Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Reading

A week ago, I posted about my upcoming first reading with my writers group Writers in Stuttgart. Well, it has come and gone, and I survived. Yay!

It was a great experience. I'd practiced reading my pieces out loud to myself several times and wasn't all that nervous after all. It probably helped that it was a very small, intimate group of listeners. All in all there were only about twenty-five people present, most of them group members, who were a little nervous themselves, plus my mom and best friend. It was great to have them there. My story Swimming Pool had people surprised and laughing at the twist ending, which was the intention and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I especially enjoyed the variety of matieral that was read: literary fiction, thrillers, poems, memoirs, sci-fi and fantasy. We're a very genre-eclectic group, which is great because it brings us out of our comfort zones and broadens our horizons. Mine, at least.

Since this one went so well, I'm really looking forward to the larger, more public reading we're planning for some time in late spring. I used to never want anybody to read my writing - not even my family - because I couldn't bear the thought of people not liking it, and by extension me. A writer's work is very personal, so having other people read (or hear) it means to bare a piece of your soul to them. But I'm more confident than I was as a teen (thank heavens), and like who I've become, so I don't feel like I need to hide my writing - my soul - anymore. Which makes sharing, reading and letting my work be critiqued a lot easier; wanted, even.

Especially doing so with a group of such talented writers. Sure, I'm biased, but when you make people laugh or cry, or react to your work in any way, it shows talent. And every one of the stories read on Friday night accomplished that.

Therefor, big kudos to all of us!

Friday, February 22, 2013

My Academy Awards 2013

I have a not-so-well-kept secret: At almost 28 years old, I've never watched the Academy Awards ceremony.

Snippets on YouTube, yes. Summaries in news coverages, yes. Nominated movies, yes. Previews of nominated movies, yes.

Never the actual ceremony in full.

There are several reasons for this, which I will now explain. All of them were and are exacerbated by one location-related factor: living in Germany makes watching the Oscars a bit difficult, because they're on in the early morning hours - on a Monday, no less. With that in mind, here are the factors for my Oscar-negligence to date:

1. I forgot they were on.
Being a teenager is way too chaotic to care about things that you're not going to be able to watch because your parents won't let you stay up so late, anyway.

2. I didn't give a flying fart.
There was a time when I liked movies. Period. I wasn't interested in the process of how they were made, nor which one was so good as to be nominated for anything. The glamor, glitz and gaggle about them was a mystery to me. I just watched and enjoyed.

3. Other things were more important.
Like, you know, life. It has its own mind about what we should be worried or excited about at any given time. An award show for a bunch of stories and strangers can drop pretty far down on that list.

4. I didn't have a TV.
Still don't. I mean, yes, I have a TV, but it's not connected to the cable or satellite. I only watch DVDs or play PlayStation on it.

As you can see, the fates have been conspiring against me for many years. Until now. Because, this year, it seems like the stars might align - and not just on the red carpet:

1. I know exactly when they're happening.
This coming Monday (morning). Plus, I'm old enough to decide for myself how late I stay up, or to go to work a few hours later than usual. It's good to be an adult. 

2. I give at least a hundred flying farts
I'm curious if the event lives up to its hype.

3. All things movie and film have become a big part of my life. 
They're important to me. I want to be a part of as many motion-picture-related matters as possible. I want to dig deep, learn the secrets of the industry. The Academy Awards are a part of that.

4. I don't need a TV to watch. 
At least not my own. I have American friends right here in Germany, who get the military networks and have offered to be my hosts (thanks Lindsey and Chris!) on Monday evening, when they are repeated on said networks. Meaning the whole time-difference issue is no problem anymore, either. Also, there's this newfangled phenomenon called streaming - one I can take advantage of, should the friend-option fall through for some inconceivable reason (the only one I can think of is the apocalypse, and since 2012 has already come and gone, I'm not worried).

All in all, I'm pretty confident that this is my Academy Awards year. I win, just for being able to watch them.

Of course, I've already picked my favorites for the "big" categories, the one's I think are going to win. 

Best Motion Picture: Lincoln
Best Leading Actor: Denzel Washington
Best Leading Actress: Quvenzhané Wallis
Best Supporting Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman (sorry, Hugh)
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway (or Helen Hunt? Anne Hathaway? Helen Hunt? Aargh!)
Best Direcotr: Ang Lee (like Peter Jackson, he eats "unfilmable" for breakfast)
Best Screenplay (directly for screen): Zero Dark Thirty
Best Screenplay (based on previously published material): Silver Linings
Best Foreign Language Film: Amour

Since I haven't seen and therefor can't compare them all (yet), I can't say which ones I feel should win, so these are basically just wild guesses. But I've decided that, for every one I get right, I treat myself to a Kinder Riegel. Diet be damned. And for every one I'm wrong, I get a consolation Riegel (best candy evah!).

Either way, and in any case, I win; be it candy, knowledge, or my personal Academy Awards Category: Best Fullfiller of Private Wishes. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My First Public Reading

At the end of last year, I joined Writers in Stuttgart (WiS), a writers group that meets once a month in - surprise, surprise - Stuttgart. The greatest thing about it is that it's an English group, which I'd never thought I'd find in the heart of Swabia. Since I write in English, joining a German group never appealed to me. Then I brought up the courage to go to a NaNoWriMo meeting last November, which was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Not only did I meet three wonderful ladies whom I still meet most every Friday to write, talk and have fun with, and who introduced me to the aforementioned writer's group; but my motivation has also skyrocketed back to the heights of when I was sixteen or seventeen, when my fingers literally itched with the urge to write down the words and scenes accumulating in my head, when I couldn't concentrate on anything with all those voices of the character's inside my head, when I felt like not writing might drive me insane. 

I'm back in that place, and loving it. Which is also why I'm looking forward to Friday, even though I feel very uncomfortable speaking in front of crowds. Because that's what I'm going to do: read two of my stories to a bunch of strangers.

It's 'only' a trial run at a small venue with a few close friends and family of the WiS-members. WiS organized it to practice for the public reading we're planning in late spring. (Turns out I'm not alone in the nervous-about-speaking-in-public department - who'd a thunk?) There'll be at least ten people reading, so we each only get ten minutes. The theme is Love and Other Things, because it's so close to Valentines Day. I'll be reading two of my flash fiction pieces, Lunar Enchantress and Swimming Pool

Wish me luck! :-)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

My Most Anticipated Movies Of The Year

I luuuurve movies. And watching them in the cinema. And spoilering myself with as many trailers and infos as I can find. 

So here's the list of my most anticipated movies for 2013 as of today (since there will probably be many coming out that I don't know about yet). It's rather eclectic. At the end of the year, I'll look at this post again and recap which ones I saw and of those, which ones delivered or disappointed.

The release dates are those for Germany, which don't necessary coincide with the premieres. 

14th February

21st February

Safe Haven

7th March

Oz The Great And Powerful

7th March

The Croods

21st March


22nd March

The Host

29th March

The Big Wedding

26th April

1st May

24th May

24th May

24th May

7th June

7th June

28th June

3rd July

26th July

2nd August

23rd August

4th October

31st October

22nd November

What movies are you looking forward to? Any potentially good ones I missed?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Fighting Predictability

Over on, Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats compiled a great list, not just for scriptwriters, but fiction writers in general: The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar.

My favorite advice was Number 12:

Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

A predictable story, while it can be good, is far less fun and satisfying for the reader or viewer than one that takes you by surprise every now and again. I watched Crazy Stupid Love the other day, and was enjoying it well enough, until an unexpected twist completely blew me away. I was literally roflol-ing. I had not seen it coming. At. All. 

Others might have - I could imagine my dad and brother going "yeah, I thought that might happen". They're very clever when it comes to this sort of thing, but I tend to think that takes some of the enjoyment out of the experience for them. Unless maybe they like knowing they were right. :-)

But I'm getting off track.

What I meant to show was that, because of that unexpected-to-me twist near the end, I am going to remember this movie. Even 50 years from now; even if I never see it again. Without the twist, it would have been lost in the recesses of my mind that are already stacked to the brim with fun and forgettable romcoms, which all go by the same formula and have thus become predictable. 

So that's my goal: get the obvious out of the way. Surprise myself with my writing. 

I figure: if I can surprise even myself, the readers and viewers of my stories will be surprised, too. And then they'll enjoy it and want to read on.