, if you want to know more about the Malalafund please follow this link.

 

Book 21 -Man in the Dark by Paul Auster

maninthedark-paulausterThis is the second book I read by Paul Auster. I really like the way he writes, it’s honest and clear and at the same time there is an awful lot of mystery. It’s really intriguing to read. It takes a while before you get a grasp of what’s happening, before the pieces of the puzzle start to make sense. That is something which I really. But I wasn’t really impressed by the story in general.

I have to admit that I read through this book quite easily, but I don’t get it. I honestly don’t get the story … well I understood it but then suddenly on part of the story ended without explanation. Part of this book is about August Brill, he’s an author – a seventy two year old man, who recently lost his wife and is forced to live with his daughter and granddaughter because he was in a car wreck and his leg is shattered.

He has trouble sleeping and at night he starts to tell himself stories, the main character in them is Owen Brick a man who suddenly finds himself in an alternate world in the middle of a war.

[spoilers – highlight the text below to read]
He’s being told that if he wants to safe this ‘world’ he has to kill August Brill in his own world because that’ll stop the war. But then suddenly the story the story about Owen Brick gets interrupted and it doesn’t end. Suddenly the story goes back to August Brill and it stays with him and his grown granddaughter until the end. August isn’t killed at the end, so you never know if Owen Brick succeeds in his mission and therefor saves the alternate world from the war.
[/spoiler]

The stories by Paul Auster, at least the two stories I’ve read so far ‘Travels in the Scriptorium’ and ‘Man in the Dark’ aren’t too long. Both are well under 200 pages and they are easy reads but at this point I don’t think that I will read another book.

Have you ever read a book like that? Where you close it and you feel completely unsatisfied? I wanted to know what happened to Owen Brick if he was able to solve the war in the alternate universe.

Book 20 – Yes please by Amy Poehler

yesplease-amypoehlerI set myself the goal of reading more books, because it’s one of those thing I love to do but didn’t spend a whole lot of time on. I had a huge amount of books at my apartment but I never got around to reading them. I set the goal for myself to read 50 books, a huge amount which I knew I would never make. There is a reason why I set the goal so high, I’m a procrastinator when it comes to these things and setting the goal high meant that I had to start as soon as I could. This is the 20th book I’ve read this year and in all honesty I believe that is probably 19 books more than I read last year. But it’s December and there is no way I’ll make it. I didn’t read anything during November, for obvious reasons I was focused with Nanowrimo and dealing with a lot of personal crap which consumed most of my time.

Since I started reading this book ‘Yes please’ by Amy Poehler in the last week of August this is the book that took the longest time for me to complete. By all means that has nothing to do with the book. I’ve just been reading several books at the same time and an autobiography is the easiest one to put aside. Especially this one, it’s not a continues story of Amy Poehler’s life, it’s more compilation of personal stories with a funny undertone which you can read and put aside when needed.

Amy Poehler is one of those people who is extremely funny – in my opinion – I really like her! Even if you don’t know who she is, it’s very likely you’ve seen some of her sketches from SNL. For instance the sketches where Amy Poehler and Tina Fey portray Hillary Clinton and  Sarah Palin running for office. Or maybe you have seen them to the presentation of the Golden Globes, which they did more than once. If not, take a look at this video – take a look anyway I think it’s pretty funny.

There are a lot of different parts of this book which I loved, but the thing that really hit me was the most perfect quote that could have read last week – in regards to the position that I’m in right now. It was as if she was talking to me – if you skip the famous part – directly. It was so perfect.

‘Good or bad, the reality is most people become “famous” or get “great jobs” after a very, very long tenure shoveling shit and not because they handed their script to someone on the street.’ – Amy Poehler

I guess it was what I needed to hear at that exact point in time.

If you can laugh at the jokes that this multi-talented comedian, writer, presenter, actor, director, producer, voice-artist and now also author of her own book makes, you can laugh while reading this book. I can highly recommend it, this book really made me laugh out loud. And I had people looking at me like I was crazy, but who cares. I was having fun.

 

My story – Silver Linings

Silver Linings is the working title, I have no idea if this will stick of if I will come up with something else.  Though I think it’s pretty likely that it will change.

First things first, I tried to write this story last year during Nanowrimo. I was looking for a story idea on the forum and I came across this very small idea. I don’t remember who posted it which is a shame and I should have documented it better, but I didn’t.

What if tattoos just randomly appear on a persons skin?
– Nano forum member / 2014

It intrigued me, it was so small and simple. Yet at the same time there was so much behind it, so many ways you could go with that simple basic idea. I instantly liked it and I wanted to see if I could write a story about it.

So I started thinking and I came up with a character – a young woman who has been in my mind for a long time. I never really saw a way to fit her in a story and now it seemed like I found a place for her. I named her Ainsley McCallum, a name which had been playing in my mind for a while.

Last year I had this vague idea of what I wanted to happen, I guess it could be seen as something similar to The Hunger Games, Divergent and other similar books. A girl in her late teens, early twenties who has to fight society to make it a better place. So yeah, in that regard it’s definitively similar. I am a huge fan of The Hunger Games (both the books and the movies) there is no shame in admitting that and writing a story which can be compared to that is not a shame at all. I wasn’t familiar with Divergent however. When I kind of ‘pitched’ my idea to my writer’s group I was quickly told that it sounded a lot like Divergent. That scared me, I didn’t read those books – hardly knew anything about it nor did I see the movies.

So I tried to stay far away from it. Because I didn’t want to ‘steal’ from it. And at the same time I was kind of bummed out because I felt like I really had something going, something interesting. While I know all about The Hunger Games I wasn’t afraid to borrow from that because I knew what to avoid. Eventually I asked for some more advice and someone told me that it might be a good idea to watch the Divergent movies because I could see for myself if my story was similar or not. I did, I watched the first movie and while I liked it I can now tell you 100%that my story is completely different and that I have nothing to worry about. Obviously I was advised by people who didn’t read the books or saw the movies themselves.

The only thing I do want to borrow from The Hunger Games books is the way that Suzanne Collins writes her characters. They are flawed and I love that, Katniss doesn’t make the right choices – she’s being influenced by the situation and people around her, she makes mistakes and fights to correct them to the best of her abilities with varying results. That is in my opinion what makes the characters real and those are the type of characters I want to write. I want Ainsley to be flawed, I want her to make mistakes, hurt the people who care for her the most. Mistrust the people who she should believe and believe in those she can better forget about. I want Ezra to make mistakes and fight to correct them, even if it seems hopeless.

Nanowrimo 2014

I started Nano in November 2014 and I struggled through the story, with each scene I wrote I wondered if I was doing something too similar to popular books and movies. And I was literally writing the most boring story ever. I managed to make it to 50 000 words, just don’t ask me how. When I hit the 50K I instantly stopped writing! I was still building up to who knows what. My story had an introduction freaking longer than the introduction and family lines of all the hobbits in The Hobbit. And the worst thing about it was that literally nothing interesting had happened. Nothing at all. It was as if I blocked myself from writing interesting scenes, I had a huge deal of what I now (in 2015) use as back-story.

Ainsley was a character who I wanted to struggle with life, she was supposedly on the edge of society. Being the victim of Laws who stopped her from being a regular contributing member of society because she didn’t get a sign (tattoo). It’s not something she has any control over, but it’s is something she’s being punished for anyway even if she can’t do anything to change it. How do you fight against something you can’t control? What does she have to do to get control?

Only I forgot something important when I started writing. She wasn’t struggling, not really. She was just having a bad time and didn’t get what she wanted – but that is part of life I guess. Ainsley’s best friend – Ezra Miles and his family were helping her out in a major way. Giving her a home, caring for her and while it might not be easy when your own parents can’t or won’t help you. She really wasn’t really struggling – she had a roof over her head, a warm meal and caring people around her (a surrogate family). So I knew that I was going to have to do something about that. And that is why I stopped writing after I hit 50k, I didn’t know what to do with the story at that time.

Camp Nanowrimo – April 2015

For months I thought about this story – obviously not constantly – but it took a while before I realized what I should do and how to change my story for the better. Then April came around and it was Camp Nano time, my writers group and I decided pretty last minute to sign up. I only signed up for 10k because I was too busy with other things – mainly work. I knew that it would give me  a chance to see if I could get the story going in a different more exciting way. I started writing and right away I knew that I was doing better. I made some decisions that seemed small in the beginning but they had a huge impact on the storyline.

With this new start that I wrote during Camp Nanowrimo I knew that I had a good base to build the rest of the story on. I didn’t add anything new to my story during the summer but in September I started to work on my outline.

Nanowrimo 2015

One of the biggest changes I made was the fact that Ezra Miles was no longer Ainsley’s best friend – in fact I turned him into an enemy. Ezra and Ainsley were in school together, both very competitive. When Ezra turned sixteen, his sign made him an apprentice of the guards while Ainsley never received her sign. Ainsley wants to survive, more than once she’s taken in by the guards which over the years has only increased the tension between the two of them. Ainsley doesn’t trust him, but he might be the person she needs to rely on …. who knows what’ll happen. I haven’t reached that part yet.

At this point I have 50K on this years version. And it is a whole lot more interesting, Ainsley has been caught by the guards, of course Ezra was one of the guards who caught her. She’s been interrogated, humiliated, investigated and put in jail. She escaped from jail and is currently on the run. At this point she ran straight into Ezra who was waiting at a location where someone else send her, supposedly because it would be safe. A place that no one knew about, so what will happen now? Will Ainsley escape from Ezra and find her own path in life or does she have to trust him? And if she does, is it real trust or just so that he might trust her and give her an easier escape? There are so many possibilities to this story now. Not even I know exactly where it will go. But I am very passionate about this version.

To me this sounds a whole lot better than the version I wrote in 2014, and who knows maybe one day you can read for yourself if I succeeded.

 

 

Nanowrimo Winner!

NaNo-2015-Winner-Banner

As impossible as it seemed for the biggest part of the month I can proudly say I did it! Seven out of seven wins and the best win so far!

Some stats I’d like to share with you:

Word count by day:
Wednesday November 4th804
Thursday November 5th509
Friday November 6th902
Saturday November 7th1519
Sunday November 8th1296
Monday November 9th1877
Tuesday November 10th1076
Wednesday November 11th956
Thursday November 12th1101 – 10K
Friday November 13th730
Saturday November 14th5065
Sunday November 15th3553
Monday November 16th304
Tuesday November 17th796 – 20K
Wednesday November 18th516
Thursday November 19th0
Friday November 20th0
Saturday November 21st2024
Sunday November 22th1291
Monday November 23th2210
Tuesday November 24th659
Wednesday November 25th801
Thursday November 26th0
Friday November 27th6000 – 30K
Saturday November 28th5552
Sunday November 29th3231 – 40K
Monday November 30th8212 -50K

That means that I had nine days where I reached the daily word count target or blew past it. Six days with a zero as a word count. My magic word count line was at 5000 words, I surpassed that number 5065 (14th)-  6000 (27th) – 5552 (28th) – 8212 (30th). I got my work cut out for me next year!

National Novel Writing Month 2015-11-30 20-37-22

There is another post coming up about my story and the changes I made, since this was a re-write of last years project. Because I think that these changes made my story better.

And about the way that I used Scrivener, because that program is awesome! It helped me a lot during Nanowrimo.