December in hindsight

December_2017

December, the conclusion to another year! The year has been good, all in all very positive year but you can read more about that in a ‘Year in hindsight’ post which will be posted on my blog right before midnight tonight.

December is always a busy month, effectively you have only three weeks of work but you are expected to do the same amount of work you need to do when you work every workday of the month. Intertwined in between those workdays we had Sinterklaas which was really fun. I celebrated it with my friends, we had a blast. I got a gorgeous present made by my best friends son and his dad.

And we had Christmas of course, which I celebrated with my family. For the first time in years my sister and brother in law were with us as well. So that was fun! And we also celebrated it with my grandmother and the extended family.

This past week has been a week off and I took some well deserved rest. I chilled at home with my parents. I went to the movies, I had to go see that last Pitch Perfect movie, I loved it! And there was time to read some books, watch some Netflix shows.

And tonight we’re going to celebrate New Years Eve with a couple of people from our writing group, how cool is that! Who could have guessed that we would now be a group of close friends who celebrate days like this together? Honestly when I started the group I was simply looking for some people who understood what Nanowrimo was about. Today however they’ve become true friends who I can count on when I need them.

Reading and writing

I read a couple of books this month, I finished reading The Circle. A book which gets you thinking about privacy and about what we do in the internet. But the book isn’t all that interesting unfortunately. And to be honest coincidentally a friend of mine borrowed me her blu-ray disk containing the movie. Honestly with a cast that includes Tom Hanks and Emma Watson I had high hopes that they could have made it worth my time. But the movie is definitely wasn’t worth my time. It could have been so much more. A true shame!

The other books I read are Everafter and Nevermore, a supernatural love story about vampires and wereshifters including two awesome women. I really enjoyed reading these books. They are easy to read, not too long and there is a really cool story intertwined. I really want to recommend these books.

Looking ahead:

  • 2018 is about to start, let’s take a look ahead.
  • I want to take another trip, right now I would say Croatia is high on the list but it might also be somewhere else. We’ll see what happens.
  • Pinkpop has some awesome names for this coming edition, though with those awesome names also comes a smaller chance of actually getting tickets. I have to try to get them though – Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters are among them.
  • There are many books which need to read – I want to make sure that the all of those unread books in my apartment get read.
  • I would also like to go to Disneyland Paris, I have been there once before when I was about twelve years old and I think I’m due for another trip to Disneyland. It’s been something that has been on my mind for a while.
  • We’re planning another reunion with the vacation group, Groningen is the plan – like it was in November the one we unfortunately had to cancel at the last minute.

 

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Once Upon A Time

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Recently I’ve started my one month free subscription to Netflix and I have to say I love it. For the longest time I tried to stay away from it because I can be somewhat obsessive with these type of things. In all honesty I bench watched television shows before there was a name for it. So knowing myself I thought that I would be better off not having Netflix at my fingertips. But now I have and the first show I watched was ‘Once Upon A Time’. Mind you I did watch it, Once Upon a Time (pun intended) but when they stopped airing it on television here in the Netherlands I stopped so I was pretty far behind.

However that show is so good, the characters are sublime. Especially when they switch from their fairy tale character to the regular character. I was intrigued when I saw the announcement for the show – way back when. Bringing fairy tales into today’s world sounded like an awesome idea. Especially since I’ve always liked that idea, I was even thinking of doing a modern version of a fairy tale for Nanowrimo that particular year. But then Once Upon A Time started in September and I wasn’t able to stop myself I had to watch this show. And therefor I threw that writing idea right out of the window especially since I fell in love with some of the characters – namely Regina and Emma and I knew that no matter what I tried to write it would become Femmeslash fanfiction.

I’ve now finally been able to watch all six seasons of it and I love it, still I do. But I am afraid that I could have done without those last couple of minutes of the sixth season finale. If they had cut the show off right after that look into the future with the Charmings living happily ever after, Emma and Hook married and Regina finally being called the Queen in a positive manner. And of course Belle and Gold dancing together to that oh so well known song from Beauty & the Beast.

I mean, really wasn’t that all we ever wanted to see a happy ending for all of the fairy tale characters. And the worlds that have been destroyed when Emma lost her faith during the final battle have been restored from Wonderland to Neverland and from Arendelle to Oz. And even the Evil Queen got her happy ending and a new adventure with Robin Hood!

But then they added those last few minutes! And I’m sitting here and all I can think is why? Why? I mean I knew that there was going to be seventh season and I also know that a lot of people aren’t returning.

Why oh why

I know myself, I’m going to watch the seventh season – even if it is just to find out if my assumptions, the ones that I have right at this moment are going to be true. I need to see it for myself.

How can I not worry about the seventh season when I know that a lot of the regular characters are not coming back or only as a guest role. I mean there is no Snow White, no Prince Charming, no Emma Swan (only as a guest star), no Belle (only as a guest star), no Zelena (she will only be a recurring star) and Henry has been replaced by an much older actor. As a fan from the start I can only worry until I actually see it. And right now the seventh season is not available to me, I have no idea when we will get it on Netflix. Once it is though I will be watching it and I hope with all my heart that my fear is not coming true.

I often wonder why they can’t stop a show at it’s peak, why do they always have to drag it on. On one hand I’m wondering why they can’t stop at the top, however I am one of those people who feed this kind of behavior. By the simple fact that I continue watching the shows. Let’s face it most shows keep adding seasons, why? Simple, because we keep watching them and it generates money – lots of money. I’m not saying that all shows loose their appeal but some certainly do.

And while I keep watching them I have to admit that it’s sometimes really hard to do so. A really good example is Glee, I loved the singing (I really have a weak spot for musicals) but they should have finished long before they did. Charmed is another one of those shows, loved it but it continued way too long. Bones, CSI (plus the spin offs), the Law & Order franchise, ER and the X Files are all shows which ran out of steam long before they stopped or should have stopped. I guess with The X Files they gave it another boost with the new seasons. Law & Order SVU is still running pretty strong, I mean I still watch it but I can imagine that a lot of people have given up already. Especially since most of the original cast have been replaced several times over. And the list continues on.

On the other hand there are also shows that never really got a chance. For instance Firefly – yes, I am one of those people who still thinks after all of these years that this show never got the chance it deserved. And I think that’s a shame, however the show got a cult-status right now something which it might have never gotten if they just kept going on and on.

In conclusion I guess it’s fair to say that there is a fine line between the top and that slippery slope. But once you’re over the top there is no turning back. I really hope I’m wrong when it comes to Once Upon A Time.

Do you have a favorite show? Or know of one that should have stopped a long time ago or one that didn’t get a chance. Let me know.

Nanowrimo – The Ikea Meet

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

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

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

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

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

The Ikea Meet

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

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

 

Nanowrimo update

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

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

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

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

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

300 times Grey’s Anatomy

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite onscreen couple

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

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

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

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

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

Grey’s Anatomy – Season 6 episode 5 – Invasion

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

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

 

Nanowrimo kick-off write in

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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.

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.