It’s no secret that I’ve been reading The Fry Chronicles on and off for at least two years, reading it in between school literature, recommendations and the endless list of books on my “to read” list. I honestly don’t know why it’s taken so long, it’s just that it ended up in my bookshelf collecting dust for long periods of time. A few days ago I thought, I can’t possibly have 14 books(I counted), fourteen books, sitting in my bookshelf that I’ve started to read and not finished. A few of them I’ve read the first chapter of, a few to the half-way mark. And I thought, I have to finish them. I won’t be able to start any others until I finish at least a majority of them.

It became a matter of where to begin. Now I can say that I have finished a book that is not an assignment for the first time since I read The Hunger Games a little over a year ago. It was not The Fry Chronicles. It was Chris Colfer’s book, Struck by Lightning(Land of Stories is among the 14, by the way). But then to be fair I’ve been reading that all summer.

Stephen Fry’s book is not as quick a read. Still I’ve read 100 pages in just a few days. I’ve just begun the last quarter. And now we get to the point of this rambly, self-indulgent post(I also feel like I’m emulating Fry at the moment, but maybe that’s just because his voice lives inside my head right now). It struck me to go back and look at the first few pages, before the introduction. The boring ones with quotes and copyright and all that. And a dedication that I didn’t see or didn’t think much of when I started reading this book on a car ride home from Malmö(or possibly Copenhagen airport, I’m not sure) two years ago. I might have just cried a little bit. A few tears, just a few. Because the dedication is “To M’Coll”. Vague enough that not everyone will get it, but clear enough that the ones who pay attention will. Isn’t M’Colleague Stephen’s nickname for Hugh Laurie? Am I completely insane? Isn’t that what it means? I assume that it is, and if so, that is the most touching two words I’ve ever read.

Where can I get a friendship like that?

Hi, guys!

Since the end of April, I’ve had such a stressful time at school, like you wouldn’t believe. It’s been essays and tests and national tests(a Swedish thing that includes maths, Swedish, English, a third language, and some other subjects depending on what grade you’re in). And when I get stressed and feel pressure to perform, all I really want to do is hide under my covers and just avoid everything. To be honest, I’m really proud of myself for getting through this as well as I have, because even though 9th grade was stressful last year, it didn’t feel anything like this. When I get extremely stressed and overworked I also tend to have frequent nosebleeds, which is maybe not something you want to know, but I do feel like it’s a good physical indicator for me when I’m working too hard. I had such a nosebleed yesterday,  so I’ve taken it upon myself to get some rest today. I am, however, going away to work at a weekend camp tomorrow, which won’t exactly be a relaxing experience.

Nonetheless, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that light is approaching.

As for my writing, I’ve been taking part in kurtofskythings gift exchange over on tumblr, where I’ve written 5k words worth of fanfiction. When I signed up for it at the beginning of April it sounded like a good idea. Let me just tell you it wasn’t the best. When it was a day before deadline, I had 1400 words written, with the minimum being 2500. I sent it in a day after deadline, 5000 words long. And even though that was stressful and idiotic, it also showed me that my abilities extend way beyond what I thought. I was able to write 3600 words in 2 days. It was possible. And maybe it wasn’t the best fanfic I’ve ever written, but it wasn’t the worst either. The gift exchange showed me the value of deadlines, and I’m really grateful for that, even though it would have been so much easier just to abandon it.

Aside from the gift exchange, I haven’t written anything except for various essays for school. My nano novel is sadly on hold for the time being, but I’m thinking of signing up in July again to have some motivation and pressure to continue it. Until then I think I’ll spend my time reading Brideshead Revisited(about which I will write a post, quite soon) and writing some more fanfic to keep the fire burning, so to speak.

På återseende!
See you later!
Bis später!
Tot ziens!
À bientot!

Welcome to a rare, Swedish post.

Vi pratade om könsroller idag i skolan, samt användandet av ordet hen. Jag har haft många tankar om det innan den här lektionen, men trots det så kunde jag inte formulera några ordentliga tankar just i klassrummet. När jag kom hem skrev jag dock ner mina tankar om det hela:

“Jag tror att det finns två kön, tre om man räknar med de som föddes med både manliga och kvinnliga könsorgan. Men jag tror att dessa kön begränsar oss. Jag vet att de gör det. Om och när jag får barn, tänker jag inte klä dem i blå eller rosa beroende på vilket kön de är. Om min dotter tittar i en klädaffär så vill jag att hon ska kunna välja från alla kläder där, även de från ”killavdelningen”. Jag vill att min son ska kunna leka med barbiedockor på dagis utan att bli mobbad, jag vill att han ska kunna ha klänning på sig om han känner för det. Jag vill att min dotter ska kunna ha slips eller fluga på skoldiskot om hon vill det. Varför inte? Varför ska vi låta samhällets utdaterade könsroller bestämma vad vi har på oss, vad vi leker med, hur vi rör oss, vilka intressen vi har och vilka vi är? Det förstår jag inte. Jag vill inte att mina eventuella barn ska bli hämmade och begränsade bara för att vissa tycker att flickor ska vara rosa och pojkar ska vara blå. Mina barns identiteter ska inte främlingar få bestämma.”

Och jag skulle nog kunna skriva mycket mer om detta(det är något jag tänker mycket på), men eftersom jag inte har postat något på länge så får det vara bra med det här.

As I’ve mentioned I’m going to try to do Camp Nanowrimo in April. I haven’t posted anything lately because I’m kind of afraid to, at least when it concerns nanowrimo. Because, well, last time it went to hell, didn’t it? And maybe it will this time too. I really hope not.

Until April, though, I have a couple snippets of the novel for you.

***

A/N: A possible beginning to the story.

Riley Hopkins had been staring at the blank computer screen for quite a while. The vertical line towards the top left of the screen kept blinking, in and out of existence. If she flicked her eyes down to the bottom right corner she could see that another fifteen minutes had passed. She would have to go to sleep soon. But the daily diary entry was mandatory, and so she stared at the screen just a little bit onger, before fixing her fingers on the keyboard. Typing noises filled the air of the small apartment, as she forced herself to think of some trivial details to write down. There had been no mission. Nothing was out of the ordinary. And her microwavable ready-meal had tasted like carrots. Satisfied, she saved the entry onto the database and turned off the computer.

Riley had a mission in the morning, so it was time for bed.

***

A/N: A conversation between the antagonist and the protagonist’s mentor.

“We’re the same kind of people,” Murdoch says calmly, like he knows, like he’s in Hayes’ head. And if anybody can be in Hayes’ head, it’s Murdoch. And that scares him more than anything, because he still wants to believe they’re not the same. He wants to believe that he’s good still, strong still, courageous as he used to be. “You and I, Hayes,” Murdoch says and approaches him. Looks down on him. “If you hadn’t given yourself up for research, your own research, you and I could have worked together. We could have shared it all.” And Hayes is paralyzed, because Murdoch wants him to be. He is filled with renewed contempt for the man in front of him, a man who is way more delusional and idealistic than he is. The biggest difference between them also defines them. Hayes believes in the power of the people, but Murdoch believes only in the power of himself. What a dangerous person to be about to run the country.

If you’ve been reading my previous blog entries you know that I’ve been considering writing a story that involves chemically engineered angels, lesbians and a very corrupt government. The first part of it(most likely the prologue) is posted here under the title “First Impressions”. I’ve revised it, I’ve had a good think, and I think it’s something worth doing.
To give you some background on the story:

Riley is one of the victims of an aggressive government experiment that leaves her invisible to virtually everyone. But the purpose of this invisibility is to enable her and the others like her to help and protect people who are valuable to the government. Those people are the only ones who can see her.

Having been like this for three years, 22 year old Riley comes across a girl called Jess. She is not Riley’s charge, not meant to be protected, but still Jess can see her. Puzzled and thrown, Riley goes to the government and demands answers, none of which are given.

Riley keeps meeting Jess, who gets increasingly curious of who Riley is and why she’s invisible to everyone else. As her snooping becomes more and more personal, and by proxy a threat to the government, they decide to take her out.

If Riley saves her and hides her away, the government will surely use their trackers to find Riley and kill her instead(or possibly something even worse), but if she doesn’t, she will have to watch as they kill Jess. The only person who has cared about her for the last three years, the only person who has made her feel something other than what the government programmed her to feel, dead.

If only there was a hidden third option.

What I’m wondering now, is whose point of view should I tell the story from? Should I tell it from Riley’s POV and explain who she is and why she’s like that from the get-go, or should I tell it from Jess’ POV and leave it a mystery for half the book? That is the question.

If anybody has an opinion, I’d love to hear it!

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the term iTunes Drabbles(or occasionally iTunes Challenge), but the gist of it is that you put your iTunes on shuffle and write one short story(80-150 words) for every song that comes up. I haven’t done this in a long time, but I felt really full of ideas today and anxious to write something. Doing this helped me get some stuff out.

**

The characters I used were original ones that I’m just getting to know. They’re all young(19-23) and called Emery, Olli, Hayes and Spencer. These stories have nothing to do with each other, and I’ve used the characters in different ways with different relationships while still trying to retain their individual essence and feel. Also I haven’t proofread them terrible thoroughly, so you’ll have to excuse any errors.

1. Professor Umbridge – Nicholas Hooper(Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix soundtrack)
Emery opens his eyes to darkness. The last time he awoke there was darkness too, but there was also a warm body beside him. That warmth was now gone, and the darkness much more poignant and thick. He sits up in the bed and calls for his… friend? Lover? Partner? Olli. He calls for Olli, who he can’t define. He knows that’s part of the problem. Only silence answers him, and he knows abandonment will always be his problem, if his Olli doesn’t return. A sliver of light cuts through the inky darkness, and silently he is swept up in an embrace of warmth. Love now coexists with darkness, both in this room and in his heart.

2. Mine – Taylor Swift(Glee Cast Version)
Hayes looks out on the pond. The image of the sky is reflected in the water. He feels happy, though a little anxious as he waits for his boyfriend. Spencer was always late – he shouldn’t worry. Sprawled out on the grass, he watches the clouds. Taking a deep breath to expel his nervousness, he doesn’t realize the fitful sleep he falls into. When he wakes up there are sirens drifting through the air, and his best friend Olli is shaking him awake. There has been an accident, he shouts. Why is he shouting? The warmth of the summer day rushes out of his body, as another friend runs down to them, bringing the news of death. Flash-forward to a funeral, the funeral, where everything, even the roses, are black. Until Hayes looks out on the pond, and Spencer is walking up to him, hiding something behind his back. “Is this real?” Hayes whispers, and Spencer kneels down beside him to give him a life-confirming, reaffirming, cementing kiss which leaves no doubt in his mind. Spencer pulls out from behind him a brilliant, red rose.

3. A Death Waltz – Jay Brannan
Their eyes met across the dance floor, not for the first time that evening. The old-fashioned ball had appealed to many people, but especially to Olli, who couldn’t stop his eyes from flickering from person to person, their brilliant period clothes the attraction that commanded his eyes. Until him. There was no one dressed as brilliantly as him, but his clothes were far down on the list of why Olli couldn’t tear his eyes away from him. The man’s eyes, his sharp features and his confident gait were all things that commanded attention, and Olli could feel himself move onto the dance floor as a waltz started playing in the background. As if on cue, the man met him in the middle, the couples swirling around them nothing more than background fodder, a picture with the shutter left open for too long even for the most avant garde photographer. With no words exchanged, they held each other and moved in unison to the music. Olli would find himself in the arms of this handsome, mysterious man many times in the future, not sure if his dance ever conveyed the words he couldn’t say.

4. Runnin’ – Adam Lambert
There was never a bottle so compelling as the bottle of whiskey on the table in front of him. Hayes had always been innocent. Well-behaved. The nice boy mothers loved to be introduced to. Then he had met Spencer, who had turned his world upside down. The world of girlfriends and studies and having said girlfriend’s mothers fall in love with him was over. There was only Spencer, that man and his dark eyes and all-knowing smirk. He was kind when he needed to be. So charming and protective and Hayes hadn’t been able to resist. Redefining everything he thought he was had never been so exhausting, and the escape the bottle provided was too valuable not to take advantage of. He didn’t yet have the energy or the courage to face the tall, dark and handsome paradigm shift in his life, and running was so much easier.

5. All time low – The Wanted
After finding Emery in a pool of his own vomit on the floor of his apartment, Spencer, Olli and Hayes decided they couldn’t let this go on. They wouldn’t let their best friend destroy himself, so they cleaned him up, took care of him, and told him the only way left to go was up. They were curious of what had led their friend to this all time low, but they didn’t feel like they could ask. Until Emery himself told them when he woke up for the second time. They were loved. All of them. In different ways and from different points of view, but loved nonetheless. But they were leaving, all moving away, and Emery couldn’t handle it. Their family split up, it was unbearable for the broken boy looking up at them from the bed. Shameful tears burned in his eyes and his black hair sticked to his face with sweat, but he was still swept up in a heart-crushing hug by his family. They reassured him, as best they could, and promised to take care of him wherever they went in the world.

6. Aftermath – Adam Lambert(Glam Nation Live version)
Coming out hadn’t been Olli’s decision, but the situation seemed to take the choice out of his hands. His parents found him in the hospital, holding the hand of an unconscious and to them foreign boy, which by itself would have been explainable. The fact that it was after the bank robbery and Olli himself had dried blood all over his clothes – some of it his own – and that he was clinging to the boy with desperate tears in his eyes, made the whole thing a little more conspicuous. His parents fought with him, but he stayed by the hospital bed until the boy woke up, his red-rimmed, blue eyes looking up at him. Olli smiled through his tears, and leant down to place a soft kiss on the other boy’s chapped lips. Warmth was exchanged through their intertwined hands and love, Olli thought, didn’t have far to go before it too would reach them.

7. Another One Bites the Dust – Queen
The club was teeming with excitement, and the loaded atmosphere as they waited for the main act of the evening never failed to fill Spencer with anticipation. He knew this night’s main act. It was his best friend’s band, and it was the first time he would see them perform. The curtain rose and the music started, and a small smile spread on Spencer’s face. Hayes was standing in the middle of the stage, ridiculously tight leather pants hugging his legs and a ripped shirt on his upper body. Spencer had never seen him look so hot, or hot at all come to think of it, since Spencer wasn’t gay. As soon as Hayes started dancing, though, he knew he would have to reevaluate that assumption. Hot was definitely the right word, and he resolved to tell Hayes that as soon as the show was over, and worry about his sexuality and the integrity of their friendship another day.

I like writing fanfiction. In a way it’s easier than writing original fiction, because when you’re using characters from a film or a tv show or a book, then the characters are already there. They’re already done. All you need to do is put them into an event or a storyline. It leaves you free to focus on writing style and action, instead of expositioning the characters and explaining their lives and relationships. The reader will already know the character, which means all you have to do is stay true to the original characterization when you write the story. Unless of course you want to take an evil/annoying character and put them trough something that will change them for the better. Or an annoyingly good and innocent character and change them for the worse. There is just so much you can do, and the template is already there. It’s like when you were little and drawing in a coloring book. You got to choose your own colors for the image – sometimes they would be obvious and boring, but sometimes they would be completely crazy – and you were able to put your own stamp on it, pour your creativity over it, while still not having to think of everything yourself. And you all remember being children with coloring books, right? Sometimes you completely disregarded the lines. That’s what fanfiction is. And the possibilities are endless.

Personally I’m not that good of a fanfic author. I’ve written many that I hate with a burning passion, I’ve written some that I tolerate, and I’ve written a couple that I allow myself to be proud of. It’s just a matter of getting a good idea, holding on to it, and executing it well. I have no problems coming up with concepts. And they rarely let go once they’re in my head. My problem is with the execution. Usually with fanfiction I write a scene or two, sometimes even a chapter or two, but then I get stuck and move on to the next idea. I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with this – I guess I reckon that if a story really doesn’t want to be written, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea from the start. But you can’t give up too easily. You have to invest your time into it, to get anything back. And it’s the same with every kind of writing. Another good thing about fanfiction is that if you’re writing in at least a moderately popular fandom, people will want to read it. You will get a few likes or kudoses or favorites, and probably a review or two as well. And for me, at least, it really helps to know that people other than myself and my friends are going to read it. It gives it a whole other purpose, not to mention the kick you get from hearing someone tell you how much they love something you’ve written. A complete stranger.

I remember one particular review – on the fic that I’m probably the most happy with – that was from the author of Kurtofsky classic “Strange Currencies”. I basically stared at it, smiled, and burst into tears. This person took maybe fifteen minutes to read my fic, and another five to write the review. But it completely made my day. That’s why I try to review as much as I can, because I know that even a small positive comment can cheer someone up immensely. Fanfiction is therefore, an exchange between writers of all kinds – teenagers, aspiring authors, actual published authors, people who have writing as a hobby, etc – of talent, happiness and tears, and perhaps most importantly, feedback.

When it comes to my writing, I have a lot to thank the world of fanfiction.

Things don’t always go to plan. November, which has long since passed, did not go at all as I planned it would. No Nanowrimo this year. Or, well, about 3 000 words of it, but I don’t think that counts. There are a number of reasons why I failed this year. School work is one, but that’s mostly an excuse, actually. Thing is, after two days of writing that went marginally well, I hit a funk that I didn’t pull out of. Why didn’t I just keep at it, as I did last year, you ask? Well, I kind of lost faith in the idea. Or not the idea, per se, but the idea of me writing it. I think that particular concept was a little too mature(no not that kind of mature…) for me to write at this point. I think I would have done better if I had stuck with the science fiction one. Anyway, enough lamenting. Eyes forward.

I have a few stories, ideas and concepts in my head that I want to write(mainly so they’ll get out of my head). Here is a list, for personal reference as much as anything:

  • Dark Road Into You – This year’s failed Nanowrimo. It will get written. Just not now.
  • First Impressions – The extremely bad working title for my science fiction romance story.
  • Anthony Parsons – This one doesn’t even have a title, but it does have a few thousand words and it’s the one I spend most of my time on right now. It’s a queer romance(when is it not, with me? :P) set sometime in the 20′s, that is played out almost entirely in letters. I’m really excited about it.
  • Fanfiction: Are you listening to me? – A Glee fanfic that I’m writing for the Kurtofsky winterfest in January. Set winter season 3, Kurt meets Dave at the ice cream parlor and tells him all about how much of an idiot Blaine is.
  • Konsten att flirta(The art of flirting) – A strange thing that sort of developed after a lecture on safe sex and whatnot in school. It was a bizarre lecture, and a bizarre encounter with a boy that sparked this odd little story. It’s in Swedish too. For once.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I write, and I wonder, should I be writing more in Swedish? I usually think that I express myself better in English, that I’m better able to write in English, and that it will be easier for my writing to reach more people when it is in English. But obviously there are flaws to that. I’ve noticed, quite recently, that there are areas within the English language where I’m not as able as I would like to be. Describing environments and objects finds me grasping for words at times. Because while I’m perfectly able to use and understand social language, getting more and more apt in using advanced language in the context of politics, and picking up the expressions and sayings that I’ve missed in the past, there is a gap in my vocabulary when it comes to descriptions. And that’s particularly harmful when it comes to creative writing.

If I were to write in Swedish, this particular problem wouldn’t exist. However, I have gotten so used to English now that I find it difficult to write without the help of English expressions. It also happens that I mix English expressions with Swedish ones, thus creating something incredibly confusing. Swedish also feels a little false and contrived to me in these circumstances and I think it would take a lot to undo these feelings and impressions.

On to something that’s not quite as serious. What useful words exist in Swedish, but not in English?

  • fika: it can be either a noun or a verb and means to have a coffee or tea and a cake or cookie of some sort, often with friends or family in a nice setting. I love to fika. It feeds my soul with cozy feelings.
  • självklart: this is something I don’t think a lot of people have noticed, but the lack of this word in English bothers me a lot. It has several meanings, one of them being something that is self-evident. For example: “It is self-evident that she likes chocolates, the box I bought for her is empty!” But it can also mean of course or obvious.
  • orka: to have the energy to do something, for example: “Orkar du komma på festen ikväll?”=”Do you have the energy to come to the party tonight?” or “Jag orkar inte göra mina läxor!”=”I don’t have the energy to do my homework!” And it’s an awesome word sadly missed in English.
  • blunda: a verb that describes to close your eyes. It’s really weird that English doesn’t have something like that.
  • jobbigt: something that is hard to do, something you don’t want to do. It’s a word that contains difficult, troublesome, tiring, and annoying all in one word, which is great for dark October afternoons.

I hope this was somewhat entertaining at least. Recently my eyes have been opened to the fact that Sweden and Swedish really isn’t as bad as I’ve always thought it was.

Swedish acting, however, among other things, is just as bad as I’ve always thought it was.

Sunny Days, my very first novel is now finished. I’ve had a quick look through it just now, and of course I found several things I want to change. But that’s inevitable. I actually think this has been changed and revised enough times, and it’s kind of crap, which means it’s not really worth spending any more time on. It’s my nano novel from 2011, so I’ve actually spent almost a year on it already. I reckon that’s enough.

Now, and for my next novel, I want to focus on character development, and consistency, something that I… didn’t really do for Sunny Days. I focused on other, more basic things, like making the plot go round, making it realistic and describing the environment(and finishing it!). It’s very much a first attempt at a novel, and at around 35 pages it’s extremely short. But I like it because it’s finished.

My main characters in Sunny Days are quite simplistic, and they don’t really go through any major change. Plus the fact that the ending is a bit of a cop-out, mostly because I wanted to be rid of this before November this year. I promised myself that this would be finished by then. So I guess I took some liberties with the last quarter, cut some corners, you know. But, for a first attempt by a 15/16 year old Swedish girl, I think it’s pretty damn good. It’s interesting how my opinion on it changes according to what angle I see it from, though. I mean, if a publisher read it without knowing anything of the author, he’d think it was terrible. If he knew who had written it, he would probably be impressed.

I don’t know. Sorry if I repeat myself too much. I’m just really conflicted on whether to be proud of it or to be ashamed of it and shove it in a cupboard. I think I’m mostly proud of it. I think it’s important to allow yourself to be proud of what you achieve, and Sunny Days is a tremendous achievement of mine, and I can only get better from here.

So to everybody else who are writing their first novel, or short story, or script, or anything really, just don’t give up. I had given up on this, until I sat down with it one day in a coffee-fueled frenzy and something gave. I was able to find the continuation, that was previously locked inside my head. And then I had to fight to drag the last few scenes out of me, but now it’s done. Just after I printed it, just holding it in my hand, thumbing through it, 35 pages of something I’d written, it was one of the best feelings in the world.

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