Nanowrimo the first week

Nanowrimo-2017

So… we’re at day seven and the first week of Nanowrimo is officially over. So yep, one fourth is done. Gone forever, time we’ll never get back and the results are … not quite were I hoped they would have been at this point.

I knew that I wasn’t writing enough to stay on schedule but I had good hope to catch up this weekend and I did make it through a good day word count wise on Saturday, I made it to the daily word count. However I had some appointments on Saturday which used up some of the time, and actually all of the evening. But during the night I got a fever and I barely slept. When I got out of bed – way to early – on Sunday morning everything hurt and I was feeling miserable. All I did was just lay on the couch and watch Netflix – I couldn’t be bothered by writing or reading for that matter. I can truly say that I’m almost completely caught up with ‘Once Upon A Time’ at this point but other than that I didn’t get anything done. I was too tired, even sitting up was too tiring and I was back in bed by the time the clock hit eight in the evening. I had a good nights sleep and when I woke up on Monday morning I was feeling well enough to go to work. So since I didn’t get any writing done I was even further behind.

But let’s forget all about that and move forward into week two. Also known as hell week! Hope that doesn’t prove to be a huge issue this year. I’m only six thousand words behind on schedule. That should be do-able! I’ve done it before and I still have some time to catch up.

Are you participating in Nanowrimo? How are you doing, are you on schedule, behind or did you do better?

 

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October in Hindsight

Oktober_2017

The Reunion 2.0

November 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.

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.

Book 7 – American Gods by Neil Gaiman

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I was really looking forward to reading this book. Reason for it was that a lot of my friends from my writer’s group absolutely love it! Granted, a couple of them are huge Neil Gaiman fans, but still if you hear people talking about something with so much passion you’ll end up being curious about it. I heard them talking about it so many times that it really got me interested.

I liked the idea of the old Gods in today’s world and seeing how they would remain standing while new Gods try to take their place. I really like the concept and the idea of the story. In that regard it reminded me of ‘Once upon a time’ the HBO television show where fairytale characters live in our world. Little by little you’ll find out who is which fairytale character and how their story fits into the bigger whole.

American Gods is similar, the title tells you that it’s all about Gods but without telling you immediately who’s who. It sets for a very intriguing story line. But at the same time it’s also a very confusing story. Reading the book took me quite some time, it was a book which I really wanted to read however there were also times where I needed to process what I was reading. Confusing that is what it was at times. I honestly can’t say that I love the book, yet I don’t hate it either. The book had also parts which pulled me in and made me wanting more and more. I was determined to finish the book, sometimes when a story confuses me I get bored with it. This was different though, I wanted to finish it and despite it being difficult at times I really enjoyed reading it. Although I do think that this is one of those stories where you want to read it more than once and if you do you’ll probably see a lot of signs and connections you hadn’t seen before. So this book will surely go on the must-read-again list.

The book versus the television

As you might know there is also a television show. The book and the television show are very different in my opinion and while that is in some cases a shame and often causes an uproar among fans. In this case it works, probably mostly because Neil Gaiman is working on the television show as well so nothing happens without his approval and in complete Gaiman style he’s said before that he wanted to surprise the fans of the book as well as new fans. There were some things I’d expected to see in the television show but we haven’t seen them so far – yet it doesn’t feel wrong. With Gaiman involved in the whole process and it can’t be wrong. It’s his story after all – these are his characters and knowing that he approved it all makes it good.

So while it might be vastly different it’s still the same story, just in a different format. I really loved the portrayal of the characters, they certainly came across as the same characters in the book they represented. Seeing it all on screen cleared some things up for me personally – it made it easier to grasp certain connections. There where some scenes in the book where I wasn’t sure what they meant in the whole story while I was reading it, but seeing them on screen made it easier to give them a place and to understand it all.

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Visually the television show is absolutely stunning! It’s dirty and it’s grimy, shiny and radiant all at the same time. It all fits the characters as you can see in the posters above and the same goes for the story. I think that the tone of the television show is simply perfect.

I love how they choose to diverge from the story and give certain characters a bigger role, most importantly Mad Sweeney. His interaction with Laura Moon is so funny and the macabre humor really brings some fun to the show as well.

I’m looking forward to see more. I certainly recommend this book and the television show. Yes, I certainly do however I do recommend both of them. In my opinion the television show makes the story easier to understand.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

August in hindsight

August_2017

I know it’s October by the time I’m finally posting this but September seemed to have flown by without me noticing it. Well I noticed it but it was a month which was too busy for me to take any time for myself. And the few spare moments I had I was too tired to focus on writing. It’s not an excuse but the way life sometimes takes over. Anyway let me start with telling you all about my August.

August was  a strange month, usually August would be the month that marked my vacation time. However this year I had my two week summer break at the end of June and the beginning of July. So my vacation was done long before most other people where even thinking about going on vacation. And the fact that the weather wasn’t too good didn’t really help either. I was at work while one colleague after another left for their break. It was a really strange situation from my point of view to be honest.

It was also the month in which my grandmother turned ninety! A very respectable age especially if you manage to do it the way my grandmother does it. For someone her age she’s doing really well. I love my grandmother, she’s such a sweetheart and we’ve always had a special connection. She’s an amazing woman and I really hope that she’s will continue on the way she’s doing right now.

Reunion

We’ve had our first ‘official’ reunion with the group from my vacation in Sardinia – I say official because this was a day planned ahead and we already had a mini-reunion at the lake near The Hague where some of us went windsurfing. Anyway this was the official reunion. It was a wonderful weekend, we went to Utrecht. A beautiful city in the center of the Netherlands. And while it is quite close to my home – about an hour away – me and some other people decided that we wanted to stay the night. So we wouldn’t have to worry about getting home. We rented a room with six people in a Hostel. If you ever need an Hostel in the center of Utrecht I can wholeheartedly recommend Stay Okay. It’s a very new – exactly one year old when we where there – Hostel which houses all kinds of different rooms and there were even families with kids and elderly people staying at the Hostel. In the afternoon we went bowling which is always a fun thing to do. Surprisingly the first round started off pretty good for me, better than expected. Not that I was the winner or anything but I wasn’t too bad.

After our bowling adventure we set out to find a spot at one of the many cafe’s for drink, and some pizza slices – something which happened at our vacation and what gave us a good laugh at this point but wasn’t really all that funny when it happened. Anyway after our pizza slices and drinks we went for a walk through the city to find our restaurant for the evening. A lovely small place which was in no way set up to host a group of 15 people but managed to do so anyway. We had a sort of tapas dinner where they made different types of small meals, not just Spanish but everything and anything. We had a lovely dinner. And afterwards we took another stroll through the city. We were planning on going out but it was still very early in the night. Eventually we ended up at Florin, which is the same place we always go with the Nanowrimo Kickoffs! The night ended at a club, not exactly one where I would have gone but it was fun nevertheless. Around three we rolled into our beds – which were luckily for us only a three minute walk away from the club.

The six of us – who rented a room at the hostel – had a very restless but fun night. Everyone slept a little but no one slept nearly enough and after a short night and a way too early shower we were sitting across from each other at the breakfast table. After the breakfast our ways split all over the Netherlands and we all made our way home either by car or by train.

Reading and writing

I’ve finally finished reading the When Woman Were Warriors books, all three of them back to back. I absolutely loved reading the books. They reminded me so much of the books I used to read when I was younger. In a lot of ways these type of books feel like they are historical novels but you know that the story is completely made up. A series of books dedicated to strong female characters! A series of books I absolutely recommend to everyone who loves to read about strong women.

And I started reading American God’s by Neal Gaiman, which is now also a television show. A lot of my friends recommended the book. So I’m really looking forward to reading it and seeing what it’s all about.

Looking ahead:

  • My parents went on their cruise vacation and they left from Amsterdam. I decided that I would bring them and pick them up a week later. So I spend two Sundays driving to Amsterdam, one of them was spend at a city beach and one of them in my hometown where we had a nice meal together.
  • Working lots and lots of overtime in September, like usual.
  • We had the NoSun Festival! Which was fun!
  • And we had another reunion!