Saturday, May 18, 2013

Are you looking for me?

I'm retiring this blog for now.

From now on, you can find me at Writing Words on a Page; my new blog about writing, and blogging, and plotting, and morning pages, and novel writing months, and... lots more :)

I've been blogging here since 2006, about anything and everything that came to mind. Now I feel the need for something a little more focused - and what's better to focus on that something I love: writing!

June Novel Writing Month is only a couple of weeks away. When I participated last year, I made it to 30,034. This year, I am determined to make it to 50,000!

If you're the least bit curious, and want to follow my new blogging adventures, please come on over to Writing Words on a Page.

Take care!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Write for ten: Yo-yo

That morning, Elisabeth had a full-blown silent argument with herself in the mirror. She was brushing her teeth, looking at everything around her but herself - thinking about nothing in particular until she caught her own gaze in the mirror.

- I've got to stop, she thought to herself. - I can't keep daydreaming my time away like this. It's not accomplishing anything. 

She twisted the toothbrush to reach the molars.

- Screw that! Why should I stop? It's the one thing I enjoy! It's not fair that I should stop. Although... I should really spend my time on something productive. Like, I should start exercising. There's that new gym that just opened last month. 

She realised that she had looked away, and turned her gaze back to her reflection.

- I need to get my life together, is what I need to do. 

She surprised herself by actually rolling her eyes at that thought.

- I'm not my mom, for god's sake! So what if I daydream? It's a perfectly normal way to relax and... and unwind. 

- Really? What do I need to unwind from? Work isn't exactly rocket science. 

- Shut up, it's a great way to not think about work... or my parents, or whether or not Sandra wants me to move out so her boyfriend can move in...

- To escape from responsibility, is that what I'm saying? 

She realised she had been vigorously brushing the same two teeth over and over. She rinsed her mouth and looked at her reflection.

- I'm not gonna stop daydreaming, she said out loud. - Nothing I say can convince me to. And that's final.

---

This is another character study based on a Write 4 Ten prompt - this time the prompt was "Yo-yo".

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Five Sentence Fiction: Delicate

This is another character study, based on Lillie McFerrin's Five Sentence Fiction prompt "delicate":

Someone like him probably had a girlfriend, Elisabeth thought; he was so handsome, how could he not? 

She frowned at the dress she was holding; soft and flowing, almost delicate with the thin shoulder straps, and definitely meant for warmer days than today. 

If she wore it, maybe he would notice her on the train; she saw him every day after all, and maybe today he would smile at her - even though he probably wouldn't mean anything by it. 

She put on the dress and frowned at the unfamiliar sight of herself in the mirror, hoping that this was what it took to get his attention. 

She had never really stopped to consider why he mattered so much - but he did, this stranger on the train. 

---

I rewrote it twice but I'm still not happy with it. In fact, I considered not even submitting anything, and instead just post this:

Interesting prompt this week.
Brain isn't working.
I wrote a haiku instead.

But I thought I might get some interesting feedback on the writing, regardless of what I think of it, so here it is :)

Friday, February 01, 2013

Flash fiction: Broken

Today, I sat down on the train after work and started the 10 minute meditation program from Simply Being. And then I wrote a short piece of flash fiction based on Donna B. McNicol's Write 4 Ten prompt "broken".

When the ten minutes were up, I wasn't very happy with the piece - so I reset the meditation program, and started over.

This is the result:

Broken


Elisabeth was crying.

She was lying in bed, had just woken up to turn off the alarm clock - then had crawled back under the covers, curled up, and buried her face in the pillow. 

She cried so hard that it was difficult to breathe. Really bawled, like a child, with total abandon. Her entire body was shaking, and she couldn't focus long enough to relax her muscles and make it stop. Her stomach knotted itself into a ball of stress; warm and tight inside her. It sent a warn wave through her body, followed by an icy one. She felt sick, and kept crying. 

Gradually, the tears stopped, and she felt her breathing slow down. Her muscles relaxed, and she wiped her eyes and nose on the pillow cover. Then she pushed the pillow off the bed onto the floor. 

She didn't know what to do. She knew perfectly well what she wanted - which was to be left alone, and spend the whole day in bed, alone with her thoughts and daydreams. 

She lay in the dark, staring up into the ceiling. Once in a while, a small sob forced its way out of her chest, and she cried a few tears. She didn't want to get up and go to work; and she didn't want to have to explain herself to her boss, or her roommate, or her parents. She just wanted to be alone. 

She turned over in bed, with her back to the alarm clock, pulled the covers over her head, and fell into an exhausted sleep.

---

It's meant to be a small character study of the main character from my NaNoWriMo novel from last year (I'm also testing a renaming; from Isabella to Elisabeth). In that respect, it's not the best piece of flash fiction - but I think it works as a piece of a bigger puzzle.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

12 in 12: December

I am happy to report that my 12 in 12 crochet adventure for December had a happy ending, despite the rather unfortunate mistake I made. I ended up unravelling the whole thing, wound up the yarn into balls again, and started over. And I finished the Calm Cowl in less than 7 days! Visiting family over the holidays gave me plenty of time to relax with my crocheting :)

The Calm Cowl, mark II
The Calm Cowl, mark II
I mentioned it in a previous blog post but I'll repeat it here: this is the pattern I used (free pdf download), and this is where I looked up crochet stitches and abbreviations that I didn't know.

Mistakes are just opportunities to learn

Now, while I really like the overall pattern, I thought the almost-finished mark I cowl looked a bit... bland. So the second time around, I modified the pattern so that the double lines of holes are repeated on both sides of the cowl.

It was a very easy modification but I'm still proud of it. Basically, I 1) realised I made a mistake, 2) rectified it, 3) took the opportunity to improve the final product, and 4) finished in record time because I actually knew what I was doing this time around!

- and another little project

When I had finished the cowl, I still had a bit of yarn left over, so I made a crochet flower from this free pattern.
Crochet flower
Crochet flower

It only took me about an hour to make, since I had all the crochet stitches fresh in my mind. I still haven't decided what to do with it, so if you have any ideas, let me know!

Verdict: I love to crochet!

This has been one of the most pleasant monthly challenges I've set for myself during 12 in 12. It is so amazingly calming to work with your hands, and it is very rewarding to produce something tangible at the same time. Even though I can't really take my eyes off the crocheting, I can still listen - and I love listening to a well-known movie while I crochet :)

At the risk of producing a number of crocheted or knitted items that I don't know where to put, this probably won't be the last time I do crafts like this. 

And that's it! I'll make a separate post to wrap up the entire 12 in 12 experience :)

Oh, that reminds me: I was supposed to write down 5 things that made me happy each day as well. Yeah, I forgot about that. And I kept forgetting it. I'll keep it in mind for an informal challenge later, though; I do believe it is a very worthwhile exercise to remind yourself of the good things in life :)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Short and slightly angry update on the crochet project

I'm almost done with my Calm Cowl! Look at this:

Calm Cowl, mark I
The Calm Cowl, mark I

The only thing left to do now is to fasten off, and it's finished!

Except... I've just realised that I've made a huge mistake. Just now. Moments from the finish line.

Even though it's been a while since I last crocheted anything, I was quite confident that I remembered how to switch to a new ball of yarn. Just tie the two ends into a knot, snip off the frayed ends, and keep crocheting, right?

Wrong!

That's (k)not the way to do it. The yarn is too slippery to be held into place by the knots, so now I have a handful of places where the yarn is coming undone. In the middle of everything.

Solution: 1) call my mother to find out the right way to switch, 2) unravel the whole thing, and 3) start over.

No problem. I have yarn enough to do it properly, and I find it extremely relaxing to crochet. But now I wonder if I'll finish before the end of December.

I'll update later! Merry Christmas :)

Sunday, December 02, 2012

12 in 12: November, the NaNoWriMo adventure

So, NaNoWriMo is over, and it was quite a ride. Let's take a look at the story part first, and then a bit of technical advice afterwards :)

The story part 


For JuNoWriMo, I was a planner: I did a lot of prewriting, and ended up with the entire story planned out. I had short sentence descriptions of every chapter, and it 1) helped me through writer's block, and 2) made me bored with both writing and the story.

So for NaNoWriMo, I was a pantser: the only prewriting I did had very little to do with the story, and more to do with fleshing out characters. (Then a week or so before November, I decided to change the main characters... yeah.)

And you know what - it was great :) I had a vague idea of what I wanted to story to be about, and how I wanted it to end, and it worked very well. I didn't grow tired of writing which, let's face it, is what NaNoWriMo is all about.

On top of not really planning anything, I found a story that offered a fantastic advantage. The basic plot - young girl daydreams - meant that if I got stuck writing about her everyday life, I could switch to any one of the daydreams: vampires, zombies, dragons, and more.

Now, of course that might not work for all stories... but I was very glad to have the option to switch to another story line :) That does mean, of course, that I don't actually have a first draft right now; I have a ton of smaller stories that are spread out through the story line, and need to be assembled like pieces of a quilt.

The technical part


I got a couple of ideas from Rachel Aaron's post "Guest Post: How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day" about tracking my writing.

I tracked how much I wrote, how long it took, and where I was writing. Here are a couple of data points that I might be able to use to plan later writing:
  • I wrote a total of 50,582 words, and I wrote 16 days out of 30.
  • That means I wrote an average of 3,162 words every day - but in reality my lowest word count was 88 words in one day, and my highest was on November 30th with 11,406 words.
  • My highest word counts happened between 6pm and 9pm, and while I was using Written? Kitten! In fact, 75% of my word count was written on that website. 
A couple of notes for myself - and other first time NaNoWriMo'ers:
  • You can only update your word count the end of November 30th - and you can only validate your novel until the end of November 30th. 
  • If you - like me - kept writing until two minutes to midnight, you can always change the time zone in your profile, so it looks like midnight hasn't happened yet. Not to cheat and write more but to update your word count one last time, and to validate your novel. 
I was a little surprised that you couldn't validate once you had hit December 1st. I mean, all participation in NaNoWriMo runs on an honour system, where you are expected to not just copy and paste the same ten words 5,000 times. Why shouldn't you be trusted with the validation option on December 1st? But that's the way it is, and the important thing is knowing about it, so you can plan accordingly :) 

Would I do it again? 


Absolutely! There will definitely be a next time :)

In hindsight, I wish I had written every day, even a little bit. And since I said the same thing after JuNoWriMo, it's something I need to work on.

I also wish I had been more active in the Danish NaNoWriMo community. I went to the intro meeting in late October - and that was it. I haven't been to a single meet-up or write-in or anything.

There are plenty of explanations: I get home late from work and usually am not in the mood for going out again. And by the weekend, I was usually so far behind on my word count that I didn't leave the house but simply wrote all day. ALL DAY. And it did boost my word count - but I can't help but wonder if I had written more, or gotten a greater NaNo experience if I had gone to write-ins.


What's next? 


I want to work more on this story, and now that I have the basic enthusiastic writing out of the way, I think it's time to look at the structure, plot, story development, and all the writing techniques that are available out there.

What's also up next is my 12 in 12 challenge for December which is now the combined original challenges for November and December: knit or crochet for half an hour, and write down 5 things that made me happy each day.

To prepare a bit, I made a Pinterest board a long time ago to gather inspiration for knitting and crocheting projects, and I've settled on this one: the crocheted Calm Cowl (the pattern is a free pdf download). It's pretty basic; I just needed to buy the supplies, get a quick brush-up on the stitches (thanks to Crochet stitches for Dummies!), and I'm off:

The humble beginnings of the Calm Cowl
The humble beginnings of the Calm Cowl
I'll update as usual at the end of the month :)