Tag Archive | writing

How Netflix Ruined My Writing Routine

It took a long while before Netflix made an appearance at our house. Before then, I rarely watched TV. I’d have one or two favorites I tuned into once a week, but once Netflix arrived to our home about two years ago, I got hooked. At first I was able to stick to my writing routine, but the idea that limits could be enforced flew out the window the moment I discovered the first episode of the first season of an addictive show: Breaking Bad. How would the main character, Walter White, weasel his way out of all the trouble he got himself into on a daily basis? I waited for what I thought was his true character – an honest chemistry teacher – to shine through and conquer his evil, nasty drug maker and dealer side. I was surprised how fast I got hooked because this show wasn’t even remotely similar to other shows I watched. I mean, Walter White is so different from Laura Ingalls Wilder from Little House on the Prairie!

Once I made it through all the episodes of Breaking Bad, a friend recommended Mad Men. Donald Draper loomed large over the television screen almost nightly. Mr. Draper’s charismatic personality charmed both women and men with his advertising talents, among other things. 😉  During each episode, I waited for what I thought was his true character – a person wanting to show love and be loved – dwindle away. Would he ever find happiness and stop being such a womanizer? You’ll have to watch and see.

As I commiserated to a writer friend about how I was becoming addicted to Netflix, she advised that writers should watch shows to give us ideas to use in our own writing. So I happily continued on while pen and paper waited on the sidelines. Netflix was like a box of chocolates sitting on the kitchen counter. I just had to have one more.

Parenthood became one of my favorites. The drama in the characters’ lives kept me hooked like any soap opera would. Even though there was a lot of arguing between the grown brothers and sisters, their young children, and the grandparents, it helped them resolve or work through the many problems they had to deal with. The series taught me a bit about autism since one of the children and an adult struggled with the disorder.

Heartland, a Canadian drama TV series about a family living on a horse ranch, was recommended by another friend. Finally, back to my Little House on the Prairie roots in a modern sense, I enjoyed seeing the beautiful scenery of Alberta and watching how Amy helped the traumatized horses get back to their normal lives. With a more relaxed story line, I was able to nod off and figure out what happened without hitting the rewind button. (This show is still in progress.)

At first, Switched at Birth didn’t seem like it had a realistic plot because the teenage girls that were switched ended up living close together after one of the daughters figured out she wasn’t her parents’ biological child. However, I enjoyed how the show brought up everyday problems of teenagers and how their friends and family found solutions. The series also shows the problems deaf teenagers and their families deal with and viewers might even learn some sign language along the way. (This show didn’t have a true ending, and I am not sure more episodes are forthcoming.)

The Tutors, a show about King Henry VIII, is a historical drama. This one had me Googling events to see if what was happening was factual. I ended up learning a lot about history but had to cover my eyes during the gory torture scenes. I kept waiting for the king’s life to get better, but I knew not to expect a happy ending.

Reign, a show about Mary, Queen of Scots, also captivated my attention. Even though we might think the life of a queen would be luxurious, it doesn’t look like a job for the weak and timid. I’ve read this show is not true to actual events, but it does seem to follow some of the life events of this queen. If you listen closely, you will hear modern tunes played by the orchestra. (The next episode will soon air on regular TV on the CW network.)

Doc Martin, a show which takes place in a seaside village in England, ends up being the one that gave me the most laughs. The small town scene helps the viewer get acquainted with the quirky characters of the village. I wonder if the grumpy doctor will figure out how to have a more pleasant bedside manner and be able to keep his wife and son close to his side. (Doc Martin has six seasons on Netflix. The seventh season will hopefully arrive to Netflix soon, and the eighth season will be its last.)

Now, all I have to do before I get back to my writing routine, is to get through the first season of Stranger Things, a new Netflix original series. The children in this show are what keep me watching. Will they find their missing friend? What worlds will they have to explore to find him? Will they find out all the mysterious super powers of the girl, Eleven?

All this busyness of keeping up with what’s on Netflix could have possibly ended up with a writer creating about five books the size of War and Peace!  I’ll never be able to catch up to Netflix, but maybe I can catch up on my writing.

After nourishment, shelter and companionship,
stories are the thing we need most in the world. ~ Philip Pullman

Long Gaps in Between

Dear Blog,

Remember me?  I’m trying to get back into the habit of blogging.  As you can see, I posted three times recently.  So proud!

Taking a break wasn’t a good plan.  Writing about life and sharing what’s up with you was a good habit to develop.  Having a goal to write a blog post makes me more aware of little events that can turn into some sort of whimsy on my blog.  This break reminded me of my relationship with my childhood diary.  Except now my creations can be found in the tiny recesses of the Internet instead of being hidden under a mattress under lock and key!

Dear Diary

My “Dear Diary” used to get notes like this too.  “Dear Diary, Sorry I haven’t written to you for so long.  I’ve been so busy with such and such.”  Of course, Dear Diary never got angry about some of my long absences.  It was me who got upset when there were long gaps in between that missed some important parts of life.

My break with you started when I took a writing workshop in March.  The classes were on Saturday afternoons, and there were only a few of us who attended.  The teacher motivated us by helping us set goals.  She told us that a novel needs to have at least 60,000 words.  Who knew that a novel needs to have so many words?   So far, my manuscript has 90 pages, or 31,358 words.  The pages have been printed off, and I started editing them.  In the workshop we also learned that some writers write a book from start to finish, but other writers, like me, fill in places as they go along.

While filling in places on the manuscript, I discovered “Call the Midwife,” and I bought the DVDs.  After seeing the first episode of the TV series, I got sucked into watching all three seasons.  Times that were usually set aside for writing were spent watching TV.  The show is based on a memoir written by Jennifer Worth.  Ms. Worth was a midwife in the 1950s and worked in the very poor neighborhoods of east London.  My book is a memoir written from the point of view of my dog.  What makes a story real and enjoyable is when the reader falls “in love” with one or more of the characters.  If a connection isn’t made, the audience gets bored.  The characters in the show told the real life story of Jenny Lee during her work as a midwife.  Watching her and her comrades’ struggles and achievements kept the show interesting.  Making those sorts of connections in a book would be helpful, and a writer would benefit by learning how to do that.  Unfortunately, after finishing the series, I fell into the habit of watching not-so-educational TV shows when I should have been writing.

Spring came and melted away soggy and mushy winter days that we used to share blogging together.  Sunday afternoons got busy spending time having coffee and chatting away the day with my daughters.  Before we know it, one will be back at college and the other one will be married.  It’s nice to spend time with the ones we love when they are nearby.

Then Minnesota was blessed with beautiful summer weather that has to be enjoyed while it lasts.  Time was spent walking Lila the Dog around our woodsy park.  Three mile walks ended up taking up more time, and even the book got pushed to the back shelf.

Putting blogging aside prevented me from visiting posts from the other bloggers I follow.  Most of them are still writing away and sharing life.  Everyone’s life keeps chugging along whether it’s written about or not.  My hope is to keep blogging, even if it is about a “bug on a rug” or a “goat on a boat” because it’s fun to make up stuff too!  Between you and me, I hope there will not be any more long gaps in between.

Sincerely,
Mary Ann

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean.
But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.  –Mother Teresa