Sunday, June 18, 2017

York and Everyday Things

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Yesterday, I surprised Steve with a trip to York so we could finally visit the Railway Museum. I was really surprised how big the place was, and we spent hours in there looking at everything. Personally, I was interested in the railway library called Search Engine (how appropriate).

Other than that, it's been all about work. I am trying to get back into the mental headspace of writing. Really, I'm trying to convince myself that A. I have time to write each day and B. Even if I just write a little each day, it's worth it. When I know I won't be able to keep my mind focused on a 50,000 word 1st draft of something for 2 months (if I split the normal 1667 word count into two), I just keep thinking that it's a failed effort.

However, I've been searching for inspiration and so far Gilbert's Big Magic has helped. She has a whole section on not quitting your day job while you write because if you require your creativity to pay your bills, especially before you've written your Eat, Pray, Love masterpiece/best-seller. I took this to heart and thought, yeah, I can chill out about that because I need to work and I'm just going to have to fit writing and using my time wisely around the schedule that I have at the moment.

“But to yell at your creativity, saying, “You must earn money for me!” is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you’re talking about, and all you’re doing is scaring it away, because you’re making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that.”

This book also talks about how you're not going to succeed if you don't accept the tough bits. I, personally, do not like that after I've written, I have to rewrite, edit, find critique partners, rewrite again, find beta reader, and then maybe, hopefully, possibly snag an agent who maybe, hopefully, luckily, possibly get me a publishing deal. Yes, I hate the not-so-fun parts. I admit that wholeheartedly. I hate the idea of trying to make an author platform and pitching my ideas to potential agents. I don't really worry about the rejection because I sort of expect it, but knowing that I'll be rejected and knowing how tough it is. (Though you see people getting books deals for stuff that I think, "that's not that great" or "I could have written that" is equally as tormenting.)

But it has to be done, and right now I know it won't be done soon. I'm incredibly impatient. When I want something, I want it now. If I have to do stuff for it, fine, but I want the results to be swift and rewarding. With creating works of literature, I know that's just not how it goes. I have to be in it for the long haul, even if I think the finished product will never truly be done. (Another thing Gilbert talks about - perfectionism will keep your creativity from flowing.)

Other than that, I've been watching Orange is the New Black Season 5. I've been reading Dumplin' and The Hate U Give as I finish up Big Magic. My brother-in-law is getting married in July, so we'll be attending the wedding in Liverpool. And since today is Father's Day, I wished my Dad a very happy day. (And Steve too, even though we just have the cat and he pretty much runs our lives anyway.) And I've been playing The Sims 4: Parenthood, which is just an on-going thing that will never end for me and The Sims 4. We've been through too many years together to stop now.

For all of you doing JuNoWriMo, I salute you. Keep strong and write on! Find your inspiration and run with it.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Our trip to Amsterdam

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This week I went on my first continental European trip. I’ve lived in England for six years and I’ve never had the holiday time or the money for a city break. This year I made sure that we celebrated Steve’s birthday with something new and fun, and off to Amsterdam we went.

The trip from Newcastle is only about an hour’s flight time, and while we had the option of the ferry from North Shields, the advice by my friends was that we should take a flight so we had more time for museums and sightseeing. Everyone I know here has been to Amsterdam a bunch times, so it being my first journey I was so eager to see everything because the place had been so highly recommended.

We stayed for three nights and the weather was glorious. We stayed in this amazing little apartment all of our own in a busy area of the city. We were around the corner from the Anne Frank House and Westerkerk the church with the bells that Anne Frank found so reassuring.

Going to see the Anne Frank House was surreal. My first aspirations for writing came from my sixth grade teacher reading us The Diary of Anne Frank, so I was ready to spill tears all over the place before I even got into the museum – I was so moved by the whole experience. I soldiered on though, and I enjoyed seeing the museum. A lot of information about the family was stuff I knew from my own curiosity, so I’d seen some of the videos they played (thank you, internet) but it was fascinating and heart-breaking just the same. It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do, and now I’ve done it. I even brought home something I’ve always wanted – a red, checked diary like Anne’s. (I love gift shops.)

We also saw the Van Gogh Museum. Steve and I liked getting up close to the paintings and seeing the intricate detail of the brush strokes. I cannot believe that he did so much in only ten years. I was also very impressed with myself that I had watched enough documentaries on artists to know how to pronounce the other artists names like Toulouse-Lautrec and Gauguin. Also, I decided that I love this painting of his the best. I just love the colors and the brush strokes, especially in his eyes.

We spent a lot of time at the Rijksmuseum and I can tell you that we saw so much culture that we were cultured out. I loved the Rembrandt painting and Napoleon’s pistols. I walked a total of 7 miles that day, and my feet were on fire, so I didn’t get to enjoy it all as much as I wished I could. But we went to every floor and saw as much as we could that afternoon.

It was Day Three of walking, drinking Heineken, eating pancakes, stroopwafles, and burgers. I had seen the Red Light District, a ton of bicycle riders, about as many American tourists (*waves flag*) and taken a canal boat cruise. All in all it was a perfect, lovely mini holiday and we’re eager to go back again. We only scratched the surface on all the things Amsterdam has to offer. We even talked about moving (though we hear it’s super expensive to live there) and I want to learn some Dutch for next time.

Anyway, this review sounds fairly juvenile and basic compared to what we saw and how we felt about the place, but it’ll have to do for now. If you ever have the chance, I highly recommend seeing the place yourself. It’s a beautiful, laid-back city with all sorts of things to see and do. We hated to go back home but, alas, here we are and we’re back to work tomorrow. Oh well, Steve has had a good birthday.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

What’s going on in April

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It’s a nice, leisurely Sunday afternoon at Chez Pick. We’ve been fortunate enough to have some much needed time off, so we’re been trying to make the most of it.

Over Easter break we didn’t stay overnight anywhere like we usually do. This time we saw Ghost in the Shell and ate at Wagamamas on Easter Sunday, went to Cherryburn Farm on Easter Monday, and visited Cullercoats and Tynemouth on Saturday.

The movie was good and I’m glad we saw it, though I don’t remember a lot from the original that I saw ages ago. Wagamamas still doesn’t have breakfast like we saw in Gatwick Airport last December, so that was a mild bummer. And even though it was sunny in parts, the beach last Saturday was cold and it hailed on us. (We enjoyed our ice cream anyway.)

Yesterday we made another trip to our favorite place: Beamish Museum and saw their Horses at Work exhibition. I love that place, but having that many horses running around made it all the more enjoyable.

We’ve been watching Dave Grohl’s Sonic Highways, Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special (R.I.P. Charlie Murphy), and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air because, why not?

Work has been work. I can’t say much else than that. I go to a bunch of libraries, I help people with tablets and phones and computers, then I go home. Nothing too exciting about that.

Writing has still been sketchy at best. I get so frustrated because I want to delve into my Camp NaNoWriMo project, but I know I’ll never get much done because my whole day is focused on running around for work. I try my best to zone out and get back into the mind-set of “this has to be done because this is what I want to do with my free time” but I still can’t shake the high I have from being so dang social all day. (Is this an introvert thing, or what?)

I’ve thought about getting a Kickstarter going, donating the money to charity, and using that as a way to keep myself on task and motivated. I guess it couldn’t hurt if I tried, could it?

I do love all these authors who are still plugging away and keeping me motivated. I especially loved the Camp NaNoWriMo Virtual Write Ins on Youtube. They’re so fun and inspiring to watch.

On that note, this has been yet another “got to update before the time gets away from me again” type of post. Hope all of you are well and writing, traveling and publishing, and doing all the cool stuff that makes you who you are.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Camp NaNoWriMo, here we come!

Stormy Weather

Once again the prep for Camp NaNoWriMo is upon us with less than a week to get our ducks in a row.

With that said, I have compiled a list of links and tools that I’m keeping in my bookmarks, that may help someone else as well. Many are oldies but goodies, and probably common knowledge to those of you who do this every year without fail. (Unlike yours truly.)

  • Sign up. This is a given, but if you haven’t done so, make sure to sign up here.
  • A Novel in 30 Days Worksheet Index.
  • The soothing sounds of a coffee shop when you need to drown out the distractions.
  • Writing Resources from Camp NaNo itself.
  • Scrivener trial for Camp NaNo campers.
  • Novlr, OneDrive, One Note, Dropbox, Evernote, Google Docs, and whatever else you may need to keep your notes in check even when you’re not at your desk.
  • The Facebook experience of Camp.
  • Wattpad will let you post as you write, so if you want an audience (and potentially some motivation) here’s a perfect place to do it.
  • If you need a critique partner (and happen to be a lady) there’s a webpage for that.
  • And advice from other campers who have been there and done that.
  • Write or Die and Written? Kitten! (which isn’t displaying kittens for me, unfortunately) will motivate you when you need it.

If you have any other ideas, let me know. I’d love to hear how you get yourself motivated and prepared for a month of writing.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Tales from Dove Cottage

Wordsworth's Dove Cottag

Well, I’ve seen it – Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage. This has been on my To Do list for only about 20 years, so I’m completely pleased to have finally visited. I was in a literature class in college and the professor shared around the photos of the England trip she and some of her students had gone on the year before. That’s when I first heard of The Lake District and Dove Cottage – I knew I had to get there one day.

Being the bank holiday and my rare opportunity to have all three days off (no work last Saturday – hooray) I booked us a nice excursion to the The Lake District. For those of us who aren’t British by birth, this is the done thing in England. You go to The Lakes over the last bank holiday of the year.

Of course I didn’t know this before I booked it – I just thought it would be nice to get away when we had the chance to spend more than one night not in town.

Anyway, so we stayed at Raise View House in Grasmere and spent time walking around Wordsworth’s grave at St. Oswald’s Church, the Gingerbread Shop, Allan Bank, Dove Cottage, The Wordsworth Trust Museum, and a few local bars and cafes.

The weather was incredible and it felt so, so nice to be away in the fresh air and the serenity of The Lakes. I’m so glad this area has been preserved and left in the natural beauty. Living in the city is nice and convenient and there is a ton of stuff at your fingertips there but, yeah, my natural disposition to enjoy being away from all of that.

Therefore, my new life goal – live in the The Lake District and write books.