Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Melbourne Planner Market and Sticker Haul

The weekend before last, I went to Melbourne Planner Market. This is the third year the market has been run, and my first year attending. It wasn't held in the city itself, but in the inner suburb of Kensington. It wasn't that close to me -- about 40 minutes' drive each way -- but I bribed Husband to drive me there with the promise of dumplings for lunch afterwards.

The above photo is from the Melbourne Planner Market website.
It was quite a small market with about 25 stallholders, but I found the range was good and I saw some interesting things. Only a couple of stalls were selling actual planners, most were selling planner stickers, washi tapes, charms and other accessories for your planner. I concentrated mainly on stickers (my biggest obsession this year!).

Here are some photos of my haul:

I'm also always on the lookout for stickers for my Hobonichi art diary, which I like to do in a more subdued, elegant style, whereas my planner is very over-the-top cute. In a way they parallel my interests in fashion, which are very diverse too.

A pack of washi tapes, sticky notes and bulldog clips. Until recently you could only order interesting and/or decorative bulldog clips and sticky notes from overseas. It's strange what we do and don't have access to in Australia!

I'm looking forward to attending the Melbourne Planner Market again next year ... if I'm still interested in stickers. A lot can change in a year!

Saturday, 24 November 2018

NaNoWriMo : The Halfway Point

(Technically it's the three-quarter-way point now, but that doesn't fit so well into the title!)

A few posts ago
, I told how I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year, but with a twist. I'm writing a 5,000 word story instead of the usual 50,000 word novel. That works out to 167 words per day. For someone like me, with a lot of different projects happening at once, it's a more realistic goal. So how am I doing, halfway through?

I'm pleased to say that I've gotten further than I did in my last NaNoWriMo attempt. That is, I've actually started to write a story! For the first week or so, I was winning -- thanks to the three-quarters of a page I wrote before the month even started, I was ahead of the word count.

However, this turned out to be a bit of a double-edged sword. On a day when I was feeling tired, I felt like I could take a break. I was feeling a bit depressed due to some unrelated issues, and one day turned into five, until I was behind again. Strangely, this turned out to be a motivating factor for me to start writing again. I needed to get back to that place I was before. I needed to believe that I can do it. The voices in my head were still telling me it's a terrible story, but I thought to myself, a terrible story is better than no story!

In the beginning, I was reading through what I'd already written and noting down changes before I started writing anything new. As the story grew to a page and more, I realised this wasn't going to be feasible. It was taking too long and distracting me. Editing can wait until later! If there are any words or phrases I'm not completely happy with, I use the highlight function in Microsoft Word (or just circle them if I'm writing by hand) to mark them, and just keep on going.

In fact, after having listened to lots of podcasts and read even more articles, the best advice I've heard is just that. Just keep going! It's been presented in many forms by many people, but what it boils down to is: just keep writing! It doesn't matter how bad you think it is. You can always fix it later.

I also decided to write an outline, which helped me to get the story straight in my mind. It made me realise there are actually two intertwined plots, and that helped, though I'm still not sure in which order things are going to happen. Hopefully that will come together at some point.

And hopefully I'll have good news (i.e. a finished story) in a couple of weeks!

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Movie Review: Outlaw King

Outlaw King is a 2018 Netflix movie set in the early 1300s, telling the true story of Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine), a Scottish nobleman. Scotland is a weary and poverty-stricken nation after eight years of fighting the English, whose king Edward I took advantage of a leadership dispute to invade the country and tax them heavily.

After the death of William Wallace (whom you may remember from the movie Braveheart), the people are stirred by anger, and Robert takes advantage of this wave of outrage to gather soldiers together to fight the English invasion. A rash and impulsive decision threatens to undo everything he has done, and leads him to quickly seek to have himself crowned King of Scotland. The English retaliation against this is swift and brutal. Led by the king's son, sadistic Prince Edward, the English forces move to crush any opposition and punish Robert by capturing his family. The rest of the plot will be known by students of history, and for anyone else, I want to avoid spoiling the ending.

The casting of Chris Pine (best known for his portrayal of Captain Kirk in the Star Trek reboots) was an interesting choice in my opinion. Pine has been made up with greying hair and a beard, making him look much older than he is, and is almost unrecognisable. At the start of the movie's events, Robert the Bruce was only 30 years old, so possibly looked younger than his movie counterpart. Perhaps this was done to make him seem more authoritative? Then there's the accent. American actors are often put in roles playing non-American characters and the accent can sometimes be an issue, but I think Pine's Scottish accent was very well done.

The movie isn't shy in showing the brutal realities of mediaeval life: the mud, how peasants are treated, people being hung, drawn and quartered, and horses being impaled in battle. If you don't want to see any of this, then this isn't the movie for you! If you want to see a no-holds-barred account of history, Outlaw King does this well.

It's true, critics have pointed out several historical inaccuracies in the movie. No historical movie is one-hundred percent accurate (if there are any, let me know!) and stories need to be appealing to their audience. Robert and his wife had already been married for two years before the events of the movie, but we wouldn't have felt so much empathy for them if we hadn't seen how they met. Fire arrows weren't used in Europe at that time, but we wouldn't have been able to see normal arrows in the dark during the night time battle and, I have to admit, they looked pretty awesome!
(More historical inaccuracies are listed on the Wikipedia page for the movie.)

At times there were visual metaphors more suited to an arthouse movie -- an upturned apple cart, a rainbow. These were jarring and made me wonder if the movie was trying to be something other than what it is. Then it swung the other way with 'that' scene. I have no problem with nudity in movies if it's warranted, but these days it seems almost expected for Chris Pine to be nude at some point in every movie that he's in. If people aren't talking about the movie for the blood and guts, or the accents, they're talking about it for that.

Overall though, I thought it was a decent movie, with gorgeous highland landscapes contrasted with the not-so-gorgeous narrative of Scottish mediaeval society.

Would I watch it again? Yes!

Sunday, 4 November 2018

I'm Doing NaNoWriMo!

Sort of!

Yes, I'm giving National Novel Writing Month another go! With some modifications, however...

A whole 50,000-word novel is a bit much for me. I've never done well at any kind of 30-day challenges. I couldn't even write for 10 minutes a day when I tried it three years ago. During the week I rarely have the time or the energy to work on anything creative, leaving an ever-mounting backlog which means I never get past the first week -- or often the first 3 days!

So I'm modifying the challenge and decided to write a 5,000 word story. That's only 166 words a day. (I rounded it up to 170 for convenience's sake.) At the moment it's easy to tell my brain that's a very do-able goal.

Also, I have to admit, I cheated a little and wrote 500 words on 31st October, because I was so excited when I first decided to do the challenge. This has turned out to be a good thing, because I'm ahead of the count and feel a lot less pressured. Even when I'm ahead, I still aim to open up the document and add something to it every day.

I just have to point out: I never liked the "National" part of NaNoWriMo, as people from all over the world are taking up the challenge. Although, I was doing a bit of digging around today and just found this Melbourne-based Facebook group -- MelbNaNo. So that's nice.

I'm hoping to publish the story at the end of the month on Wattpad or something similar. If anyone knows of a more suitable platform for sharing an original cozy mystery story featuring coffee and cats, please let me know! I'd love to get some feedback on it and perhaps see if I can expand it into a series one day.

Good luck to everyone else doing NaNoWriMo 2018! Now I'd better get back to writing!