Observations, writing

Triple I of writers: Inspiration, Ideas, Imagination

 “Inspiration, Ideas, Imagination”  are only a part of the writing process but they are a MAJOR one.

Stephen King mentioned in his book On Writing (which I still have not read – I need to get on this) that he gets his ideas from a “small, bloodthirsty elf who lives in a hole under my desk”.  Hmm any of you have one of those little elves (they do sound scary though). While this elf is less scary, I also don’t think Mister King has Will Ferrell under his desk.

Ok Mister King also said that: “I get my ideas from everywhere. But what all of my ideas boil down to is seeing maybe one thing, but in a lot of cases it’s seeing two things and having them come together in some new and interesting way, and then adding the question ‘What if?’ ‘What if’ is always the key question.”  So it appears that M. King is both active and passive in his ways of getting the Triple I.

Where do writers get them?” vs. “Where do they hit writers?”

 The construction of those two sentences says it all. In one case, we’re the subject and in the other we become the direct object.

Are we passive or active in our quest for the shiny twist or the unforgettable character?

I started pondering about this because of the flash fiction I posted on my blog on Monday and which you can read here. This little piece which started with a given sentence has since then tickled my fancy.  I enjoyed the voice, it felt easy and right but the characters would like me to tell their story. I have to shush them right now because I’m revising and I already started another draft of another story. But I digress.

I never stopped to think about my ideas. I have them. Or not. Depending on the days but I do rely on them to keep me going. Sometimes, they flow through my fingertips. Sometimes, I go through the creative process, where I try to find new ideas, new twists and whenI stop to ask the “What if?” question. I can ask this question in very random places or just by watching people go about their business. I am very good at the “What if?” I can get a bit on the anxious side  using this way of thinking in my daily tasks.

My husband who reads this is probably rolling his eyes at the words  “a bit”…

While I need to lower my “What if” scenarios when it comes to my non-writing endeavours, I think it does help me a lot, even subconsciously, with my creative process.

I strongly believe that writers are both active and passive in their quest. We have integrated certain processes and our imagination runs wild at unexpected places. However, we also work towards our “Triple I”. How? We read a lot, we scrap entire passages in our writing process because we know it does not work and we buckle up for the tough ride which is writing. We trigger our “Triple I” buttons by consciously taking part in prompts, in discussions…We type, even if it is only a few words, even if those words hurt because we know that, for the most part, the triple I is around there with us. It helps us to almost forget about those difficult moments when the writing gets going and when we fall in our happy, fulfilling, exciting writing place.

What do YOU think? Are we passive or active with our Triple I?

Observations, reading

Online, in the store, by the river bank: books everywhere!

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered.

This Week’s Topic: Where do you buy most of your books? No one is judging!
Hmmm…I buy books everywhere, really, wherever my feet or my fingers take me.I´m sure you heard of an online store called Amazon…Well this is where I get most of my books these days. To be more precise: on Amazon.de (and then I go to the English or French sections). Sometimes, also on ebay if the book I really is out of print (e.g. you know when you discover an author and you want to read aaaaaaaaalllll of their books but they´re just not available)

The train station: if I´m there very early and it´s already late in the evening and I´m tired…I will go in the bookstore of the train station and treat myself to a book. That´s my type of retail therapy (ok I have other ones as well like clothes and trying on shoes…trying on because it´s tough to find ones which just fit…anyways :-))

The city: In the German Barnes and Nobles (i.e. Hugendubel) or in the little independent bookstore which has a lot of books in French and English.

And…when I´m in Paris, I love to roam through the old little bookstores (imagine the kind of story the book in your hand may have already gone through!) and the “bouquinistes” on the river bank.  I simply love getting lost on the other side of Notre-Dame browsing what they have to offer.

Where do you get your books? 


A little bit of this…and a lot of Twitter

The week-end was very relaxing, we did not do much, enjoyed some good movies, good food and good wine. I started reading and finished The DUFF (hard to put down), took care of some Christmas gifts, joined YAlitchat, I worked on my novel a bit and I…signed up for a Twitter account.
Follow commutinggirl on Twitter

It is a scary but exhilarating dive. I did not realize how much there was going on this little bird, how many aspiring and established writers, avid readers hang out in this alternate universe. There is a lot of interaction (much more than what I thought), interesting, thought-provoking tweets…

It´s an entire new way of communicating which I need to become more familiar with and I am still learning how to actually use it. I feel like a baby elephant in a porcelain shop and I have to ensure I do not spend too much time on it (especially arguing to myself “this is related to my writing so it counts as writing time” :-)). But so far: I´m loving it…

Do you use Twitter? Any tips for a beginner? What is your experience with it?

Follow commutinggirl on Twitter


Christa Wolf – another great writer passes away…

My husband just broke the news to me over the phone: “Did you hear that Christa Wolf passed away?” He knew it would move me…I wrote my Master´s thesis on one of her books: Medea, using theories of new historicism and feminism to look at the de-mythology of the woman and the new perspective on the GDR.

Just some of my books on Christa Wolf

It´s strange how we become attached to writers we never met, never interacted with. Christa Wolf had an adventurous and controversial life. Her books have been part of me during my Graduate Studies.  Medea retells the myth from a different perspective, with the woman in the middle point becoming a tragic heroine instead of a murderer, adding dimensions of power and politics, love and passion…The characters, the story are multi-dimensional and their own voices tell us how it has happened. Some critics have seen this book as a way for Christa Wolf to defend herself against what has been said about her past…It is more than this. It is a beautiful and dramatic re-telling of the past to teach us about the present.

Thank you Christa Wolf for having made me thought for hours, for having been a topic of conversation during and after classes, for having tickled my critical mind and for having transported me into a world of words I did not know existed.


Holiday season in the country of Goethe

I just enjoyed a wonderful week-end with my parents and my husband´s family who came to visit us, the weather has gotten a bit colder and the holiday season has officially started…

The Christmas Markets in Germany opened last week which means strolling through little wooden houses, beautiful lights, more yummy food to sample, waffles, crêpes and Gluehwein (hot spiced wine)…

Yes I agree, the holiday should not be the only moment we are all nice to one another but it is still one of my favorite times. Memories from my childhood come back:  making cookies with my sisters or my parents, the entire gang at the table on the 24th with my cousins, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles…the laughs, the stories…Now that I am a *tad* older, I love to reminisce about my happy childhood while I enjoy creating new memories, spending time together, the smiles, the little thoughtful gifts (the ones you spend awhile thinking about, they don´t have to be big but you know the other person will have a little twinkle in their eyes as they unwrap the paper).

Today, my husband and I just started a new tradition. Since we spend the holidays in my family in France, we do not have a tree (I can fight and whine about it but I know deep down he is right), we do have advent candles…

How do YOU feel about the holiday season?

Observations, writing

Week 43: Reading, reading, reading…

“The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of the past centuries.”


Commuting means that I have time to read; even if I am standing up I usually have a book in my hand… I have an eclectic taste: I read thrillers, historical novels or biographies (currently devouring everything related to 16th and 17th century France), classics, romantic novels, war novels, YA…I am thinking of writing reviews once a month on this blog on top of my regular posts.

My husband is getting desperate (is there a show called Desperate Husbands? Could be a nice spin-off…note to self: need to stop my mind from wandering while I type)

I usually go through at least 3 books a week. My sister did let him know that I always loved reading. I did immerse myself in Victor Hugo when I was about 7 or 8. As a teenager, I could happily just lay in bed on a rainy afternoon with a novel in front of me (ok sometimes even when it was not raining…I am such a dork)…My husband, on the other hand, mainly reads technical books or biographies and he does not have much time to turn the pages so he does not understand why I buy myself so many books. I am starting to hear regularly “Where are you going to put them?” “Do not dare moving my helicopter!” and does use threats such as “if you don’t (insert verb), I will throw all your books away…”

I thought about buying a kindle but am not ready to give up the feeling of pages turning via my fingers, the weight of the book next to me when I fall asleep dreaming about what I have just read.

I love when I cannot put a book down because I just want to know what happens. As an aspiring writer, this is what I would like for my readership, to be able to take them away for a few hours to a different place, a different time…I even get that funny feeling when I fall in love with a book, one that I know I will re-read in the future because the words have touched me in more ways than one.

Some day, one day…maybe somebody will ponder about my stories…

Happy reading to all!

Observations, Train

Week 42 – Ranting about coughing…

No I am not coughing as I am typing this. This post will not be about my writing even though I am very pleased to announce that I almost reached my goal of 300 words per day this week.

However as a commuter I urge my co-commuters to realize some basic facts: we’re in a small place together, we might be pushed against one another, creating more intimacy than what we ever intended, sitting or standing…so if you do cough or sneeze please make sure that it does not reach the other person.

I assure you there are ways to avoid these little accidents…

This was just a little rant as for the past two days I thought about opening an umbrella, carrying a mask or just anything to avoid the little drops coming out of other passengers.

I understand one has to go to work but please, not putting something, anything in front of your mouth when you are coughing/sneezing is just plain wrong.

Observations, Train

Week 39 – Delays, another perk of commuting?

Delays are annoying, sure…but let’s try to see the positive side of them.

It is quite an exercise as I get very annoyed when I leave work somewhat on time but my plans on coming back somewhat early compared to usual is flawed by things out of my power.

so maybe it is a control thing:
of course coming late to work is not a pleasant feeling especially when one gets up extra early to make sure they do make it to that particular timing but what can one do about it? Leaving earlier does not necessarily mean you will make it earlier, checking the trains’ status does help but only when the statuses are actually updated…

I simply wish I had more control over this type of situation which brings me back to the beginning of my post.

Delays are annoying, sure…but let’s try to see the positive side of them.

* If you commute with somebody you know, you can chit chat a tad longer
* You can get coffee-to-go
* You can listen to your ipod
* You can use the time to check your emails…
* You can observe people and see how they get annoyed
* You can day dream

Plus let’s face it: being stuck in traffic jam can be more stressful, yes you are in control but control does not mean it’s solving the issue…

Does it mean that I will be less annoyed next time there is delay?

Probably not but when I see the sign “Delay” (here note the emphasis on Delay…not cancellation, it may make me smile…)

Observations, Uncategorized

Starting point: The one who likes to sit down but does not want anybody sitting next to her…

A writer/commuter: a rare breed…

Commuting to work everyday allows me to observe people, to reflect on some ideas, to practice my writing and to think about the big story I am working on at the moment…

This blog is to share those observations and thoughts, the randomness which comes with commuting, the beauty of simple gestures and my road to becoming a writer and a better photographer…

And here we go!

The one who likes to sit down but does not want anybody sitting next to her…:

this one lady used to always sit down wherever there was an available place. Seems normal, I actually do the same.
However, whenever she could, she would not follow the very well-known and worldwide accepted commuting well-behaving rules:

(1) do not sit on the aisle seat when both aisle and window seats are availables

(2) do not use your bag/backpack/newspapers as a friend/shield when the train/bus/metro is full…

The first rule is simple, it is quite annoying to pass over somebody while technically that person could have simply moved over, thus making it easier and less risky for him/her. Why do I say risky? If you have not lived through that situation, let me explain. One usually has to juggle (as a woman at least) with one handbag, a possible sweater, another bag (if the purse is too small to contain a book, a fruit, a bottle of water, some cookies).  Trying to get to that window seat with all these necessary ustensils without touching/hurting the one passenger sitting comfortably on the aisle seat is more difficult that it may seem at first.

The bag rule (and here it´s not only women (men also use backpacks and both sex do have laptop bags) is also quite simple: if you see that the bus, train, metro is full, then please put your bag on your laps. Some people see the bag as an obstacle and are too shy to ask…or believe maybe the seat is taken…or simply take it as it is: That person does not want to be disturbed…Maybe but again that early in the morning, people will not try to start a conversation (most of the times)

So please, when you are on your next commute or if you are new to the system, remember the rules, they are simple but make it so easy for everybody…