To Write or not to Write

To those of you who have diligently read my blog over the past five years (even though I have posted next to nothing for the last couple of years), you know that November is a special month. It is NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. The month in which crazy, normal people like you and I buckle down and write a novel because we want to, and because we can do it. A friend (who really liked the novel I wrote in 2011) asked me if I was crazy enough to write another novel this year. The answer: NO.

I actually seriously considered it for about two hours. But no. Not going to happen.

Right now I’m in a really really good place. Like really good.

I’m inwardly very peaceful and happy, satisfied with my life as it is right now, and satisfied that the direction my life is headed is the direction that I want it to head. And I’m learning to find joy in the little things in life. I had a little happy attack on Monday because of baked vegetables. Not even kidding. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beets, broccoli, and mushrooms. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and pop in the oven for 30 minutes and you will have some DELICIOUS veggies to eat. Your welcome.

I’ve discovered a new interest in history (reading a book on the authenticity of the old testament which is really interesting), and I’m trying to get in the habit of exercising regularly. I’m trying to get out and sit in the sun (when Duesseldorf is nice enough to give me sun) so that I don’t get Winter depression this winter. The sun is unfortunately already setting at 4:30 and the sun has a habit of liking to hide behind clouds, but I am optimistic (don’t have the winter sads yet!). And the coffee at work is free this week! I have, of course, correspondingly increased my coffee intake.

Work has been a bit stressful since I’ve started my internship (which I’m doing at my work). Essentially, my internship means that I am working 600 hours for free. This means that I work a 40 hour week and am only paid for 17 hours, but it is ok because I’ll be done with it eventually. I’ve noticed that you get a lot more accomplished when you work twice as much. In the evenings I am also super busy, so I’m going to be very jealous over Thursdays, which is the one evening a week when I can go home and do nothing. I wish I could say as much for weekends, but I have pretty much booked my weekends solid for the next two months (including a visit to America at the end of November).

So I don’t know why I thought I had the time to write a novel. Even for two hours. I don’t. In case that wasn’t completely and totally clear. Besides the fact that I am worried I am getting RSI in my pinky fingers (I’ve rebound my keyboard for that reason and am trying to retrain myself to type differently and use my pinkies less). Typing a novel would NOT be a good idea.

Wishing I were NANOWRIMOing

It’s that month. NaNoWriMo. I secretly believe it should really be called InNoWriMo (International Novel Writing Month) because by definition “NaNoWriMo is an annual (November) novel writing project that brings together professional and amateur writers from all over the world” (cite description that pops up on Google when googling NaNoWriMo). Is it not a slight bit oxymoronic that National Novel Writing Month advertises itself as being world wide.

But I guess you don’t fix what isn’t broken right?

I have participated in NaNoWriMo twice, and I loved it twice. Unfortunately, this November my scheduler during the week is packed from the time I get up until the time I go to bed. I might have been able to schedule in some time on the weekends, but I already wasted last weekend and I am travelling to London twice this month (on the weekends of course). I also have to fit my birthday party in somewhere (probably on the weekend). So I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I don’t have any time to write a novel this month.

How sad. Especially since I have this great idea for a Fantasy novel in which there are not only millions of universes, but they all exist in the same space at the same time, just in different dimensions. Only SOME creatures have the ability to move between worlds, but what happens if they want to anchor themselves to one world in particular? Not easy.

But of course, writing a book about that is probably beyond my skill, and it probably would take me longer than a month anyway (especially if I don’t have any time). So I’m not doing it.

But give me a shout out if you are doing NaNoWriMo! Good luck! And let me know if you are posting online or anything, because I may very well decide to follow your story!

And other news…NaNoWriMo

Sadly, I’m not going to be able to do NaNoWriMo this year (if I had wanted to, I should have started six days ago). Technically, I could still do it, but to be completely honest, I’m not really in the mood. I’m in more of a “live life as it’s happening” kind of mood. I’m pretty certain that it has something to do with the fact that my lectures this semester are completely awesome. I’m taking “Intro to Logical Programming” (programming with the Prolog language for the first time), which has been a blast so far. I’m always actually excited to be able to do the homework. I’m also taking “Computer networks” and “Compilers”, both of which are also extremely interesting. Combine my interesting albeit full course load with 17 hours of work a week and the ~10 hours that I spend with my church buddies every week, and you have a girl with very little free time on her hands.

I’m not stressed out (yet) by the whole schedule thing. I’m just filled up to the brim. I still have quite a bit of free time on my hands. Last weekend I travelled to Detmold and visited the family of one of my best friends. And I went boot shopping. So there is time for some fun. Just no time to waste on television or YouTube or any one of my other vices. Or for writing a novel in 30 days. =(

Still…there is always next year! Maybe. Or maybe I’ll postpone it until I have a lot of time on my hands (although now that I work, I am pretty sure that that day will never come). I’ll try to keep blogging though (although my desire to blog has also decreased dramatically in the last couple of weeks). And I have had the opportunity over the past couple of years to add a new beginning to my first novel, Acacia (it’s not available online because it is currently a horrible mess). So if any one is interested in reading it, I might be persuaded to post that.

Introducing my new “German” blog

I’ve been considering trying to blog in German for a while now. And now that I have started my summer break (YAY!!) I actually had the time to do it. At least…I had the time to log into my server, quickly install a new WordPress site, redirect the name servers for my domain names, and write a quick post.

But I did it! Only time will tell if I will actually post on the blog regularly.

You can access the blog from the following two addresses:

www.denglisch.me      –OR–     www.denglish.me

Or you can click on this spiffy graphic and it will take you there too:

I wanted to name my “German” blog Denglisch/Denglish because if my readers want to read it and expect me to write perfect German, they will be sadly disappointed. Maybe now they will expect the worse and be pleasantly surprised! I couldn’t decide between the two names because both words “Denglish” and “Denglisch” are valid Denglis[c]h. “Denglisch” is a combination of the two German words “Deutsch” and “Englisch” whereas “Denglish” is a combination of the German word “Deutsch” and the English word “English”. This is why I bought both domain names and why I made the “c” really small in the graphic.

I am actually more proud of my graphic than of the fact that I started a German blog. Playing around with Inkscape is a lot of fun! I have added it to the list of things that I really want to learn some day.

Free Short Story About A Duck

One of my roommates is from Switzerland. German is her native language (unless you count swiss german), so she is always trying to get me to write in German. I’m actually extremely thankful, because if it weren’t for her, my German would be a lot worse than it is. A LOT worse. I love writing. It is one of my favorite hobbies (hence the blog that you are currently reading), but when I write, I invariably write in English. I can speak German, and I can attempt to write in German, but somehow the words just don’t like to fall out of my head and onto a piece of paper. The problem is that although my German vocabulary is for the most part sufficient, it isn’t large at all. I can say just about anything, but in order to be able to write something well, you have to be able to describe the same situation in at least ten different ways. I’m an avid reader, so my writing ability has developed because I have literally read thousands of books (in English). I’ve only read a couple of books in German (it takes WAY longer for me to read in German which annoys me), so my German vocabulary is quite sad.

Still, my roommate never really understood this concept. I’ve read enough to know when something is good writing. So when I write something in German, I am completely aware that the quality suffers.

But, to please her, I wrote her a small short story in German. It took way longer for me to write than it normally takes me, and I had to constantly have an online dictionary open to look up words.

The result was Heinrich die Ente, which is the first story that I have ever written in German. It’s written sort of as a child’s story (my roommate is an elementary school teacher, so I thought she would like the story. She did.), which means that my shortage of vocabulary didn’t ruin it too badly. The first draft (the one I gave her) was so riddled with errors that she could hardly stop laughing for several minutes. Apparently, it was extremely funny because it mirrored all of the German mistakes that I usually make in conversation.

Luckily, I got her to proofread the story for me, and now I am confident enough to share this story with you. I also am providing the English version Henry the Duck, which I translated from the German. I changed the English version a tiny bit in some places, because the direct translation of the German just didn’t sound right when translated into English. They are two completely different languages, so that is understandable. I’ve been told I sound like two different persons depending on what language I am speaking. I figured that since I am the author of both versions, I could take a few creative liberties. And I did.

Henry the Duck

Why is the duck wearing overalls? Download the short story Heinrich die Ente or Henry the Duck below to find out!

The German version is available here:

Download: Heinrich die Ente

The English version is available here:

Download: Henry the Duck

Enjoy! And tell me what you think! I’m also adding a page for the story with links for download under the Books tab above.

 

 

Inspired by William Carlos Williams

Yesterday I composed a poem called Cupcake. It was a fun little write. I probably drank too much cola yesterday afternoon, because I felt quite alert when I went to bed around 11 pm. But then I got the idea for the poem.

I’ve been studying for my Literature final (which is tomorrow) all weekend long. The main problem with studying literature is that it makes you really want to sit down with a really good book. And it makes you want to attempt to write your own poetry.

I actually succeeded in making almost 100 flash cards of authors, dates, and the major characteristics of every period of English and American literature. Now I just have to sit down and memorize everything. Or maybe I could just remain here, cozy in my bed.

Anyhow, as a method of procrastination, I decided to write a small post to explain my intention in writing my poem. Not that it matters. According to my Cultural Theory course, it is fully unnecessary to know the intention of the author. Each reader should determine for themselves what a certain passage means.

I was actually inspired by a poem that I read yesterday:

This is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

It is a poem by William Carlos Williams, who was an American poet during the period of Modernism. He’s also one of my all-time favorite poets. I don’t consider myself a poet by any means, but when I do scribble out a poem every now and again, I try to make them short and succinct. “Cupcake” is actually the first of the poems that I have ever posted on my blog.

You’ve very likely already heard William Carlos Williams’ most famous poem:

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens

It’s also one of my absolute favorite poems. I love his writing because of his vivid imagery. The meter and form of the poems are beautiful.

Now. Back to studying.

Those of you who no longer have to study for tests should count yourself as lucky.

Cupcake

I sat there
ever so long,
watching as you walked to and fro,
wondering if you would ever notice me.

“Maybe,”
I pondered,
“She’s saving the best for last.
I’ll be gone before the end of day.”

Yet still I sit here.
And now my thoughts turn
to self-reflection,
self-doubt.
Maybe I am not as good as I think.

And so, I fear,
I made a dreadful mistake.
I tried for myself.
What raptures above!
The taste of sweet, sweet sugar,
on the tongue that I don’t have.

So, self-contemplation at an end,
I turned aside,
to write you this note.

Please don’t wonder,
when you find me gone tomorrow.
I even threw away my own paper
so as to be of no inconvenience to you.

I am too delicious,
to share with anyone else.
Therefore I ate myself.

All good things must come to an end

Even NaNoWriMo, which came to an end yesterday.

I finished writing my book! It was a great feeling, a feeling of completion. It also made me realize just how much I love writing.

I did most of my writing over at 750words.com, which is an amazing web app developed just for writing. The writing environment is beautifully simple, the program autosaves your writing every 10 seconds or so, and your word count is displayed in the bottom right hand corner.

I actually started using 750words last year after I finished NaNoWriMo, and hit myself in the head for not knowing about it before hand. The actual purpose of the site is that you would do some personal writing (like a diary). Nothing that you write on the site will ever be published, so it is easy to get carried away and write whatever I thought. The site also implements a scoring system (like bowling) which awards you if you come back every day (on streaks). When you have reached a certain number of days on a streak, you get a badge. You also can get badges if you consistently write at a certain time of day (night owl or morning bird) or if you always finish without getting distracted. It is a pretty cool system, and I tried it out last year to great results. I have never been able to keep a diary (because I was always scared my brother would find it and read it. It was a justifiable fear. He always did that with my sister’s diary), but I managed to write every day for two or three months last year. Once I failed, I quit for a while, but I’m ready to start up again! Now if you donate money to the site, you are allowed to schedule breaks so that if you have to miss a day for some reason or another, it won’t mess up your streak. I thought that was a very clever way to get people to pay for the site. After all, I think the app is amazing and very useful, so I’ve been considering sponsoring it a bit for a while anyway.

I got this badge on my 750words and I’m quite proud of it:

I also got some web badges from the NaNoWriMo website for winning:

But honestly, the main prize for winning NaNoWriMo is the amazing, intense feeling of satisfaction at knowing that YOU DID IT! You wrote a book!

So, I’d like to thank everyone who has been reading along. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

For those of you who haven’t read anything yet and would like to, you can download it from my NaNoWriMo 2011 page. Have fun! I am planning on doing a TON of revision, so if you do read it, please give me feedback!

Day 30: EPILOGUE (And it’s really over this time…=()

March 13, 2012, roughly six months after Rachel leaves Zork forever

I sit, curled up next to John. We were sitting on the floor, with our backs to the couch at one of our friend’s apartments. John and I had not returned to our little village that semester break. I had not wanted to, and John had not wanted to be anywhere far away from my side.

There were five of us there, lounging around, celebrating our semester break in the way that only university students know how to: We were wasting time. Anything that was completely useless was worth our complete attention.

There at the door there is knock. Another one of our friends has just arrived.

“Guys! Check this out! Someone took a video of an illegal fight club and posted it on some unknown site that is only accessible with a proxy!”

Yep. Definitely worth our attention.

Even more so when we watch the short clip and I recognize the tall, dark and handsome man with the green eyes who so skilfully takes down his larger, slower, and uglier component with his razor sharp stiletto knife.

John and I burst out laughing. Our friends aren’t laughing. The fight we are watching resembles one that I once watched. It involved the same young man and a troll. Except that I am not there in this fight to put the poor man our of his misery.

John and I stop watching. But we can’t stop grinning a bit.

My friend Johanna scowls at us, “How can you two laugh after seeing a sight like that? That guy is bloodthirsty!”

The scar on my left hand tingles, and without meaning to, I defend that guy, “Oh, he’s harmless.” John just snorts.

My other friend Hans protests, “Did you just see that?” He goes into a long description of everything that Alan did to the poor man at the fight club. I grimace. He’s right. Alan is many things, but harmless is not one of them.

I shrug, and run my finger over the scar on my left hand.

Then I can’t help myself. I raise my two palms, showing my friends the two long scars crossing my palms. “He gave me these,” I say, “So you’re right. He’s probably not harmless.”

My friends gasp.

Then John can’t help jumping in. “And she got this,” he says, touching the rather more pronounced scar on my right hand, “by pulling that knife” gesturing toward the computer screen, “away from my neck.” Now he pulls down the neck of one of the turtleneck sweaters that he has taken to wearing and shows us all the long scar crossing his neck lengthwise.

Now my friends are all really dumbfounded. And they don’t let us rest until we tell the whole story. It has been our little secret for so long. But now we let it all out. And it feels good. We remove the whole part about how I was trapped in a computer game for some days and say instead that Alan came from somewhere in the south of Italy (he looks a bit Italian) to come visit us, but other than that, our tale is completely accurate. Our friends think, of course, that we are either making it up or exaggerating the whole thing, but we know better.

That night I fall asleep easily, knowing that Alan is somewhere in the world doing well.

August 24, 2014, roughly two years after Rachel leaves Zork forever

I stand in the registry office, dressed in white. Beside me, a gorgeous man with dazzling blue eyes dons a fancy suit. His parent’s are here. My little brother is here. We had invited my entire family, but my elder sister made up some other event of crucial importance to ensure that they wouldn’t be able to make it.

I don’t really hold it against her. I know that my sister will never forgive me for what I am going to do right now. With a slightly shaking hand, I reach out and sign the paper, making my marriage to the man of my dreams official.

December 21, 2017, roughly five years after Rachel leaves Zork forever

George called today. He told me some great news. He’s finally convinced my parents to let him go live with Uncle George in Stuttgart and go to public school there. He says he wants to go to school there so that he can learn “interesting stuff”, but he also admits that the only reason he is being allowed to go is that he’s already better at magic than all of the teachers at his current school. Yep. Even the one’s in the upper levels or whatever. So my parents have become convinced (due, no doubt, to some well placed seemingly innocent comments by George) that he will be able to learn more about magic from my Uncle George than any of the other teachers at the school. And, he told me, the knowledge that he is actually going to be going to public school instead of being tutored privately by his uncle is completely classified.

I reach down and touch the soft outward curve of my belly. I have some great news to tell him as well.

May 13, 2018, roughly five and a half years after Rachel leaves Zork forever

After hours of pain and agony, the process is over. The nurse places a blanket in my arms. Inside of the blanket is the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen in my life. I smile down on him. Then he opens his eyes. They are a most beautiful shade of green.

“Oh, John!” I sigh to my husband, who is sitting next to me holding my hand, “look at those gorgeous green eyes! We have to name him Alan!”

My husband just throws back his head and laughs, and then pats me affectionately on the head as though I’ve just lost my marbles. “That’s never going to happen.”

June 26, 2022, roughly ten years after Rachel leaves Zork forever

I sit in the very back row. My lovely husband sits next to me, along with our children, George Alan and Suzanne. I smile up at him, and he puts his arm around me and squeezes my shoulders. We are forgotten, here in the back row, but we’ve long gotten use to being forgotten.

Kathy never forgave me for getting married before her. I knew she never would. But now, almost eight years later, she sent me an invitation to her own wedding. It took her eight years to find a man stupid enough to marry her. The invitation was not an invitation that said “You are my sister and I desperately want you to be here to share this wonderful day with me.” Although not written on the fancily made stationary, the invitation had clearly said, “Look Rachel. I can get married too!” I wanted to tell her. I wanted to somehow let her know that I hadn’t married John out of spite. I hadn’t married him because I desperately wanted to be better than my older sister and stand out when compared to her. I had married him because I couldn’t imagine living my life without him. And I had never regretted it for one day.

But Kathy didn’t understand that, and she probably never would. The days she had spent stranded in the woods really had had an influence on her. Physically she had been able to fend for herself, but it hadn’t taken me long to suspect that her newfound animosity towards me sprung from something deeper than just jealousy and spite. I suggested a thousand times that my parents take her to see a psychologist, but my parents never had been able to see any fault in their little girl and had also never had any trust in medical doctors, so they encouraged her new self-obsession instead of trying to focus her on the things that were important in life.

I sigh and look up the aisle. The groom stands there, staring nervously down the aisle. I wonder if he is nervous that his bride won’t show up, or if he is nervous that she will. But that is mean of me. He seems to be honestly in love with her. And he seems like a good man. I hope that he is good for her.

And now my handsome younger brother is strolling over to me, and I am not quite so forgotten any more. At nineteen, my brother just finished high school with excellent marks. “But not the best marks,” he had told me solemnly on the phone last week, “Public school has really made me appreciate you non-magical folk. You guys are smart.” I protested that he was one of the most talented young men that I knew, but he hushed me up, “Talented maybe. With magic. But not with book learning. I always have to work three times harder than everyone else to understand the things that everyone accepts as common knowledge.” But this doesn’t discourage me at all. I’m glad that George has found humility at public school. I have always harbored a secret fear that unknowingly, his excellence at everything might make him become arrogant and take his ability for granted.

He greets me now with a smile on his face and his arms wide open for a hug. Then he reaches over an gives John a hug too. “I wouldn’t have given Rachel away to any other man,” he had solemnly told John at our wedding, when he was just fourteen. And John had been so touched that he had to turn a bit to the side to try to hide the tears of gratitude welling up in his eyes. Then George goes on to give his namesake and his favorite niece the candy that I was almost certain hadn’t been in his pocket the moment before. He shows them a magic “trick”, and pretends it isn’t real magic at all, but just a parlor trick meant for the non-magical folk of this world. But my children aren’t stupid. They know that magic is real (although neither of them show any talent for it, thank goodness), and they also know that their Uncle George is extremely talented at it. But they pretend to look shocked and then bat their eyes angelically up at their Uncle George as if they are the most perfect children in the world. He sits down right between them, and they start up a whispered conversation. They are all still pretending to be innocent, but since my children have never developed the skill of being able to whisper quietly, it soon becomes apparent that the three of them are planning some sort of mischief for later on in the night.

The guests continue to file in. Then the music starts to play, and a gorgeous bride walks down the aisle. But she’s rather too gorgeous, and I can’t help but shed a few tears with the other teary eyed old ladies. But my tears are not of happiness, but of pain. Kathy was always excellent at doing her make up, and she had always managed to accentuate the beauty that was already there. But this woman moving down the aisle was only a caricature of the beautiful and confident sister that I had once known. I shook my head, and hoped with all my might that this marriage might be something. That she might finally get the help that she needed.

The vows were exchanged. Then the rings. And then the kisses. And then the ceremony was over. I was no longer weeping.

Kathy pulls her new husband out onto the dance floor and, for a minute, she looks happy, whirling around in his hands. I smile as I see them there, and think for a minute that everything is going to be ok.

But then we hear a whirling above our heads. We all look up to see a very fancy helicopter descending down toward us. A couple of the bridesmaids scream and run away with their hands over their heads. The helicopter lands in the middle of the dance floor. The bride looks livid. But then the door opens, and, when she see who is standing in the helicopter, she turns white and promptly faints away, only to be comforted by her new husband.

Alan jumps down from the helicopter and flashes me a wicked smile. Then he turns and helps a gorgeous Italian woman down from the seat next to him. I groan and roll my eyes, but can’t help flashing him a grin myself. He comes toward me, and all of a sudden, I’m not forgotten any more. My parents panic and try to figure out what to do with him, but I’m not worried. If he was confident enough to land in the middle of such a public place, then I’m sure he knows just what kind of security he is dealing with here.

John moves closer to my side and mumbles softly in my ear, “Still don’t like him.”

But I can’t help moving toward Alan as well, and welcoming him with a big friendly hug.

“You look pretty well,” I say, and when he just shrugs, I can’t help but laugh. Some things never change.

“This is my angel, Vanessa,” he says. I cringe at the name, remembering another girl with the same name and a very vicious personality, but I politely shake her hand.

“So,” I ask teasingly, “Do you help keep him out of trouble or get into it?”

She laughs. “I like her,” she says to Alan, in a thick Italian accent.

“So do I,” he responds.

I lead him over to my little family and introduce him to my children. “This is George Alan,” I say proudly, “We named him after you!”

My husband mumbled behind my back, “Not my choice…” but Alan either doesn’t hear him, or decides to pretend not to hear him.

But then I come back to my senses and realize that everybody is staring at us. And then I look over at Kathy, who is sitting on the floor, weeping as if her heart would break. And all of a sudden it all makes sense.

“Why did you come?” I ask Alan, “Why now? Why today?”

“I thought it would be fun,” he shrugs.

I shake my head with amazement. “You really are sadistic.” Then I look back at my sister an make a decision.

“Look Alan,” I say, “As much as it pleases my left hand to see you again, I think I am going to have to ask you to leave. And never come back.”

He looks at me for a minute. I see the anger flash in his eyes for a second, but then it is replaced by a look of understanding. He smiles at me once more, and then turns and walks back to the helicopter.

“I have never seen him obey anyone before,” Vanessa says with astonishment before she follows after him.

I finger the long scar on my left hand and whisper silently after they have gone, “His obedience has a price.”

But I can’t remain in reverie for very long. Because Kathy is still there weeping on the floor, and for the first time I understand. She doesn’t hate me because I fell in love and married. She hates me because she fell in love. And then when that man chose me over her, I discarded him without so much as a second glance. And I was so in love with John at that time, that I completely didn’t notice or understand the pain that she was going through. And she never could understand that.

“Kath,” I say, as I move near her. I haven’t used that nickname for ten years, but now she looks up at me through her tears, and I see the sister that I have missed all these years but haven’t known it. “Kath,” I repeat, and then I move in and hug her. “Don’t worry. He’s gone. He’s never coming back. It’s time to move on,” I murmur, and then I’m weeping as well. “I’m so sorry Kath. I didn’t know.” I can’t say more than that, but when she hugs me back, I know that she forgives me, and for the first time all day, I can say that I am truly happy. I have a sister again.