About Me

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I still feel like a teenager on the inside, unfortunately my children do remind me how old I am!! I have lived for 20+ years as an Irish expat in The Netherlands. My favourite city here has to be Amsterdam.

Writing, reading, authentic living. It's all here at The Writing Process

Welcome to my blog. Let me start by telling you that I love writing. I love the sense of vitality it gives me. I love that it helps me to make sense of the world and to the people in it. I love that it helps me become wiser, more intuitive, empathic, and most of all autonomous.

All aspects - reading, writing and observing - are what make the process complete. The essence is storytelling, and learning about
life and yourself.

Friday, November 30, 2012

NaNoWriMo day 30

Day 30

Well, I gave it my best shot, but didn’t quite make the 50k. I enjoyed making the effort and I am really pleased that, due to NaNoWriMo, my writing is once again a priority in my daily routine. It had been taking a back seat to any number of other activities every day that  my fear was that my current novel would never get finished. Well, having almost doubled the wordcount in November, revitalising the plot and getting to know my characters more intimately, my doubts have been eradicated.
I am almost there, people. The plot is as good as complete, almost every chapter has been worked out in detail. There’s lots of new dialogue and characters meeting each other and driving the plot along. The ending has been written, so I know where all the gaps in the narrative must lead to ultimately. So, I am satisfied.
Will I do it again next year? Lets just wait and see.

Monday, November 12, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 12

It’s already day 12! Time is flying and I am beginning to wonder how close I will actually come to reaching 50.000 words by the end of the month. 

I had expected to write copious amounts in the weekend and therefore be under less pressure during the week to write a lot. But, as ever, I should not count my chickens before they are hatched. Saturday was a slow day. I had some vague ideas roaming around in my head, but they were just that, roaming and therefore hard to grasp. There were words, sentences, images, emotions but very little structure. Every so often I thought I caught one, but when I started to write, the flow dried up after about three sentences and it was back to mulling, chasing and feeling the words slip through my fingers like quicksand. 

I am not sure how many words I actually managed to get down, but it was not as many as I had hoped.
Sunday was a residue of Saturday’s frustration. Starting in the morning, I wrote two paragraphs, and then ran out of things to say. The weather however, was gorgeous so instead of wallowing in it I decided to take advantage and get out into the fresh air. Strolling along a nearby lake with the autumn sun on my face and observing others some with and some without dogs, some alone and some in couples cheered me up. I was able to evaluate my NaNoWriMo endeavors up to now, and be honest with myself about how important the 50.000 words are to me. 

When I looked at it clearly, I realized that the idea of ‘just getting the words down’ doesn’t always work for me. Oh, I applied it for the first couple of days and had clocked up a decent number of words. However, reading back on what I had written so that I could pick up the threads and write on, I became disillusioned.

Was I surrendering quality to quantity?
What is the point in writing 50.000 words just for the sake of it?
Do I want to have to scrap most of them come December?

I realized that by taking on this challenge I had in fact created an obstacle for myself instead of getting the juices flowing. That happens to me quite a lot. Once the pressure starts to build, I shut down. Creativity falls victim either to competition or to the need to perform. 

So I decided that, despite the word requirement, I was going to throw out all my worries about reaching the 50.000 words and give myself a more important goal: writing this novel in a voice and style that makes me happy and at a pace that the story itself dictates. 

In fact, summing this up I can say that external targets, imposed by others, sometimes hinder my progress rather than encourage me. The motivators that work for me are the internal ones, the ones with intrinsic rather than external rewards. 

Back behind my computer, with the promise of being true to the story, the words began to flow again, and the characters, who had been suffering my performance anxiety, now came back to life.
So, NaNoWriMo, I continue to write on a daily basis, but it is not the end of the world if my achievement at the end of the month is less than 50.000 words. 

Ironically, having decided to let go of the outside pressures and targets and to let the writing come from the right place and at its own pace, I actually clocked up a respectable 2.000 words in a couple of stolen hours before supper!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

NaNoWriMo day 7

Having reached my target on Sunday for NaNoWriMo, Monday was a hard day. I ended up only writing about 300 words. And if I thought that was a poor result, yesterday had me writing quickly in my notebook before going to bed, after one of those really chaotic days when not only circumstances are confusing but your mind just won't seem to focus.

Being unable to concentrate on one idea or get control of my thoughts I decided to get back to basics. Basics for me means catching up on chores that I have been putting off. Cleaning the oven, microwave and dealing with other kitchen issues kept me busy all afternoon.

Then at the close of day, just when I thought I had narrowed things down to an approach that would get a new chapter started at least, two potential clients called and before I knew it I was racing against the clock to prepare the evening meal, fully determined to WRITE, WRITE, WRITE for the entire evening.

But, being there for a friend took priority, and hence, the sum total of my writing activities was reduced to a few scribbled notes before going to bed.

Anyhow, I now have two days backlog to catch up on. At least I have some notes to kick start this day 7.

Monday, November 5, 2012

NaNoWriMo day 5

By close of day 4

I had managed to get to the required wordcount to stay on track for the 50k target. Ik was really like pulling teeth yesterday. I should have known Sunday would be complicated. My kids, both in their twenties, were rambling in and out, filling me in on their bits and pieces, watching football on TV, and generally creating a rumble. Add to that that a really good friend had just lost her granny and was exchanging text messages with me which I continued to respond to.
We also have this tradition at my house that Sunday dinner be something special and I wanted to keep it that way. And after dinner we all settle down to watch So You Think You Can Dance, which has to be my favourite show of the week.
Well, with all of that going on, and exchanging posts with NaNoWriMo friends on FB I had my doubts about reaching the required word count. But, when I saw that some of my NaNo friends were already heading for 30k I was more determined than ever to at least achieve the minimum. At one stage I was typing blind while discussing algebra with my daughter - talk about split personality! At another, while fiction and reality merged, my typing almost mirrored the topic of conversation going on in my living room. How bizar is that?
I cooked my Sunday dinner, watched some TV, and at 11 o'clock last night was able to update my word count to well over 6600 words, sticking to the NaNo requirement.
Now I have to keep my fingers crossed that I haven't milked my creativity so much that I discover in a couple of hours that I have nothing to say or write today.
Day 5 here I come!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

NaNoWriMo day 4

Day 4

Okay, people, I have checked out the NaNoWriMo site, and there are more like me out there. There's a special category of writer that has been labelled Rebel (Yeeh). That means someone who owns up to working on an existing work, aiming to add 50k words to it by the end of the month. Well, that's me. I have been working on a book for such a long time, and am using this month to finish the first draft. Not as easy as it sounds, given that most of the free flowing ideas have already been written and that it's a struggle to keep up that momentum for the whole of November. But, I am going to do my best.
Today however is a slow day. But, I am going to plod along, not get disheartened or bogged down. My objective is to do justice to the story, and if that takes another 50k words and these are written on time then I shall definitely validate as a bona fide NaNoWriMo achiever.

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

NaNoWriMo day 2 and 3

I was convinced I had such a quiet life (?!?) that sticking to a NaNoWriMo schedule would be absolutely no problem at all. I had even rounded off all other obligations on Thursday. But, isn't it funny how we suddenly have all manner of things to do, important things, things that have to be done NOW, so many that writing gets shifted up the agenda until there are almost no hours left in the day? Well, in my life that is clearly no different. I got up yesterday morning, knowing I had to get my glassses fixed and had planned that in in the morning. But then, instead of just getting on with the writing business when I came back I remembered I wanted to call a translator friend, check out my pals on facebook, call a customer (could have waited until Monday) and the list goes on.
BUT, and here's the good news, when I finally sat down to write, I churned out almost 1500 words within two hours, and you know what, it's not a bad piece of writing.
Before I went to sleep I even wrote down some rough notes on the same chapter and have a kick start for today's writing activities.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaNoWriMo day 1

 Stick with me. I am participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time, and plan to journal about my experiences each day. Whether I write or not, I will journal about what motivated and hindered. 

Day one: 

of NaNoWriMo was a busier one than I expected. Started as I had promised myself after breakfast but was interrupted by the telephone after 300 words. A new customer who had found me via my other FB page Write Away, Text and Design. Rush job, but I wanted to do it. Then I had a quick coffee meeting with another networker in the area, and got home at lunch time. Did the translation in the afternoon, interrupted by a regular customer who needed a quick brainstorm. 

Finally just before it was time to make dinner I got to 958 words and by close of day at 20:30 it was 1216.

All in all, I am satisfied.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

New vision

Lees deze in het Nederlands

I suppose I just didn’t know anything else. How my body felt before I became ill was normal to me. Only after two weeks of mandatory doing nothing, simply because my body had temporarily shut down, showed me something else. You see it was more than just a physical slowing down, my mind followed suit.
 Intitially, all my demons came to the surface and tormented me for a while but instead of doing all in my power to push thema way, I simply didn’t have the strength to do that, I faced them, finally. Envy, loneliness, martyrdom, ugliness, fat, failure, all paid me a visit. Each one lay down next to me. I embraced them, one by one. I invited them to share their message with me. I treated them like friends. After all, they had all served me well at some time or other in the past. Each had wormed itself into my personality for a reason.
 So I observed, absorbed and thanked them. Then I let them go, like balloons at a funeral. And it was a funeral of sorts. My physical purging was a reflection of the slow disintegration of my ego. The demons that had nurtured it and that I had released over the previous two weeks, were the funeral balloons for the old me.
 For the first time in my adult life, or at least for the first time in my recollection, my body feels stress free and my mind spacious. I am, I believe, learning to live right here, right now, no fear of the future and with acceptance of the past.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

QueryTracker Blog: The Dreaded Pitch – What to Include in That One Li...

QueryTracker Blog: The Dreaded Pitch – What to Include in That One Li...: As you may or may not know, I recently judged the first QueryTracker blog contest ever  —I chose the top four one-sentence pitches out of 58...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

And now the European Prize for Literature

                                                 Available on bol.com

Nederlandse versie

Just back from Ireland  and as usual with a stock of books bought at the airport Eason´s that always has great bargains and special offers. This time it was the three for two offer. I use such opportunities to be more experimental in my choice of book and perhaps pick an author I have previously not read.
And so I arrived home with three more books. The first of the three I decided to read was a small novel, about 50,000 words - the Man Booker Prize winner The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.

Having missed the run up to the award ceremony and never having read anything by him before, I went into this book with zero expectation and entirely unbiased. About thirty pages in, I began to question the Man Booker Jury’s decision, as the story had, up to that point, failed to completely grab my attention. The narrative bordered on the superficial, characters remained two dimensional and it was unclear exactly what the motivation for this novel actually was.
Into part two, and my curiosity is sparked. I find myself grabbing odd moments to read a few pages. Barnes is, by his unusual approach enticing me to read on.
This is a first person narrative. The narrator, Tony, is a divorced man in his sixties, who, by means of an inheritance, is confronted with specific actions in his past.

The other characters in the novel are incomplete, almost caricature, but now I am beginning to get it. They could not be otherwise because the entire premise of the novel is in fact that Tony, the narrator, lacked the insight and empathy to understand those around him, even his closest friends. It is precisely his inability to  truly see and accurately assess situations and the behavior of those involved in them, that is the issue in this story.

The narrator has failed to enrich his emotional world by taking a plunge off the deep end and now, late in life, he realizes that he has structured his entire existence around maintaining his limited viewpoint. To see more, would have upset his equilibrium and his notion of who he was, and who others were in relation to him. The inheritance evokes old memories, old situations, and gives him a second chance as it were, to discover the truth.

But even in this latter phase of his life, having again failed to empathize with his old girlfriend, the same girlfriend he so badly misunderstood in the past, and left alone, the penny finally drops.
It is with a sense of melancholy and regret that the story comes to a close.

The fact that Barnes has managed to keep the reader intrigued and curious, while at the same time creating a narrator with such a limited viewpoint is an amazing feat. I, the reader, see every situation through the eyes of a limited protagonist. His reality is my reality. I believe it completely. Only when the scales partially fall from his eyes and not a second sooner, do they fall from mine.

It is ironical and paradoxical that in a first person narrative with just such a narrator, Barnes displays amazing insight and understanding of human nature.  It is therefore only on finishing the book, and pondering on it, that I truly realized just how great this book really was.

A well-deserved Man Booker Prize Winner.  And now, winner of the European Prize for Literature!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Transitions - again

 A must read

"With this on my kindle I can refer to it wherever and whenever I choose. I would especially recomend the section on the Neutral Zone, the period between awareness that old habits don't work any more and new ones need to be formed. Why I mention this specifically, is because this is the phase that makes us most uncomfortable. We prefer to avoid the feeling of uselessness that it may evoke, but it is in fact acceptance of this 'emptiness' and choosing to undergo it fully, that will enrich us most in the long run. Going into the neutral zone and listening to all the messages it brings, is essential in the transition from old to new. "

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Shift - from ambition to meaning

A film about the spiritual teachings of Wayne Dyer.

Starts with enchanting music played on the piano, and the words, spoken by Wayne Dyer “thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning”. 

The film then goes on to explain and illustrate this beautiful quotation.

Wayne Dyer, himself a successful writer of self-improvement books such as Pulling your Own Strings, and The Sky’s the Limit while in the morning of his life, felt his own shift into the afternoon of life and his calling to become a more spiritual writer and teacher. The result is the well-known, The Power of Intention and Change your Thoughts, Change your Life – Living the Wisdom of the Tao. His latest, The Shift, Taking your Life from Ambition to Meaning is the basis for the film.

The structure of the film is simplistic, easy to follow and thus appealing to a wider audience.  In brief, a film making team come to a beautiful seaside retreat to film Wayne Dyer as he speaks about The Shift. This interview is punctuated with secondary storylines, two or three individuals, couples and families who are also staying at the retreat and who, coincidentally illustrate Dyer’s theories. 

If you can get past this uncomfortable set up, then what Dyer tells us, and how this is illustrated in the secondary scenes is actually really inspiring, more so because of its almost childlike simplicity. 

In his studies, Dyer has discovered, both in men and women, that the morning of life is filled with striving to achieve external goals, ambitions, the need for recognition, monetary reward, social standing, though exactly how these goals are chased differs significantly between men and women. Then, as we approach the afternoon of life, these goals are replaced with more intrinsic ambitions. Internal satisfaction, deeper meaning to life, spirituality and self-realisation become the new drivers. Suffering is caused when we try to live the afternoon of life with the same program we applied to life’s morning. 

The characters in the second layer of the film, illustrate the different forms this transition can take. A mother who relinquishes some of her nurturing tasks to create space for her own creativity. The film maker who, having been fired from his job at a commercial network, has a light bulb moment and knows he has to make more inspirational films and the company executive, who takes a step back from his corporate ambitions and chooses for family. 

But, the most significant personal shift comes from another character entirely, and if you want to see who and how, then you will have to watch the film!

As I mentioned earlier, this is not a film filled with deep, intellectually challenging metaphors and symbols. It is designed to reach everyone. Wayne Dyer’s presence throughout the film, his gentle tone, and succinct way of explaining his discoveries were pleasant to listen to and for me at least, the lessons sank in.