Golden Globe awards have been won and having brought in $100 million at the box office and climbing up the US charts with a killer soundtrack, La La Land continues to soar as the best film of 2016. The hype from the press and social media suggested that viewers would be getting something original from Hollywood. The idea of our favourite heartthrob, Ryan Gosling, and American sweetheart, Emma Stone, taking us on a brightly-lit journey of hope, love, song, dance and tears had people eagerly reserving tickets to see it on the first night it was released. Yet rather than satisfaction, mixed opinions abound – not everyone was reeling as much as the critics who gave it a five-star rating.
### I can’t sleep
It is three o’ clock in the morning. I had a bad headache this evening, so I had to rest, meaning another evening was wasted on me. I went a bit crazy at spin class you see and, knowing how my body works, I pushed myself above my limits – sprinting and screaming – until it felt like I was going to collapse.
I had originally planned to spend the evening writing, but these things happen. Unexpected events happen. I try to incorporate reviewing and blogging as much I can. Sadly because of situations like these, it is practically impossible.
**I can’t just do it.** I can’t just start writing whenever I feel like it. Much like talking in front of a group of people, going to a networking event to meet new people, or preparing for a job interview, there are so many things to consider and have in place.
**Where** shall I write?
Do I have the right **tools**?
What is my **wordcount**?
How much **time** do I have?
When is the **deadline**?
These are just a few things writers have to cover first before they write their first words. Once these things have been figured out, then they can begin.
Some writers may disagree with me and require some extra time getting their mindset in gear for a serious writing session. For me, I have learnt, over the course of four years, that the first hurdle is getting words down, immediately. It is one of the most rewarding stages of the writing process. **The sooner, the better.** Do not procrastinate.
With laptops and mobile devices, it is easier to amend, delete and subedit your content. I find that once you’ve started pouring your ideas onto the page, you’re over the hardest part of it all.
In this post, I want to talk about something that’s been on mind a lot lately, but has annoyed me for a long time. It’s a niggling thought which crops up now again, and has crossed the minds of many creative and talented writers. *How do you juggle a full-time job with writing?*
Readers outside of the writing world may seem perplexed by this and ask, why don’t you put the full-time job and writing together by being a full-time writer? Firstly, it is **bloody** competitive. The industry for writing about the things you love is rife. The ramifications of this is a larger debate (which is worth discussing in another post). Put simply, in order to become a journalist for a TV broadcaster, newspaper, magazine, or popular website, years of solid experience and passion in a specific field are required. And with millions of writers and not as many writing outlets, you can understand the dilemma we are faced with. It is a question of supply and demand.
Secondly, the money isn’t great. Within the last decade, many editors that were in a secure, permanent role, *living off luxurious wages for their lyrical might,* were made redundant or requested to work as a freelancer. This is largely down to the rise of web editors, bloggers (like myself) and online citizen writers who can produce some incredible content, to a similar, or often better, standard as their print **editorial** counterpart. Of course, this isn’t to belittle freelancers. They are brave and willing to take the risk. Prolific writers with a great following won’t have difficulty getting freelance gigs either, but not everyone is prepared to sacrifice the safety net of a permanent job.
Thirdly, even if it was possible to get a job as an editor writing about the things you want to write about, in my case opera and theatre, would you want to? Have you ever heard of the phrase, ‘don’t make your hobby your day job?’ It may sound far fetched but I *personally* feel that if I had to write everyday for a living, I would eventually get bored. I know, a job is a job, people do it to pay the bills and only a handful truly enjoy their job… However, my writing is my joy. I do it for myself and share it with others to read. If I start writing about things I am paid to write about and in a way I do not feel comfortable with, then I may feel resentful. It may tarnish my interest completely. Yet, writing online where I can impart my thoughts freely without any limitations, as a blogger, is far more gratifying.
Back to the question, *How do you juggle a full-time job with writing?* I figured it out. I tried it for two days once and failed, but really it is simple, and completely down to the writer on how they do it. The answer is **Routine.** There are several books on this fabulous topic that open our eyes to humanity’s history of intelligent artists, musicians and authors who embraced routines which made them the grand successes they are known as today.
Ernest Hemingway made it his goal to write very early each morning. German composer Beethoven made it a habit to walk everyday in the afternoon. And there’s a long list of famous authors who held day jobs whilst keeping up with their love for writing, including Lewis Carroll, Franz Kafta and James Joyce.
So, here is my challenge for the next four weeks. My aim is to try and write at least 300 words a day. **At least!** That might mean waking up at 6am, but I know that I will feel happier knowing I have stuck to my goals and achieved more writing than I have done in a very long time. (When I was a student, I would write 1000 words a day.) But even if I don’t write in the morning, I can pen away at my lunch break, on my way to work or after.
If you are a writer and finding it a struggle to write with a full-time job, too, then try changing your **Routine** and adapt new **habits**. Be honest with yourself. Be realistic. If you want to write everyday then find the time and **pencil it in.** Use your lunch hour, use the time on your commute to work, wake up earlier, and go to bed earlier. Set yourself achievable goals. (I have just downloaded an app called WriterP and it is great for tapping away a post on the go, on your smartphone. The WordPress app is also handy for the essentials for posting a new article, too.)
Whether it is 300 words or 1000, thirty minutes or three hours, having a goal in mind can guide you. Even if it is small, at least it is a goal. Thirty minutes of writing is far more attainable than three hours, so don’t set yourself high expectations, that is unless you are sure you can achieve them.
The only person that can decide what you can do is you. You know what you are capable of doing so don’t push it, or you shall end up like me, at the brink of collapsing and getting a headache. And if you find yourself slipping, missing a day of writing, don’t beat yourself up about it. Your ideas won’t suddenly disintegrate. Just note down your idea or email yourself a reminder so you can catch up on your ideas later, when you’re next available. Simples.
Good luck! And happy writing.
Reviewed January 9th 2016
What is willpower and where does it come from? I bought this book on January 1st; the day when people reflect on their past year and consider New Year resolutions. Often the problem with resolutions is that they can be easily broken. They have the right intentions, (cut down on alcohol, eat less junk food, make more time for exercise), yet they lack the ability to make things happen.
Willpower: Rediscovering our greatest strength clarifies preconceived ideas of willpower and utilises psychological theories, research experiments and scientific studies, put in laymen terms, to express what truly defines us, humans, from animals, (on top of our ability to rationalise our actions).
Although this may seem sound as if the book is suggesting that willpower is inside us, the book acknowledges and explains why it is harder to motivate ourselves and follow through with our goals, which are usually dependant on a variety of key factors i.e. timing, mind set, glucose levels, and more.
Sometimes, we give ourselves tall orders, make unrealistic goals, think too ambitiously and expect more from ourselves, which often leads to procrastinating, committing vices and depression. Essentially, we don’t know how to regulate our mental or physical willpower, and a lot of that is down to a lack of self-control.
I am ashamed to say that I still haven’t seen the Theory of Everything, yet, having now seen Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl. Based on a true story, this tender film breezes through the tormented life of Scandinavian couple Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) and Gerda (Alicia Vikander), and Lili’s transformation from a transgender to a transsexual. Yet during the 1920s it was a dangerous time to be transgender, let alone homosexual – the concepts (transgender; transsexual) hardly existed in those days.
The film follows landscape artist Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) stroking fur jackets, concealing silk dresses underneath men’s clothing and, eventually, strutting like a woman. Hiding behind tutus, and looking at his naked reflection in the mirror, imagining what life would be like without a penis, Hooper and screen play writer Lucinda Coxon reveal a pretty woman that had been locked up and buried deep inside a man’s body. Yet all of this begins with Wegener’s wife, asking him to sit as a ballet dancer for her painting.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies immediately picks up from the last scene of The Desolution of Smaug, the second of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy and although we are not provided a quick ‘Previously in The Hobbit…’ spiel to revive our memory we can recall a husky and villainous dragon, voiced over by a peculiarly sultry Benedict Cumberbatch, flying eagerly out of gold river of a mountain to burn down the innocent village of Lake Town.
It was only until the middle of 2012 that director Peter Jackson decided to convert his adaption of The Hobbit into a trilogy, as oppose to a two-film epic. Unless viewers are J.R.R. Tolkien enthusiasts and have read his fantasy novels many will not be aware that his original Hobbit story is based on one book, not three like The Lord of the Rings. Yet Jackson has somehow managed to stretch out millions of box office cash from Tolkein’s magical myth and legend of Middle Earth, which has kept fantasy fans only craving for more. He simply resorted to Tolkein’s extensive appendices, which was published in the back of The Return of the King – the final instalment of The Ring trilogy.
So what can we expect from a film to end all epic films, or so we – currently – believe? (Jackson is probably brainstorming new tales of Mordor as we speak.) The Battle of the Five Armies is a cinematically chromed action-packed film, of course! with handsome elves, viking dwarfs and the usual uglier orcs battling it out to a delightfully satisfying conclusion, which compels viewers to run home and re-live the film it was made to pre-empt, namely the first – The Fellowship of the Ring. I know this because I was one of those fanatics; I ran straight to HMV, after Hobbiting (a verb friends and I created to mean ‘watching a Hobbit film’) to grab the Lord of the Rings box set and instantly watch it.)
The Bard, acted by Luke Evans, represents man, fatherhood and plain goodness whilst a slightly older looking Legolas (Orlando Bloom) stays true to his elfish bow and arrow talents and defends flawless skinned Turiel played by Evangeline Lilly who appears fresh faced as her decade-ago days on Lost. Bilbo Baggins by Martin Freeman is as vulnerable and secretive as he was in the last; yet although named after him, the film gives more screen time to Thorin Oakenshield played by Richard Armitage – the same lead actor of Arthur Miller’s classic American drama The Crucible showed this year at The Old Vic – the supposed King of the Dwarfs who loses his sanity to a delusional illness otherwise known as dragon sickness.
A tear may creep down your face when boy-dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner) dies in the arms of his lukewarm love Turiel and we see glimpses of the necromancer/dragon where Cumberbatch barely says ten words. But the real climax and scene we desperately seek are the ones where Galadriel, Elrond, Saruman and Gandalf unite to fight off a poorly CGI-ed version of Sauron, in my opinion. Cate Blanchette revisits her green-eyed monster from the first Ring movie to curse away evil and Saruman, as done by the I-don’t-do-film-with-cast-members-anymore Christopher Lee is portrayed as a goodie, before he turns into a baddie. And Hugo Weaving aka Mr. Smith, from the Matrix film, is a nice surprise feature too. Viewers also get a cameo cut of Billy Connelly as the ginger dwarf cousin, Ironfoot. And Ian McKellan as Gandalf the Grey is promising and legendary, as always.
Jackson ensures to add in as much ultra blatant and obvious references to the Lord of the Rings; yet as I’m privy to certain knowledge of Tolkien’s books and have already compared the film to the Fellowship of the Rings, I have noticed there are minor blips that do not connect the films smoothly unfortunately. Yet despite these blips and my petty anguish with some visual effects the film is am entertaining 144 minutes that deserves to be experienced on the big screen during the festive season.
— Mary Grace Nguyen (@MaryGNguyen) December 14, 2014
This was another delightful evening that took place at London’s Olympia West of chocolate tasting and fashionable chocolate watching all smothered into one succulent and superb Gala evening for VIPs and journalists. This is the second year that Salon Du Chocolate , (or the Chocolate show in English) – is being hosted in the UK; however for Salon Chocolate, they are celebrating their 20 birthday. This evening’s gala gave a glimpse of the weekend including the chocolate fashion show; luckily, this time round, members of the public will be able to see the fashion show live everyday at 5pm.
In celebration of Chocolate week, which is held in the middle of October, Salon Chocolate brings chocolate companies, , exhibitors and those who love chocolate together. It is an opportunity to learn about the newest range of chocolate, other delicious chocolate series and brands through demonstrations, tastings, truffle rolling and much more. As you can imagine there are many French speakers as the French and Belgians love their chocolate, ooh la la!
This evening, before the fashion show begun, Willy Master Fairy Choc Mother’ by Mark Tilling and Sue Hodges from Squires Kitchen., Paul Wayne Gregory and Downtown Abbey costume-maker, Caroline McCall designed Deco Diamond. It took three months to create and weights 60kg. There is also ‘ , from the musical Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, performed ‘Pure Imagination’ to set the chocolate tone for the evening.
Alexandra Harper Millinery who is renowned for her unique dress techniques, following her collaboration with Disney, applies her luxurious head wear with Andy , Executive Pastry Chef at the five-star Royal Hotel. also incorporates the range and Anita uses Fruitful Blooms for her mouth-watering outfits that come with a hand-made chocolate bag.
Bruno with Maison chocolate introduce a beautiful pink mesh-made dress and Quentin and Lucie Bennett introduce a cheeky autumn themed couture. And to add to the fashion show Carolyn Roper painted chocolate designs onto the dancers of the Pro who gave an outstanding performance.
This year there are up to fifty exhibitors with names that reach far and wide the globe including UK’s own Hotel Chocolate, , Artisan , Paul a Young, Rococo, Marc , Melt, Divine, , , , , and many more.
There is also a chocolate theatre, which allows to prepare demonstration that showcase their range of chocolates, which include Michelin-starred , Great British Bake Off champions Edd and John , and Paul a Young and Will Torrent. Pastry chefs will also be exhibiting their patisserie skills including France’s 23-year old Guillaume Sanchez, 5-star chefs from The Berkeley Hotel and Royal Hotel as well as the former Fat Duck pastry chef .
There will be tasting theatres available and activities for children. York Cocoa House will host activities including chocolate painting, chocolate bar creating and chocolate lollipop making.
Dates: 18-20 October Times: Friday: 2pm to 6pm Saturday: 10am to 7pm Sunday: open from 10am to 6pm Venue: Olympia National Hall, Hammersmith Road Kensington, London, W14 8UX Nearest Tube: Kensington (Olympia)
|Sylvie Douce and François Jeantet (founders of Salon du Chocolat)|
|Willy Wonka from the musical, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory|
|The Chocolatier – Aneesh Popat|
|Anita Thakker of Fruitful Blooms Chocolatiers|
|Anita Thakker of Fruitful Blooms Chocolatiers|
|Bruno Mirmont for Maison Boissier|
|Lindt Master Chocolatier and Paul Wayne Gregory & Caroline McCall|
|Quentin Gianora & Lucie Bennett|
|Mark Tilling for Squires Kitchen|
|Carolyn Roper for AOFM Pro|
|Café Royal & Alexandra Harper Millinery|
All You Need Is Kill by Japanese novelist, Hiroshi Sakurazaka has been adapted and directed by Doug Limar. Even I have to admit that I wasn’t expected Edge of Tomorrow to be as good as it was.
Like you, I’ve been bombarded with the usual and arguably prosaic Hollywood movies including CGI overkill Transformers 3, Godzilla and the Dawn of the Planet of Apes. The list goes on and there isn’t enough time to watch all of them.
If there were ever a reason to celebrate the need for reviewers and film critics, here would be the perfect opportunity. If it wasn’t for the movie rating system we wouldn’t be able to decide which films to spend our money on.
Academy Award winning actor, Tom Cruise as Major William Cage presents similar character traits reminiscent of the character he played in the 2005 film, War of the World.
Yet, again it’s regarding a man’s struggle to survive in the face of an alien invasion, but the composition and flow of the film is spectacularly different – it’s far from predictable, which is possibly why it has done successfully well in the box office.
Cage is far from an Ethan Hunt, who Cruise flaunts about in Mission Impossible as the secret agent with super athletic abilities. In fact, Cruise does his own stunts in Edge of Tomorrow and portrays Cage to be far more vulnerable and unskilled.
This is perhaps the allure of Cage’s personality; his humbleness is honourable. As a viewer, watching a protagonist fail so many times and develop his abilities every time he falls is inspirational.
Emily Blunt, famous for her appearance in The Devil Wears Prada is Rita Vrataski: the feminist warrior in the film and there’s no dramatic love story between her and Cage.
She is introduced much more stronger in military action and emotionally colder and shut off.
The emphasis is on their partnership and aim to save the world from the octopus slivering bastards or Mimics as they are called. As oppose to any sloppy fornication or sub-plot diversions, the story line remains consistent.
So, what’s so different about this film and why has it been getting such good reviews? Well, for a start the film isn’t exactly a simple beginning, middle and end.
Edge of Tomorrow it is an unassuming cyclical plot that replays the reality of Cage again and again, which throws an audience off the course as if it were Ground Hog Dog (1993) and more recently, Source Code (2011) where we are exposed to the protagonist’s woe of facing the same day repeatedly.
Like Jake Gyllenhaal in Source Code, Cage learns from his experience each time he re-visits the past and attempts to improve the future.
The script itself is also straightforward. There isn’t one line in the script that is out of place or irrelevant. It seems that Liman got it right.
The movie has a lot of special effects – of course- however, it isn’t at the expense of destroying the overall visuals of the movie or reducing it into a Pixar mania. What’s deeply penetrating is the way Cage exhibits various emotions like nostalgia, hope, perseverance and loss.
There is also one entirely uniform focus, which doesn’t leap from several unconnected genres. There is only one genre and that’s pretty much spells out Military Sci-Fi thriller. There isn’t any trivial lines or unnecessary slapstick clichés to belittle the quality of the film either.
The film is engaging and has some mystical way of keeping an audience’s attention and eyes on the screen. There really isn’t much opportunity to reflect on life outside the cinema as you’ll find yourself – like I did – fully imbued in the film.
Written by Mary Grace Nguyen (Chief-Editor and Founder of Flock to the Crown)
By Mary Grace Nguyen
News on the lack of sleep has spattered the media insisting that workers sleep – more – regularly and at set time frames to accommodate the 9-5 slog and inspire creativity for brilliant new age writers and artists. The typical recommendation is a steady 8 hours of sleep per day, but that would mean having to come home early and possibly missing out on episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Made in Chelsea’.
Yet, a newly released New York infographic by Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. has proved the opposite. Based on new research, the sleep times of the famous intelligentsia: world renowned novelists, musicians and academics, has shown that a smidgen of tiredness might play an influential part in conjuring novel ideas, furthering lexical dexterity and galvanising revolutionary movements (in the literary sense.) Whether it’s psychology, literature or music, the results thwart the established idea that we need a good night rest to come up with fresher and innovative ideas.
|Gustave Flaubert 1821 – 1880|
Just looking at the diagram it has shown that some of the ‘greats’ had interesting sleeping patterns. It seems that whilst writing ‘Madam Bovary’ Gustave Flaubert was up from 3am until 10am getting his patient and frustratingly slow romantic novel in order which explains why the book lulled me to sleep; he was also falling asleep writing it!
|Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)|
Most revered composer Mozart got a measly 5 hours sleep from the morning of 1am to 6am and it makes sense considering he lived an over-demanding existence. He performed to European nobility since the age of five and his father Leopold demanded he learn to play instruments – extremely well – on a daily basis. Later on in his adult life, whilst trying to abide to his fathers disciplinary values, he was given deadlines from the Freemasonry and was hard done by his frivolity with money and endless partying. This, coupled with getting in debt and accumulation of – speculated – illnesses including gum disease, bronchitis, small pox (to name a few,) one could say he died of over-exhaustion, stress and not enough sleep?
|Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939)|
Sigmund Freud, on the other hand, is a bit surprising considering his sleep slot was between 1am – 7am. Naturally, one would think his books on Psycho-analysis were inspired by his experiments with sex by having lots of it until the early morning yet these times prove otherwise. Perhaps he had early therapeutic sessions with Anna O. on her state of hysteria and spent time having sex earlier in the evening although there has been much mentions of his preference for stimulants as oppose to caffeine.
|F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 – 19400)|
F.Scott Fitzgerald got rest from 3.30am to 11am and isn’t it unsurprisingly? Having read the ‘Great Gatsby’ it is a bit too obvious. How could he know about the glitterati of the time if he wasn’t there dancing with them? His prose on the dazzling and audacious parties of the roaring 30s could have only bore from his first hand experience. We can assume that the day after was spent getting over the hangover by writing about it. One can imagine him writing about all the night antics in a half-intoxicated state which was possibly the best remedy to keeping him productive and getting his imagination boiling; that, and a dose of narcotics and the residue of gin churning in his stomach. Ouch!
|Immanuel Kant (1724 – 18
Immanuel Kant has his servant, Martin Lampe, force him to wake up at 5am. He would tell Lampe to be persistent in getting him to start the day early even if he resisted. Some research suggests Kant started working on lectures immediately, with two cups of weak tea, while other sources say he had an long stroll to get his thought juices flowing as well as some fresh air. His days and nights were spent in philosophical thought until 10pm which was the time he got some shut-eye.
If the enlightenment philosopher, Kant, had to be shoved out of bed to get him working it only proves that not all intellectuals naturally want to get out of bed early. This isn’t a public cry to engineer people to sleep less but it seems that these intellectuals had varied sleeping patterns mostly pointing out that they slept less than more. One could argue that it only shows their average sleeping patterns and that the infographic is slightly biased considering that it doesn’t show enough data about female intelligentsia. We can assume, however, that since they had a job or target aim in mind – to get X book written or symphony Y done – they were abiding by certain time frames which required set sleep slots. As a writer, carrying a notebook has its benefits for when a stimulating idea blossoms – morning, afternoon or night – it is captured instantly. And here comes the cheesy part: We never know where true inspiration stems from, but within thyself.
More information can be found here. Please click for here (All opinions are my own: Mary Grace Nguyen)
‘Sensational Butterflies’ is the Natural History Museum’s exhibition which has bought together hundreds of tropical butterflies and moths from six continents, including Africa, South America and South East Asia, and situated them in one butterfly house for all to see. Luke Brown, manager of the butterfly house, was pleased with the diversity of butterflies that had flown in from all over the globe and hoped that it would give people a chance not only to immerse themselves in butterflies but, also, learn more about the butterfly’s way of life.
Since the butterfly house is home to tropical butterflies from the Blue morpho, from Central and South America, to the Swallowtail, from the Americas, the actual environment is humid – so, it is advised to take off jackets before entering. It is intensely colourful, filled with a variety of delicate flora and green plants, some of which can only be found in the tropics.
The first sign at the entrance has the following rules: ‘If they land on you, don’t panic’ and ‘Please don’t step on them’ which is, perhaps, aimed at children who haven’t laid eyes on butterflies yet; some children may be more afraid of them (than willing to step on them) so be wary of random screaming. However, to adults alike, these creatures are quite picture-perfect, landing on your arm (as one landed on mine) and nonchalantly fluttering away in front of you.
The exhibition educates and provides information on the four life stages of a butterfly: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and fully developed butterfly; the life cycle can range from a few weeks to an entire year of hibernation for some chrysalis. One of the fascinating parts of the butterfly house is the hatchery window that inhabits rows and rows of live pupae, which were hand glued to the hatchery from scratch. Viewers can see a various stages of metamorphosis taking place and may be lucky enough to see a newly created butterfly tear itself out of it’s translucent chrysalis shell.
There are many interesting facts to pick up as you walk along the paths of the butterfly house. For example, did you know that caterpillars had 4000 muscles in their body? Or, that some caterpillars, such as Glasswing, ate certain poisonous and unappetising plants, including heliptrope leaves, in order to scare off predators?
Those interested in knowing more should keep an eye out for Owl butterflies drinking sugary liquids from oranges, butterflies mating and caterpillar eggs hidden underneath the dense foliage. Another interesting fact is that butterflies have five senses, just like humans, and they drum their feet on leaves to taste whether or not it’s a suitable place to lay their eggs. Children have easy-to-read explanations of the butterfly’s life stages and can interact by collecting butterfly stamps as they progress in the path.
There are other butterfly exhibitions provided such as, ‘A Night in the Jungle’ and the museum has set activities for school visits. Yet the butterfly house can also be a great option first dates.
Butterfly house exhibition is open until 26th September
Please visit the NHM website for more information:
Stunning, amazing, surreal, jaw-dropping, informative, heart-rending, sobering & utterly wonderful. Thank you @BBCEarth, #DavidAttenborough & all involved in producing the amazing #BluePlanet2. Clear your shelves - you're going to need a LOT of room for all the awards. Retweeted by Mary Grace Nguyen