Je suis Charlie. And an atheist. This is why.

mohammed-cartoons-charlie-hebdo-muhammed-cartoons-2012-2First of all I want to express my deepest condolences to the victims of the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo yesterday in Paris, and their families and friends.

I also wish to convey my sincerest sympathy to all the millions of muslims who were NOT wielding kalachnikovs yesterday, but will have to answer for this tragedy anyway.

We worked for different media, yet the people who were killed yesterday, were colleagues of mine, and they make me proud to be a journalist. It doesn’t matter whether I share every opinion Charlie Hebdo ever expressed, but it does matter, a lot, that it expressed them. The freedom to express any opinion is the basis of democracy. (The only exception to this, is a call for hate and violence, of course.) The freedom to laugh is an important part of that. Nothing should be too sacred to be made fun of. Not even religion. Quite to the contrary, something which is so important to so many people as religion, should be criticized, and if need to, mocked. Because it is the only way to avoid or stop abuses of power.

“I would rather die standing than live on my knees”, said Stéphane “Charb” Charbonnier, the legendary cartoonist and editor in chief of Charlie Hebdo. And he stood by it. Charlie Hebdo did not flinch, not when they were threatened, not even when a molotov cocktail was thrown into their offices. These people died standing. Continue reading

Resist the internet

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I. will. not. get. destracted. again. Not even by a promising prospect like this picture.

I have decided to tackle my debilitating lack of concentration.

A couple of minutes ago, when I sat down to write this blog post, it happened again. I decided to hurriedly, quickly, just a minute, check whether I had any new e-mail (I did not, which was not very surprising, since I had checked it about fifteen seconds earlier). Then I had a really quick glance at my favourite news site, just to make sure nothing huge had happened since my last check (it had not). Then I made the most crucial mistake of all: I decided to have a very short glance at Facebook, to check if I was missing something. I was not. But someone did post a helluvalotta pictures about 2014. And that link featured some interesting articles about training the fat off your tummy. I checked my mail again (nothing). Checked Facebook again (meh). Googled a cute guy I saw on television (I’ll admit: I love my boyfriend but I google other people). Got back to writing my blog post. Decided to start with finding some pictures to go with it (try googeling lolcat+christmas+tree. See you back in two weeks). Checked Facebook again. Well, you get the picture. Continue reading

The quest for a good title

Writing a novel is a piece of cake compared to finding a halfway decent title for it. Well, it’s not, really, but that’s how I’m feeling right now.

Ideally, the title for my new book will be catchy, marketable and easy to remember. It also needs to reflect at least one of the themes in the book (du-uh). And in a perfect world it will also sound just a little bit tongue in cheek. Oh, but it can’t be too long, of course.

So, after weeks and weeks of pondering, I have come to a series of crucial decisions: Firstly, I have lowered my standards from “brilliant” to “strong”. Next, I have lowered them again to “good”. Right now, “acceptable” would make me downright euphoric. What’s next? Printable?

 

Observe your feelings

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If something scares you, chances are, you’re not the only one who will find it scary.           © sxc

A couple of days ago I wrote a post about the perils of “writing what you know”. Today I will explain why I think writing about what you know, is a good idea. (Aaaah, the fickleness of the female heart!) At least, when it comes to feelings. Observing them well, is like digging up gold for a writer. Continue reading

Beware of your passion

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Maybe you feel passionate about dancing. Good for you! Don’t forget your reader may not. A writer’s job is to evoke that passion in his reader, starting from scratch. It’s harder than you might think. © sxc

“Write about what you know”, well-meaning gurus and writing manuals tell you. Or “follow your passion”. I’m not so sure about that.

When “write what you know” means something like “if you really, really dig thrillers and thrillers are all you ever read, then please don’t try to write a chicklit novel”, then fine. I agree. But writing about what you know, also includes some nasty traps. Continue reading

Write scenes, not books

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A writer ‘s gotta do what a writer ‘s gotta do. © sxc

Write a scene, not a book. Although I am definitely trying to write a novel, this is the most important principle for me to keep in mind if I want to get any writing done.

If I sit down behind my computer, thinking about my book, or worse, my “oeuvre”, then all I can see is the giant amount of work that’s still in front of me. Of course every writer, aspiring or established, fantasizes about holding those two crispy covers, with 360 pages of indisputable genius in between. But for me, personally, that thought mostly cramps my style. As a result, I will find myself dawdling on Facebook or Twitter, streaming some television series, making yet another cup of coffee, or – well yes – blogging.

While if I manage to keep my mind focused on one thing, writing one good scene, just one, then that seems feasible. The “good” might be still up for discussion, but at least I’ll have a scene. And then another one. And…

And what’s most important, focusing on the scene at hand helps me to genuinely enjoy my writing. Firstly because the stakes don’t feel so (friggin’) high, but also because I can feel that fun little jolt of achievement after every scene, instead of once every two years or so.

And if you’ll excuse me now, I’ve got another scene in mind. But first, I think I’ll make myself a cup of tea…

Fast or slow?

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Fast is for action…

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… nice and slow is for other scenes. © sxc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As he hears the soft but unmistakeable clutter of metal behind him, he spins around on his heels with the speed of a leopard in full attack. What he sees, takes his breath away and makes him fear his days are numbered. It is Xena, the mythical warrior princess, coming at him with eyes ablazing and swaying some sort of circular weapon he has never seen before, leaving him in the dark on how he is to defend himself against it.

There are quite a few reasons why this piece of text stinks. But one of them is the huge clash between the pace of the text and the supposed speed of the action described. Continue reading