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Tuesday, 26 September 2017

IT

We went to see IT on Friday.
I should start by telling you that I’m allergic to Stephen King films. I’ve seen most of them, and only one hasn’t made me do like Captain Picard.



The one film was 1408, and that was mainly because I haven’t read the short story it’s based on. 1408 smelled and tasted like King’s novels, and that was the thing that made me like it so. It felt like it hadn’t been amputated on several places in order to be squeezed onto the silver-screen. That’s very rare with King filmings. They’re bent and distorted, like the essence had been drained from them.

I was hoping the new IT to be an exception to the rule. Sadly, it wasn’t.

Turning a monster of a book into a two-part film is a huge task. The book needs to be edited down, scenes need to be shortened, and some parts need to be cut out entirely. Sometimes the surgery is a success. With IT, it wasn’t.

IT started out in a very promising way. The cast, especially the kid from Stranger Things, seemed likeable and un-annoying, and the town of Derry looked pretty much like I'd imagined it. The pressing sense of child’s fear was there when Georgie went to the cellar to get Gulf wax, the elated child’s joy was there when he ran along the rain-filled gutter with his boat. And then something happened. It wasn’t the fact that to me Tim Curry’s IT is the one and only IT, but something else. I could have lived with the new Pennywise, Bill SkarsgĂ„rd did a bang-up job despite his young age, it was something I can’t put my finger, a combination of little things that ruined this version of IT for me.

As a book, IT was amazing. I loved every word, even when Stephen King had an obvious rambling fit. As a film, it failed on so many levels I actually sighed in the middle of it, shifted uncomfortably, and wondered whether it would be highly impolite to get up and go see what material the curtains around the screen were made of. The cast was good, the scenery was lovely, cgi was pretty decent, but plot, dialogue, and the general feel of the film managed to make me want to scream in frustration.

At one point, I wanted to cry out “Donkey!” and that says a lot about the depth of words exchanged.

I’ve never been that into horror films. I like psychological drama with supernatural elements, I enjoy a good splatter every once and again, but the kind of horror that resorts to just trying to scare the audience isn’t my goblet of red. It somehow seems so cheap to have a monster pop out from the shadows with a loud noise. You jump, you scream, you laugh at yourself, and after you’ve seen it five times, it gets old. Sadly, IT stooped to this. IT went BOO, the audience screamed and giggled, and this went on for over two hours.

I’m disappointed, really. I expected to feel real terror like I did when I was reading the book and then decided it was time to sleep and the flat was dark and I was alone and suddenly I didn’t just think but KNEW that someone was behind me and I’d race to bed and hide under the covers and KNOW that IT was there, waiting for me to come out so IT could feast on my fear.

I still feel that fear sometimes, but this film did nothing to rouse it.


Heather Wielding

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Skyrim

Oblivion is my all-time favorite game. I love every little detail about it, even the monsters who level up with you. When Skyrim was launched back in 2011, I was thrilled. Due to technical difficulties, it took me a few years to get my hands on a copy, and I just recently played it through. I would very much like to say I love it as much as Oblivion, but our relationship has been rocky at best.

The first thing that drew my attention in Skyrim wasn’t its beauty (which on occasion does exist, Bethesda really knows how to make skies pretty) or its technical superiority (which is the ultimate joke, one would think at least something was learned from Oblivions various bugs), but the fact that it seems to have been made for XboX. Skyrim completely abandoned the elaborate quest-lines that mark The Elder Scrolls, and reverted to being just another hack&slash wind tunnel. The enchanting world that made Morrowind and Oblivion so remarkable and the grasping story lines that made you forget about the real world are absent in Skyrim.

Skyrim seems to have been made for a next generation of gamers. It’s simple, it’s straight-forward, and the only part that requires concentration are the never-ending puzzles Bethesda has seen fit to place at every second entrance. Sure, it was exiting to place a dragon claw into a door and figure out a combo of images to open the door with, but when you’re required to do it for the twentieth time, the player asks a question.
Was it so difficult to come up with, like, another kind of puzzle? Maybe make us look for a key? Bring an herb? Dance naked with Sheogorath? Anything but this?”

The earlier parts forced us to think, to figure out how to catch an NPC at an opportune time, how to make them like us enough to share relevant information, how to put together a sequence of spells to open a stubborn door. Skyrim makes us turn pillars and stone rings around. And slay dragons.

In lore, any lore, every lore, dragons are rare. They’re elusive, magical beasts, friends to wizards and warlocks, rarely seen in the sky.
Except in Skyrim. The realm is littered with them! Every time I fast travel, I’m greeted by a dragon. Every time I’m I a hurry, I get stopped by a dragon in need of killing. Every time I hunch down to wait for someone to enter a secluded place fit for a quiet kill, a dragon starts spewing fire at me. Once, a dead one haunted me. It fell from the skies on me five times until I marked it for delete. A friend of mine crystallized this thought beautifully. "Skyrim", he said, "making killing dragons a nuisance since 2011". 

Upon completion of the main quest, dragons are supposed to be the Dragonborn’s best friends. Still, they need to be killed. Over and over again. Apart from turning pillars and shooting dragons, there’s not much to do. Skyrim, compared to Morrowind and Oblivion is as interesting as a grey brick wall. I felt it a duty to play through the main quest, Dark Brotherhood, Mages Guild, and several side quest (which were all nearly surprising in length, or lack of) and know that I have gained the right to say that Skyrim was a complete and utter disappointment in both plot and appearance.


If I ever see a dragon again, it will be too soon. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Once Upon a Time

The greatest stories begin the same way.
Once upon a time.
In a place far from here.

Once upon a time.

Once upon a time someone started a broadcasting company.
It was called QBC.

Once upon a time, a little later, QBC stumbled upon an idea that would make them a shitload of money.
Naturally, they’d first have to spend a shitload of money.

Once upon a time, a lot earlier, the person who founded QBC had made a shitload of money, so that posed no problem.
The financial state of QBC was well in order to make this crazy idea both come true and work.

So once upon a time, QBC decided it would be a really, really good idea to push out a brand new kind of game show for national television. The concept was was called “when Saw meets BigBrother”, and it gained the interest of investors all around the US.

But once upon a time, around the same time the idea was first tossed into the air, QBC realized a need for a host.
A perfect game show host.
He shouldn’t be too young or too old.
He shouldn’t be too perfect.
And most important of all, he should not be fashionable.

Once upon a time, QBC created Jeremy. He would not be the last Jeremy, but he was the first.
This Jeremy, as all those who would come after him, was tall and middle-aged, white of hair and of perfect smile, and he donned a red sequent jacket that was tailored to conceal the extra bit of weight he carried around his midsection but which he always wore open so not to appear too perfect.
This Jeremy had a sparkle in his eyes that matched the sparkle of his coat, and a smile that put them both to shame.

Once upon a time, QBC put Jeremy, the very first Jeremy, in charge of running a game show they named The Mousetrap.

And oh boy, did it turn out messy.

If you’d like to know just how messy it got, once upon a time I wrote a book about it.


Heather Wielding

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Books of all Kinds

Books are my favourite things in life. They open portals to different realm, they open your eyes to see what you never imagined to exist. They broaden your mind, offer you an escape from reality.
I admit, I don’t read as much as I should nowadays, but for a long time, books were the only friends I had. I’d carry one around wherever I went. I’d spend most of my time in books, and a part of me wishes I still could.
Real life is nice, of course, but kingdoms made of dream dust are both more interesting and safer. You can’t full well battle a dragon and come out unscathed in this world, right?
When I was a kid, books were made of paper, and had hard covers. They were heavy and expensive, and one was forbidden from taking them outside. Naturally I broke that rule many, many times, and no-one really cared. Or maybe they just didn’t notice.
As I grew a bit, books started to come in smaller sizes and with soft covers. They didn’t cost as much, and they started appearing on my desk on Birthdays and namedays, and sometimes for no reason at all. I’d read them through over and over again, learning, growing, slowly figuring out books aren’t just my friends, they’re a part of me. A part so large I never can go without them, a part large enough to hide entire realms I need to paint out in words.
I started writing when I was relatively young. No-one had even imagined ebooks back then, let alone a small device that could fit an entire library in it. The though of carrying around an object that withheld every book ever written was absurd.
And only a few short years later, the first Kindle was introduced to us, and sold out of stock in a matter of minutes.
Ebooks are now more popular than paperbacks. Electronic reading devices are affordable, convenient, and available almost anywhere. You can take them along on trains and planes. They’re light, they make reading in the dark possible, and you’re never stuck with just one option like with the good old paperback.
Reading a book on Kindle can be easy and practical, but I prefer a real book. The sound of pages being turned and leafed through pleases me, the touch of covers bent with years of love is like seeing an old friend after too much time. There’s something romantic behind the notion of picking out a book from a crowded self, taking it to your favourite spot on the sofa, curling up with a cup of coffee only to wake up after spending hours lost in a realm made of dream dust to realize the lights gone out and your coffee’s grown cold.

With Kindle, you’ll wake up to notice your battery’s gone. There’s no romance in that.

Heather Wielding 

Friday, 7 July 2017

Quirks, pt. 4

1. I don’t like biting into things. I’d much rather tear food into mouth-sized pieces.
which I actually do.
I think Mom didn’t let me play with my food enough when I was a kid, and now as a grown-up, I’m trying to compensate.

2. I play rather than watch TV. I want to be in charge of what happens in entertainment, and when gaming, I can.

3. I don’t like wind. It tears at my clothes and pushes hair into my eyes and mouth. It’s like a person touching me in an unwanted way. Also, I’m not very heavy, and when the wind is particularly strong, it’s difficult to stay on the ground.

4. I have never in my life experienced baby fever. I don’t like children, and babies make me want to run away screaming. I went to the shops yesterday, and actually hissed as a reflex when a baby made eye contact with me. Its owners didn’t seem too happy about that.

5. I’m a sucker for kittens, though. I’m allergic, so I can’t have one (nor would the spouse allow me to adopt, like, three kittens) but I follow Kitten Academy’s live stream almost religiously. I know the kittens by name, and worry over them when they come down with a flu or can’t find a furever home.

6. I miss my mouse more than my ex-husband.

7. I break if I take a nap. I’ve been tricked into falling asleep in the middle of the day a few times now. After, I wander around half-asleep without being able to fully function as a human being. The spouse refers to this phenomenon as “The Nap Zombie”, and laughs shamelessly.

8. I don’t like candy. I eat chocolate, yes, but those colorful little things made with gelatine and artificial flavor are disgusting. Where others eat candy, I eat cherry tomatoes.
actually I eat a hell of a lot of them.

9. I don’t like fish. Unless it’s raw. If I had my way, I’d eat sushi every day. When cooked, fish develops a fishy taste I really don’t care for. That taste is absent in raw fish.

10. I love fantasy RPGs. Except Skyrim. I’ve finally played through it, and it ticked me off so well I wrote a huge rant about it. I promise to publish it at some point.
Ugh, even thinking about all the ways Bethesda ruined Skyrim makes me all upset.

So there. Ten more things you now know about me. How do you like that?


Heather Wielding

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Dream Dust

Writing isn’t a choice. It’s a need, an urge much similar to the need to breathe. Denied air to breathe, you suffocate. Denied means to write, an author wilts like a plant in need of water.

Many writers require certain things to be able to write.
Some write anywhere.

A story can be powerful enough to demand attention regardless of time and place. Mine are rarely like that, but it’s easy for me to imagine an author holding his wife’s hand while she’s in labor, making a funny face like he’s eaten something he desperately needs to pass, shifting restlessly from one foot to the other, glancing around the room looking for an excuse and then carefully freeing himself from the wife’s death grip saying “I’m sorry honey, but I really need to get a couple of pages done.”

The urge to write is always there, but most often our muses demand to be appeased under specific circumstances which vary from author to author. Mine isn’t a particularly easy one.
I usually write in the morning or late at night. Stories are like waking dreams, and they come more easily when I’m close to sleep. I write on a laptop, rarely seeing the actual words. When a story takes hold, this world melts away, becomes meaningless. All that exists are the people in my head, characters made up of dream dust and disturbed memories.

Writing is a solitary sport and demands no spectators. I want peace and quiet when I’m writing. Unless -
Unless I’m travelling.

Moving to an unknown destination at violent speeds lulls me to a dreamlike state. In that state it’s easy to write even with other people and noise around. When travelling, I scribble my muse’s will into a notebook, blind to everything but the imaginary realm around me.

Alcohol works the same way. It takes off the inhibitor being a part of the waking world sets in between me and my muse, and allows me to hear her will as clearly as I was still dreaming. I have a little ritual connected with this particular feature, actually.

Whenever a new story wants to start unraveling, I take a fresh notebook, go to the nearest pub in the early evening, order a pint, open my notebook, and write the first two or three scenes.

It’s been like that with every book I’ve written, and I suppose it will always be so. For some unknown reason, my muse is happiest when I take her out of the house. During those moments, it’s not peace and quiet she craves, but the life’s of the people around us.

I work from home, and rarely see people outside my small circle. When venturing outside with a fresh notebook and a story leaking out of my fingertips, I need to see people I don’t know, people whose faces might be perfect for the story, people who have secrets hidden behind their eyes.
People with bits and pieces I can, if not steal, at least borrow from. It might be the way they smile that I need to take, the way they cock their head when laughing, the way they give me the evil eye.

Little things we usually ignore.
Little things are the things that seem meaningless to the story and often go unnoticed unless I go out and immerse in them. Little things to make the story and its characters live, breathe like they were more than dream dust.

Muses are funny that way. They need and need and need, but at the end of the day, the things they need aren’t that big.
A bit of peace and quiet, surroundings changing, a few souls to suck in.

Silly little things.


Heather Wielding

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Goals and Dreams as an Author

When I was sixteen, I dreamt of being a bestselling author. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote to achieve my dream, only I made the mistake of writing fantasy in Finnish.

In Finland, fantasy as a genre is regarded fit for children under 12. I’ve spewn 16+ fantasy all my life, so my dreams were quickly decapitated. As I found the realm of self-publishing indie authors, I dared to dream again.

I started writing in English, and published my books via Smashwords. I hit the first wave of self-publishing, got lucky, and made a few sales. As numbers started going down, so did my self-esteem. My ex liked to put me down every chance he got, so I was pretty used to thinking that failure had to do with nothing but me not being good enough.

I should have seen that my biggest failure has always been me sucking at marketing. As the number of books published grew daily, mine went unnoticed because I didn’t have the courage to push them out. I thought the hard work that everyone was fussing about meant writing, writing until your fingers bled. And I did.

And all the while they were talking about marketing.

I still dream of being a bestselling author. It would be wonderful to have a proper book launching party, and to go on a book tour and meet loyal readers. It would be wonderful to just write and write and not have to do anything else. Just write, and live on it.

To achieve dreams, one needs goals. I hesitate setting goals for myself, because I lack the courage to follow through with them. I make plans, and I think “yes, this’ll work, it’s a really good plan, and it doesn’t even require that much of me!” and I follow along for three days and just quit, not because it’s hard or not rewarding, but because it might lead to something.

I’m consumed by lingering self-doubt. “What if they don’t like my books?” “What if they hate my patterns?” “What if they hate ME?”

I’m turning 40 in a few days. It may be time to face the fact that someone will hate me no matter what I do. And there’s nothing I can do but to accept it, and move on.

I can’t please everyone, no-one can. All I can do is to please me, and those around me when I can.

So my goal is to blog, if not regularly on set days, at least weekly. My goal is to write more, and to publish a book by the end of the year. My goal is to find out ways to market the upcoming book, and those that already exist.

Becoming a bestselling author isn’t easy, and maybe it will remain only a dream, but at least I can write, and meet the goals I set for myself.

Life is about over-coming obstacles, after all, even if they are the ones we set for ourselves.

Until next time.
Heather

Monday, 12 June 2017

Two Years - Recap

I’ve been absent from the blogging world for a long time, and I would like to apologize for it. The past two years have been stranger than usual. Sudden and unexpected changes in my life made me want to hide, and it had a great impact on my will to write. Now, as I feel I might be strong enough to return to blogging along with being an author, I’d like to begin by offering an explanation as to what happened.

On On March 23rd 2015, my husband told me he wanted to end our relationship. I was given an ultimatum to move out.

I never saw this coming. In my opinion, we were fine. A bit distant, yes, but that’s cool for two introverts.

As it turned out, said husband had rediscovered an old friend more than six months earlier, fallen in love, and entered a relationship with her. For some reason, this little fact was never introduced to me during the process of getting divorced.

At first, I planned to remain in the little city near where we lived. All of my friends were there, and it seemed like a safe choice. Luckily, my uncle, in his soft and steady voice, told me a story of a couple who got divorced late in life, moved to whole new cities, and made new lives for themselves, finding true happiness in the process. That got me thinking, and I made a very hasty decision to move to Tampere.

It took me 35 minutes to make the decision, two weeks to find a flat, and another two weeks to make my way there. The process involved me packing up my entire life (I ended up throwing out most of my stuff simply because I didn’t have room for it), dragging most of my belongings to my sister’s house quite far north simply because my deadline to get going was soon approaching and I didn’t realize finding a place to live would happen so fast, and then dragging said belongings all the way to my new place two weeks later.

Starting a new life wasn’t as easy as I imagined. I’m not used to fending for myself all alone. I knew people in the big city, of course, but I didn’t have any close friends until I got closer to a girl I knew from an online community. We quickly became BFFs, as hey-we’re-sixteen as it may sound. And thanks to her, I’m now feeling strong enough to write again.

She happened to introduce me to someone. For me, making new friends takes forever. I’m quiet and reserved, especially around people I think I might actually like. This one proved no exception to that rule, only he seemed to understand it. He allowed me time to come out of my shell, decided he liked me, and, after a while, rescued me from the tower I lived in.

I’ve named him Charming due to that fact, and we’ve lived together almost eight months now.

I’ve spent most of that time writing about dresses, playing video games, and healing. I know one should try to mend oneself before getting into a new relationship, but… well, it isn’t always that easy.

I haven’t taken the time to heal a broken heart. My ex didn’t manage to break it because love died long before we parted. I’ve needed time to acquaint myself to normal life again, to being happy.

I lived in a really bad relationship for more than eight years. For the best part of it, I was trapped in the countryside alone. I don’t know if you realize what that’s like, but for me it felt like a nightmare.

I started to wake from it as I moved out, but it’s taken a long time to become fully aware. Sometimes, it’s still difficult to remember that the grocery store is just around the corner, there are no monsters hanging in the corners, and I don’t need to spend my days in fear.

Fear is a powerful, crippling thing. If you let it, it will consume everything in your world. I’m only just now realizing I have nothing to be afraid of now.

I know I’ve been away for a long time, and I know I’ve let my readers and followers down. It may not be possible to return to being an author, but I will try. After all, stories are made to be told, and readers will always be there.

Until next time. I promise it won’t be, like, two years.

Heather