Nanowrimo 2017

Nanowrimo-2017

It’s November! You know what that means, it’s time to sit down and write those novels. Because they won’t get written if you don’t choose a time to start, and what better time to start than right now? It’s November first and I am sitting behind my computer starting it up. I opened Scrivener and I looked at my file which is all ready to go.

Nano_statsI love Nanowrimo, and I really like writing but it hasn’t been easy for me lately. I haven’t done any prep and I am completely blank right now. I don’t a plan, not even an idea what I’ll be writing about, I don’t have a story in mind. But maybe that is the charm about Nanowrimo. You can do what ever you want and write what feels good. Chances are that most of my writing this month will be in the form of blog posts just like this one.

I have some ideas in mind for blog posts. I’ll also be focusing on short stories. I want to get back into the flow of writing – especially creative writing since it has been a while.

This is my ninth year of participating in Nanowrimo and I’ve won seven times so far. Only this past year I didn’t make it. In all honesty I was in a similar situation last year as I am in right now. I didn’t have a story idea then either. Nevertheless I feel better this year about the situation. Last year I was struggling with myself, I wasn’t feeling right. And that is different right now, I feel good. And a lot more positive than I was feeling last year.

Since this is my ninth year of participating I do think that I have some tips to share with you;

  •  Nanowrimo is perfect to finally get that story on paper – or your computer screen whichever you prefer. Because writers come in all shapes and sizes. Lots of people have the idea that they want to write a book someday – however if you keep calling it ‘someday’ that day might never come around. It’s better to choose the moment right now and start.
  • Nanowrimo is not about quality but about quantity. It’s about getting that first draft on paper – don’t read back what you’ve written leave that for December. Just keep typing all the way through November.
  • What works for someone else might now work for you, sometimes it feels like there are just as many ways to write as there are writers. Some people prep before starting November while others sit down on November first and just start typing. Even I after all of these years of writing haven’t found the perfect way to write that novel.
  • You can find inspiration in many places. It might be that song you hear on the radio, or that story you read about in the paper. Or maybe that television show you watch during you Netflix and chill evening gave you a perfect idea for a story.
  • If you have the chance see if you can find a writers group. They can really motivate you in your writing. It’s always good to bounce ideas of off one another. And you might find some really good friends. I am part of a writer’s group and every year we add a couple of people during November some stay, some won’t but all in all we have a very helpful creative bunch of people.
  • If you need more writing tips follow this link, here I collected useful links on my Pinterest. If you’re looking for writing prompts I have a separate board for that on my Pinterest as well.

To all Nanowrimo participants I want to say good luck this month. Get those novels written, now is your chance!

If you haven’t started yet, don’t worry it’s not too late. You can still add that novel and join in.

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September in hindsight

September_2017

Okay, so let’s get this show back on the road. I really need to do better when it comes to my blog. I was doing so well and in less than a month I completely ruined all of my hard work. And that is a shame.

In all honesty I don’t think that I have a whole lot to tell about my month of September. All I know is that this is the busiest month of them all when it comes to my job and I worked a lot of overtime. Basically two hour extra each day and I also worked two Saturdays. And what little spare time I had left was literally booked with other appointments as well so September came and went so fast that I can hardly comprehend that it is October already.

NoSun Festival

The weekend of the 23rd was simply said awesome. On Saturday we had the NoSun Festival, a sort of reunion festival organized by the travel agency. Two of my fellow travel companions and I decided to go there. We arrived just before one in the afternoon. Our first job, setting up our own tent for the evening. OMG! Last time I put up a tent was in my early teens – I think I was twelve we where on a camp with everyone in my class to celebrate that we were about to leave school – so it had been a while. Luckily for me I had an expert with me who helped me. Without Lind,a I’m sure the whole unpacking and put it up somewhat presentable wouldn’t have happened so smoothly and when Daniel arrived his tent was set up even faster.

Despite my precautions, extra warm clothes to sleep in that night it was cold – ice-cold. And by the time morning came around I felt like a freaking popsicle. In all honesty, I don’t think I really slept at all during that night. Now you must know that every single person that stayed the night received a tent for themselves. And there were a lot of us staying. All of the tents were green and there was literally one person who brought their own tent with them. So you really don’t want to know how many times I heard people exclaim during the nigh; ‘How the hell am I going to find my tent!’ And each and every time the answer was the same; ‘It’s the green one!’ Anyway finally morning came around,  and at that point I didn’t really believe that I would ever feel warm again. Though I have to admit a warm shower does wonders – it took a while to heat up but not nearly as long as I expected it to take. Besides the hot shower we also had a really nice breakfast outside. Bread with bacon and eggs, that really helped. Besides that the sun was shining and it looked like it was going to be another beautiful day.

City trip: Madurodam / The Scheveningen Pier

Coincidentally we also planned some family time during the same weekend, so after I left the campsite behind I made my way to The Hague. Where my family and I went to visit Madurodam. For those who don’t know what Madurodam is let me explain it. Madurodam is a park in which you can see scaled versions of famous Dutch buildings and object all scaled to 1:25. I’d been there years ago, many many years ago so it was nice to see it again. But in my honest opinion it’s not all that spectacular. Of course you’ll see a lot of families with small kids and often grandparents with them and a lot of tourists.

It was a fun to watch and I guess that it’s really interesting when you get to see all of these buildings in a day when you are a tourist or a child. But I prefer to see them for real. In my honest opinion that makes it all the more interesting. But I can understand the need for a place like this where you can show it all at once. And give a little history lesson while you’re at it. Though I’m sure that the real deal is at least ten times more beautiful.

We spend a while at Madurodam but eventually we decided to take a tram to the sea. We were about five minutes away so it was perfect. And the weather was simply beautiful, the beach was filled with people – enjoying what we all thought to be the last good summer weekend of the year. We walked around for a while and enjoyed watching all the people with kites in al different sizes and colors. We had a meal at The Pier which was really nice, they finally gave the Pier a new destiny. For years it had been closed down and it was looking awful. Granted there still is a lot to do but they are definitely working on it and they made one of those food markets inside where you have all of these small market stalls and each and everyone has a different type of food. Often from different countries as well, not exactly the regular type of food you’d get at the store. I choose fish and chips but in an Asian style. With red peppers and spring unions and a chilly sause. Absolutely loved it!

Looking ahead:

  • Our second offical reunion, again planned in Utrecht this time because we all wanted to check out the Prison Island escape rooms.
  • I’m going to a Zoo, probably in October depending on the weather.
  • The Nanowrimo Kick-off party is about to happen.
  • And with that comes the beginning of Nanowrimo
  • I need to come up with a plan for November – most likely I’m going to be a rebel! We’ll see …  maybe I’ll make working on my blog part of my Nano mission.

 

 

 

July in hindsight

July_2017

Vacation-time

The end of my vacation in  Sardinia was on July first, it was the day I came home very late in the evening due to some delays. My parents picked me up at the airport, they were coincidentally also on vacation and where close enough to pick me up. They dropped me off at a Hostel because it was in the middle of the night and we would drive home the next day. I’ve stayed at the King’s Inn Hostel, which is a great place if you need to stay in Alkmaar for a night and it’s pretty close to Schiphol as well. And the price is really good, of course with a Hostel you might have to share your room with strangers but if it’s only for a night I don’t really mind. However I was lucky enough that I had the room to myself. The other person who would share the room with me didn’t show up.

Concerts and festivals

Beth Hart was at Bospop, the ultimate reason for me to check out a different festival than Pinkpop – which I usually go to. Bospop is a lot smaller and with a smaller festival there are of course also less visitors. But the feel of the festival is about the same, the audience ranges in age from teenagers to people in their fiftees and sixtees. I’ve seen a lot of good performances but Beth Hart will always be at the top of my list. She was amazing!

Reading and writing

I wrote a lot during July, most of it was of course all of my posts about my vacation! About 2621 words in total, which I’m really proud of. It has been a while sine I wrote that many words. Of course I’m not counting November because that is a different month – a special month in which my writing usually goes off the charts.

I read three books these past couple of months and I wrote the review, just now already in August. But I finished the last book a couple of weeks ago, but my vacation blogs were more important to me. So here you can find my view on the ‘When Women Were Warrios’ series. Which I absolutely loved! No real surprise there! It’s about strong women … what more can I ask for.

Looking ahead:

  • My grandmother turns 90 in August!
  • I’m going on a weekend trip to Utrecht with my vacation friends! So looking forward to that!
  • Otherwise I don’t have much planned for this coming month.

June in hindsight

June_2017

I know it has been a while since June ended in fact July has already ended and we’re already on August fifth when I start writing this. The reason for that is that I want to include my vacation in the ‘June in hindsight’ post.  There is no real reason to write a post looking back on June when I can’t include links to my vacation posts.

Hanson – the 25th anniversary tour

On June second I was able to go see Hanson for the 25th Anniversary Tour! Yes, they have been a band for 25 years and I have been a fan ever since I first heard Mmmbop on the radio. You can say whatever you want about Hanson but I love them and I still listen to there music, there old songs as well as their new stuff. To those who have no idea, Hanson has made six studio albums. And they have always been active with their own fan network, producing songs, doing tours, setting up their own beer company as well as their own festival and raising their families. These guys have been busy, but no matter how busy they have been they have alwys made time for their fans and charity projects.

I was super excited to see them once again and I’m sure that I will be there when they come back! I’ve been a fan of Hanson for twenty years! That realization makes me feel old. But what can I say it’s the truth!

Graffiti festival

Every year during the month of June there is one weekend were graffiti artists from all over the world get together in my hometown to give our bike roundabout a new look. DJ’s play music while the artists create their magic. Underneath you’ll find a few pictures of the amazing and almost unbelievable creations. This year the theme was ‘Step into the Arena’ – some of the artists took that literally.  The two gladiators in the arena are by far my favorite creation. These guys where actually spray painting themselves onto the wall as gladiators!

City trips

There were no city trips during the month of June because I had planned my vacation to Sardinia at the end of this month. You can read my complete day by day travel log here: Saturday – the meeting, Sunday, Monday – the beach day, Tuesday, Wednesday – mountainbike trip, Thursday – boat trip, Friday – the inland excursion, Saturday – saying goodbye. I had the best time at my vacation, the group I stayed with at vacation was awesome. I’ve met some amazing people! And we had a lot of fun!

As you can see June was the month I wrote the most posts about! It was an extremely busy yet very fun month!

Looking ahead:

Well since July has already happened it’s not all that hard to fill in what’s going to happen.

  • Beth Hart at Bospop! My festival heart has been healed – or should I say hart?
  • Surf afternoon with my vacation friends – or our first mini-reunion!
  • Setting up plans for a second and real reunion!
  • Spending a lot of time writing my vacation blogs.
  • Having meetings with my writer friends at the library on Friday nights!

Sardinia – June 30th

Sardinia_2017

Friday came around and that meant that we were going on our inland excursion. A bus picked us up at the campsite and would drive us around all day in the Province of Nuoro. Mario who picked us up on the first day and who gave us that marvelous wine-tasting was also the person who would be the guide on this trip. Marco is an awesome guy, who has a very special way of explaining things. He constantly forgets details and then gets back to them right in the middle of telling something different. Which makes for some very laughable random comments. As you can imagine we had a lot of fun and even though some of the information was very serious Marco knows how to keep things interesting.

Irgoli

Our first stop was at a small town where a lot of the houses are painted. Initially it was a way of protest mostly towards the government of Italy since Sardinia always felt left out when choices were being made that would have an influence on all Italians. It kind of reminded me of Greek Fresco’s. They where all over the town in all different shapes and sizes. And all so in different styles. Some where old while others were painted a year or two ago.

Tomba dei Giganti – Giant’s grave

One of the stops was at the Tomba dei Giganti – translated to Giant’s Grave – which sounds like something straight out of a novel. It’s not however, it’s a graveside which belongs to a civilization which long ago lived in Sardinia. The graves were build in the Bronze Age by the Nuragic civilization, they were collective tombs and there have been about 800 discovered in Sardinia. Which is a huge number if you think about it! Sardinia is not that big! The centerpiece is a stone a couple of meters high, the top is rounded and in the bottom there is a whole cut out. Behind it is the grave chamber, meters deep with graves on either side of the small corridor.

Monte Gonare

The next stop was Monte Gonare, a mountain in a beautiful environment we were told that once we reached the top we’d be able to see one fifth of the island. The uphill route was literally hopping from one stone to the next. There was an obvious path, but it wasn’t straight and it wasn’t easy to walk on, the path’s were filled with stones. But it was beautiful and we could see a lot of the surroundings because we rounded the mountain as we got higher up. On the top is a beautiful church, Marco opened the door but before he did that he banged on the wood. There was a beautiful, deep echoing sound. The acoustic sounded great. Once inside, one of the girls in our group sang two songs, it was absolutely beautiful. Especially because she is an amazing singer – even Marco who has been to this place so many times was visibly touched. He also asked us all to sit down in between two of the benches in the middle of the church. He closed the door so we were sitting in complete darkness. Once our eyes adjusted to the dark he opened the door on the opposite side of the church. At first we were completely blinded by the light, next we were treated to a gorgeous view of a true masterpiece. One view on heaven and earth.

On our way back we made one last stop Orosei, where we ate an ice cream and in some cases two ice creams. It was simply delicious! According to Marco the best ice cream store on Sardinia.

Limoncello tasting

Once we came back to the campsite we had time to eat and then get ready for the evening. Part one of the program was a Limoncello tasting! Yes, after our wine tasting we were now going to try five different home-made limoncello’s. We started with a regular limoncello, then we tasted a creamy limoncello (which was really good and by far my favorite). Followed by a limoncello with pomegranate, one with lemon and mandarine mixed and one with only mandarine.

And then …. disco!

Yes, disco! We ended our last night with a disco! It was so much fun, admittedly at first we all laughed about the idea but ‘cos it sounded so child-like ‘disco’. But it was the perfect ending of a very fun vacation. All we had left was our last day at the beach and our flight home.

 

 

Sardinia – June 29th

Sardinia_2017

Thursday was the second free day in our vacation, but this time we choose to go on an excursion by ourselves. We could add all kinds of different activities if we wanted but we decided on a boat trip. During the trip we’d be able to see the island from the seaside and we would go to three different beaches which could only be reached by boat.

Apparently I’m one of those people who get seasick. I know that I’m not too good with buses and I kind of figured that the same thing would go for boats but I’ve never before felt so miserable on a boat. So far I’ve been on a couple of trips from Den Helder to Texel but that it only a twenty minute crossing I guess that it’s not enough time to feel miserable. I’ve also once made an overnight trip from Rotterdam to York in the UK, I remember not feeling to great then either however those boats are probably a lot more stable. If you ask me this one seemed to roll over the waves from the left to the right and from the front to the back. I was really struggling. It was one of those boats where the top deck is flat and we – our group of fifteen people – took up a large part of the floorboards, we were sitting around waiting for the boat to arrive at the first beach when one of the people in my group suggested for me to lay down. I’m so glad that they told me to do this because I was almost instantly feeling a lot better. So the rest of the boat trip I spend laying down on the floorboards only to get up when we stopped at one of the beaches.

The beaches we visited were absolutely stunning! All three were very different but all were beautiful in their own way.

Sardinia – June 28th

Sardinia_2017

Ever since I read the what activities we were going to do on our holiday this was my favorite one! I loved the walking down the hill, I absolutely enjoyed myself during the water sports. I was sure that I would love the boat trip and I always enjoy cultural trips so Friday would also be no problem for me. But I was looking forward to this day the most. The mountain bike trip!

I don’t know if I ever talked about this on my blog – I honestly don’t think so – but I have my own mountain bike. I’ve had it for a couple of years now and I love it. I really enjoy going out on my bike into the woods and just feeling the ground under your wheels. The cracking and crunching sound that branches and stones make underneath your wheels, I love it. It’s so relaxing.

So the chance to do this in another country in different circumstances and of course a different environment really appealed to me. I couldn’t wait to get on that bike and get going. We had to get up at seven in the morning … scratch that we had to be at breakfast at seven. So we could leave on time and get back before the day was getting too hot.

I think that I was ready to go at six this particular morning, but I guess I was the only one. So I spend some time reading a book in the hammock, while I waited for the others to go and get some breakfast. At seven thirty breakfast was done and I was completely hyped up. We received our bikes  – which were of really good quality, we all got a 29er mountain bike with all the good stuff on it. I myself have a 26 inch bike (which refers to the wheel size), and I always wanted to try out a 29er. Especially because they say that these bikes have better grip, are easier to ride because they can take obstacles with more ease and they in general are less prone to flipping you over the steering wheel. They ride smoother, it’s easier to get out of sand and it rolls through rough terrain easier. I was ready to experience all of that and more.

So we all got on our bike and got ready to ride off. They told us that it was going to be a  thirty five kilometer ride with a stop at the halfway point. This was supposed to be a beginner ride but honestly if this was supposed to be for beginners I really don’t want to see what they call an advanced ride. It was tough! I’m not going to lie about it, it really was.

Picture this, the Netherlands are flat … really flat except for the very south where I’m from and even then nothing close to the hills and mountains of Sardinia. If you have higher and steeper climbs, you’ll also have tougher descents. And that made it all a lot tougher add to that the fact that it was 36 degrees outside and you can do the math. In my group we had a couple of people who’d never been on a mountain bike. As well as a couple who have a cycling bike but I was the only one with any experience on a mountain bike. Anyway our group varied from absolute beginners to slightly more advanced riders. And we had it tough but one of the beginners wasn’t able to keep up with the pace. Besides that she really didn’t like the mountain biking, she was afraid and I can understand that. It’s certainly not for everyone. We all knew that there would be a point at seven kilometers where we could decide if we wanted to go back or continue. She decided that she’d had enough. I think that it’s a good thing that you try something even if you’re doubtful that you’ll like it and even continue on when you’re afraid. She really broke some boundaries, set herself up to try something new. I would never see that as failure, merely as growth. I applaud her, she tried it and it wasn’t her thing there is no shame in that.

After the seven kilometer mark we knew that we had about ten kilometer to the halfway point what we did so far wasn’t really challenging and I was looking forward to getting on with the tougher stuff. Most of us were ready for it. As soon as we left we got some pretty steep climbs ahead of us and now I was the one struggling. I was feeling so confident literally minutes before and when that climb came I knew that I wasn’t going to make it all the way up. Especially because I got stuck in a track which was too sandy. Most of the other people in my group had experience in cycling – they are used to riding fast while I do the mountain biking thing at my own pace because usually I’m on my own when I ride my bike. I was really struggling to keep up but I couldn’t, nevertheless I was enjoying myself tremendously. Most of the ride I was the last person in the line. But I didn’t care. I decided that I was going to enjoy this, no matter what and I was not going to allow myself to be pushed over my own  I wasn’t afraid and I could easily handle the trail we followed. So that sure wasn’t the problem. Once the two men who guided us convinced themselves of the fact that I wasn’t afraid, they gave me the room to ride at my own pace and catch up with the others at certain points. Which was great, I loved it even more when I was riding down the track on my own. It’s what I do at home, what I’m used to. I was glad though when we reached the half way point. It was time to eat and drink something since it was so warm and we’d been so active.

The stop at the halfway point was a beautiful small place, hidden between the trees. It was one of those places where you would have walked or driven past if you didn’t know it was there. Simply beautiful and a perfect place to take a break.

After the break we continued our path through some small rivers, where we definitely had to get of our bikes. We had about seventeen kilometers to go after the break and little by little the terrain changed. From the hills we slowly but steadily made our way back towards the sea and ever closer to our end point the camping side.

The afternoon was for relaxation. I needed it! I’m gonna be honest here, I was really tired and I decided along with most of the other bikers that the swimming pool would be our place to retreat. Besides that I had my massage that same afternoon, there really couldn’t have been a better moment for a full body massage!

While we were at the swimming pool in the afternoon there was a bushfire at the beach and some people who decided to go to the beach were send back. All afternoon we could hear the planes over our camp side while they made their way from the sea in front of our camping to the beach which was in a small bay. Luckily the fire wasn’t too bad and besides us no one seemed really worried. Apparently bush fires happen in Sardinia all of the time. Especially in a dry summer like this, from what we heard it didn’t rain one drop since March. So the drought was at this point as bad as it usually would be in mid August and it was only the end of June!