Thursday 1 December 2011

End of NaNoWriMo '11 - Now We Move on Again

Another December, another NaNo over. I did finish (50,568 words!), but it was painful and it wasn't all that much fun. I had too much to do, and not enough time. It took me 27 days, as opposed to 5 days last year and 10 days the year before. I lost sleep and sanity over it. Also, the novel I wrote was quite serious, at least in comparison to what I usually write (I suppose it could qualify as a drama), and it takes a bit of a toll to get into that mindset each time you write. The novel wasn't super depressing, but I wasn't exactly laughing out loud either.

Anyway, as always, this year's NaNo statistics:

  • Words written: 50,568
  • Days spent writing: 27
  • Approx. no. of hours written: 44
  • Number of Pringles tubes eaten: 1 1/2
  • Bags of Maltesers eaten: 1
  • Rows of Marabou chocolate eaten: 1 (4 squares)
  • Guilt level over the amount of candy and chocolate eaten: 12 out of 10
  • Dare points achieved: 0
  • Number of walls hit: 5
  • Number of 4th wall breaks: 0
  • How much I like my novel now: 8 out of 10
Take care and see you next year for another NaNo!

Sunday 30 October 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Two Days Left

Only two more days now! My freezer is so full that I could barely get it to close yesterday (I'm afraid to open it now) - and I still had to store some stuff in the fridge! You can tell I have managed to prepare a lot of food. I also finished my latest school assignment, only two days late, which is pretty much a miracle. Too bad I have two assignments for November (don't teachers realise it's NaNo?).

Fun fact: I learnt yesterday that I have been pronouncing NaNoWriMo wrong for three years. I should have known better - I mean, it's pretty obvious that the Wri is pronounced as the "wri" in "writing". I just thought it sounded bad and ignored it. Now I feel stupid.

Right, so, a few pre-NaNo statistics then:
Number of Pringles tubes bought: 2
Number of leftover meals in freezer: too afraid to open freezer door to count
Number of microwave meals bought: 4
Number of characters fully developed: 0
Number of plots: 0
Number of subplots: 0
Moments of panic relating to this year's NaNo: at least 20
Moments of panic related to my lack of outline: at least 10
Time left until NaNo: 1 day, 14 hours and 30 minutes.

Good luck to all NaNoers out there! See you in the forums!

Monday 24 October 2011

NaNoWriMo '11

It's time for another NaNo! I'm very excited, but completely freaking out. I'm working a lot (November is pretty crazy, unfortunately), have school full time, working a few extra hours on a writing (not fiction) thing and, did I mention I'm working a lot? How on Earth am I going to write 50,000 words in 30 days? But I'm not going to fail, I never have before and this is not going to be the first time.

Nevertheless, I haven't had time to plan my novel and NaNo is just about a week away. I came up with an idea in August which I still really like. It actually has a title - and I never give my novels titles normally. It's called Alice's Stuff. Not going to tell you what it's about though ^^. I guess I'll have to do some last minute character motivation planning and subplotting this weekend. Just hope I don't have to study all of Saturday...

Anyway, for those of you who are new to NaNo this year, take it from a veteran (well, I'm not sure that two finished NaNo's make me a veteran, but just roll with it): preparation is everything. Since I haven't had time to prepare at all, I'm going to have to cook a bunch of food this week, cram in some novel planning, spend some time on the NaNo forums, and just get in the mood for the experience. I append a small list of NaNo essentials below, if you are wondering what you might need to prepare until next week. The list includes some of my favourite writing aids. The basic rule, though, is to have a comfortable writing space and have access to food that doesn't require too much cooking time. If you have that, then you're all set. Good luck!


The Excrutiating End

At the moment of writing this post I am at the last stages of my first novel (by the time I post this I will, hopefully, have finished). I have about 6 000 words left to write before I'll have reached my goal of 75,000 words. If I reach my goal I will have finished my first full-length novel! (I don't really count my 50,000 word novel from NaNo '09 as full-length, though I'm not entirely sure what to categorise it as...) This is a novel I've been writing on and off for about five years I believe (I can't even remember anymore). Finishing it will be one of the most amazing feelings ever - yet these last 6 000 words are proving to be the most painful ever. Why?

Friday 2 September 2011

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

I'm a dedicated Agatha Christie fan, though of all her books my favourites are the ones starring Hercule Poirot. And Then There Were None isn't one of these novels; however it is still one of the best ones. It is the story of ten people who are stranded on an island by a storm. They have all been mysteriously invited to spend time at the house, though none know each other or the owner. The guests are all accused of murder, though most deny it or claim it wasn't their fault. One after another they begin to die, and for each death another little figurine is removed from the dinner table. It becomes obvious that the killer is one of the party, yet as more and more people die the ones that are left do what they can to convince the others that they aren't guilty while still trying to stay alive.

The first time I read the novel I was entirely surprised at the ending. The second time it was slightly more obvious to me throughout, but even then I enjoyed seeing how skilfully the identity of the killer is hidden. Agatha Christie is the best at weaving mysterious plots, and this is one of her most exciting works. Don't peek at the ending though, if you might want to. It won't be nearly as fun if you do.

Monday 13 June 2011

Fanny Price - Admirable Heroine or Dreary Killjoy?

Fanny Price is, in her own way, as much a heroine as any other. She may not have the confidence of Elisabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, or the careless naïveté of Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey, yet she experiences just as much as they do — if not more — and she has just as great an effect on the other characters in Mansfield Park. However, Fanny leads an extraordinarily quiet life. She only leaves Mansfield twice, barely has the strength to walk or ride a horse, and is kept very close by her aunt Lady Bertram. This essay intends to argue that Fanny both is and isn't a typical Austen heroine, and exemplify why both sides of this dichotomy are true.

According to her contemporary standards, Fanny Price is the stereotypical woman. By making her seem ridiculous and weak, Austen illustrates how ludicrous those standards really are. For a woman to accept her role to never show any taken offence, to be quiet in society and know that her place is the lowest everywhere, she must be someone like Fanny Price. Only Fanny would find pleasure in "being always a very courteous listener, and often the only listener at hand" (Austen, 167) and therefore the one knowing all the absurd complaints of the others. The fact that she is criticised as too dull or too frightened to be a heroine goes to show that those female standards were in every respect wrong.

Nothing ever happens to Fanny Price. Before going to visit Southerton she has never left Mansfield since arriving there. The reader is treated to her first dance, her first ball and her first proposal of marriage. This process of moving from being and having nothing to leading an eventful life is her story. In all respects she is a normal young woman to whom normal things happen. Yet, as the reader becomes increasingly aware, there is little normality in what happened to Fanny as she grew up. In fact, she has overcome more than most.

Sunday 22 May 2011

School, work, drains, computers and the future

For the first time since I started this blog I have failed to write one post a week. I've just had so much to do with my final thesis, work, a clogged drain (which is still not fixed) - and on top of everything my laptop decided to throw in the towel yesterday (ironically only 4 days before Towel Day). Since it is now pushing up the daisies – has passed on – is an ex-computer – I've had to retrieve everything from my harddrive (which, luckily, was still working!) - and I thought I would remind you all to backup your work regularly. A dead computer can happen to the best of us!

Anyway, since it's been so long I wanted to start up again slightly slower, with just some inspiring quotes, thoughts and ideas. So here you go, and I hope you find something worth writing about!

"When you take away the flesh there is only the soul." - Unknown

 "You must become a terrible thought" - Batman Begins

"What good are many friends, mon ami, when you have one bad enemy?" - Poirot (The Case of the Missing Will)

Idea: Murderers atone for their crimes by becoming doctors and saving lives.

"This job is eating at me." - Criminal Minds

 Names: Mercer, Silas, Barney Butter, Shmi

"Open your mind, son, or someone might open it for you." - Walter Bishop (Fringe)

Why do bad things never seem to come alone?

I hope some of this struck your fancy, and hopefully I'll be back next week with something more useful. Take care!

Thursday 5 May 2011

Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Since I've been a little slow on the blogging side lately I thought I would write a short book tip just to prove that I'm alive. Since the time for writing this is coming out of my sleep-time, I'm going to keep it short. Nervous Conditions is a wonderful novel. That's just about all I have to say, but there are some things I would like to say as well. For one, this novel made me madder than any other novel I've ever read. It might not sound like a good thing, but I like when a novel makes me feel - no matter if I feel angry. It also inspired me, made me want to be a better person and made me want to work harder.

So much for how the novel made me feel, but what is it about? Dangarembga tells her own semi-autobiographical (as far as I understand) story about growing up in apartheid Africa. Her parents don't want to pay for her to go to school (so she finds a way to pay for it herself), but when her brother dies she gets to go to live with her wealthier uncle who sends her to a school where she excells. But it's a hard life, being a young girl in Africa (as though it isn't har enough everywhere else too). She has no one who understands her or can take her side, yet she somehow finds the courage and strength to stand up for herself.

It might sound like a depressing novel - which, in one sense it is - but you'll come out of it feeling strengthened and motivated. I promise.

Friday 29 April 2011

5 Great Novels That Are Also Great TV-Series

Many great novels have become movies or TV-shows, with varying results. This list will celebrate those that have become great TV-series as well. I strongly recommend reading the books first, not only because they are the original stories, but because they generally contain more detailed information and if you've seen the TV-series already it might be slightly boring going over all of it again. Enjoy!

Agatha Christie's Poirot

My absolute favourite detective masterfully played by David Suchet who, in my mind, has become Poirot entirely. Most of Christie's novels about Poirot have now become independent episodes, along with a few of the short stories. The longer episodes (the ones based on novels) are, in my opinion, much better than the short ones. Almost all characters are wonderfully cast, and very few episodes have disappointed me in comparison to the books (and I've read them all...). I just hope that they finish all the novels and that David Suchet wants to stay on for them all.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I have a very low tolerance for any adaptations of Jane Austen's novels, but the BBC 1995 mini-series is one I can actually stand and even say that I almost love. I miss only one scene, where Mr. Darcy slightly awkwardly tells Elisabeth to go see Mr. Bennet who has granted him permission to marry her. But I'm being picky, and as such I can tell you that if I can stand this adaptation then it is excellent. I can imagine no other reason for there being no newer version made when all the other Austen novels have recently been re-adapted, other than that this is already as good as it could possibly get.

Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

My favourite serial killer, Dexter Morgan, whom I first got to know on TV a few years ago, is actually based on a character in a novel by Jeff Lindsay. The first season is almost identical to the first novel, but the second season has nothing what so ever to do with the second novel. I'm still trying to make time to read and watch the third. The TV-series is excellent in its own right, but I like both the extra background information that is given in the novel, and also that Dexter is slightly - if possible - less emotional in it. Also, since the plot is not at all the same I don't become so annoyed when they change little things, and can even accept that I don't always like the actors chosen for some of the parts.

Inspector Morse by Colin Dexter

Colin Dexter's novels were adapted into a TV-series and have recently become a spin-off with the character of DI Lewis (DS, as he was during the Morse episodes) which is absolutely excellent (not the least due to Lawrence Fox in the role of DS Hathaway) and actually is what earned this spot on the list. I'm not always very fond of Colin Dexter's novels, and while the Inspector Morse episodes are really good, they are slightly outdated for my personal taste. I might be stretching it a bit in adding this to the list but any excuse to tell you about Inspector Lewis, which is a fine an example of British crime TV as any, is worth taking.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Yes, another Jane Austen novel - and here I claim to be so picky in accepting them - but I feel that since the latest, 2008, version is so close to perfection that I cannot make a list as this without mentioning it. Granted that the 1995 movie also is excellent, but I feel that a story this good requires a little more time than a movie can give. There are a few things I don't like about it, but it's just minor details that I'm sure someone less obsessive about Austen than me doesn't mind. Nonetheless, it is well worth seeing.

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Unfortunately, I'm afraid this is a Swedish adaptation for TV, which is why I added this as an extra item, but I simply couldn't leave it out. This was my absolute favourite when I was a child; I have always loved Pippi and her gumption. I'm sure it's available with English subtitles somewhere. I also have to warn you that it was made in -69 so the special effects are... questionable. But it is totally worth it, if not only for being an excellent time capsule of Sweden in the sixties, but also because Pippi is possibly the best character ever written.

Sunday 17 April 2011

Songmaster by Orson Scott Card

I know I have written about a Scott Card novel previously (Ender's Game), and I do want to vary the books I write about, but Scott Card is one of my absolute favourite authors and I want to spread the word on his amazing books. So, here we go again! Songmaster is the story of Ansset, a boy who has the most wonderful voice in the world. He is given to a world leader and becomes his personal singer. But Ansset is not any songbird; he is particularly skilled even among those who are like him. His singing affects individuals' emotions in such a way that he can heal and hurt with a song.

Naturally, for someone as special as Ansset, life is not easy. He has the ability to affect the world, to make people love and hate, yet because of what has been done to him he cannot be close to anyone himself. It is a tragic, yet hopeful story. I am not someone who cries easily, yet this novel has me tearing up only thinking about it. The world the story takes place in is beautiful, and the characters are skilfully crafted, yet the plot itself is the real strength of the novel. If you haven't read it, do so. If you have, read it again. I know I will.