Tag Archives: Challenge

Writing is hard work

26 Apr

The title basically says it all; writing is hard work. It truly is which is also one of the bigger reasons why I will never become a decent writer despite how much I wish I would. Wishing doesn’t get you anywhere though, only effort and hard labour will do the trick and we all know that I am as lazy as a person can be.

Why am I telling you all this? I’m currently in full-blown thesis writing mode and it really shows me the shortcomings of my writing abilities. While academic writing does not equal creative writing my problems are the same. First and foremost is my limited vocabulary. I sound like a fourth-grader who ingested a thesaurus. I love to write the words just as they flow in my mind and that’s fine for this blog but doesn’t work for anything that’s going to be held to a higher standard. I know loanwords and am happy to use them as I hope it shows I’m not a complete moron while most of the words I put on paper sound so blah.

Another thing that’s really difficult for me is staring at a blank page, trying to come up with sentences. Nothing is worse than staring down a blank page while your mind decided it’s the perfect moment to go blank. I despise getting to the first draft stage, after that it gets much easier for me. Never mind that I spend most of today re-writing entire paragraphs because they weren’t any good. It’s still so much easier to just edit something after you put the general idea into words; reshaping and forming the sentences into something worthwhile.

Then there is the language problem that shouldn’t be a problem for me at all. I’m writing my thesis in German which should be fine, no big deal. But it is. I find myself multiple times a day having the perfect english phrasing on my mind and failing to find a proper translation that conveys exactly the same. This is completely messed up since German is my native language, it shouldn’t be an issue but it is. I guess that day about 5 years ago when I couldn’t for the life of me remember the German word for umbrella was a sign that it’s only going downhill from there.

I’m now about 24 pages into my thesis. It’s ok, it could be worse and the last three days were quite productive. What else this thesis-writing experiment is showing me is that I just have to sit it out. Keep in front of that damn PC and write. I take many breaks to go on Twitter, Tumblr, any newspaper site I care about or walk up three flights of stairs to the farthest ladies room to get my mind unstuck. Moving around helps me clear my head as does focussing on something mind-numbing for a little while. In the end I have to get back to the writing though to get that pesky first draft out there. It’s like breaking the ice when you meet someone new, the beginning is really difficult and afterwards it gets more comfortable and easy. Writing about a specific topic is like getting to know a stranger. The more you think about it, the more involved you two become until things fall into place because you suddenly realise what it’s all about.

I’m dreading the empty chapters that are yet awaiting me but I also feel like I’m finally going somewhere, moving forward, not solely in time but also in regards to where my life is supposed to head. A little over a month and I’ll be done with studying for good, I’ll be able to travel, spend my summer on and around my favourite theater stage and look for a job. I haven’t felt useless the last couple of days, it felt more like accomplishing something even if it’s as stupid as finally getting the bottom line of your thesis question. I also know where I want to work, or at least I think I do, which is a huge deal for me as I didn’t know this at the beginning of this year.

All in all, I feel good right now which makes me happy since I spend a lot of time complaining about my thesis. It’s just the way I handle things. I don’t know how but the complaining is a part of my work routine, always has been and probably always will be.

30 Days of Books – Day 20

20 Nov

Favourite romance book

Previously: Favourite book turned into a movie

There are soooooo many romance novels out there and I’ve read quite a few because I love fluff and happy couples and that stuff sometimes. This is again a vey hard choice – I want to go with something that was already on this list but in order not to repeat myself, today’s choice is: Best Day of Someone Else’s Life by Kerry Reichs. It’s actually the predecessor to The Good Luck Girl and features related characters.

The main character is Kevin ‘Vi’ Conelly – her parents really wanted a boy. She is in her 30s and suddenly, she gets all these invitations to weddings of friends and colleagues which is awkward for her because she has no one in her life even though all those people seem to have found an idiot to love them. Thus continues a long series of weddings she has to attend and/or even take part in. Some of her experiences are funny and embarrassing and she manages to keep her spirits high.  Through some up’s and down’s she finds a really decent guy.

This book is well written, for chick-lit and if that’s your thing, I can only recommend it, also Kerry’s second book.

Next: Favourite book from your childhood

30 Days of Books – Day 07

7 Nov

Most underrated book

Previously: A book that makes you sad

I’m not sure if this counts as an underrated book but I haven’t seen it around a lot and I believe everyone should read it because it is written beautifully. Usually I’m not big on short-stories. I can’t help it, I prefer having more to a story than 40 pages or so which is why I love book series so much. There’s always more goodness coming your way even after you finished one book.

In this case though, I’m going with Delicate Edible Birds from Lauren Groff.

Lauren Groff is an amazing young writer and this book includes 9 very different short stories. Some of them even made me cry which I think is a good sign. It’s been a while since I read it so I won’t recap it, which is also hard when it’s 9 different stories. You should discover them for yourself, I can only recommend reading this book. This will also not be the last time I’ll be mentioning Lauren Groff during this challenge so be warned.

Next: Most overrated book

30 Days of Books – Day 06

6 Nov

A book that makes you sad

Previously: A book that makes you happy

Many books make me sad and happy at the same time or at least throughout the entire journey but finding one that makes me really sad was a bit difficult. I decided on ‘Out of Africa’ by Tania Blixen but I could have also gone with ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’. I think that Out of Africa is sadder though.

Many bibliophile people know this story already which was made famous by the movie starring Robert Redford and (Queen) Meryl Streep in 1985.

 

Even the beginning of the story is famous and quite beautiful:

I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Equator runs across these highlands, a hundred miles to the north, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. In the day-time you felt that you had got high up; near to the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold.

It’s a memoir of Tania Blixen who moved from Denmark to Africa in the early 1900s with her husband, a danish Baron, to operate a tabac farm. Their marriage is not the best and Tania tries to build herself a life outside of it, being a nurse to the children and the workers of the farm. Over time she falls in love with Denys Finch Hatton a european fellow who is quite adventurous.

This novel is a testament of Blixen’s love for Africa and it was so, so sad when she had to leave Africa to return to Denmark. Her marriage failed, her lover gone and childless. Blixen was a very independent woman and she writes really beautifully.

I prefer the book over the movie anytime but then again it’s with Meryl Streep so it’s not bad at all. It just didn’t convey as much emotion as the written words did.

Next: Most underrated book

30 Days of Books – Day 05

5 Nov

A book that makes you happy

Previously: Favourite book of your favourite series

There are a lot of books that make me happy, look at Day 1 and Day 2 for example but I’m trying not to repeat myself in this 30 Day challenge so the book that makes me officially happy is ‘Sing you Home’ by Jodi Picoult.

This was my first and still only novel by Jodi Picoult and I absolutely loved it. As I gather from looking at some of her other books, there’s this typical way in which she constructs a book. Splitting it in parts that are told from the main characters of the story. In this book those are Zoe, her soon-to-be ex-husband Max and Vanessa. Zoe and Max have tried for years to get pregnant, they spent all of their money on in vitro but it never works. At the beginning if the novel Zoe is pregnant and quite far along but she looses the child and is naturally devastated.

Her marriage with Max has been crumbling around the edges for a long time and after the miscarriage they split up because it’s too painful for both of them. Zoe is a musical therapist and while she struggles to accept the loss of her hopes and dreams she becomes friends with Vanessa, a high school guidance counsellor. Vanessa is gay though and after s while, Zoe and Vanessa fall in love with each other. They get married and decide to try to have a baby with the few eggs Zoe still has stored at the fertility clinic. They need Max’s approval though and that sets off a whole fight for marriage equality and so on. While Zoe has found her new romance, Max found refuge in a rather conservative church which advocates against same sex marriage…you see where this is going…a big courtroom showdown.

What initially drew me to this book was the title because I love to sing and music is a constant in my life. The note on the back is very careful not to mention any of the lesbian part of the story and so I was kinda surprised but in a good way. I’m quite thankful to this book because even though it might seem stupid but it made me once and for all realise that I’m gay. The way Vanessa describes how she was always different from the other girls in her class and how she pretended to like the guys all the girls had crushes on even though she knew it wasn’t real for her. I found myself in her character on so many levels it was freaky. I read the 600-something pages in a bit over 24 hours which is FAST for me, really fast. I was THAT invested in the story.

Next: A book that makes you sad

30 Days of Books – Day 02

2 Nov

A Book that you’ve read more than 3 times

Previously: Best Book you read last year

I’m not much of a re-reader of books but ‘The Good Luck Girl’ by Kerry Reichs who is the daughter of Kathy Reichs didn’t give me a choice. I think I read it 3 or 4 times in one YEAR. Also, I gushed about this book before and why I love it so much, so check out my earlier post cause I’m too lazy to write about it again.

BTW, this book has two titles, in the US it’s called Leaving Unknown which I actually find more fitting for the storyline than the UK title.

At the moment I am actively trying to restrain myself from reading it again because there are a number of books sitting on my shelves waiting to be read but instead I want to grab this one and indulge myself again. But I won’t. I’ll stay strong.

Next: Your favourite Series

30 Days of Books – Day 01

1 Nov

Best Book you read last year

Kicking off my 30 Days of Books I’m supposed to name the best book I read last year. For this, I’m going with ‘Love, Ellen’ by Betty DeGeneres.

This is not a novel but a memoir of Ellen’s Mom in which she talks about her life but most importantly she explains her road to acceptance of her daughter’s homosexuality. But it’s also so much more.

Betty takes us on the journey of her surprisingly eventful life. She raised two kids partly as a single parent, married three times, divorced three times and became an advocate for the Human Rights Campaign concerning the National Coming Out Project. At the age where most people think about retiring, she only ever got started.

At first I thought this book was only about a daughter (granted a VERY famous one) who comes out to her mother in the 70s. But Betty tells us so much more about her own life, beginning long before she even had kids so we could fully understand where she was coming from. It was a shock when she found out that Ellen was gay and it took her quite some time to accept it but when she did, she DID! It’s fascinating to read why it was so difficult to accept Ellen even though she loved her so much. It’s that everything she ever wanted for her daughter suddenly seemed to have vanished and what was a woman supposed to be without a husband? Luckily though, she learns to understand that marrying a man is not every woman’s goal in life and that homosexuality is not a choice.

What makes this book the best one I read in the last 12 months? – It is heartwarming and surprisingly well written. It is honest and interesting. And I learned quite some things about Ellen that I didn’t know.

Next: A Book that you’ve read more than 3 times

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