Back from the dead

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It’s November- a very important month for writers all over the world. This time of year last year I was typing my fingers off, because I decided to join NaNoWriMo and actually reach the word count of 50,000. And I did and I was very proud.

This year, however, I’m not even sure I signed up for it. Yes, I receive all the NaNo updates and I read them, because the emails are a fun read. But then November 1 came and went and I happily carried on with my life, which includes writing every day for the local newspaper anyway, working on my other blog and freelancing for some clients.

But now that I took a break from ‘real’ life and checked in online, I’m sorry to read how everyone joined either NaNoWriMo or another awesome challenge: the NaBloPoMo.

The good news is that I will be doing even more writing in the next few months. I have just rented a small apartment so I have a space where I can treat my writing like the job that it is. I have a brand new, huge HP computer, my laptop for writing on the go, several notebooks and plenty of pens and loads of ideas and inspiration. Now, all I need is a desk….

Happy writing!

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Latest ramblings

Lately I’ve been feeling out of sorts. Every endeavour ends in disaster, my mood is horrible and I seem to be fighting with everyone around me. At first I thought it was just me, but people around me seem to be irritated as well. Is it the weather? Something in the air?

Don’t know. What I do know is that I must shift my focus. I must turn this negativity into something positive. I’ve started organising my writing a bit. I’m doing it the old fashioned way- pen and calendar (paper, not digital). When scheduling your work, you can get a clearer sense of how you would want to spend your days. I’ve realised I love my freelancing work and that probably I must be more aggressive in getting commissions for the future. Also, I would want to spend more time on writing my novel. I have some great ideas and one actual outline. Now I have to just write. Also, I want to submit my short stories to competitions, I want to write for travel magazine, I want to…

I want a lot and I haven’t figured out how to get there. Thanks to many blogs here on WordPress I am reading and learning about how people built their writing career. Apparently it takes persistence, organisation skills and some luck. I’ll start with the first one and see how it goes.

Choco Prince: the only kind a girl needs

Sitting behind my computer, willing myself to write a commissioned piece, my mind conjures up images of delicious snacks that would make this afternoon more bearable.

My kitchen has a lot of goodies. Among semi-charred mini cheesecakes (oops!) and fruit I find LU Choco Prince. A quick Google search shows that it is a Dutch treat, which means that 1) it must be had with watery coffee and 2) it’s not necessarily known around the world.

And world, believe me, you would want to know about this chocolate goodness. There is little else that can brighten up a frustrating afternoon than two crunchy biscuits filled with a vanilla cream layer and covered with velvety milk chocolate.

If you ask me, a Choco Prince is the only kind of prince a girl needs!

Peer Pressure 3.0

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Peer pressure. We’ve all had to deal with it. As children peer pressure is limited to the playground. As we grow up, our behaviour is increasingly influenced by our peers. We don’t want to be picked last in dodgeball, we want to be able to dress like the cool kids do, we want to go to all the cool places our peers have labelled as the latest it-thing.

When you go through it as a teen, those social pressures are real and feel very real. However, as you get older you tend to laugh at teens for their radical and emotional behaviour influenced by others. You want to reassure them that once they graduate high school a whole other world opens up. A world that is accepting to everyone, in which you can be your own quirky self. I used to believe that. However, lately I’ve started wondering: do we ever escape the peer pressure or does it gradually get worse as we grow up?

Recently I had to interview an older gentleman for a piece I am writing. As I arrived at his place, the phone rang. His wife showed me in and kept me company, while the gentleman was handling the phone call and sending an urgent email. Polite conversation often starts with questions about someone’s job. She asked if I had been writing for a long time and I said “No, I used to be a lawyer, but now I am a writer”. The pity was dripping from her face and she suggested some contacts her husband might have to land me a proper job if I was interested. For a brief moment I felt like a failure. There I was, sitting in a stranger’s living room pretending to be someone I’m not. What do I know about interviewing people and writing pieces? I was actually considering asking the husband about his contacts, even though I had contacts of my own. This feeling stayed with me all through the interview. Needless to say I didn’t manage to get a lot of inspiring quotes and great anecdotes.

At home I thought about what happened and felt silly, really. It wasn’t like I was no good at being a lawyer and got fired for it. I was awesome at it! I made a choice- a conscious decision. I wanted this. And hell, I am good at this. I’ve been writing way longer than I had worked at being a good lawyer. I’ve been writing ever since I could write. I just started and never stopped. Over 20 years of experience. In a regular job that would mean that you’re the expert, people come to you with the difficult questions. So why do I let these random strangers bring me down?

Peer pressure. As adults we don’t have to necessarily deal with peer pressure from people from our own age group. That’s why we live our lives as if it is something of the past. However, our behaviour is influenced by people from our own social class all the time. A well defined job gives you social status, contacts and a great answer when people ask you at social gatherings what it actually is that you do. But the thing is, if you’re not happy with that job, is that brief 5 minute conversation at boring social gatherings really worth the pain?

Every time I tell someone I’m a writer and they shrug and say “Ah well, if you don’t make it you can always go back to being a lawyer”, I have to force myself to remember why I do this and why I’m not a lawyer (or in any other socially acceptable profession). Perhaps we should stop and realise how much impact our  seemingly innocent comments can have on other people. Perhaps we should collectively stop making those comments and just ask why someone is doing what they are doing and respect them for having the balls to do it.

Keep chase your dreams. They will become reality.

Home Improvement equals AWESOME!

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I hate moving. Packing up all your stuff, the unexpected expenses that come along with it, are not great at all. Moving definitely sucks. However, house hunting is great- the idea of starting a new adventure, getting to explore other people’s houses and buying new furniture.

Once you’ve moved though, and been through the horrible packing-unpacking bit, it gets old fast. The newness gradually wears off and the uncomfortable aspects rear their ugly heads. Where can you buy your fave cosmetics, where are the good shops, which restaurants are good?

I’ve recently found out that there is an easy way to lift yourself from that rut: home improvement. In the beginning you’re probably ecstatic that all your stuff has been unpacked and you’ve kinda found a place for everything. But after a couple of months, once you’ve settled in your new home, it’s good to review the home and decide where you can improve.

Improvements can be small, like rearranging cupboards for better use of space or add more storage space or add accessories. But improvements can be big too- fresh coat of paint on the walls, new drapes or, like me, add new kitchen appliances.

Improvements take time, but if you invest the time I can guarantee you that you will be happy with the results. I’ve had a new oven installed- what will I bake today??

(k)

C

Freelancing Pyjama Style

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Before I started freelancing I read all these helpful blog posts on how to do it properly. And every single one mentioned this one:

“TREAT IT LIKE A JOB”

Meaning: do not sleep in until late, take your time to make coffee and crawl behind your computer in your pyjamas only to get distracted by social media. Rather: get up early, like any other job would require you to do, shower and put your butt in that seat and write dammit!

I do think the above commandment is an important one. In the beginning, I did sleep until late and didn’t even bother to crawl behind the computer. It didn’t mean I wasn’t concerned about the consequences. I was just really tired.

Then I got this cleaning lady who persisted on coming to work at ungodly (for normal people, regular working) hours. So once a week I woke up early, sat outside on my balcony and worked (mostly out of guilt) until she left. Then work started pouring in- meetings at 8 am, deadlines, people calling early in the morning- and before I knew it, I was sleepy at regular-people-hours in the evening and I woke up at a decent hour in the morning unable to sleep.

Awesome, right? Until yesterday. I had an early morning Skype meeting with someone who was travelling. I woke up, brewed fresh coffee and crawled behind my computer just in time to dial in. I felt so guilty afterwards that I hurried to the bathroom, took a shower and dressed extra cute. Today, I woke up early, showered and worked a couple of hours straight. After I let the cleaning lady in and made coffee of course.

Some things will never change

(k)

C

 

My name is Coco and I’m a Food Network addict

I just read an article on Huffington Post on binge viewing and I’m sad to say that I could totally relate. It comes in waves. I can go weeks without watching any tv shows, then spend about 8 hours straight watching the stuff on my computer. I try to download them legally so, no worries there right?

Anyway, the article got me thinking though. Ever since I’ve been back home and I’m working from home, I spend a lot of waking moments with Food Network on tv at home. It’s usually background noise when I’m working, but as we slowly move into prime time, I start paying attention to the shows. I actively watch Barefoot Contessa and Giada at home. I also watch several of Paula Deen’s, Rachel Ray’s and Guy Fieri’s shows. But the shows I am really addicted to are Chopped and Triple D (a.k.a. Diners, Drive-ins and Dives).

You might think that I’d be in danger of becoming a recluse, but surprisingly I’ve grown closer to many people through my Food Network addiction. My mom and I sometimes sit together an entire afternoon to watch all out favourite Food Network shows. We sometimes drink wine, but often times we get so inspired that we go out, get the ingredients and hit the kitchen for a cooking sesh. Afterwards we invite the entire family to enjoy the feast. My dad was so happy with our cooking that he got curious as to how those shows are able to inspire such goodness in people!

My boyfriend shyly admitted that he is a converted Food Network lover. He was dragged into it, similar to the way we dragged my dad into it, by his mother. We watch Chopped together and try to guess who the episode’s winner will be. (I usually win- I am just a great judge of talent, I suppose :p)

So, I guess, these types of addictions can be good. Just stay away from the other stuff!

(k)

C