Twitter for old people?

This week I went to an event created to bring companies in our province and youngsters find each other. Apparently there are plenty of job opportunities out there but young professionals aren’t being reached. Focus was on social media, from the obvious platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn to Snapchat and something else I can’t quite remember, neither of which seems like the obvious choice to establish these relationships. Companies reaching youngsters over Snapchat? Sounded surreal to me. But the most surprising point was made about Twitter.

Students in a panel as well as other young people (in a video) were asked about Twitter and their responses could be summarised in one sentence: ”Twitter is for old people and politicians.” This was strange to me because only a handful of years ago Twitter seemed like the platform young people used. Of course my view is quite narrow but I’m sure others would be surprised to learn about this.

As far as I knew, Twitter was very popular with 1) journalists of all kinds, 2) politicians, 3) activists/young people living under oppressive regimes. And recently I learnt it was for writers and other professionals in the book business as well. Still, I thought young people in general belonged on that list too. It seems I may have been wrong.

Perhaps it’s a Dutch thing, perhaps youngsters all over the world are moving away from Twitter and onto the next hot platform. Any thoughts on this? Does the same seem true in other countries? And what could this next thing be? Am I already behind on the trends?

 

I know this is late but I wanted to talk about this event. And I was swamped with work, so apologies. Next one will be the banana bread recipe, 2 days from now (hopefully)

Inspiration (also for ”real” writers)

I have come across many blogs and websites, Twitter and Facebook posts, that claim ”real writers” don’t need inspiration to write. I respect that, and I agree. Inspiration is not necessary to write a good novel. But it makes it more fun, at least for me, can cut writing time in half, and occasionally brings forth better content. I don’t need inspiration, I want it.

Getting inspired really isn’t very hard. We can gain it by being in nature, staring at the sky, or by reading others’ novels, watching films, etc. If you’re like me, it’ll come naturally, through daydreaming, or even from reading academic texts (thank you university for giving me such great novel ideas!). Or you could try using prompts (which are easily found online).

When I first got the idea for this blog post, I daydreamed about its contents and some of my ideas made it into my notes. However, not everything did so now I am stuck with a note telling me to include my story idea of a shepherd in 1 B.C. searching for love, without any clue what I wanted to say with this. (I have every intention of writing this story someday, even if romance is far from my comfort zone.) Still, we can speculate.

A shepherd is an unlikely protagonist these days, but paired with a setting like the 1st century B.C. and the goal of  finding love, it becomes intriguing. From what I can remember from elementary school history classes, people used to live in small villages spread out over vast areas of land. A shepherd in those times then, may have a hard time meeting people altogether. He is surrounded by sheep or goats, perhaps a dog, but is likely to spend most of his days without seeing another human. Must be lonely. So he wants to find someone to go home to. He’s young, and wants to procreate before it’s too late. His father used to hold the position before him but then he died and left his estate to his son. Perhaps the shepherd’s mother has fallen ill and he wishes for someone to take care of her while he is away. How does he go about it?

This post is not about finding inspiration. It’s about keeping it after already having found it. How do you keep writing when you’ve ran out of plot? Personally I haven’t experienced writer’s block. Or maybe I have but I didn’t recognise it. Therefore I am not sure what it is or how to cure it. What I do know about is temporary loss of inspiration. Say I wrote about the shepherd (apologies for any misspellings of this word, as I do struggle with it), I explained some of his backstory, and instigated his meeting with an unsuspecting young woman, but now I’m stuck. They met and they like each other but where is my conflict? It’s all too easy this way. I’m sure some people get everything handed to them from a young age but this is a poor shepherd in a novel whose author wants to keep their readers interested. What to do?

First of all, you can ask yourself the question ”What conflict fits my story?”. Maybe her father disapproves of him, perhaps she was promised to another, she could fall ill, he could be arrested because his herd trampled a villager to death, she could be accused of witchcraft, he could meet another woman who also catches his eye (love triangle), etc. Think of scenarios, no matter how crazy, that would make accomplishing his goal much harder. Write them down, read over them. You don’t have to decide right away. Sleep on it. Write a chapter for each of the possibilities.

Try drawing your characters or the setting. Even if you suck at drawing (like me), it can help your creativity. I’m not sure what the science behind it is (though I have read an article on it) but it works. And if you really do not want to draw, try colouring. It’s relaxing and allows your mind to flow freely. If you’re the sporty type (or if you want to be), try exercising, whether that is going for a run, doing squats, or kicking the shit out a boxing bag.

But my number one tip, which works best for me and which I will always recommend, is (day)dream about your characters. Personally I am capable of lucid dreaming (think of Tris in Divergent only instead of simulations these are dreams), so I can bend stuff to my will, but even thinking about your charaters before bed can aide in dreaming about them. It doesn’t have to be your story you dream about. In fact, I find dreaming about their dull daily lives much more rewarding.

Nasim Alfarsi is the main character in my finished novel and in at least three other novels I intend to write. When I was writing that novel, I used to dream and daydream about him. Usually not about cases (he’s a police officer) but about his daily life. Most often these were conversations with Alissa (his partner) or the other people in his life. I learnt how he would react in certain situations. I got to know him better. Even though he is my character and I created him, he has the ability to surprise me, even now.

What you learn here can easily be applied to your novel. Maybe my shepherd doesn’t trust women because he witnessed his mother cheat on his father when he was little. You never know what you’ll find out, even when you think you know everything there is to know about your character. Additionally, and I cannot stress this enough, you do not need to know everything about your characters. Not a week goes by that I don’t see one of those forms with a hundred-odd questions that you must be able to answer about your main character.

Bullshit. Most of those forms are so specific, I cannot even answer all of the questions about myself and I’ve known me for decades, while I’ve only known Nasim for about a year and a half now. Don’t be intimidated. Even if your character may appear to contradict herself. So what? People are fickle. She could have changed her mind. People can change, and so can their viewpoints. It’s your book. And if you’re unhappy about it later, you can always change it. It is not set in stone (and even if it was we now have technology to undo that kind of thing so no worries).

Finally I would like to point out that I am not a published author, nor a specialist of any kind, but I can write about my experiences. My last post was about chestnuts because I know a thing or two about them and wanted to share that. This post is about tips that worked for me and may work for you. There is no guarantee they will but it doesn’t hurt to try. I started this blog because I read agents and publishers like a platform. Now, three weeks in, I realise I enjoy sharing useful information with people, whoever ends up reading this. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be lucky enough to get feedback on my actual ficiton writing.

Next week I will likely be sharing a recipe for banana bread I made a few weeks ago (all recipes I will share will have been tried and tested. I will share nothing I did not like.) and the week after that will be close to my birthday so I will take the easy way out and share one of my short stories with you. (As a gift you could read it and give some feedback?)

See you next week!

Chestnuts

This blog post was originally going to contain a recipe for banana cake but then I changed my mind. (No worries, I’ll post that in two weeks.)

When I ask people what they love about autumn, most will give the obvious answers: pumpkins, pumpkin spice lattes, cozy sweaters, leaves in gorgeous colours, Halloween, and some people will probably say their birthday.

For me, the answer would be different. While my birthday is indeed this season and I do love cozy sweaters and the lovely view out my window, my favourite thing about autumn are chestnuts.

There’s nothing that screams ‘autumn’ quite like going out to find chestnuts in the cold, then come home and warm up with a hot beverage while waiting for the chestnuts to cook. Yes, chestnuts are edible.

Nowadays, it’s become less shocking to see chestnuts being sold but a decade ago people would call you crazy if you told them you ate chestnuts. A pity for them because they are delicious.

Now I could be greedy and withhold this information from you (more for me) but I wasn’t raised that way. So, because I am so kind, I will explain exactly which chestnuts are edible and which are not.

And the way I’m going to do so is….. with pictures:

bewerkte-wilde-kastanje

These are not edible. The outer shell isn’t very prickly, and therefore easy to grab, and the chestnuts are round.

enkele-wilde-kastanje

Additionally, there is only one chestnut per shell (see pictured above).

This in contrast with edible chestnuts (as pictured below):

bewerkte-tamme-kastanje

Edible chestnuts have a shell that hurts to touch (trust me, I have years of experience), and the chestnuts are not round but have a little pointy bit on one end.

tamme-kastanje-oud

Additionally, the shell holds more than one chestnut. (The shell darkens with age but the chestnuts are still edible, and just as tasty. Don’t discriminate.)

There are many ways to eat these. Some people have them raw (I have no experience with this, please consult the internet if you desire more information), but you can also cook them in water (only 131 calories per 100 grams) or roast them. If you do decide to roast them, make sure to cut the skin.

Now I know they started selling chestnuts on markets (I saw them), but they grotesquely overprice them (€7 for a kg, seriously?!). But even half the price would be expensive, considering they can be found in many a forest, on the side of some roads, etc. free for grabs.

We go each year, occasionally multiple times in the same year, and we come back with several kg. Two days ago we got a little over 3kg in an hour and a half, including the walk there and back (10-15 min in each direction).

If you want to enjoy nature and get a snack out of it, go out and find yourself some chestnut trees.

Now unfortunately I must ruin this lovely blog ending with some necessary practical information.

It is impossible for me to produce useful content related to writing every week, and I really don’t want to have long gasp within posts, so I have decided to post every Sunday (unless I suffer a migraine, like last night, or am otherwise occupied), switching between writing-related content (whether this be advice or a short piece I wrote) and food-related content.

Next week’s blog post will be about inspiration: how to find it, how to keep it, and why it’s more fun to write with inspiration than without. (And after that I have 8 more weeks of content planned and ready to be written.)

See you next week!

Welcome

This is the post excerpt.

Hi,

My name is Arthur Duchannes, and this is my first blog post ever (as you can probably tell). I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing yet, but I have recently discovered that agents and publicists alike prefer writers having blogs, to show they are willing to work hard, to already create a platform with an audience, and to make it easier for fans and interviewers alike to contact them. Now I am nowhere near the point of having fans, but I decided to start early.

My main passion is writing, so that will be the main focus of this blog. I recently finished writing, editing, and formatting my first ever novel. It is called ‘Til Death and centers around a young cop named Nasim Alfarsi, who struggles to gain his colleagues’ respect. You can expect blog posts about this book, but also about everything else I’m working on and writing in general. I’m still figuring out what people want to read about and what I am comfortable sharing, so bear with me.

However, I get excited about other things too. One topic I will likely be unable to refrain from posting about is food, and baked goods in particular. At this point it’s a hobby for me, but I love sharing recipes with others, so don’t be surprised if one pops up on occasion. Other than this, I don’t know yet. This is the beginning of an entirely new adventure for me, and I am excited to share it with whomever stumbles upon this blog.