About this blog

Hi there! My name is Viktoria, and I'm a native Russian speaker, dividing her time between Saint-Petersburg, Omsk and Moscow. I love many things, and writing is amongst them. Not only I love writing in Russian, I want to learn how to write fiction literature in English. Also I plan to move to New Zealand on August 15 (2013) so English will soon become my main language of interaction. Therefore, this blog.

I'll try to write daily a little something about moving to New Zealand, and also about writing. Feel free to tell me when I make mistakes. I mean it! :-)

Thursday, 5 December 2013

I'm so blewing this thing off :-D

And how well did it start, a post a day! All the new words! Well, nothing lasts long in my case.
Same with Tumblr - haven't been there for months.
I don't even read twitter last couple of months.
Am I becoming anti-social? Nooooo!

Anyways, jokes aside, all is well in good old Shire. Summer kinda sorta came, so we had a sunny week, and then OF COURSE the next week was unstoppable rain, and the next week promises to be even worse. I'm thinking about investing in a raincoat. Not umbrella though. Because umbrellas are evil in a bad way, unless you are Mary Poppins, and I'm no Mary.

I can't understand if my English is getting any better. I'm more or less comfortable with starting to speak now, but when people don't understand what I'm trying to say, it's still pretty discouraging. Huh. Nothing that bad if I think rationally, but when I'm in the moment, I don't really think rationally, I just feel, and I feel pretty stupid and frustrated. Like these words. That come out of my mouth. Sound like a complete jibberish.

On the other hand, I've been writing a lot for the past month. Found a new bro and *sappy mode initiated*the best boyfriend of all times.*sappy mode canceled* And we write a lot. Which is awesome, because I'm all about writing, and never before could anyone keep on par with me, except my best bro E-san. And Laers was close, but never this good. So I guess I've been practicing the language even though I didn't write a single sentense for my book. Now that I think of it, it is possible that I was discouraged to go there after certain events. When something good ends badly, I tend to close the door leaving everything good behind it just so I could move on. I moved on now, so I hope I'll get back to my story at some point. I did promise myself not to give up, after all.

There are so many things I'm looking forward to... they don't fit into my head - that's how many! It is terrifying as much as it is exciting. Excited to have the hope, terrified to lose it.

As for now, I don't do much. Even stopped making mumma Umbridge proud. =_= Buuuut, Christmas is coming! Found few awesome gifts that cost me some, but oh well it's so amazing to just have the opportunity to get to this stuff and give it to friends! Won't spoil the details in case some of them are secretly reading this. :-)
I wonder what my Christmas will be like this year...

Saturday, 31 August 2013

I'm in Auckland!!!

Well. Actually I've been here for two weeks already. Kinda sorta didn't have time to write here? Okay, I've had enough time, just wasn't in a mood for it. ANYWAY! I'm here. :-) Found an apartment, found a job (technically I'm still waiting for official documents to come through since I haven't yet signed anything, but there's certainly a job). Most likely I'm starting the job on 9th September, So I've got a free week until then. The last week was free too, but I didn't do much, mostly just sat home and watched Torchwood (it's awesome!) and didn't write a single word for my book.

Well, as I say every month or so, it stops now! :-D No, really! No way I'm gonna sit around and watch life passing by without my active participation. I decided to make a list of all the things I wanted to do in New Zealand. Just make a list for now, to inspire myself and to remember of where I came from and why.

  • Get a pilot's license.
  • Visit all sights of "Lord of the rings" and "Hobbit" movies.
  • Walk streets barefoot.
  • Try out all exotic food there is.
  • Learn to drive.
  • Get fit in this healthy environment that inspires you to be healthy.
  • Relearn riding a bicycle.
  • Watch "Wicked" and any performance of Michael Hurst.
  • Go to movies and watch them in English!
  • Learn Japanese (there should be some cources here, right?).
And there are also things that don't necessarily have to be in New Zealand, but things that I want to do.
  • Cook more now that I have a nice kitchen and a wide variety of products.
  • Go to comedy club and watch standups!
  • Start few good habits since this is a new life.
  • Write few more articles about testing to some journals.
  • Write that book of mine!
  • Learn performance testing.
  • Learn more, and more, and more! Different sciences!
  • Be a classy and an utterly happy citizen with some money on my bank account, so that I can support my parents, or buy a house, or help my girl move here if she ever decides she wants to.
For now, until it gets warm and I fully adjust, I postpone most of these. Which leaves me with small things I'm gonna contiunue trying again and again. I'm gonna continue that "30 minutes of writing" thing (but I guess it has to be done in bed because it's fracking freezing here out of it! I can't type like this! I can't think like this! All I'm thinking about is how cold it is!). I also need to use my next week to prepare for job: learn basics about performance testing, start getting up early.

I also declare September a month free of take outs. Just for the sake of calculating how much money I spend on food when I cook. And it will be a nice way to save money for that second ticket to "Wicked" I couldn't resist buying. =)

I'm also doing my pushups and situps challenges. And maybe some coursera courses? IDK, I'll see how it goes this time.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Nailed the interview!

Interview for that test consultancy went really well. If I liked the company before, now I am pretty much in love with it. They know exploratory testing and they are spreading the word! And recruiter was extra nice to talk to. You have to love the company that has a recruiter this good.

Any way, we agreed on the second interview (peer interview with my potential team) after I arrive to Auckland. Of course there are no obligations from any side at the moment, but I think I might have the job and I might love it too.

Also, I've been told my English is pretty well and I should have no problems neither in communication nor in finding a decent job. Seems like my move to Auckland would be easier than my move to Saint Petersburg was. :-)

Monday, 5 August 2013

Chapter 7 almost finished

There was a plot development too. Plot is a rare guest in my writing, so that's an achievement. :-D
The draft is now over eleven thousand words, coming close to the biggest chunk of literature text I ever wrote. But of course the story is still in the very beginning. I wonder how far I will be able to go before I give up or before the story is finished...

Also, I just read my previous post and noticed mistakes there. I am "up for a challenge", not "ready" for it, and I "do my best under pressure", not "work my best".

Going back to the story. I introduced two new characters, and one of them will reappear and play a significant role in the story later on. Also, I am having problems writing the dialogs. I can hear waht every character says and thinks, but it is difficult to get that understanding on paper without overloading the text with descriptions. Ideally the intonation must be obvious from the selection of words and their order in character's speech, but I am not that good. Well, I keep telling myself I will deal with this on the editing stage, after the whole story is written down. It helps in not getting stucked over my currently crippled text. :-)

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Yay! Started chapter 7!

Basically, nothing happens there, it's just a description of the transitional period after the funeral. I don't even know what do I feel about it, but the important thing is: I started writing again!
I also rewrote chapter 6 in past tense. For some reason, I've written chapters 1-3 in past tense, and chapters 4-6 in present tense. Since past tense works better for this particular story, I would need to rewrite 4-5 chapters too, but that is saved for editing stage which is so far ahead it feels it will never come.

Having someone who enjoys reading the story really helps.

Also, I've got my first interview for Auckland. The company, that wanted a test consultant for Christchurch, is keen to interview me, and they agreed to consider me for Auckland team. I am still not sure if I'm ready for the challenge (according to a friendly recruter, the challenge is big for a new kiwi), but I can do an interview, and I still basically like the company. Also, if my past is any indicator, I work my best under the pressure.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Look, look, a new update!


1) Rachel, the recruter from Christchurch, seduced me to try one more position. She sent my CV, and we are now waiting for a feedback from the company representative. The company itself seems very promising, I can already see a challenge to grow as professional and to give it my best! So, fingers crossed. Maybe they'll like me for the job. Though I must say, the position implies perfect verbal English skills, and I am not so sure in mine. I mean, my English seems decent, but I have never tested it in real life with lots of accents, fast natural speed and few people talking at the same time. I'll probably need few weeks just to get used to English around me. And it's not even the biggest problem! I forget words and mix times when I speak. I write much better, and as you can see, my writing is also far from perfect. Huh... but maybe it's okay and they are used to this kind of problem. After all, New Zealand is a country of immigrants.

2) We arranged a meeting for tomorrow with the recruter from Auckland to talk about next steps in finding a job for me in Auckland. Auckland stays the city of choice for me, though I am not opposed to starting in some other New Zealand city as long as the job is interesting.


1) This morning I spent some time and moved all the words (vocabulary project) from here to my WorkFlowy account. They are now listed in few nice categories that hopefully will help me to find a word I want to use more quickly.

2) My article on testing is finally ready and approved for publication. Three parts will be published on the Ministry of Testing site on August 18, 19 and 20. Thanks to Simon (the editor) and his enormous patience and friendliness text actually looks not that bad. I made so many mistakes though, that I was ashamed to read edited text today. Really! I'm not proud. Is this how I write when I don't have anyone to edit my writing for me? Frustrating... but motivating too! When I see my writing published, I might want to write something else! Especially if I get any feedback from the readers. That would be awesome. :-)

3) And there is also one thing I noticed that isn't about writing in English, but is about writing in general. Last few weeks (maybe more) I don't feel the urge to have long discussions with people on my blog. I am happy just writing something and leaving it there. If somebody disagrees, I'm okay with that. If somebody adds an interesting angle to the topic, I am glad to read it, and think about it, and say "thank you". But I want to run from actually writing a long thought-through answer. That is not very good of me. Maybe it's just one of those times, when I don't really need any people around me.

I suppose in few months I would regret not using this few weeks in Omsk in fullest, for meeting everyone here I know.

Monday, 29 July 2013

The only thing related to immigration and writing in English I did today was discussing the English language itself with my friend and then with my mom.

Many people I know from my job (both Gehtsoft and Yandex) moved either to USA or to England. Many of them live near NY and NJ (but not on Braiton Beach, nope).

I'll be the first one in New Zealand amongst my friends, but not the first one amongst people I know independently of immigration process. So many people are running from Russia... I can only hope everyone who wants to get away will be able to do it. It's getting more and more ridicilous every day.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Hali:Procrastination - 0:1

After the last post I did a whole month more of procrastination. Well, not a complete and non-stop one, but... I better start from the beginning.

Last ten days in Saint Petersburg (I left July 9) were spent on saying good byes and organizing my stuff. Sadly I had to get rid of about one third of my prescious books... several people most of whom I have never seen before came and exchanged them for chocolate. Actually, I had so much chocolate at the end, that I gave it to anyone I could, and I ate it for days, and I still brought three chocolate bars with me to Omsk. Aside from books I tried to give away almost everything I owned, but with little success. I was able to find new homes for most of the electronics, and a lot of things I had to simply throw away on my last day in town. That was good stuff. I feel deeply uncomfortable about good stuff going to rubbish, so I hope someone took it from there.

My friends were awesome those last days. Two of them actually came from Moscow just to say good bye to me! And we had few gatherings, and chatted a lot, and they were all very supportive, and glad for me, and sad of having to say good bye... I am blessed with those people, and I am grateful for them. I'll miss them (and someone I miss already).

And then I was in Omsk, which is my home city. I'm staying with my parents (well, with my mom, and step dad, and the youngest of my brothers, who is 11) at their place. Couldn't bring myself to visit my old appartment where currently my other brother is living. My beloved cat died this winter when I was away, and I don't think I can manage going to that place, and expect him there, and not having him there for the first time in 12 years...

Anyway. I spend my days here, and there is constantly someone near me. I forgot how much I love being alone, how much do I need it. Now, this very moment, is the first time in weeks when no one except me is home. This is quite liberating. Maybe because I don't feel fully comfortable most of the time, I couldn't bring myself to continue wtiting.

Well, I edited that article for Testing planet (which is now united with Ministry of testing website) twice. Found out that I am really bad in writing articles, especially when it comes to summaries and introductions. I need some practice with that before I can move forward. As for now, I am currently waiting for the next portion of feedback from the editor. I wonder if my article will be published there after all. If not, I'll just take it to the "Testing" community on LinkedIn, I guess.

Great news about New Zealand are that I got my passport back from London yesterday. It now has a page with the New Zealand residence visa. I am a resident, how cool is that? :-) I already bought tickets to Auckland and booked a hotel stay for the first two weeks. I'm leaving Omsk on July 12, then I spend a day and a half in Moscow with my friends, and then I'm flying through Hong Kong. July 15, 10 a.m., Auckland - here I come! :-)

A whole new life starts in few weeks. I wonder how will it go.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Hello, diary

This Friday I resigned from work. Which means that starting tomorrow I'm officially between jobs for the longest period in my life since I was 17. Well, actually there were few periods when I didn't go to work for more than a month, but those were not official, I was paid by the hour back then, and I was deeply depressed, so I couldn't really enjoy not having to work for more than two weeks straight.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate work in general, and I definitely don't hate my job. It's just that I'm easily bored, and I often want to do stuff that I can't do while I'm on a day job. And though I have to do lots of organization right now to prepare to leave to Omsk, and then to Auckland, that still gives me more or less free schedule. And what do I do with it? Well, I procrastinate, of course! I hope this is just a temporary reaction to being jobless and not having to go anywhere. I gave myself today to do absolutely nothing, and I'm already a little bit sick of it. So, next week hopefully would be much more productive.

Aside from preparing to leave Saint Petersburg, these are my plans: I want to bring a little bit of organization into my everyday life. I want to start doing my 30 minutes of everyday writing at last. And some thoughtful reading too (already doing it). I have to significantly re-edit my article about testing to have it published on "Testing Planet". And I need to freshen my skills and knowledge in testing, and to dig into automation. I need my skills to be up to date in order to have better chances of finding a great job in Auckland. Because I want a great job, an interesting job where I wouldn't be easily bored, which would be a challenge, which would let me feel I'm making a difference.

I also want to try one more time to actually finish something on coursera. Problem with coursera is you better have a stability in your life when you go there. In my case there is no stability whatsoever, mainly because I'm bad in having it, but partly because of all the immigration story. I feel that now is my chance to establish some kind of stability. Not a self-made strict schedule, but something like a set of habits/rithuals to create a comfortable place in my life and in my mind. Some ways to be happy and proud of myself.

Of course it never works out the way I want it, but it gets better every time, and that's enough for the moment being.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

It's been a while, I know... There's lots of news I can share.

First of all, I got New Zealand residence visa! It's not in my passport yet, but I got it in principal, which is awesome. Two days ago I returned from my one week vacation in Prague, and now I'm in a business trip in Moscow for another week... and after I finally return to Saint Petersburg, I'll have two more weeks of work in Yandex, one week to pack and free my appartment, about a month in my home city Omsk, and then - Auckland, Auckland, here I come!

Still, I need to send my passport to London and to get it back before leaving Saint Petersburg, and I'll need to buy tickets after that. All in all this is a very busy time.

Prague was awesome. I think it was my best vacation yet - with my dear friend, great food, beautiful towns, cozy bookshops, misteries and challenges, art and fun. I wish we had spent more time there. A month at least! Week is too small, you just start to get knowing the city, and you must leave the next day. So sad.
Also, Karlovy Vary is a perfect place to have a writer's vacation - i.e. a vacation to write a book. It's beautiful, slow and dull. D.U.L.L. Dull. You would write if only because there is nothing else to do. No distractions. Especially if internet is out of question, and honestly, internet must be out of question for the most time, or nothing would be ever done. Smart black hole is smart.

Moving on... I didn't have a month in Karlovy Vary, but I did have two evenings of writing my story. It's now 8668 words long, and my friend read it and liked it. She's the only person on Earth besides me who read a plan of the book and unfinished draft of the actual story. Of course there is an enormous amount of work left, but I move forward step by step... and she liked it. She said it is an interesting story. Of course, she is my friend, but this is exactly why I can trust her to tell me the truth.

Oh, and I also got tumblr. I'll fill it by random instagram reposts, quotes I like and posts from this blog. Let's see if that format would be comfortable.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Still no luck with my visa application

It's been two weeks, but both my officer keeps silence and my status on the Immigration New Zealand site is "Pending". It's killing me, I want to have an answer already, to be able to adjust my plans and move on! I need to know when I'll have visa in my passport to book airplane tickets, sell my appartment here in Russia and search for a room and a job, and I need to know whether I'm getting visa at all. Argh. Please don't be so slow, immigration officers and give me a Residence. I'll be good for your country, I promise!

For now I'm in a state of hanging between earth and sky, not able to do or think anything serious and efforts-consuming. I hate having to hang there, not knowing what's next and not having any power to make things go faster. =_= And why the waiting? So far even my employment history wasn't considered worth verifying. Does this delay mean that they don't want to approve my visa and will give me a Job Search one?

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Skype Interview with a recruitement company went well

This morning I had an interview with Rachel, a representative of a recruitement company who currently works to build a Christchurch team for Orion Health. I think that it went extremely well. Rachel is a very friendly person and she asked questions that assured me she really does know what QA and testing is. We understood each other a lot better, than in case of immigration interview earlier. Connection was clearer, and she talked louder. I wonder if that's a skill recruitement specialists are trained in: to speak and understand overseas candidates.

Any way, I'll probably have next interview with Orion Health HR next week, and if that also goes well, I'll have a technical interview next. There is a real chance that they like me and make me a job offer. That would be a little miracle, of course: to get a nice job even before I actually arrive to New Zealand. But even if that wouldn't work out, at least I'll get some experience in interviewing for somewhat local IT market.

Orion Health sounds like an interesting place to work, and I really like the thought of challenge (new domain of knowledge, probably new tools and technologies to learn) as well as the thought of making a real impact on people's lives.

What did I learn from the interview? At least I can sell myself to HR. It has been a long time since I've attended technical interviews, so those might be harder to pass. Though I do know my area and this should be a plus even if I forget some terminology or other matter-of-fact things.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Immigration interview - check!

On May, 3 I've taken an immigration interview, which means that I am now in the final stage of Skilled Migrant program. I should have results in two weeks, it can either be "Declined", or "Residence visa granted", or "Work Search visa granted". Of course, I hope for Residence, but I can totally live with Work Search one. I don't see reasons to be declined, but that's up to immigration officers...

Anyway, if this works out, I shall quit job in the end of June, then I'll have a month to be in Omsk with my family, and in first days of August I want to be in Aukland. Fast, right? Like in that "Fast car" song: "lights so fast I thought I was drunk". Huh. I've already started to search for a job - I needed some replies from potential employees for my interview to demonstrate that I am actively preparing to start a new life in New Zealand. But I don't count on finding a job before arriving. Getting invited to few interviews is a goal though.

I think I'll get some Brainbench certificates in testing to enrich my CV, and I'll probably repeat terminology in English to be prepared. Maybe I'll even learn some new tools for automation or smth.

As for now, I'm in the middle of best two months in my life so far! My dearest lovely friend visited me for three days, and next week she and I are going to Kiev together. Weekend after that I'll visit her and my other dear friend in Moscow for our birthdays and Star Trek movie. And two weeks later the two of us will go to Praga for a week! I dreamed of visiting Praga since I was in school! And I can't believe that I get to share the experience with a person I love dearely and whos company makes me happy every single time... I'm blessed with this time. I'm blessed with many things, with many people in my life. A lot to be thankfull for. I can have a Thanksgiving every day, and never fail to find a reason to say "Thank you, Lord, life and everyone".

Wish me luck with the visa!
Also. Pigfits, Pigfits, here I come. Pigfits, Pigfits, yum yum yum!

Friday, 5 April 2013

Almost finished the first meeting

Draft is currently 6021 words according to google docs. Richard and James went from awkward politeness to a real freindly conversation which is an achievement for both of them considering the circumstances. And though they are yet to find a single common interest, I think, they already like each other. Also, I learned something new about James today. It's an interesting process: to get to know your characters better while you are writing, trying different angles and choosing what to leave.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Draft continues

This morning I felt good and dreamy. My good mood is in part a result of all the good things ahead of me, that I keep thinking about. I'll go to Moscow in three weeks to meet with my friends, and then two weeks after that me and my beloved friend will go to Kiev together for 5 days, and two weeks after that we'll meet again in Moscow and watch new Star Trek movie. I really hope all of this works out. It keeps me smiling for the last few days. Anyway, I felt good, and I used the mood to finally get back to my writing. :-)

Now my draft is 5209 words long or almost ten standard google docs pages. Again, it isn't much, but it is better than nothing. I am currently writing the chapter where Richard and James meet for the first time. It was really hard to start. I didn't know what any of them should say, but the thing is: they wouldn't know it either if they were real. That's why my clumsy writing seems appropriate to me. Richard is confused and he is afraid to screw up. So am I. But we are also both determined to get through to James, and I think, we are starting to succeed.

I'll use Richard's thoughts here:
"James seemed to be amused with all the geek references at this point. He probably thought his father was just a big baby. But at least they were having a conversation. And James was interested in getting to know him. That was a start."

These chapters are introductory ones. Main plot would take place after Tamara's death. And still, I feel that it wouldn't be right for me to go there until I draft the meeting properly. This is such an important period for both James and Richard, it determines their relationship in the future. Also, my guilty pleasure seems to be calling the boy Jimmy. I blame captain Kirk and his awesomeness. And Bones and his awesomeness.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

New words and new writing

Another week, another non-written part of my draft... my writing course started yesterday, and in a week a course in quantum mechanics starts. So now I have 5 of them simultaneously. I fight very mild panic attacks when I think about it, it feels like a huge pressure is applied to me by all these courses since I try to attend to all of them. This weekend I was supposed to finish the last programming assignment for my Algorithms course, but I procrastinated. And yesterday I felt so sick I didn't even go to work, and I didn't study either. :-(

But I did wrote first assignment for the writing class. It's an introduction essay. I think I did pretty good, and it's also delightful to see how many people are there in the course who are enthusiastic writers just like me.

I am a writer of my life

First time I felt like a writer was in elementary school. Our music teacher gave us a task to write a poem about feelings we had while listening to Vivaldi's "Seasons". I wrote a short poem about spring. That was my first. It felt amazing, it felt natural, and I liked it so much it never wear off to this day. I'm twenty six now.

I enjoy writing. It helps me to think, and it helps me to express myself in the most precise way possible since I'm not that good in talking or touching. Writing gives me freedom and strength to be who I am. Through the years I did all kinds of writing: school papers, university projects, technical documentation, love poems, fairy tales, letters, reviews, co-writing games, fanfiction... I also have a daily updating blog since 2003. Lately I became interested in writing in English. It's my second language, so I don't feel confident with it yet, and I take every opportunity to learn. English is beautiful, and I love it almost as much as I love Russian, though it is completely different in rhythm and in spirit. I believe that writing is to some degree independent of the language itself, though I am ready to be proved wrong.

Sometimes I feel that I not as much live my life, as I write a story of it, picking dialogs and laughing at irony, assessing my troubles for dramatic effect rather than full heartedly suffering through them. Whether this is healthy or not, I am forever grateful to have such gifts as a language and a written word.

New words for today:


Thursday, 14 March 2013

Also, the words

to sweep


Oh, wow, so I haven't written a thing for more than two weeks. That's me. I do this. Well, it's not like I didn't see it coming - that is why I am not gonna cry "I ruined all of it! It's a point of no return!", and instead I'll just update this blog, and then try to return to writing.

Below are not excuses (maybe, a little bit excuses), but factors that I think are in the way of my writing.
1) Sleep habits. I am still sleep deprived, though I sleep 8-9 hours a day, and I go to sleep around 2 or 3 a.m. even if I try to do it earlier. Which results in getting up around 11 and going to work late, and coming from work late, and that's a devil's circle. No time or energy to write in the morning.
2) Coursera. Lately I've been doing a lot of studing via coursera.org and science related podcasts. Mostly coursera. It takes a lot of my time and energy, and it isn't like I spend them to watch tv shows all day, so I feel it's justified. But it also means I have less time to write.
3) ...nope, that's it. If only I could normalize my sleep pattern and stop trying to do many things at once (not happenning), I would be able to create a rithual where I write a little every morning. At least, I think so now.

Of course, I spend time to tv shows and reading fanfiction, but that's my leisure time, I need it to function. I cannot be productive 24/7 all of a sudden, that's just not me, who's been a lazy ass since forever.

What good in all this? Is there any good? Yes! Yes, there is!
1) all my courses and podcasts are in English;
2) one of my current courses requires writing essays in English, so I am doing this - I do write in English, just in essay form;
3) I got myself into two different courses for writing in English. They'll start later, and I hope to learn a lot about language structure, about common stylistic errors and about construction of a story structure.

I am not a totally lost case. Which is why I am back (muahaha!). I won't start writing today or tomorrow, probably, I have a lot planned for this weekend (need to do last two weeks and final exam for one of the courses and few smaller things for other 2 courses), but I am back. And I will resume my writing. Next thing to write is James' first meeting with Richard.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

What did I say about procrastination?

Today I continued to write my story. Spent an hour, wrote approximately 1400 words. Which isn't much, but it is 1400 words more, than I had yesterday!

And that would be it for today.
And then I went and wrote another 1000 words. Now the draft is 4343 words long according to google docs stats. Go me!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Procrastination is clingy

So... I've done absolutely nothing for my writing in five days. :-( And I'm not going to do it today, either. But at least today I made up my courage to admit the problem. It's always like this with me and problems: whenever I meet one, I just lay low and hope it'll go away, and no one will ever notice. I know it doesn't work like this... but that knowledge doesn't change the strategy. I'm pathetic like that.

I can at least post new words I managed to write down:

And wow, I doesn't remember what any of these words means, except for a vague understanding of "disconcerning". I'm so bad at this. :-(

But I promised not to give up, so I won't. I'll try to get up in time tomorrow and to have my half an hour of uninterrupted writing. Good luck to me.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Documents sent, draft continued

Today I overslept, so I didn't get time to write in the morning. But I did get the time after work. In fact, today was a pretty full day: I sent immigration documents to London, then I worked, then I got home early (because I'll go to work tomorrow, on Saturday, so why not finish earlier today?) and made sushi (I still have plenty of rice left, because silly me didn't get the right fish), then I watched new episodes of Glee (yay for Klaine!) and Person of Interest, and then I sat down and wrote for forty minutes.

I drafted chapter two as a result. The draft is now 1560 words, which is not so little for me (my biggest text to this day is a bit more than 13000 words), but still the chapters are so small! The first one is a page long, and the second one is a page and a half. Also, chapter two is almost completely a dialog. I'll need to add some juice into it later, to show Richard's normal day before Tamara called him. But that is for future still unknown. As for today, I am glad I was able to did my "30 minutes on writing".

And I am really glad the documents are finally on their way to London. I hope my application will be processed soon enough, and I also hope my immigration officer doesn't hate me. She sounded a bit pissed off. But that may just be my imagination. Oh, well... whatever.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

The Draft is started

I just got my block of time of uninterrupted writing (around an hour), and that resulted in a draft of chapter 1. The whole chapter is one page long, and the text is in no way good, but I promised myself to just go with it and keep drafting the story leaving the text quality to an editing stage.

I am a bit thrilled, and if I didn't need to go to work, I would probably stay and write further at least for an hour more. Still, this is a milestone.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

No luck with notary

This morning I got to notary just to hear that no, she isn't capable of verifying the simple fact that I signed a paper in her presence, unless that paper is in Russian. Arrgh... that is frustrating, really. One little thing, and they can't even do it! So, I'll try different approach tomorrow. I translated my Statuary Declaration into Russian, and I am going to verify my signature there. Then I'll go to translator's office and ask to use my translation to make a verified translation of the Russian version. I really hope to accomplish that tomorrow.

As for my writing, I just got home from work, and it's already near 10 p.m., and I'm sleepy. So I'm in no condition to write today. Though I'm going to try anyway a bit later. Who knows? I am currently on a "create visual tag for each character" step, and I only created tags for Richard. I think that I need to invent these tags at least for Richard and James (and probably Tamara and Kevin) since they are in a story a lot from the very start. Other characters may stay tagless for now, and get their descriptions lined out in the second draft or along the way of creating the first draft.

To create some free time for my writing and for doing other stuff I've been trying for months to do regularly and failing I need to get up earlier. Usually I'm up around 9:30 a.m. but that is really no good. I've tried to set alarm for 8 a.m., but is clearly not working since I always just shut it down and go back to sleep. So starting tomorrow I'll try to set alarm for 6:50 a.m.. The idea here is to use my natural biorythms flow: I have a window of clearyness from 6 to 7, and then I am sleepy again. I hope it will work. Good luck to me.

Also, according to me and my friends' geek bro calendar tomorrow is Shakespear's appreciation day. Which is super cool. I loved Shakespear's plays when I was a kid! Read them all (or at least most of them) one by one at the age of 14. Sad thing is I haven't re-read them for a long time. Also, I read them in Russian. It may be the time for me to freshen up my memory and to do it in English. So, yay for Shakespear, the greatest of them all!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Hali is a lazy ass

Hali is me. I am Hali. And I am lazy. Nothing new here, really... today I got an email from my immigration officer, who asked if I sent him/her (I really don't know, and I find it rude to ask) documents I was to send in January. Well... I didn't. I've been trying to complete this task for the last two weeks! I'm really bad with documents, they are boring. The last document I need is a statuary declaration. I wrote and printed it today. I really hope to get to a notary tomorrow and convince him to verify my signature.

Theoretically there should be no problems, because all I need is for certified lawyer to confirm that I myself signed the paper, no matter what the paper says. But since the document is in English, I'm afraid to have problems like "oh, I don't know English, I'm not gonna verify that". =_=

This getting-documents-ready thing is so depressing, really. I am so much better in actions, than in getting government services and lawyers to give me the documents I need.

As for now, I decided that since I got an email 4 hours later than it was sent, I will answer the officer tomorrow, after I go to notary (and this I will do first thing in the morning). I like my officer. Hope I didn't give her/him any trouble by delaying the documents.

Monday, 11 February 2013

New words


Also, spent 40 minutes on my writing today. Today's excercise was "archetypal characters".

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Plot outline

Today I spent another hour on my writing! I continue to read articles on how-to-write-a-book-now.com and to do exercises, and so far it seems highly helpful. Today I wrote a brief plot outline for my story, based on plot details I wrote down yesterday. That's another 800 words, and while these are baby steps, at least I am moving. :-)

I think I'll finish the "How to Write a Novel" consequence before I start to really write the draft, because so far every article helped me to understand the structure of my story better, and I want to start a draft with a structure in my head. Currently I'm on "creating archetypal characters" stage, and I'll probably spend some more time today reading articles and and doing exercises.

Also, these are the new words I liked in my reading:


Saturday, 9 February 2013

Creating a plot

Today I did good with my writing, though I only spent about forty minutes doing things. Those things were productive! And I like how it started. :-)

I had an hour to kill, so I looked at my phone and discovered a task I planned to do: find and download/buy a book "How to write Sci fi". For some reason I googled "how to write book", and I discovered this site: how-to-write-a-book-now.com

I liked it instantly! It has a nice article on the main page, and the only other article I read - "Create a plot outline in 8 easy steps" - was really helpfull. I didn't just read it, I made an exercize step by step!

Before the exercize I've already had some ideas about what do I want to say with my story, and how the plot will be developing to highlight my ideas, but all those ideas were in my head, and they were vague. Now I not only have them written down, clear and detailed, but I also have some new ideas. And I have clarity. I even had a vision of my book's beginning!

I didn't write the story, but I wrote 828 words for the story. And I think I should start my draft soon. One of my problems in writing has always been the need to write good from the start. That always leads to the situation when I have a writer's block because I cannot find the perfect words or the perfect turn of events, or don't see the exact reaction of a character - and thus I stop writing until I find them. Which is often never. And maybe this is also the reason I only write short stories. Well, I'll try to change this starting now. I'm going to try and write in the draft for at least 30 uninterrupted minutes every day. This isn't much, but it's a start. And if I miss a day or two, I promise not to give up and to continue as if that never happend.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Richard is a geek

A little something about my writing: I decided to name my guy Richard. Also, I can almost see him now: a geek, shy and introvertic (even more so in his childhood), definitely not a tall-and-sporty one. Heterosexual. Calm and stubborn. Romantic in a way only geeks are. :-) Has a bizzare sense of humour and isn't very good in dealing with people, but able to communicate succesfully when necessary. Just your common IT guy/Sci-Fi geek. He also has action figures (not toys!) and few cosplay costumes. Good luck with your romantic life, Richard!

A little something about my immigration to New Zealand: today I got a paper I needed from work. Now I need to get to a notarius (that's a special kind of lawyer in Russia) and then to DHL to send my papers where they belong already! I'm a lazy ass, and I've been hanging the process since mid November which is sad.

I've also re-read all the words in my list and found out that I now recognise more of them than the last week. Which delights me. I am delighted.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Waylaid and more

These are the words for today.

to sneer
to ogle

Waylaid. I love how English works in words like this!

Story proceeds

Today an old friend stumbled upon me and contacted me. We were friends five or six years ago, we played together on the "Night City" forum, and one time this persion figuratevely speaking hold my hand when I thought my lover might be dead. Oh, my... how long ago it was! Now we are no more than acquintances with a shared past we both hardly remember. That's life for you. The greatest and the longest story of them all.

My Anko - the prototype for my Richard-Alexander guy - has actually met the character who was played by that friend of mine. That was a crazy night for both our characters, with a serial killer on a loose. Which reminds me, I need to be thinking of James and Richard-Alexander right now.

Tamara, James's mother, was a second generation USA citizen with Russian parents. She was insouciant, even reckless at times, and she didn't really know how to take care of herself. She was also beautiful and charming. Richard-Alexander fell for her in high school. He was a year behind her, and though she knew about his crush, she laughed about it when she noticed him, and most of the time she didn't notice him at all. On the prom (her prom) she suddenly (for Ric) seduced him and literally fucked him in the locker room. And that was it. He thought she finally fell for him, he tried to reach her, he called her - all to no avail. Two months later her family moved to another state, and he never saw Tamara again until years later.

What Richard didn't know was that Tamara got pregnant that night. Her parents wanted her to have an abortion, and when she declined... well, that didn't end well. Few years of really bad relationships, and finally they renounced her and kicked her out with a baby. Nevertheless, she managed to find a job and a place in life, she was a strong girl, and she made friends easily. James grew up in cheap motels and flats, with a mother who was either working hard or having fun with one of her "boys". Tamara wasn't a bad mother, she just never grew old, not really. Forever young, forever beautiful, never wanting to find her one true love, get married and have a nest. Or maybe, wanting and not finding it. She never complained. She smiled a lot. She loved to sing, and James used to sing with her, when he was a little boy. They were happy in their own way. James learned to take care of himself, and he learned to take care of his mother. He learned not to get overly attached to men who got to live with them from time to time - it never lasted for long. He studied hard when he could, because there wasn't much for him to get except that free education system gave everyone. He fought more often than he wanted, because, lets face it, a boy with no father and a mother who changes her men on a monthly basis is no favorite in a small town. But all in all, he was doing fine: he had friends, few teachers liked him, he took care of his mother and she took care of him. And then his world crushed with one word: cancer. Diagnosed too late, it was a death sentense.

James was about to be left alone and to get into foster care. That's when Tamara for the first time in years decided she need help, not for herself, but for her son. For Richard's son. She didn't have a lot of hope, but she had to at least try. She was lucky: she found Ric, and he agreed to meet her. And this is how James met his father for the first time.

P.S.: This should have been posted yesterday, but blogger service was broken.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Words from yesterday, which I forgot to post:
to clonk

Also, me and my friend spent the whole afternoon communicating by text messages in English, so that was a practice.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Star Fleet Academy and the Redhirts

This is what I don't get. Wesley Crusher was a genius, right? We all saw it! If you haven't seen it, go and watch Star Trek TNG! And when Wesley got a chance to apply to Star Fleet Academy, he had to compete with a bunch of other geniuses. Because it's this hard to become a cadet. Only the best of the best of the best go there. And not all of them graduate. But if I understand it correctly, every member of Enterprise's team is a graduate of the Academy. So the question is: WHY THESE GENIUSES ACT SO DUMB WHEN ON A MISSION?! They touch things they should never touch without protection! They go to planet surface without space suites! They drink unfamiliar drinks! They say rude things to aliens! Especially in the original series. But it happens in TNG too. There are Redshirts with silly deaths everywhere in Star Trek. How do we go from Wesley Crusher level to this dumbness? What exactly do they do to students in that horrible place?

Also, that means that everyone on Enterprise is a genius of his own kind. That doesn't really apply to the Kirk's full crew, because as Roddenberry wrote in the TMP novellization, in Kirk's time they sent the most smart barbarians since real geniuses were too fond of themselves to be able to apprehend there are aliens far more developed than any human being. But that does apply to TNG.

One more thing about Academy and TNG. I never understood why they had Tasha Yar as a head of security. She was histerical all the time! Always overly emotional, always quick with (often wrong) judgement, always with her pride stepping in a way. Not professional at all. I can't imagine her passing the emotional stability test they put Wesley through.
On the other side, she fucked Data.

Words continued

Almost missed a day. Almost! But not quite since I'm not sleeping yet, so it's still Sunday for me.

Here is a list of new words:
32) surly
33) frolicking
34) haughtiness
35) benevolently
36) innocuous
37) chagrin
38) scintillating
39) belligerent
40) callow
41) assuage

I stopped copying my posts from here to lang-8 because no one commented me there and I don't like waiting for comments. If I don't get feedback, I'd rather not get it on my terms, i.e. where I don't expect it to begin with. I'm a sucker for feedback, yeah.

Anyway. I have to admit that I did nothing useful for my English practice this weekend. I didn't read any articles or manuals, and I didn't read chapter two of the "Little women". I did, however, finished "Circles of Fifths" and wrote an appreciation comment to an author of that beautiful fanfic. And I got all of these words too! Oh, and I just watched first episode of "The good wife" without subtitles. I guess, that means that I did do something useful after all. Yay for me!

And now I'm going to listen to "The life of Pi" and sleep. In that order. Have to get up in six hours. I intend to do it. I can do it! I'm a grown up woman, I can get up and go to work in time! Like a true jedi! Go, Hali!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

More words

I started re-reading "Little women", and I enjoy every phrase. This must be my favorite book, though I only read it once so far. Most of the books competing to be named my favorite have male main characters. This one concentrates on women which makes it even more precious in my eyes. There aren't too many books with great heroines (cannot remember any except Shakespear's stories). And even when they play active role in the plot (like Hermione in "Harry Potter"), we don't know as much about their inner world as we know about that of male characters. Which is a pity.

Anyway, I picked up some words I liked from the chapter one (and also from a fic I read yesterday):
19) to fret
20) to plague
21) to libel
22) a reproving look
23) to pervade (as in "atmosphere of love pervaded the house")
24) to sit up (half-rise or straighten)
25) (to trot) to and fro
26) crumpled (back to the pillow)
27) a lark
28) to no avail
29) unfathomable
30) ordeal
31) whimsical

Friday, 1 February 2013

"Life of Pi", Dickens and classic Russian literature

Yesterday I asked my friend for an audio book recommendation, and she said that she loved the "Life of Pi". I listened chapters one to eight yesterday before sleep, and I loved it! Though I must admit I didn't understand some words (zoological introduction part was really hard), but hey, I enjoyed the book anyway!

My new word for today is "shoth". I had fun time trying to understand what animal Pi researched, and I kept hearing "toad", but then the animal was sleeping on trees, which I am pretty sure toads don't do.

I loved the scene where Pi describes his first day in a new private school. He made such a show of introducing himself with a greek letter! Hillarious! In Russian translation his name is pronounced as in "pea", not as in "pie", and now I know why! Because in Russian it's what we call that greek letter. Good job, translators!

We also discussed Charles Dickens novells with my friend yesterday evening. She listened the audio version of "The posthumous papers of the Pickwick club" while I read about one fifth of the "Great expectations". She enjoyed her time much more than me. Looks like I've chosen a bad Dickens's book to start! Or it's just me. Well, my taste in books is equivocal at best. I actively don't like Dostoyevsky's books (though I admit he is a great writer), and I don't like most of the Russian classic literature, all for the same reason: they are too hopeless for me. Heroes are often miserable, but they don't try to change it, they submit to their fate. To accept your fate is often considered to be a virtue in Russian literature. That's depressing. I love American literature for the always present hope for the better. Even in stories with depressing plots (like most of Hemingway's stories) I can feel that characters don't give up. They are in charge of their destinies, and they know it. It gives me hope.

Returning to "Great expectations": I dislike that book for reasons completely different from the ones responsible for my distaste for Dostoyevsky's books. I dislike it because I dislike the language. There are many characters in the book who talk... well... not right. There is a lot of slang there, and not the kind I like. And I cannot like the book if I don't like how characters talk, though I can see why Dickens is a great writer.

New words here:
16) sloth
17) equivocal
18) posthumous

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Building a dictionary

One piece of advice for writers I hear constantly is: "build your own vocabulary by writing down words you like and want to use in future". Who am I to argue?

These are the words for today (I know most of them, but I keep forgetting them. And some words are completely new):
1. colloquial
2. resigned
3. to devise
4. booby traps
5. wistful
6. to irk
7. enquire

8. sycophantic
9. haberdashery
10. vehemence
11. ineffable
12. insouciant
13. ennui
14. winsome

And of course THIS:
15. pulchritudinous

Main conflict: love vs freedom

I'm naming the boy James. This I decided. But I cannot choose a name for my guy. Originally it was Anko, Simadzu Anko, as in "Ank", Egyptian cross symbolizing life, and yes, that was relevant for the story. But now... I just don't know. Names are important for me. I'm thinking, maybe, Richard or Alexander... but that is still undecided.

Anyway, I promised to tell you about the conflict in the story and why is it important for me (i.e. why I want to write about it at all). My main theme has always been relationships: between humans, between a human and himself, and between a human and society. I am conflicted myself in this area, there are so many questions I still don't know how to answer, and human beings are so complicated and different, and they always react some unexpected way... and one of the most important questions for me is: love vs freedom.

Love is a beautiful thing: to have someone to care about and be cared in return, to connect to someone - this I consider a true happiness. But on the other hand: when you are in a relationship, you have to give up on a part of your freedom. And I don't only talk about romantic love. When you love someone, you give him your time and a place in your life. When you are alone you can do what you want: pick a flight and go to another country, watch TV all weekend, eat crazy food, work on your dream job for fifteen hours a day, and  so on, and so on. When you are not alone, you need to include other person in everything you do. You cannot set relationship on pause, stop talking to your spouse or your kid for a week, and then pick up like nothing happend. I love this freedom. I love to disappear sometimes, to know that I can change a job, a town or country any time I want, that I can spend days being lazy, etc.. But I want kids. I want family. So this is the conflict: how do you balance these things if you truly need both of them?

Of course, I'm not the first to ask this question. But it's one of those questions that you can only answer for yourself and for a small group of people like you. And this is the main conflict in my future story.

My Richard-Alexander guy is 27, he is a single IT guy and a geek. He isn't very sociable, but he isn't socially akward too, though he was in his teens. Not ugly, but not beautiful. Not a genius, but not dumb. Just an ordinary guy, who is used to living alone and having his life for himself aside from time to time family obligations. And then the kid happens. Richard-Alexander doesn't hate kids, he even thought about having his own in the future, after meeting the love of his life... but that's a completely different story, because now he gets a twelve years old boy, and he supposed to instantly know how to be a father. Unless he wants to give kid to adoption or send him to some private school, so he wouldn't need to getting know him. Anyway, he need to adjust his life to this new circumstances, and he will explore himself in the process (and so will I).

James is, obviously, the other side of this story. He lost his mother, and he doesn't really have anyone now (details revealed in the story) except of this new "father" guy, few friends, and maybe a teacher or two who care about him. And he is a teenager too. He starts at not trusting Richard-Alexander, and being polite and closed up because - hey, he depends on that adult! He doesn't want to really piss him off and be sent away or beaten up. He doesn't know the guy. He is just a kid. It's hard for him.
I consider children intelligent human beings from the age of two (maybe earlier). They already have their thoughts and dreams at that age, they have fears and interests, likes and dislikes. And a twelve years old is a very capable and complicated person. I remember myself being a child and always being pushed aside as "she's just a kid, what does she know?". I also have two younger brothers. I know kids. I am actually good with them when I have a chance. It's very upsetting that adults rarely take children seriously, and I want to show it in the story.

And of course there would be bumps and failures for these two. That's what conflict means. But I promise they will get through.

I really like the story already, and I keep thinking about it, so I hope very much that I would be able to write it. Wish me luck (and to stop being the lazy ass I am)?

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

A story to tell

Yesterday I couldn't fall asleep for few hours. So I used that time to think, and amongst many thoughts was this one: I actually have a story that I can use to improve my writing skills! Few years ago I used to play in textual role playing games. To play such a game you need a character. And one of my beloved characters was never fully used in a game, so his story is left untold. Shame on me! But I can try and fix it now.

This is a story about a young father and a son who he hadn't known about until a mother of the boy contacted him six month before dying. Originally the man was a police officer in Japan (for purposes of the game), but I think I'll move the story to USA. I thought about moving it to Russia, but realized that if I do this, I wouldn't be able to concentrate on the characters, because in Russia there is so much hatred and everyday survival, I would need to spare time for those if I want to be realistic. And I know USA from tv-shows (haha! yeah, I know).

I'll proceed as following:
1) thinking through characters really hard - I need to know who they are when the story begins, and why are they like this;
2) writing a draft (for a main plot, for specific scenes);
3) reading "how to write" manuals, going through dictionaries, general reading, etc.;
4) rewriting to improve the text;
5) repeating from step (2) unless the story is finished.

In the next post I will explain the conflict of the story and why is it interesting for me.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Books to read

I've recently decided that I need to read less fanfiction and more "real" literature. The reason is simple: I want to learn proper English, and fanfiction rarely provides one. Don't get me wrong: I LOVE fanfiction, and it is often much better written than what I see on shelves in bookstores. But still, there are really good books in English out there, and I need to get knowing them.

My number one is currently "Little women". I've read it in August and loved it instantly. I think it's a perfect book: it got characters, it got story, it got humor, and it is beautifully written. So I'm gonna read it again, this time paying attention to details and to a text structure.

I remember that I loved "Howl's moving castle" a year or two ago, so I'm gonna read more books written by Diana Jones. Also I probably need to give another chance to Terry Pratchett (yeah, I didn't like him in Russian, sue me! Too flat for me. I love Duglas Adams and Robert Asprin, their humor seems deeper than word games from sir Pratchett). Also for the last two years I wanted to read whole Harry Potter series in English (I'm not that big of a fan, but hey, it's a meta-thing now, and translation into Russian is one of the worst in the world, as I heard. And I loved first book in English more than I loved it in Russian). Oh, and my former boss recommended me Chuk Palanic's books a long time ago as a sample of proficient language usage.

The books list so far:
1. "Little women" by Louisa May Alcott
2. books of Diana Jones
3. "Harry Potter" by J.K. Rowling
4. any book of Terry Pratchett
5. "Fight club" by Chuk Palanic
6. "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" by Roald Dahl


These are the resources I found useful for improving writing skills:
1. http://www.write-better-english.com/
2. http://www.dailywritingtips.com/
3. http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/

There are plenty more, so this list will be updated (if I'm not too lazy).

I said: "let there be a post." And there was a post

I've been a blogger for over 8 years now, since my first year in university, but this would be my first entirely-English blog. If it survives. I hope it survives. I'm gonna need all practice in English I can get before I change my country of residence. So I'm gonna yell in the void here (yes, this is "The unusuals" reference, because I'm a geek like that) until someone maybe comes and says "Hi". :-)

My current level of English is IELTS 7.5 (good reading and listening, bad writing and speaking). Mostly I learned English by watching movies/tv-shows and by reading fanfiction. The result is I can understand most of accents, and I recognise collo... oh no, I just read this word like 2 hours ago, and now I can neither remember it, nor find it in a dictionary. I recognise slang is what I wanted to say. But I'm really bad in writing slang down, in punctuation in general (never learned it until yesterday!), in using phrases where they are appropriate (i.e. not using Baltimore drug dealers style which I know from "The Wire" in a fluffy love fiction). Also, my active vocabulary is pathetic. And this isn't a full list of my writing flaws, so now I'm going to use a minute for being sad.

Okay, minute gone.

I am not a professional writer in Russian, but I dare to say my Russian is pretty good. Not genius-good, and if I were to publish my works, I would certainly need both a corrector and an editor, but I have style. And I can copy styles. So, pretty good. I want to achieve the same level in English.

My first attempts of writing fanfiction in English are published on ao3 (under hali) and on ff.net (under hali4qa):

I really like what I did with characters in "What goes with trust"/"He goes with trust" dilogy. Be aware, this is an M/M slash fiction for "Criminal minds".