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A “hello, I’m back” post

June 19, 2013
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So, it’s not that I haven’t had anything to write about lately. I’ve actually had too much to write about. Sometimes life does that to you. So I decided not to write about any of it, because, well, that seemed a lot easier.

Also, I’ve been busy. With life, work, writing, the usual stuff.

I’m not going to write about life right now, but here’s a little about work. Freelance work is hard. Sometimes you have too much on your plate and you wonder how you’re ever going to make all those deadlines. At other times, there’s just nothing out there. It may be surprising to some, but the latter is actually more stressful than the former. And that’s what I’ve been dealing with lately. Perhaps it’s the summer holidays, perhaps it’s just bad luck.

On the other hand, that leaves some time for my writing. And I have been writing. Lots. Actually not so much writing as editing. The book I finished a year ago (one year exactly tomorrow, might give it a birthday cake) is coming on pretty well. It’s still not ready to send to agents, but I hope it will be in the not-too-distant future. The editing process needed that year. I’ve learned so much lately and all that knowledge helps me shape a book that is so superior to its first draft that even I am amazed.

Then there are the short stories. I’ve done a few of those, as well, and editing them is even harder work than editing the book. Soon they’ll be ready to submit to magazines, yay!

Anyway, I guess this was just another one of those “Hello, I’m back” posts that I do whenever I’ve taken a break from this blog. I’ll try to write a little more regularly in the future, promise.

A land of inspiration

March 28, 2013

So I went to Morocco last weekend, and it was fantastic. That’s the third time I’ve been there and I can’t wait to go again.

Morocco is simply enchanted. And enchanting, both at once. It’s a land of magic. Whenever I go I can’t help but feel I’ve stepped into a fairytale and djinns, genies or flying carpets will appear at any moment.

This time I went to Tangier. One hour by ferry from Tarifa, Spain (though the rough seas made the trip feel much longer) and you enter a new and wonderful world. Calls of prayer echo on the narrow streets, shopkeepers shout for your attention. Smells of spice and leather hang thick in the air.

Then, as you enter the riad in the middle of the old medina, there is silence. You’re surrounded by white-washed walls and colourful lamps. The only daylight is high above, since there are no windows out to the narrow street.

After a nap you’re ready to head out again. It’s time for couscous, or perhaps some tajine. It’s Tangier so you’re likely to find a place that serves alcohol with your food, but don’t miss the mint tea afterwards.

Now you’re ready for some shopping. Do what I did and find a silk shop. Not just for the scarves (though I do love the scarves I’ve bought in Morocco) but for the colours inside the shop.

The thing I love the most about Morocco is the inspiration it leaves at the back of my mind. With my batteries recharged, I know I won’t be attending many Easter processions. I’ll be in my office, writing.IMG_7498

The noise of a city

March 19, 2013

When I was young, I used to like the sound of a nearby road or people talking in the distance. I lived in big cities and still quite fancied the constant buzz of traffic or the occasional car horn. Nowadays, I love silence.

The thought of what noises disturb us is fascinating, however. I had thought about it a little, but not much, until I found this article by the BBC. For some reason I find it very inspiring. It talks about noise throughout history in our cities, and it got me thinking about what kind of noise the cities in my world have.

There are no cars or airplanes in my cities, but that doesn’t make the streets completely quiet. There’s the constant buzz of people talking, walking, the braying of donkeys or snorting of horses. In some places you might hear the bleating of sheep on their way to slaughter. Carpenters chopping wood, merchants shouting out their prices. Depending on the location, you might hear the constant noise of cart wheels against cobbles.IMG_4559

Where I lived before there was a huge field where a herd of horses were grazing. Once they started galloping all together, sending a low thunder across the grass. They were ten horses perhaps. Then imagine the sound of an oncoming cavalry.

The closest I’ve ever been to hearing the real sounds of a fantasy city was in Morocco, in the old medinas of Marrakesh and Tanger. There are no cars around, so instead you get to hear those carpenter hammers and sounds of donkey carts. You do hear the occasional scooter, of course, but they can easily be ignored.

At night, it is completely quiet. I’ve never slept so well as I did in Tanger, simply because the silence was so thick you could almost hear it.

The good news is, I’m going back to Tanger this weekend! I’ll make sure to bring back some notes about the sounds of the medina and, more importantly, some good pictures of that wonderful and magical place.

 

Architecture

March 11, 2013

I’ve been working on some worldbuilding lately and came to think about architecture. My book and many of the short stories I’ve written recently all takes place in one city, so I decided to write up an architectural history of the place. Overkill? Most likely. Still worth it.

This particular city is different to many other fantasy cities in that it doesn’t remind me of anywhere. I’ve read a few fantasy books lately taking place in a fantasy Venice. Many can easily be placed in a medieval castle or a central European town. One seemed to take place in fantasy China.

Mine… well, I don’t really know where the real-world twin is. The closest thing is probably central Vienna or Salzburg with a touch of Rome.vienna 2

I guess this goes along with my fantasy not being set in any kind of real-world time copied into fantasy. It is in its own time and has its own history. Therefore, architecture and style are different to what you’ll find anywhere in this world.

When you think of Salzburg, you might think of Mozart. Vienna too might remind you of grand operas, culture, grand buildings. Rome was the center a powerful empire with a blooming culture, and so was Vienna too once. My city, Ehlkatsihr, was also the capital of a great empire with emperors fond of showing their greatness to the rest of the world.

salzburg

When visiting a European town, you’re not likely to see buildings from just one time period. Most of them have had buildings erected from at least a few hundred years ago up until now. The greatest and the grandest were probably built when the city was at its prime, but some did happen later on. There aren’t just the buildings from ancient Rome to see, but the St. Peter’s Basilica, for example.

That’s why I wrote down the architectural history for my city, because it ties into so many things. Now I feel I have a comprehensive history covering the ideology, culture and politics of that particular city.

Next I looked into the structure of nobility in this particular country. Though that will have to be for another post.

An inspiring little thing

March 4, 2013

I’ve had a little problem with procrastination lately. It’s just oh so easy to ignore that long list of to-dos and just hang out on a forum or read 9gag until I start thinking in memes. Then one day this little thing came along on the very site that has kept me occupied for too long.

6664822_700b_v2For some reason, this green little thing has worked where no other method has even come close to dealing with my procrastination problem. The reason is: it’s so simple. I just have to do one thing every day to get myself a little closer. It doesn’t have to involve writing, even, but is about how that day brings me forward.

Because of course my ideal self is a successfully published writer.

It also does take the pressure off. It’s not about failing. Sometimes it’s okay to waste a day.

Anyway, I haven’t actually written much since I saw this inspiring little thing. I have, however, expanded my knowledge of my world’s history, architecture and culture. I’ve made massive progress on a short story that I plan to write soon. I’ve stopped procrastinating almost entirely (there is always a need for breaks, at least for me). This is progress, this is no more wasted days.

Now, off to the newly-built writer’s cave to make the finishing touches on my short story!

 

New place, new start

March 1, 2013
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I’ve been away for a while because I’ve been moving! Not far, mind, just up the road and to a fresher, more modern house. It still takes a ton of time though no matter how far away the house is.

The good thing about my house is that it has spare room where I plan to have my office. It has a nice view over a garden, some palm trees and the mountains beyond. I intend to make it my writer’s cave where I can just let creativity flow.

And oh, do I need that. I’ve been working on my writing, lots and lots, but I still feel like I’m standing on the same spot. My book is such a big project editing it is like cutting the grass straw by straw. I love doing it because it’s writing, after all, not gardening, but sometimes you just need to stretch your back and see that you’ve gotten anywhere. Then I have a short story that I truly believe in but when I edit it for the five hundredth time I just want to scream.

I need to write. Not edit, write. Problem is, I’m stuck for ideas. For this, I want to set up my cave as a place of inspiration and productivity. Somewhere I can be a writer and think about writing.

Right now it’s filled with boxes and black plastic bags filled with towels. Today is Friday though so I have a whole weekend to prepare that one special place where I can sit, think and write. And edit too. There will always be edits.

A worse day for some than for others

February 20, 2013
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Yesterday was a terrible day for some in the household, especially for Cat. He woke up fit and healthy and never went to sleep again, since he in between waking up and breakfast managed to break his own neck.

This may sound funny to you, and yes, it is perhaps a little bit funny (apart from being very sad, of course!).

The story goes like this. Cat was outside waiting for breakfast and the rest of the pack were inside. Me and boyfriend were having a discussion on the sofa when we heard a loud bang against the window followed by very strange meows from Cat. We rushed up and hauled him inside, but he was already dead. Our resuscitation attempts were futile, obviously.

For a while we thought Cat was playing a game, as he often did. We repeatedly checked for a pulse until rigor set in. Nothing marks death as effectively as that horrible rigor mortis.

So, Cat managed to bang his own head against the window or break his own neck. We don’t really know. Blood from his nose afterwards indicates head trauma, but his wobbly neck did seem broken. How he managed to be so clumsy as to miss a window he had jumped up in a billion times before (it was the kitchen window, so, yeah…) is another question.

I wish Cat hadn’t been that clumsy. On the other hand, then he wouldn’t have been Cat. Our Cat who could barely climb trees and who was known to fall off tables. We will miss you dearly.

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