Archives for the month of: October, 2012

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.

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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.

So I had nothing to do last night and this happened. The song lyrics are of a song called “Flawed Design” by Stabilo, which I first encountered while reading a Kurtofsky fanfic some time ago, but it fits perfectly with one of my main characters for this year’s nanowrimo. So it turns out it was a good way to get into his character in a way I hadn’t done before.

And in case anybody asks about Tommy’s hair – yes he is based on Tommy Joe Ratliff, and I do plan to change his name sometime in the future, I just don’t know what to replace it with.

I know my drawings are a work of art, by the way, you don’t have to tell me. I’m especially proud of Tommy’s head and the buried brain.

(you can only see the details in all their glory if you look at the pictures in full size ;))

A/N: These are the very first scenes in “Sunny Days”, my Nanowrimo novel from last year. I plan to post a part that’s somewhere in the middle of the story as well, but I’ve been promising to post an excerpt for so long and this bit is actually okay, as far as my writing goes. Feel free to critique(as long as it’s constructive!).

Mark closed his folder, and without even speaking to his class, simultaneously the sound of them throwing their books back in their bags and scraping their chairs against the linoleum floor arose in the room. As usual, they were out of there almost before he could say “Class dismissed”. He sighed as he watched them all leave. Then he packed up his things, put on his autumn jacket and hauled his messenger bag over his shoulder. He was going into town.

He had planned to go shopping, to buy something nice for his 12 year old niece, whose birthday was just around the corner. However, the Underground gods didn’t approve of this course of action, a fact they made clear when Mark’s train stopped halfway between Warren Street and Oxford Circus.
Mark had been through this kind of stuff before, so it didn’t exactly phase him. However, he was the type of person who kept to himself, and didn’t talk to anyone outside of his family or small circle of friends if he didn’t have to. That’s why he inwardly groaned when the old lady beside him started to small talk in a shrill voice, one that was much too loud for a mostly quiet subway cart.
“I think I recognise you from somewhere!” she said, and half the people in the cart turned to scrutinise him. Everybody liked a good celebrity encounter, he supposed.
But he was no celebrity. “I’m sure you’re mistaken, ma’am. He smiled weakly.
“No, I’m certain,” she insisted and started rummaging around in her bottomless handbag. “I know I had it in here…”
Mark looked away, stared up at the ceiling. What had his life become? Ten years ago, his whole life had been promising. He had been so happy. He used to consider himself an author, a man on a mission to change the way people saw the world. Teaching was really just his backup plan.
“Here it is!” the lady next to him exclaimed without warning and tugged at his sleeve.
He suppressed a sigh and looked to her. He raised his eyebrows in confusion.
“Wait a minute, that’s my…!” he looked up at the lady, who was now smiling.
She smiled sweetly, the wrinkles on her face testifying about a long life with many meetings and moments of both happiness and sorrow. “It’s my favourite,” she said.
“It is?” Mark stared disbelievingly at the book in her hand.
She turned to the very last page and pointed at the picture that was printed there. It was of Mark, a picture of the author, from eleven years ago.
He gently pried the book away from her hands to look at the picture. He was so young there. So happy. With a start, Mark remembered that very day, and his former boyfriend who had been with him. He smiled, this time much more genuine, and handed the book back to the lady. He never thought he would see anyone with his book, as it only sold about 300 copies when it was published. “Thank you,” he said to her and pressed a kiss to the back of her hand. Thank you for reminding me who I am, he added in his mind.
She returned his smile with fervour. In that very moment the train powered up and started moving again. Mark and his newfound friend returned to sitting in silence, the rest of the people in the cart having stopped paying attention to them long ago.
“Oh!” Mark buried his head in his hands. “An autograph!” he turned back to the lady. “Did you want an autograph?”

***

He arrived in Oxford Circus at long last, an hour after he was supposed to. The streets were usually still full of tourists at this time of day, but today seemed to be a little quieter. He was mostly window-shopping, finding nothing he deemed good enough for his favourite niece. Alisha was his goddaughter as well as his niece, and he always felt like taking a bit of extra care of her. He himself wasn’t religious, but his sister was Christian and all her two children were baptised.
An hour later he had bought a gold necklace, and though he was very happy with it, it had been a struggle to get through to the jeweler  who had been wrapped up in his own problems and arguing with his wife. He headed back to the tube station at a leisurely pace, feeling more relaxed than he had in a long time. Suddenly he stopped, as he saw another man his age come running down the steps from another street, carrying an unwieldy guitar case. The man looked extremely scattered and in a hurry, and suddenly he tripped down the rest of those stairs, guitar case falling open in the air, revealing a very battered and well-used acoustic guitar, now laying outside of its case, next to the man on the cold pavement. Mark had, however, already been staring at the man for several seconds before he fell. He knew that platinum blond hair anywhere. He swore he wouldn’t have noticed if a tsunami washed over them at this point. It had to be him. Nothing else mattered, because it was him.
He ran up to the man, who was just rising to his feet. Mark had gone over there, meaning to ask if he was okay, if he could help with anything, but he found himself simply standing there, a dumbstruck look on his face.
The man he knew to be Mitchell finally looked up at him, and Mark’s heart constricted with an emotion he had abandoned, as Mitchell’s face flashed with sorrow, anger and shock. And then something happened that Mark hadn’t expected.
“Mitchell!” Another man came running down the steps from which Mitchell had just fell. “Are you all right?” the man glanced briefly at Mark before grasping Mitchell’s shoulders firmly and looking deeply into his eyes, as if he was searching for something. Mitchell closed his mouth, that was open but silent, making him briefly resemble a goldfish.
“Mitchell!” the red-haired man insisted.
“Yes, Allen!” Mitchell burst. He squirmed in his friend’s tight grip. “Now let go!”
Allen did as he was told and glared at Mark, as if everything was his fault. Which he supposed it was, in a way. Mitchell turned to Mark, an unreadable expression on his face.
“Mark,” he stated in a strained voice.
“Mitch,” Mark breathed, showing considerably more emotion with his voice. With barely perceptible motions, started moving his hands up to Mitchell’s sides, but suspended the action before they had touched. He had never expected to see this man ever again in his life. “What are you… doing here?” he asked, because if he recalled as correctly as he knew he did – he wasn’t likely to forget his year with Mitchell, least of all how it ended – Mitchell was supposed to be working as a music teacher somewhere in Yorkshire.
Mitchell picked up his guitar with slow motions, as if he had to think each one through. “Came back to follow my dream,” he said matter-of-factly, looking at Mark strangely.
Mark couldn’t decipher his former boyfriend’s expressions. Nor could he think of anything to say to the man he had once considered the love of his life.
“Mitchell?” Allen said from behind him. “Who’s this?” he curiously raised an eyebrow.
“Nobody,” he answered, all the while looking at Mark.
Mark swallowed, starting to feel sick.
“I’ve got to go.” Mitchell looked as pained as he was, but his voice remained unwavering, and so did his gait. He started walking, slowly, and looked back to catch the older man’s eyes one more time, before he started running, guitar held protectively against his chest. Outside of its case.
Allen, however, didn’t spare him a second look as he sprinted after his friend.
“Mitch!” Mark yelled. “Mitch!”
But Mitchell didn’t hear him. Either that, or he didn’t want to.
Mark sighed and looked down at the ground, where the guitar case did indeed lay, open and empty without its occupant. He closed it and picked it up gently. Maybe if Mitch was back for good they’d run into each other again. That was his argument for saving the case. He could give it back if they did. And he couldn’t just leave it there. It was Mitchell’s. Therefore, it was more important than anything he owned. It was another link to the man he had lost through sheer stupidity. He couldn’t even bare to think about what that ginger bloke might mean to Mitchell. He hoped they were just friends. He disapproved of jealous thoughts in general, especially when they were unfounded and even more so when the person having them had no right to, but he couldn’t help himself. It was in his gut, that feeling. In his heart. It felt wrong to see Mitchell with somebody else.

Mark and Mitchell’s last meeting was so long ago, they hadn’t seen each other in ten years. Mark had almost started seeing him as a dream, being so utterly perfect in his memory. And he knew, that nobody was perfect. Maybe that was why, with each passing week, even day in the beginning, Mitch had felt less and less real until he seemed to Mark a concept, a dream you barely remember when you wake up, and one you distort further every time you tell it to someone. Mark hadn’t even thought about him for months, yet there he was, just like that. The same day somebody reminded him of Mitchell. The same day he found a new friend on the subway.

I have some exciting news! I’ve made some real progress on my Nanowrimo novel from last year today(seeing as I called in sick and all even if I’m not really sick…). I now know how I want to end it, and there’s basically only one or two more scenes left to write. This is huge, seeing as I’ve been battling with this for about 10 months now. I literally just did a lap around the flat, dancing to ridiculously disco celebratory songs.

I’ve also chosen which plot I’m going with for this years Nano! It will be the dark romance one, and this is the revised synopsis:
Tommy is a punkrocker from a small town in Pennsylvania who has just moved to New York. There he meets Melissa, a French waitress who rocks his world. But he also meets Cameron, an eccentric man that he takes an instant dislike to. A man that attracts him, confuses him and just won’t leave him alone. Before Tommy knows it, Cameron is his best friend. His confidante. The person who calms him down when he fights with his band, his girlfriend and his conservative father. Cameron nestles his way into his life and when tragedy strikes – he’s all that’s left.
But what is it that Cameron really wants?

I’ll just leave it there for now, see you soon!

To continue with the Nanowrimo theme, the following is a comment I posted on Nanowrimo’s Romance:: LGBT Forum with the purpose of pimping out my plots and maybe getting an opinion or two on them.

So… I’m 16 now and I’ve been writing M/M since I was 12. It wasn’t until last year I started writing F/F as well, and this year I’m deciding between two very different plots.

1.Tommy is a punkrocker from a small town in Pennsylvania(subject to change) who has just moved to New York. There he joins a band and meets a wonderful girl who he falls in love with. He also meets a guy, who annoys him greatly at first. But this guy is persistent, and they start to become friends. Before Tommy knows it, Cameron is his best friend. His confidante. The person who calms him down when he fights with his band, his girlfriend and his family. Cameron nestles his way into his life and when tragedy strikes – he’s all that’s left.
This is aimed to be a dark romance, with Cameron mostly out to satisfy himself(he has some sort of hidden agenda that I haven’t quite figured out yet), BUT he also develops serious feelings for Tommy, which means this story could either have a happy ending with Cameron abandoning his evil plotting, or an ambiguous ending where Cam has gotten away with his scam, broken Tommy’s heart – and by extension his own.

2.Riley used to be an ordinary teenager. She had a pleasant enough life, some troubles at home because her parents wouldn’t accept that she was gay, but otherwise she was okay. But Riley is one of the few people that were chosen to become an “Angel”. The Angels are a secret government experiment that looks to be more from a science fiction film than reality. Angels are people that are invisible to everyone but the people that they’re meant to protect and watch over. The only other person who can see them is their soul mate(this was a biproduct of the genetic modification that the government never expected).
Jess is a 17 year old shy, quiet girl who is just going to her first party. There she meets Riley, apparently her classmate’s sister that he’s never talked about. She’s suspicious of her, and sometimes it feels like she’s not even there. Despite all of that, she can’t help but fall in love with her.

I’ve obviously thought through option 1 a lot more when it comes to detailed plot, but something about the sci-fi and mystery of option 2 makes me want to write that. The Angels are a concept that I’ve been working on for 3 years and in the beginning it was supposed to be a fantasy thing. It’s only this year that I’ve decided to make it sci-fi instead, mostly because I like the idea of the government having thought of this special breed of people to exist for the sole purpose of protecting others. It’s inspired by both vampire books, Charmed and Captain America xD

So if anyone wants to give me their opinion on these plots to help me decide which one to write, that would be more than welcome! 🙂

(my penname on nanowrimo.org is whereJIJisalive)

I’d like to warn you that this might sound like a pep-talk(and it probably functions in that manner – for myself).

Nanowrimo is coming up in three weeks and I can’t decide what to write. For those of you who don’t know, Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month and is a challenge for authors to write 50 000 words of their novel during the 30 days that constitute November. I did it last year but I only got to 32 000 words.

This year I have decided to do it again, and try to get to the full 50k this time. The most important part, though, is that I give it my best try. I just have to keep writing in the hope that I’ll get better. So at the moment I’m trying to cement two sets of characters for two separate stories because I have not decided which one I’m going with. This unwillingness to make a decision was, I guess you could say, destructive for me last year. Then I wrote about three different couples, three different major storylines. That was a problem, but I also think it’s what got me to 32 000 words, as opposed to a much smaller amount. So this year I’m choosing ONE, and something tells me it’s going to present a whole new set of challenges. It’s all about perseverance I think. Not giving up.

So how do you not give up? How do you not let the story take you as far as it will take you and then just stop writing? How do you make sure you don’t write yourself into a dead end that you can’t get out of? These are all extremely good questions. Because the truth is, committing to something like Nanowrimo is scary. It means you’re taking a risk. And it’s possible that you’re going to fail. But when I think like this, when I doubt it, and when it makes me wonder if I’m insane taking on something like this in the month that school is probably going to be the busiest, then I remember last year. Doing Nanowrimo last year was one of the best experiences in my life. And it has improved my writing so much. And the – admittedly still unfinished – novel I got from it was worth the time, the effort and the tears. Because it was more than I had ever written before. I’m not saying it was very good(I’ll post an excerpt soon and you can judge for yourself), in fact as novels go I think it’s pretty shitty and unstructured, but it proved to me that I can write.

This year I have my second chance.

A/N: I don’t really know what this is, to be honest, I don’t even know if I like it. But it’s different from what I usually write so I thought because of that it might be worth posting. As I’ve said, I do a lot of experiments with my writing lately, just to sort of see what I can do and not just keep to simple things. Interpret this how you like, I have something in mind for these characters for the future. I don’t know if this scene will be incorporated, but I like how these characters are in my mind and I’m actually thinking of writing a fantasy story around them. More on that later, though. Thanks, whoever you are, for reading my blog =)

Jess looked around the room awkwardly, holding a cider in her hand when suddenly a girl appeared next to her.

“Hi,” she said.

“Erm, hi,” Jess answered, surprised and not used to people initiating conversations with her.

“You enjoying the party, then?” The girl asked, friendly and inquisitive.

“Yeah, sure,” Jess said, apparently not too convincingly because the girl gave her a look that told her she didn’t believe her. “No, not really,” she conceded. “Parties aren’t really my thing.”

“No, mine neither. I’m Riley,” she said, offering her hand for Jess to shake.

“Jess,” Jess paused and looked at the woman she was facing. She was older than her – maybe a year or two – had short, dark blonde hair, a piercing through her eyebrow and a grey band t-shirt(Black Sabbath). That’s how Jess noticed people. Little, scattered things about them that caught her attention. It wouldn’t be until later, when they were stood on the balcony away from the people inside, that she noticed her burgundy slim jeans and the tattoo on her left  collarbone that she couldn’t make out the exact shape of in the relative darkness.

“So why are you here if you don’t like parties?” Riley asked her, above the noise of the music they were playing.

Jess smiled. “Half my class is here, they kind of dragged me,” she confessed.

“Oh, I know the feeling,” Riley said, taking a sip of her beer. Then she seemed to realise something. “Oh, so you’re in Robbie’s class then?”

“Yeah, why?”

“I’m his big sister,” Riley smiled, and that was when Jess noticed her piercing cheekbones.

“Oh, okay,” Jess said, slightly surprised. Although she could see the similarities between her artistic classmate and the girl in front of her. “How old are you, then?” She asked, feeling a little lame. She didn’t really know the rules of conversation in a situation like this. She didn’t even know what sort of situation it was.

“I’m 19,” Riley said, and looked around her as somebody raised the volume of the music. “You want to go outside?” she half-shouted, leaning into Jess. To make her voice carry, no doubt.

On the inside Jess was shocked, intrigued, and a little bit scared. Maybe it was that kind of a situation. Despite herself, she was excited. She said yes, and let herself be led through the house, Riley’s hand always touching some part of her, casually, as if they had been friends for years. The hand eventually landed on the small of Jess’ back, as Riley had closed the door to the balcony.

“I hope I’m not being too forward,” Riley said, and Jess’ heart skipped a beat. Or several.

“No, no, course not,” she heard herself say even though she wasn’t sure at all.

This was when Jess noticed the warmth radiating off the girl in front of her, and how much taller she was, since they were standing so close together. Riley looked into her eyes, not moving a muscle. The moment intensified.

This was when Jess noticed herself, standing on the other end of the balcony, a ghostly pressure on her lips.

After a long day(my Fridays in school are excruciating), I’m finally home trying to get something productive done. I’m listening to the new Muse album, probably one of my favourite albums in existence.

We were talking about language in school today(actually I have a class that’s called Människans Språk which best translates to The humans’ Language, I suppose, even though that reads horribly), more specifically about what’s right and wrong in our language. Obviously we were talking mostly about the Swedish language, and what changes are being made in it by the younger generations. Some grammatical rules are being changed, slowly but surely, and for some reason that makes me a little anxious. I don’t want our grammar to become more lenient, so to speak, I want it to stay correct. But then again, if it always stayed correct it would never evolve. Is it just that I don’t like change? Am I becoming a teenage version of those grumpy old men who can’t handle – can’t understand – change, no matter if it’s linguistic or otherwise? No. Well, obviously not. I’m part of the change. I’m very much a part of the internet generation. I love new words and I love when we incorporate English words into the Swedish language(for the most part). I guess I just like it better when languages evolve slowly. In that way everybody can catch up and get used to what’s new. But language is a matter of taste, too. Authors(even aspiring ones who don’t know what they’re doing) live on that taste. It’s the same when I listen to music – and the few times that I’ve written songs – I listen for the artistry, to hear what the songwriter has done to the language to make it special. To make the words resonate with people. And for that we need words that are complicated and messy. Old and new. Words that we can all relate to.

This has been an unstructured post, to say the least, but I’ll be back soon with a new short story that I’d love to get some feedback on – it’s another experiment.

Biblioklept

 

(From Kafka’s diaries).

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