This Changes Everything Vs. My Life on the Road


For NaNoWriMo last year I wrote a blog post a day and one of them was about comparative reading. I think it is such an amazing concept and I wanted to do it again. It gives you a deeper understanding of what you have read, how certain writers tackle certain aspects, and how you can shift your focus when reading.

“This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate” is a book by Naomi Klein from 2014 which looks into the economic, social, and environmental aspects of climate change while also analysing how capitalism brought us there. It was a fascinating book and will probably be one of the main sources for my own project because it has so much wisdom in it.

Gloria Steinem’s memoir “My Life on the Road” was published in 2015. She describes her life as an activist, the people she has met and who have guided her throughout, and the issues women were and are still facing today. It was inspiring to read about a life lived so fully.

What I loved most about these two books was their inclusiveness, their focus on minorities and their unique struggles. Steinem writes about her experiences with people who have faced discrimination and how they dealt with them. What we can do about them. Naomi Klein is also very aware and she takes it a step further, linking these issues to climate change.

One aspect that made me look at “My Life on the Road” through an environmental lens in the first place was this one by Steinem in her interview with Emma Watson: If we had real equality between women and men, women would be able to decide for themselves if they want to receive children or not. They would have full reproductive freedom and would not have to have children they don’t want or cannot have. It would offer them opportunities to work, to invest in education, to live more sustainably. The effect of climate change also depends on global population size. This is why feminism should be one of the main strategies to conquer climate change. Naomi Klein adds to this as she says that every movement aiming for equality is a step in the right direction of conquering climate change.

Our environmental problems today are the product of hundreds of years of inequality, of exploitation, and expression of power over nature. In a culture where not everyone is able to work together because of prejudices and strong opposing opinions, there will be no unified action against climate change. One which we so desperately need. Gloria Steinem argues that these movements are indeed happening right now, though, and that she has experienced living right among them. Felt their power and the hope they radiate. This is also what I noticed in the end of “This Changes Everything”. There is a way to get through this. We have to transform our values and work for a more just world.

“My Life on the Road” examines how this is done in detail. Going around, talking to people. Listening to their struggles and spreading awareness. Giving talks to activists, forming groups, marching. These are the practical aspects of the great change Naomi Klein wrote about.

Since Klein’s book is researched to a great detail and could be seen more as a piece of journalism, it does not have as many personal stories in it as “My Life on the Road”. However, the part I loved the most, was her telling the story how she struggled to get pregnant and how her son was born. She wrote about the BP oil spill and its effect on the eggs and youngest fish in lakes and oceans. It was beautifully linked and thus all the more powerful. “My Life on the Road” as a memoir has all these stories and anecdotes which are linked to the pressing issues of our time. This taught me a lot: When writing my own book I have to connect my own stories to the issues I’m talking about. Otherwise, they will get too distant. I don’t want to be a preacher. I want to be an observer of the world, a storyteller.

Both books have changed my perception. After finishing “This Changes Everything” today I am a bit more hopeful that we can avert the crisis, but I’m also more painfully aware of the damage that we have done thus far. I feel physical pain in my stomach and heart when I read about oil spills, about devastating pollution, and the exploitation of people all over the world. Gloria Steinem assured me through the women’s movement that this can be changed. I have had the great amount of opportunities only through women like her. Once we recognise our power as a unified people, we can make a difference. Once we tell our stories and share our values, we will succeed.

Both of them showed me a journalism at its finest. Since it is a profession I could really see myself in, it was interesting to read about their lives. I felt a personal connection through the love of writing and the passion with which they dive into their topics.

What is the overall message of both books?
Be hopeful. Work harder. Be more inclusive. Listen and learn.

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NaNoWriMo Day 30: Crossing the Finish Line


I did it!!!! Again!!! I can’t believe it!!! Although, NaNoWriMo, I miss you already. What started out as a crazy idea because I didn’t get to do the module I wanted to do… And found I had too much “free time”… has actually become a quite life changing event. I did this the second time in a row now. I promised myself that I wouldn’t do Nano again for some years. Yet, I couldn’t stop myself from it. Why? Probably because I love writing so much.

On day 24 I watched a video in life’s purpose. There were five questions asked. What was my personal outcome? I want to be a writer to encourage people to take care of their environment, to inspire them and to make science understandable, interesting, exciting. I never put that much effort in my writing projects. I saw it as just another hobby, like the art I was creating. Now I found out that this stuff makes me really happy. I love to write! I love to sit down every evening before bed and type some words into my computer. I love to think about what I could write about. Talk to people. Do research. It was so amazing!

It was hard, of course. I had three days when I really didn’t know what to write at all. So I wrote bad poems and copied good ones. That’s how you move along. Now, I feel some sort of relief but also sadness. It’s over again. November is over.

My body is telling me how happy it is. Sleep! Something I haven’t had properly in thirty days! My brain shouts: Yes, you finally got to do all the uni work you wanted to do! One weird thing is, that I invested more time than ever into uni, this past month. I read more books in November than in any other month in 2016. Clearly, if I have less time, I do more. Seems counterintuitive? welcome to my brain.

Here are all the things I learned during this challenge, this project, this sign of my wonderful weirdness:

  • To properly write an English text a day. Last year, I wrote in German. This year I noticed how much better my expression got and how much I have improved since. That’s nice to know. Practising really helps.

  • To trust in my instincts and thoughts. If the slightest trace of an idea pops up in my head, I know. I have to write about this. Then I sit down and write. Until it is finished.

  • I’m extremely well organised. Otherwise I couldn’t have done this project with all the other things going on in my life. It was challenging to balance but it was possible. I’m alive and better than ever. I can get stuff done.

  • Lots about the environment. I watched so many documentaries and read so many articles for this projects. I learned about climate change, water scarcity, food waste, plastics in the oceans. The list goes on and on. I used my lecture notes to write these articles and therefore I have to study less in the exam phase!

  • To read more carefully. To read more books from all over the world, to compare them with each other. To look for stylistic choices I can implement in my own writing. To be more open.

NaNoWriMo Statistics:

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-09-20-10screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-09-19-58

Total Words Written: 50625
Cups of tea: 3 x 30 = 90 three a day when writing? Seems about right.
Characters killed: still none. We are writing non-fiction here, people.
Ted Talks watched as inspiration: Let me count… 10 mentioned in my texts, maybe a good ten more. = 20.

What now?

Sleeeeeep! Drawing. Reading. Yoga, every day. My back is terribly tight. Studying Swedish. Doing stuff for uni. A little bit of relaxation.

What about writing? Last year I fell into a pit of apathy after NaNoWriMo. I had written something that will never reach the daylight. It will always rest on my computer. Locked from the world. Someone said that you have to get the bad writing out of you and then you can properly start to write. Those first 50000 words, they were very bad. Now I am a little better. In a year, I will re-read these text and cringe all over. Why? Because we develop our skills. Gradually working on them day by day. That’s good!

I love Isabel Allende. She said that she could never write a book as “House of the Spirits” because it was so innocent. It was not planned at all. She got so many things wrong. That’s no problem, though, because it is a brilliant book. She has written other beautiful novels, one of which I am listening to right now: Island Beneath the Sea. It’s wonderful! Don’t stop, keep going.

I have to go on. I shouldn’t stop now that I know how to write 1666 words a day. Now that I’m in the flow. This is why I’m going to set myself a daily goal to write. All that is on my mind. Probably one day, I’ll get a story out of it. Let’s say at least 300 words. That’s really not that much. I need a goal, though. Without one, procrastination hits. After a project like this, it has the capability of hitting hard. I have to keep going, chasing my dreams.

I am deeply grateful for all your support. I would like to thank my mum who always threw a spontaneous party when I sent her my new word count. My dad who said how much better I have got in my writing and that he sees that writing is clearly my passion. My friends who I watched so many environmental documentaries with: Hannah and Lilli who are such a lovely, caring friends I am so happy to have. My friend Izzy who I always went on runs with while talking about the Ted Talks we watched. Inspiring us endlessly and giving me something to write about. My friends back home who thought it a little weird that I started writing again- you gave me an extra challenge. You are amazing and I’m a very lucky girl to have you all as friends.

And would love to thank you who commented on my articles and kept me going. Thank you so much for your support!

https://lingeringvisions.wordpress.com/
https://sanseilife.wordpress.com/
https://dailymusing57.com/
https://kyleoverstreet.wordpress.com/

Now, I have a little surprise for you. I will do the Advent Calendar again this year! You get a little drawing a day!

Lots of love and happy last day of November

Verena

Current Word Count: 50 625 Partyyyyy!!!!

NaNoWriMo 2016: A 30 Day Blogging Challenge


“The first words are written. Go on creating your novel. The world needs your novel!” the NaNoWriMo team said in their email. I felt guilty. I hadn’t written any words yet! I hadn’t even started a new novel! I wanted to be part of this community again! People deciding to write 50 000 in 30 days. Those are my people! … I felt left out.

I wanted to take a four week university module which would have taken all of my time away. The registration period was already over. There went my plan for November. In desperate need of a new project I started writing. I need that thrill. I need the excitement. My friends always ask me: “Do you have another ‘project’ at the moment?” I do now. “Last minute, but I do. I’m writing 50 000 words once more. In blog posts. This time without any planning at all.”

Last year I was in a better shape. I was prepared. I wrote 50 000 words and I loved it. I wrote on the trains, I wrote late at night, I put together a story. Since I didn’t have a great novel or even a decent idea, I thought that had to change the following year. I wanted to start preparing in August. September went by. October. Today I find myself at my laptop typing the first words of this year’s NaNoWriMo. Spontaneous.

I don’t know what it is about late autumn and winter that drives my creativity. I love it when the nights get cold and crispy leaves fly around, when you walk through seas of red and yellow. I love sitting with a hot cup of tea inside, a blanket around me. Listening to an audiobook and knitting. Now I’m sitting here with a laptop. Coming up with ideas. Writing every silly little thing down. With a bullet point in front of it. Bullet points add seriousness.

New projects make you excited in the first days. Around day 20 last year I had a creative breakdown. I couldn’t write another word. I was exhausted. I wanted to say: “Screw it, I’m not doing it anymore. Here, have all these pages, I’m quitting.” Print them all out, dramatically rip them into small pieces, throw them across the room and shut the door. I haven’t done that, because I do not like to kill trees.

I usually see myself as a quitter. I am not. I finish things, late, but I do. I finished that painting, that jumper, that song, that book I didn’t want to read another page of. I would appreciate if you sent me some inspiring quotes or encouraging messages, though. Or topics you would like me to write about. It would mean the world to me.

Last year I wrote in German. This year I’m writing in English. I noticed that you can write a lot more words in German. Our words are longer, our sentences are, too. We can give you an hourlong presentation that we want the steaming cup of coffee over there. We can talk to you for ten minutes when we actually just want you to hand us the salt. Germans… In Swedish it’s the same, by the way. Maybe that’s why I love learning this language. You can write beautiful sentences with 50 nouns and 13829 adjectives. That’s also why Germans adore commas. We use them to create scrapbook sentences. Commas are our tape.

I might be writing streams of consciousness. I have to get those 1666 words together every day. My main goal is to write down the rants about the environment I have flying around in my head. I have an urgency to write them down. My only restriction will be that the posts are at least 1600 words long.

You can only become an author through writing. Write every day. Write when you have a free afternoon. Write when you have no time at all. Write when all you want to do is lie in bed. Write despite all circumstances. Writers always find time for their passion. The concept of NaNoWriMo is beautiful. You type and count. You write everything in you. Then you are clean for another year. You turn on the tap, let the water flow and then you can start writing the good stuff. Another aspect of NaNoWriMo is that you do not review your texts instantly. You write them and do not go over them again until you are finished. That’s not that easy with blog posts. It usually takes more time to edit my texts than to write them. I don’t plan. I have an idea, an inspiration, sometimes a quote or a topic I am fascinated in. I write them down. When I add the last word I realise that I have repeated myself over and over. Then the fun part begins. Deleting every second sentence. Trying to put it in an order that is comprehensible. Having someone read it and say if I have written a labyrinth through which only I know the way.

“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”

Oh Mark Twain, you were so right. I would love to have a small voice in my head guiding me to these wrong words. A spectator who knows exactly which portion of what I have written is wrong.

To all of you who are accepting the challenge of NaNoWriMo out there, I am applauding you. You are awesome and I believe in your ability to finish this project. There will always be people to encourage you. It’s a lovely community of talented and strong people who will build you up. It’s a worthwhile experience. I did it last year and I’m coming back. Couldn’t have been that bad last time. It is my passion to write, to tell stories, to learn.

I love the talk Elizabeth Gilbert gave about creativity. Some people have a burning passion. Some people do not have only one thing that makes them get up in the morning. They follow wherever curiosity leads them. Like little hummingbirds they fly from one flower to the next. In “Big Magic” she explains how her novel “The Signature of All Things” came to life. She developed an interest in gardening. Planted flowers and vegetables. She wanted to know their origins and did some research. She noticed that it could be a novel. By simply following a small interest, she set the basis for another book. Isn’t that beautiful?

My passions are mainly in art and the environment. I will write about these in the next 30 days. I am a hummingbird taking on this year’s NaNoWriMo in blog form.

Happy writing and see you tomorrow!

Current Word Count: 1753/ edited: 1135

Advent Calendar 2015: 4th


I’m in such a good mood today, in a few hours I’ll see a friend of mine whom I have missed so much… ❤

A little warm and cozy picture- for those lazy Friday evenings we all love 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend!!! xxx

P1050786

NaNoWriMo And Happy Halloween!!!


Dear fellow writers and bloggers, tomorrow is the first day of the National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write 50000 words in 30 days. When I told my friends I’ll participate they just asked if I’m crazy. Maybe. Maybe you have to be crazy to do such a thing. In Uni I have to write so much too and then I’ll be typing 1600 words every day.
However I think it’s a wonderful idea to get words out of my head, ideas that I have been carrying around for years. I always wanted to write and now is the time. Additionally it’s a good way to organise your time better…
Neil Gaiman said that the first draft of a novel is like the first pancake. It looks a bit out of shape and you give it to your child or your dog… 😀
When you need some inspiration you should really listen to some of his talks and speeches. They are amazing.

I hope to see some of you in the community, add me as a writing buddy if you like (Verena Cave)

Good luck to all of you who are taking part and happy writing!!!

Richard Madden


Here’s another handsome British actor for my drawing series… He plays Robb Stark in Game of Thrones.

 

richard madden

Matthew Lewis


And here’s another British actor! 🙂 Matthew Lewis played Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter…

How do you like the drawing?

matthew lewis