Magic is Real (or: I like wine)

Big Fish, Prince of Mist, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, The Shadow of the Wind are amongst my all time favorite reads.

The feel of the extraordinary captured within the frames of reality (or sometimes just outside its boundaries) is what I often try to achieve in my writing.

When brainstorming these stories or wondering about one of its characters  I’m in a particular mood. A mood wherein magic is more real, more tangible. If I was to describe this mood (and obviously I’m going to because I would be a pretty lousy writer if I didn’t try)

I would describe this like:

Having two glasses of wine on an empty stomach,  being happy on a superficial level and wondering what would happen if #insert-idea-that-could-be-real-if-a-little-magic-sipped-through-from-another-dimension

(what if: you could sell your dreams but the cost is nightmares/ your father is the sea/you can control insects/there’s a ghost living in the garden shed/the statue on the town square cries every evening at eleven).

 

Maybe I drink too much (wine: preferably temperanillo/rioja or a really cold  pinot grigio when the sun is shining).

🙂

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Weird Process

I know you’re supposed to be in the possession of a highly polished version of your novel, before you start thinking about your query letter. Let alone write one.

BUT I JUST CAN’T HELP MYSELF.

It’s fun.

For me it’s something to work on when I get stuck editing or writing. And when a sentence captures the feel of my story, I copy/paste it in a separate document I keep to tinker with my query letter.  Appropriately named: Document 3, which is a pretty lame title if you consider making up titles is peering down at the top regions of my What-I-Love-About-Writing- List.

Anyway.. In earlier stages this process showed me how thin my plot was. Or that my plot was transparent (sounds better than invisible, don’t you agree?).

Maybe I’ve a weird process but it makes me understand my story better. I’m learning to write a more cohesive pitch and to be specific.

No dark forces that gather but three highly gifted sorcerers who feed on the pain of others meet and plan to kill all the people in an elderly home.

No more plan to kill but they inject all the residents with high dose insulin  (no magic needed. Told you they were highly gifted).

No tragic event but All residents, except one, die. A 93 year-old lady who stole and ate all the candy in the Home survived.

No worst nightmare but the Sematary from King’s Pet Sematary is real and they just sold the plot to create a burial place for children.

It works for me, and if it works I keep it 🙂 Weird or not.

Distraction 101

I discovered Twitter. And it’s the worst. Because it’s awesome. (Which means I have added another distraction to my already very big heap of distractions).

How is it possible that so many people can be funny in less than 140 characters? It’s impressive and intimidating at the same time and I like it A LOT.

Since I’m a postponing/procrastinating expert I thought it was time to provide you with a top ten things to do instead of writing 🙂

Behold a list!

  • Go to the gym (whahaha <- this is my evil laugh, but seriously: GO)
  • Make an artistic grocery list (I usually make drawings of the things to buy,  a very insufficient way to get your shopping done. Trust me).
  • Read books (this will keep you busy FOREVER and EVER).
  • Look at the blank screen and then read ALL THE THINGS the Internet has to offer. Which are many, think: Twitter, Blogs, Bored Panda.
  • Have kids, they will provide you with enough things to do for the next ten years (or more).
  • Make an Instagram account, you can look at other people’s pictures every day.
  • Pinterest! You can call it research if you like.
  • Your home is never clean enough.
  • Arrange your pencils by color.
  • Do the same with books

In which I become friends with my Muse (his name is Kip)

It’s July! And like I said in my post about Summer, I intend to write a lot this month.

But I’m slacking on the writing-blog-posts-part, so here it is: a July post 🙂

It’s nothing more than a short update on what I’m doing but still. I wrote it. (Maybe I can add the words to my daily nano count #cheaterthatIam)

I’m doing Campnano again. And having fun with a new story about a telepathic connection between a brother (who paints in only one color, either blue or red) and sister ( a barista who can make awesome Latte art but HATES milk, because the memory that clings to it rips her soul apart).

I guess the new story is also about coffee. Because I like coffee.

AND I am editing the previous story, which is turning into something that might actually be worth reading. I stumble upon sentences I don’t really remember writing and some are actually quite suprising. In a good way. Sometimes I feel almost proud of what I’ve written. And I’m not a person who finds it easy to be proud of her achievements. I’m terrible at writing descriptions, but some of them might work. Like this one:

The rain was washing away the remains of the day, clearing the city like an etch and sketch. The streets were shimmering and the air smelled like earth. Jenya loved this hour of night. Tourists were nowhere to be seen, the streets almost empty. The rain turned into a soft drizzle, making soft thudding sounds, indifferent of the surfaces it fell on. A couple hurried by, giggling and trying to balance an umbrella between the two of them. Jenya thought about rain, how it had made her feel warm and safe when she was younger, lying on her bed listening to it tapping the windows

The last six years she hadn’t felt safe at all, and when her window was tapped upon it was normally something that came straight from a nightmare.

I’m still really (really , really, really)  insecure. And a lot of times I tell myself not so optimistic things (why are you doing this/ this is not going to work/ why?/ all that time typing and stringing words together/ nobody is going to read or like your work/ etcetera). My inner editor (Pie is her name) still points out why things are not working, but hours go by where she’s just quiet. Maybe there is a muse and maybe he’s holding her hostage. Who knows?

I’m calling my muse Kip, because Kip is a cool name and sounds like a person who likes coffee. Kip and I are going to be friends.

 

 

 

Fear

Short stories are my first love. I love the compact feel of a plot spread over a couple of pages, every word getting the story closer to the end, preferably at high speed.

Neil Gaiman and Stephen King are my short story heroes.

I, unfortunately, am not very good at writing them. But that has never stopped me from trying anyway. The funny thing is that when I’m writing a short story I tune in to a very strange part of me.

Let me explain a bit: In my humble opinion there are two kind of persons.

People who jump in the pool right away & People who walk around it, assessing the temperature of the water, dipping a toe, or use the stairs.

I’m a jumper-inner.

Except when writing short stories.

I have trouble getting in and out fast, and linger to0 long on words that are not supposed to be there in the first place. I’m also sort of afraid of the stories that end up on the page.

When writing a long story, I feed on my grown-up fears. Which are of course little fears (the fear of eating alone/ the fear of not having enough time).

When I write short stories, I feed on my childhood fears which are HUGE. (the neighbors are plotting to kill us/ pigeons are demons/ the dunes are alive and eat children in Summer).

My trick is to write a short story first and when I type ‘The End’ immediately move on to novel drafting so that the childhood fears stick a while longer.

 

Those fears are the ones that come knocking in the middle of the night.

 

 

 

The Ultimate of Lists

I’m talking of course about the famous bucket list.

Everyone seems to have one, everyone seems to want one.

Including me (the wanting part, still haven’t made one).

There are about a gazillion places I want to visit, at least six languages I want to speak fluently, three instruments I want to play like a pro and I can think of endless other things ranging from having the perfect bikini body to writing bestseller novels.

But..

If I want to do all those things I need to work more so I can travel more.

I need to delete all useless time devouring things from my schedule.

(Which is hard. I find Breaking Bad very appealing. Same goes for useless internet browsing).

I don’t want that. I guess the trick would be to make the List of Lists achievable and specific.

One of the things that would definitely be on my list is to experience the 24 hours of Midnight Sun in the Artic Circle during the June Solstice. (Because thinking about it alone generated three solid novel ideas and it would be all kinds of awesome).

Ticking this one of the list would mean I need:

-a plane ticket to Honningsvag, (North Cape, Norway). From Amsterdam that costs about 700 euro.

-free days in June

-Accommodation (around 300-400 euro)

-Rental car (200)

So basically I would need 1200 euro and time off.

Another example: I don’t want to make the time to learn six languages fluently, but three or four would be a doable goal. Since I already am fluent in two (Dutch and English), have limited proficiency in two others (Italian and French), this is something that could be accomplished.

Anyway what I’m saying is that if I finally get around to actually making the list I would make two versions.

One with every cool thing I can think of. The other with the things I really want, the things I’m willing to work and sacrifice for.

(And yes: experiencing the 24 hour Midnight Sun in the Artic Circle would definitely be on the latter).

I’m very curious about your top three!

When I think of Summer

Once upon a time, in a practically underwater country, not so very far away, a person named Irene was feeling rather bored.

And wrote a blog post about Summer, because Summer is cool.

*

June’s already halfway gone! How did that happen so fast??

The good thing is that it’s almost July and July means GOOD THINGS.

In case you’re wondering what these good things are, behold a list!

  • Summer (for details of my thoughts on things to do in Summer, see below)
  • Summer vacation part 1: Bretagne
  • (a ten day break at a wonderful piece of coast in France with four happy kids and one very handsome man, starting July 31st ).
  • Campnano is coming again!
  • (in which I intend to work on my writing goals like there is no tomorrow (Ha! As you may know I find “tomorrow “ an elusive concept).

These are some of the things that come to mind when I think of summer:

get a tan/eat a coconut/have weekly BBQ’s/swimming&beach/read books/drink champagne/have picknicks in the park/ go to a festival of sorts/ attend a wedding/buy a bikini/write an entry for a YA contest/edit Draft that Must not be Named until it’s worthy of a name/ dabble in contemporary YA because the idea won’t go away/ finally make that Polaroid branch I was supposed to make in May/make my own icecreams/figure out how to make Mango juice.

Ahh Mango Juice.

And she lived happily ever after.

(Back to work).