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.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Answer the Questions! – Writing Exercise #2

Write a short story that answers one or more of these questions:

Why do I smell like an old, damp cupboard today?

When did I lose the buttons from my jacket?

Who rocked the boat?

When will time stop?

Why does my mind go blank?

Where do I go when I space out?

Saturday 2 April 2011

The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl

The Dante Club isn't a novel for someone who is easily disgusted. Even I, who have been hardened by years and years of television and computer games, thought this was unnerving. The detail in describing horrific murders is incredible, and the imagination behind it is staggering.

Horror isn't what Matthew Pearl's novel is about though. Though entirely fictional, the main characters are based on real, literary people, e.g. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The plot is heavily based in classic literature, amongst others Dante's The Divine Comedy. This novel opened my eyes to Dante's work, and even made me try reading The Divine Comedy. In fact, I will boldly claim that my interest in literature was fuelled greatly by this. The plot circles around Longfellow and his colleagues who are translating The Divine Comedy, when someone begins killing people in ways inspired by that same novel.

The Dante Club is a mystery novel, and in my opinion much better than The Poe Shadow, Pearl's second novel. I have yet to read his third, The Last Dickens. As you can tell from the titles there is a literary motif in all his novels. The Poe Shadow isn't nearly as gruesome as The Dante Club, if you're interested in reading one of Pearl's novels without all the gory details.

Saturday 26 March 2011

Public Information and Private Secrets in Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility

Many secrets are kept in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, and many are indiscreetly divulged. Firstly, there are several engagements that take place, and some are secret. Most important is that of Edward and Lucy Steele, which has been kept secret for many years. The involved parties do not seem particularly ashamed of the fact, even though Edward regrets his decision rather quickly. This can be contrasted to the secret engagement between Miss Fairfax and Mr. Churchill in Emma, where Miss Fairfax is tormented with the shame of having entered into an engagement that has to be concealed. Lucy Steele’s lack of shame is one of many indications of her bad character, and of the folly of youth which drove Edward into making such a choice. 

An additional engagement that actually didn’t take place, but which was presumed to have, is that of Marianne and Willoughby. Marianne’s relations were convinced that an engagement had taken place but that there was a need to keep it secret. This need is explained to be in regards to Willoughby’s cousin Mrs. Smith, to whom he had to look for money. It is thus presumed to be the same reason as for Edward’s and Ms. Steele’s concealment, who try to hide their engagement from Edward’s mother. When Elinor tries to persuade her mother to speak to Marianne about the matter, Mrs. Dashwood firmly refuses: “I would not ask such a question for the world. ... I should never deserve her confidence again, after forcing from her a confession of what is meant at present to be unacknowledged to any one” (Austen, 1994, p. 82). Merely speaking of such a subject is thus considered a breach of good manners.

Willoughby’s engagement to Miss Grey, on the contrary, is exclaimed all over London and very much talked off immediately after it occurs. There is no secret there, even though most people seem to realise that there is no affection in the case. Where true love (in some cases) has to be hidden, a marriage for money was to be celebrated. Edward’s mother had no problem speaking of an upcoming engagement between her eldest son and a woman he had barely met, yet his engagement to Lucy Steele was kept under wraps. It seems as though money matters more than feeling when it comes to making issues public.

Friday 18 March 2011

Those Darn Idioms! #2

"without understanding the meaning of what one has learnt"
E.g. "He's not the brightest. He just repeats what his buddy says, parrot-fashion."

A month of Sundays
"an extremely long time"
E.g. "I won't be done studying in a month of Sundays."

Do a moonlight
"to move away suddenly"
E.g. "He did a moonlight again. We'll never find him!"

"not special or unusual"
E.g. "It was a run-of-the-mill performance. I guess I'm satisfied with it."

There are no flies on (someone)
"there is no lack of intelligence and cunning in (someone)"
E.g. "You can't hide anything from him. There are no flies on Arnold."

Source of the definitions:
The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms

Saturday 12 March 2011

Revisiting Old Friends and Reliving Old Memories

Recently, I've taken up reading again which, I admit, has been quite slow for the last year or so. I simply haven't felt like reading any of the (far too many) unread books I own. In order to make my brain want to read again (yes, I blame my brain) I have been re-reading books I haven't read for many years. I started with some Agatha Christie novels and have now moved on to the Earthsea series by Ursula K. Le Guin.

If you haven't heard of these novels, you're in for a treat! I can't remember what made me read the first novel (A Wizard of Earthsea) all those years ago, but I was immediately enthralled with the world Le Guin creates and with the character of Sparrowhawk. I admit that I am always drawn to characters who have gifts that set them apart from the others, yet who still act wisely. As a boy, Sparrowhawk is impatient and proud, which leads him to make foolish mistakes, but he learns from them and becomes one of my all-time favourite characters. There is something special about his serenity and confidence in his own power - yet he keeps seeming unaware of how truly great it is. Few are as unassuming as him.

I finished the second book (The Tombs of Atuan) this morning. It is slightly less interesting than the first for we see very little of Sparrowhawk and are privy to the slow life of a young priestess, chosen as the reborn First Priestess - The One Who Has Been Eaten. Her name is Tenar. I won't go into details, but it is an excellent book. It does continue the story of Sparrowhawk, but he is a much more minor character. It could in fact be seen as a standalone novel, and really doesn't require much knowledge of the first book.

The Earthsea series is comprised of four books, is often classified as children's fiction (though I do think that some of the concepts in the novels are too abstract for young adults to grasp), and is not a very long series. In fact, in comparison to some fantasy series it's very short indeed. I have limited time to read, and can only manage half an hour or so before falling asleep, yet I read The Tombs of Atuan in three or four days. Still, the story is compact and there is amazing depth in the novel, for its length.

As for the third and fourth novels in the series, I know I haven't read the fourth before. I cannot for the life of me remember reading the third, but I have it written down on my list of read books so I guess I must have read it at some point. If I remember it once I start reading remains to be seen. Either way, I'm looking forward to it very much, and can't wait to once again dive into Le Guin's fabulous world!

NaNoEdMo or the Art of Epic Fail

Just an update on my NaNoEdMo attempt, which isn't going well. In fact, it's not going at all. I haven't spent a single second editing my novel, for I have so much schoolwork that I have barely a minute to spare for non-school related stuff. Perhaps I will do my own NaNoEdMo in April instead, when one of my classes will be over. But I think it will have to wait until I've graduated at the end of term (finally!) and (probably) become unemployed. Anyone in need of a (soon) college graduate with a Bachelor in information systems? Well, it was worth a shot. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I have failed NaNoEdMo. I rarely fail anything, and would rather work until the very end before giving up, but when you're being kept up at night worrying about school, you don't want to add another stress factor to your life. So, goodbye NaNoEdMo! I barely got to know you, but I hope we meet again soon!

Friday 4 March 2011

Gothic in Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey

Last semester I took a class on Jane Austen. Not that I needed it, I had already read the Le Faye compilation of Austen's letters, two biographies and James Austen-Leigh's memoirs. I simply took the class for fun, which is was. As a part of the class we had to write quite a few shorter papers on the novels, and I though I would post some of them here now that the class is done. So, here's the first paper:

Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is ripe with allusions to the Gothic style. Written as a kind of parody, all the classic Gothic elements are in one way or another imputed and undermined. It begins with the very first sentence: “No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine” (Austen, 1980). Immediately one wonders what qualities a heroine is supposed to possess, and why Catherine – who is in fact a heroine, since it is her own story – isn’t considered to have these. It implies that there is a certain mould that all heroines are made of; that if one reads a Gothic novel one will always meet with the same kinds of characters and incidents. The entire introduction of Catherine in the first chapter goes to show that she will in no way fit this mould, yet still be the heroine.

Sunday 27 February 2011

NaNoEdMo - It's Only One Day Away

About a minute ago I realised that in just over a day NaNoEdMo starts. I have no idea how I'm going to find time to finish it, but I sure will try. I'll just have to stop sleeping, and cut down on all the time I spend breathing. It's just a luxury, anyway.

If you aren't familiar with NaNoEdMo, it's a sort of spin-off of NaNoWriMo. You're supposed to spend 50 hours editing a novel during the month of March. I joined in a weak moment about two months ago when March seemed an age away. Now it's almost here, and I'm buried in work. Still. It just never ends.

Anyway, editing a novel. Right. So... How do we do that? I've written a post on editing before with a checklist on what to do when editing. It's easier said than done though. I imagine that for each edit it becomes easier and easier to see your work with a critical eye, but so far I can only see how crappy it is. I can't even imagine how to fix it. I guess I will have to figure it out, and soon.

I'll keep you posted, and good luck if you're participating in EdMo as well!

Saturday 26 February 2011

Word of the Week #30

Note: This is going to be the last Word of the Week for a while. I have to cut back on my blogging even more, and simply don't have the time to look up interesting words. I'll focus on writing some more useful posts instead. When I have less to do I will reinstate this weekly feature. Until then: take care (and come by and read my other posts!)

Shylock (noun)
A (heartless) loan shark. Named after the Shakespeare character Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.


Sunday 20 February 2011

Word of the Week #29

Dolt (noun)
A stupid person. An idiot. E.g. "I can't believe I didn't see it immediately. I am truly a dolt!"


Saturday 19 February 2011

The Importance of a Good Place to Write

I'm still being drowned in school work and thus will write only a short post this week. I have been contemplating on the importance of a good tool for writing. Less than a month ago I purchased a wonderful little laptop which has, surprisingly (for I didn't this it was possible), made me more eager to write. I can sit anywhere with it in my lap for it doesn't get warm, and the battery seems to last an eternity. I can start it up at an instance, and write away at my heart's desire. It's my tiny, little miracle.

Now, the purpose of this narrative is to stress the importance of having something to write with that is just right for you. Some use pen and paper, others sit by a desk. I sit pretty much anywhere that isn't a desk, or a table, which is why mobility is so important for me. My point is that even though you might not think that you need to improve your writing-tool department, and even if you have all the software you could ever want for planning and writing it will be much easier to write if you're comfortable with you computer, pen, type-writer, smoke signal fire etc. (By the way, how does one write with smoke signals - I mean, how does one save what one has written? It seems rather tricky to me...) I had no idea that my laptop would motivate me. So I urge you to try and mix it up - don't get caught up in your routines. Do you always write by your desk? Move to the living room.  Always by your computer? Pick up a pen and some paper. Whatever it is, do it differently. You might not even know that you need change, and there's no harm in trying, is there?

Sunday 13 February 2011

Word of the Week #28

Heebie-jeebies (noun)
Feelings of fear, of extreme nervousness or worry. E.g. "I hate yellow M&M's, they give me the heebie-jeebies."


Friday 11 February 2011

How to Know You're a Writer

There are some people who seem to be born knowing exactly who and what they are, while others spend a whole lifetime trying to find out. I belong to the second category I'm afraid. I can't say that I am absolutely certain that I'm a writer. Honestly, if someone else told me they wrote as little as I do, and called themselves writers, I would laugh. I barely write at all, and I only come up with occasional story ideas that never turn into anything. Once a year, during NaNoWriMo, I burst into writing and hopefully this year during NaNoEdMo I will burst into editing, but that's pretty much it. So... Am I a writer?

I heard the other day when you are passionate about something it is the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning and you can't wait to get started. If those are the standards I'm judged by I'm not remotely a writer. I wake up thinking about all the schoolwork I have to do, or other daily occurrences I have to remember. In fact, it is what keeps me awake at night. I might think of a story before going to sleep, but that's mostly to fall asleep faster.

I have discussed many times the attitude one is supposed to have towards one's job. Some people say that most important is to like your job and want to go to work in the morning. You should do something that you love. But how easy is that to find? I don't always like writing. It is that I want to do for a living (good luck to me, right?) yet sometimes I couldn't think of anything worse that to sit down and write. Even squeezing out one word is painful; let alone a reasonably decent sentence. I ask myself why on Earth I want to be a writer. All I can say is that I do. I just do. Against my own inclination and all better judgement, I want to be a writer. I am a writer. I just haven't written anything worthwhile yet. Does that make sense? Didn't think so. Well, I'm not too worried about that. The conclusion of all this is that you are a writer if you decide that you are one. It isn't more complicated than that.

I'm a writer. Are you?

Sunday 6 February 2011

Word of the Week #27

Subterfuge (noun)
Something used to escape consequences, a trick for evading something unpleasant.
E.g. "That's just a subterfuge! Take responsibility for once."


Friday 4 February 2011

The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers

The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear is, to my knowledge, a slightly obscure and not very well-known novel. It is, however, one of the funniest I've ever read. The novel details 13.5 of Bluebear's lives. Bluebear is a bear with blue fur, who tends to end up in awkward situations which his various skills can (or sometimes can't) get him out of. For example, he spends quite some time directing dreams inside the head of a giant, which he turns out to be very apt at.

Bluebear is apparently classified as a fantasy novel, but I wouldn't classify it as anything at all, except a funny novel. It's not in any way classic fantasy, but becomes fantasy only because is it nothing else. It's not light-weight, but so amusing that reading it is a breeze. It was originally written in German but I found the English translation excellent. I haven't come across any other novels by Walter Moers, but if I do I won't hesitate a second before buying and devouring them.

Saturday 29 January 2011

Word of the Week #26

Delphic (adj.)
Something obscure and ambiguous, often prophetic.


Wednesday 26 January 2011

Necessary Break

Due to an insane workload this week I'm afraid I won't have time to write anything. I thus take the opportunity to remind you that taking a break from your work once in a while to gain a new perspective on things can be a good thing. I'll be back in working order next week when I've put some of my assignments behind be.

Take care!

Sunday 23 January 2011

Word of the Week #25

Equivocal (adj)
Of doubtful nature, ambiguous. From which it is possible to make more than one deduction. E.g. "Politicians are always equivoal, they never answer anything straight."


Friday 21 January 2011

5 Great Novels That Should Become Movies

I'm mostly not a fan of seeing my favourite novels on the big screen, simply because I feel that, frankly, they're being abused and even ruined. Yet, there is still something special about those images in your head coming to life, even in a less perfect version. Some movies I wish I hadn't seen (*cough* Harry Potter *cough* Hitchhiker's Guide *cough*), but I remain hopeful that if the following novels were ever made into movies I would enjoy them almost as much as the originals. So if you happen to have a few million-billion American dollars (or however much it takes to make a movie nowadays) that you feel like turning into an awesome movie, here are some books you might want to invest in.

Sunday 16 January 2011

Word of the Week #24

Cantankerous (adj)
Someone who complains a great deal, who is disagreable and ill-tempered. Someone who's difficult to deal with. E.g. "I hate him, he's so cantankerous and annoying."


Saturday 15 January 2011


Today I signed up for NaNoEdMo '11! NaNoEdMo stands for National Novel Editing Month and begins March 1. I feel I need something to motivate me in my editing, which is marching far too slowly. I haven't done EdMo before, but as far as I understand you are supposed to spend 50 hours in the month of March editing a novel. It doesn't sound impossible, so I though I would give it a shot. It doesn't seem as fun as NaNoWriMo, but I fear it is very necessary in order to ger my editing done. So all of you out there who are finding editing harder than you thought, sign up for EdMo and spend March in terrible misery, but at least you'll get some editing done, right?

Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin

I have just finished reading this excellent biography on Jane Austen by Claire Tomalin. Firstly, let me mention that I have read quite a few biographies on Austen, as well as the James-Edward Austen-Leigh memoirs and Deirdre Le Faye's collection of all Austen's letters. You can definitely say that I devour everything that has to do with Austen and her writing. As such, I have been slightly disappointed in the previous biographies I've read because there really isn't much known about Austen since so few of her letters have survived. Mostly, biographies consist of a mentioning of this fact, and then either many great gaps in the story or just guesswork from the author's side.

In this novel, however, Tomalin has used some unrelated correspondence as well as much information gathered from Austen's relations' letters - and of course previous analyses of Austen's life - to paint as complete a picture as possible of Austen and how she lived. Naturally there are things we do not know, but they are fewer than I've felt them to be before. Tomalin uses is a fictional-esque narrative that guides us through Austen's life, through hard winters, to Bath where she stopped writing for a decade, and to her family visits in order to care for newborns and their mothers.

There is only one thing that bothered me with Tomalin's biography, which is that she places heavy judgement on Austen's parents for making her guarded and thick-skinned by first sending her to be nursed by a stranger as an infant and then sending her to boarding school at a very young age. More than one Austen child is accused of these character traits, yet I cannot imagine (though in no way claiming to be an expert) that these practises were in any way unusual. I only mention it because it is a recurring accusation that bothered me. I admit to be picking on details, however, because it is an excellent book and I can find no other faults. Well worth reading, especially if you're interested in the early 19th century England, as well as Austen herself.

Monday 10 January 2011

Word of Last Week #23

Gumption (noun)
Resourcefulness, the ability to know the right thing to do is, and do it. Guts.
E.g. "I didn't have the gumption to try."


Friday 7 January 2011

Insults Galore!

Sometimes you have to write characters that aren't so nice. It simply part of the job as a writer. A good way to get back at those characters once you finally get the chance (the bad guy usually get it in the end, after all) is to insult them. Insult them bad. Unfortunately, if you're like me, it can be quite hard to come up with the perfect comeback. Luckily, with writing, you can take your time and prepare the perfect one. Here I have collected a few insults, and some other resources where you can find more detailed ones if needed. Enjoy!

One way to insult someone is to call them names. Now, there are some classics like "idiot" and "moron", but they tend to become tired after a while. These next ones are slightly more fun, at least I think so. The first is taken from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. It's not used as an insult, however, but works very well as one.

"a slow-witted, stupid, or foolish person" -

The second one is one commonly used by Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie's novels. Imagine it spoken sharply with a French accent.

Saturday 1 January 2011

Word of the Week #22

Precursory (adj.)
Indicates that something will follow. Preliminary. E.g. "The precursory event indicated that the prophecy was about to come true".