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.

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October in Hindsight

Oktober_2017

The Reunion 2.0

Oktober first was our second reunion. Ten people from our vacation group had a second reunion, we had decided a while ago that we wanted to do an Escape Room. We decided that we would go to Prison Island in Utrecht. This time we went on October first and we met up at the Escape Island, it was so good to see everyone and to catch up. We had decided ahead of time that we would make two teams, one of four people and the other one had five players. The tenth person joined us at dinner. The Prison Island is set up in an old factory building. You have to walk up a couple of stairs to get to the prison as soon as you step through the door you enter a prison. The look and the feel of the whole place is just perfect. I had never been in an Escape Room so this was new to me. There was a short introduction by one of the ‘guards’ and each group received a chip with that chip we could open the doors and start the games. At any moment you could leave the room. Which is perfect, no need to panic if you’re claustrophobic. Which is always a good thing. After the explanation and introduction we were allowed to venture off into the prison. There are twenty-four cells and each cell is different.

I think that this makes for a really interesting afternoon, each room you can try as many times as you like. Only the best result is kept in the total score of your group. There is a screen on which you can see how your team is doing in relation to other teams that did the Prison Escape that day. Each room had their own game and the level of difficulty is also different for each room. In some rooms you simply have to answer questions, in another room you have to slam on buttons or figure out a puzzle. We had so much fun! Definitely a super positive recommendation for Prison Island at De Fabrique in Utrecht.

The Zoo

I love going to a Zoo, it had been a while but we received a couple of free tickets for Burgers Zoo in Arnhem. I think it’s interesting to see and to take in the animals. They are so fascinating and there is so much to learn about them. For the longest time I didn’t like to go to Zoo’s the reason for that was that we visited a Zoo which was just horrible. At the time friends of my parents said that it was a really nice place with lots of different animals and it was close by to where we used to live at the time. We actually went there and it turned out to be  a horrible place. Even as young as my sister and I were at the time we could see that it wasn’t a good place. It was a German Zoo, it has been closed down for a long time which is for the better. The animals were in these really small concrete boxes and I can still to this day vividly remember a polar bear in this white and blue painted concrete box with a tiny bit of water just looking plain miserable.

At that point we were done with Zoo’s. It took a long time before I wanted to visit one again. Actually it was only a couple of years ago, we have beautiful Zoo’s where it doesn’t feel like it’s a horrible place but where they seem to look for ways to make them look authentic. They have a beautiful Mangrove with huge butterflies, they are so beautiful. I made some awesome pictures.

Reading and writing

I haven’t written much this past month, but what I did write was my book review for American Gods.  It was a difficult one, I am still not sure what to say about it. I think it’s one of the toughest book reviews I’ve ever written. On one hand I thought the book as well as the television show were intriguing and interesting yet on the other hand it was at times really tough to follow and hard to understand. However I liked reading it and I might read it again in the future. Because I feel like this book requires multiple reads. I think that you get a lot deeper into the story and start understanding it on a different level. And that is an interesting thought one that needs exploring.

Looking ahead:

  • After October comes November and that means only one thing. It’s time for Nanowrimo! During November I’ll be writing – don’t know what but we’ll see I’ll get something written somehow.
  • The book
  • I don’t have any specific plans for November, on Friday evenings you can find me in the local library with my writers friends – also known as the Epic Blue Unicorn group. We might also plan a Saturday or Sunday in the Ikea in our hometown.
  • Writing, writing, writing …
  • A weekend trip to Groningen – maybe … we’ll see.
  • Secret Santa is coming up, better get planning!

Nanowrimo kick-off write in

Nanowrimo-2017

Our first Nanowrimo meeting of the year is a huge success, next to the usual suspects their are currently five new people who joined us at ‘our table’ in the local library. The first of our group arrived around four in the afternoon but most of us joined in around five or six – with work and all that other grown up stuff earlier isn’t an option for most of us. We completely took over one of the tables, even sent someone away who was already sitting there away – sorry! There just wasn’t enough space! It’s fun so much fun – everyone is talking about their novels and stories. As usual, all of the people in our group are so divers but when it comes down to it we all have the same passion and that is what makes it so much fun.

It’s in my opinion the best thing about a write-in, to hear all the different ideas everyone is working on. I’ve heard so many different story ideas from across the table its amazing. I feel a bit left out because I don’t have a story nor do I have an idea of what I shall be writing about. I’ve heard all about aliens and zombies, super heroes, a story with a historical aspect and a storyline set in the Harry Potter verse but set at a different and new school. There is so much creativity flowing around me.

I really need to get my shit together. Let’s be honest here I used to love creative writing – don’t get me wrong I still love it but I’ve been struggling for so long now that I sometimes wonder if I ever get that creativity back. Sometimes I wonder if it’s an age thing. I mean I’ve been changing so much I like different things now. However I still feel like writing is part of my life. But I really haven’t done it in a long, long time. It’s itching … I want to write but I feel empty. It’s strange how you can be so blocked, so closed off. That really is my goal this month. I want to get back into creative writing – will it get me to 50 000 words. I’m not sure, maybe with a combination of different things. There must be some writing exercises I can do.

Lately I’ve been watching a lot of Once upon a Time on Netflix, I’ve been catching up on the show. I stopped watching it when they decided to no longer air it in the Netherlands. The only way to see it would have been if I had gotten HBO. And now that I’m catching up on it I realize how much I love the show. Right now I’m thinking of writing fanfiction again, I’ve been doing that for years and it has always given me a lot of joy to write. So maybe I should just start out with some easy add ons to the show. Or search for some ‘Once upon a Time’ story prompts. I’m sure there should be enough to go around. That is what I’m going to do. I’ll search for some prompts and see if that’ll get me writing again.

Anyway during our first official Nanowrimo 2017 meeting we had homemade blue unicorn cupcakes and brownie cookies. And we talked and talked a lot. Of course that doesn’t really help your word count when it comes down to it but that doesn’t matter we talked about writing and in the end you feel rally inspired to continue once you get home. I for one continued writing this blog post with a smile on my face. I’m already thinking ahead of the next blog I’m going to write.

If you have a chance to join a write-in in your area if you’re participating in Nanowrimo I can only tell you to do one thing and that is to join them. It might not be the thing for you, but join them just to see if it might inspire you. I once didn’t have a very good experience with a write-in in a different city but I’m glad that I didn’t let that stop me from trying again a couple of years ago. When we initially started this group there were a few of us that stuck to it, the main group has been going strong for five years now and every year people have joined us. Some stay and some leave again but all in all our group has been growing and right now I can assure you that I have gained some amazing friends through my writing adventure. We’re not only just meeting up for writing during November but all throughout the year. And also for trips to different Cons – we’re all nerds – the movie theater and workshops or courses. And it looks like we’re meeting up for New Years Eve as well. A whole new world can open to you if you join a writers group. So do it, give yourself that chance to meet like-minded people.

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.

 

 

 

Festival: Bospop

It was my first time at Bospop, of course I’m not a newbie to the whole festival scene but every festival is different. Although I do have to admit that this one was quite similar to Pinkpop when it comes to the atmosphere and the type of audience. But of course the music is kind of similar as well. The festival is a lot smaller than Pinkpop in size and also in the type of bands that come to perform.

This year I didn’t go to Pinkpop because I’d already seen a lot of the bands in twelve times that I went to the festival and the bands and singers that I hadn’t seen yet were not exactly on my list of need to see – yes, I’m talking about you Justin Bieber!

However by going to Bospop I was able to heal my festival-heart! In more ways than one, I got to see some new bands which I’d never heard about before. Enjoy some classic bands and of course see Beth Hart.

 I arrived at the festival terrain – of course I was wearing one of my Beth Hart shirts! That is the benefit when you work for the company which prints the t-shirts for Beth Hart! That is a total coincidence by the way and not the reason why I work there. Anyway, I was wearing my shirt and I arrived at the road which led to the parking lot but was also a road through to some town. So valets had to ask everyone whether they wanted to park or where just driving through. One of the girls walked up to my car, she laughed and said; ‘With that shirt I don’t even need to ask if you want to park! Have fun!’

The second time that happened was at the gate. The woman who checked my ticket and did the security check told me that the rest of the fanclub was already inside. It made me smile Beth Hart has a very loyal following and at one time I was in the highest ranks of that fanclub. But due to personal reasons I decided to step back. However knowing that she still has that loyal group of fans rooting for her is always good to hear because in my opinion she deserves every single speck of fame and so much more.

But lets start at the beginning…

Stevie Nimmo Trio

When I arrived at the festival the Stevie Nimmo Trio was performing and the trouble is that they opened, and I had never heard of them before. So they really needed to warm up the audience and if the music isn’t familiar that’s quite hard.

Xander & the Peace Pirates

The second band I saw was Xander & the Peace Pirates, and let me tell you about this band. I had never heard of them and didn’t know their music, so I had literally no idea what to expect. Keith Xander the front-man of the band plays the guitar and he sings. Nothing special, I hear you say and you would be right about that. However Xander was born with only one hand. So he has a hook attached to his right arm and when he plays the guitar there is a plectrum attached to the hook. The music was cool, I really enjoyed listening to it. But just imagine I can’t manage to play the guitar with two hands, let alone with one hand and a hook and have people like Joe Bonamassa and Joe Satriani admire you.

Laurence Jones

Another performance which I really liked was Laurence Jones. Obviously a very young guy but the music he plays really spoke to me. He plays the blues, which I really love. This guy sure knows how to play that guitar! If you ever have the chance to see him live make sure you see it!!! I was really pleasantly surprised, this is why I love festivals I’d never heard of Laurence Jones but I have seen him life and I’ll be sure to check his music on Spotify.

Blof

In my opinion you can’t go wrong with a band like Blof in the afternoon especially when the weather is nice and warm. Everyone knows these songs, it’s a very well known Dutch band. And you can always spot people singing along, we know these lyrics. The songs are classics after all.

Vintage Trouble

What a show! That really is all I can say. This bands front-man is a true entertainer! He was literally everywhere – even between the audience at one point in the show. That is what you want to see if you go to a show!

Delv!s

The same that goes for Laurence Jones goes for Delv!s. The music was awesome, he has a beautiful voice, a rich and warm voice. He is a singer with a very bluesy voice but the music he makes with his band is also influenced by gospel, electronica and jazz. Which makes for a very pleasant combination.

The Pretenders

They have been around for almost forty years and that is what you can hear! They have made quite some classics that everyone knows and that really is what works at a festival. If everyone can sing along. I mean ‘Don’t get me wrong’ is about as old as I am, but you know the tune.

Beth Hart

It had been quite a while since I last seen Beth Hart perform live. For some reason whenever she was in the Netherlands I wasn’t able to go and I really hated it. I missed her! Because I love this woman. I think that this was my eighteenth performance of Beth Hart. So yes, I am a huge fan and I loved every concert I’ve seen so far. But this one was special!

Beth Hart was on a roll! From the second she stepped onto the stage till the moment she left. She was on fire! She looked amazing, she sounded better than ever before. She was joking around, she reminisced. She talked about the time when she thought that she had no future and how that first concert in Paradiso in January 2004 changed all of that. And I was there that first time in 2004, her reminiscing and telling us how that performance changed her life. It made me feel really emotional, honestly I had tears in my eyes. That story combined with how strong she stood there made me feel emotional.

There are so many examples of artists ( singers / actors / performers ) who struggle with the same struggles she does and who don’t make it out on the other side better and stronger!

The main difference between Pinkpop and Bospop is the size of the festival, it’s about half the size. And that is noticeable in just about everything. The tent stage and the main stage are right next to each other and the performances are back to back instead of simultaneously, which means that you can easily catch all the performances during the day. With Pinkpop they have two big stages and a tent (and maybe even a second one). With that many stages there are always choices you have to make. And things you can’t see because of the time table, which is always a shame. So in that regard Bospop was definitely better. But Pinkpop is where my heart is, I just love that place!

 

May in hindsight

May_2017

It’s hot and it’s cold, May has been going two ways the whole month. One minute it was cold and we were still wearing our down coats and the next minute we were walking outside with our T-shirts and sunglasses on. The same was happening in my life, one minute I was running hard to keep up and then everything came to a halt and there was time to spare. It was a strange month but all in all time flew by. We’re already nearing the half year mark of 2017. It’s so hard to believe!

City trips

I’ve been working a lot of overtime this past month, even worked on some days when we were officially free due to a national holiday and on a Saturday. Which is not usually a work day for me. I didn’t get to make any trips, the weather wasn’t all that good this past month, it was quite cold. And with work I didn’t have the time. Besides looking ahead to my upcoming vacation I knew that I needed money for that so I’ve been saving up some money whenever I could. So no trips this past month, but I’m sure that I will make up for it next month. 😉

Reading and writing

So I’ve been reading the second book in the When Women Were Warriors series, and as soon as I finish this book I’ll dive straight into the third and final part of the story. The other book I’ve been reading is a travel guide. I need to know some information before I start my journey. I’m so looking forward to my trip.

I honestly haven’t really been writing much lately. For some reason the need to write is gone, there has been a time in my life where writing felt like breathing, something that I needed to do. But nowadays that need is gone. And I feel like I can’t force it. So I’m not going to force it. I’m at peace with it, for now.

Looking ahead:

  • Hanson, Hanson, Hanson!!! Twenty five years of Hanson being a band, twenty years of me being a fan!
  • I booked my vacation, I’m going to Sadinia! An eight day trip! I’m so excited.
  • I’m thinking about going to a festival, I still have to purchase the ticket but it’s a chance to see Beth Hart. I love her and it has been quite a while since I’ve last seen her perform. Which reminds me I should really rewrite an restore some of my concert reviews! (long overdue)
  • The grafitti festival is coming up, so I’ll probably go there.

April in hindsight

April_2017

I know the month of May is almost over and I still haven’t written my ‘April in Hindsight’ post. I know, I know I’m not doing very well on that department.

April has been a strange month, it has been a collection of high’s and lows even more so than normally. One day I was celebrating a birthday and the next I was paying my last respects to someone. It’s the way life goes I guess but it remains a strange situation to be in, especially since it was literally one day to the next.

City trips

April is always an extremely busy month for me in general lots of birthdays and of course Eastern so in general besides working and those engagements I don’t have a whole lot of time to spare. So I didn’t make any city trips this past month and in fact I don’t have any planned for May either. Nevertheless I wanted to keep the routine going and I think it’s a shame that I couldn’t but it just didn’t work out.

Besides that I still owe you a post about my Gouda trip. I really need to get my shit together and get things going, don’t I?

Reading and writing

I read Lindsey Stirling’s book and I really enjoyed reading it. In my opinion everyone could read this book and take away some good advice from it. Peaked you interest? Head over and read my review to find out what I mean by that.

I’ve been reading the second book in the When Women Were Warriors series – A Journey of the Heart. I am really enjoying these books it’s a wonderful story about strong women and a journey to adulthood. I’m still convinced that it’s better to read the whole series of books before I write a review so yes you’re missing a book review. But that’ll be corrected once I’ve finished the second and the third book.

I didn’t get much writing done this past month, well I’ve written many many many whats app messages but I don’t think they count for any type of writing. Maybe one day I’ll tell you about my extreme increase of text messages this past month.

Looking ahead:

  • In less than a week I’ll be at the Hanson concert!!! So looking forward to that, they are celebrating the 25th anniversary as a band and it is my 20th year as a fan. MMMbop came out in 1997 and I love(d) that song! It’s a shame that they are not more known by an bigger audience these days because in my opinion they deserve it. But what can you do about it?
  • I finally made the arrangements for my holiday and in fact in less than a month from today I’ll be somewhere on a beach doing all kinds of fun stuff with a group of people who I don’t know at this point. We’ll see how that one turns out.
  • There are a lot of things I have to purchase for my trip into the unknown…  and I only have a month!