Tag Archives: writing

As random as it gets

Hello!

Remember me?

I didn’t fall off the surface of the earth, but I drifted off for a while. A lot longer than I thought I would. A comment to my last post asking me if I was still in the process of making pancakes had me realizing just how long I’d be abscent from my blog. Thank you, Tina! ūüôā

1. Creative roller coaster
This spring I have been struggling with going between periods of feeling very creative to stretches of time in which I’ve not wanted to do anything but eat, watch tv and sleep. I’ve felt very scattered and I needed to rest my brain for a bit by staying more focused.

2. Sewing
I have, however, worked my way through finishing that colourful crazy 9-patch quilt I was making for a baby’s name-giving ceremony (blogged here¬†and here). I will show you the finished quilt as soon as the ceremony has taken place. I have also sewn two Jewelry Rolls (pattern from One-Yard Wonders by Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins) as graduation gifts for friends (posted here on July 2nd, 2011). There’s a Teardrop Bag (from Amy Butler’s Style Stitches) hanging in my craft room waiting to be gifted to a friend on her 40th birthday on Saturday. Posts on these projects will appear here.

3. Knitting
I have also been knitting a bit. You will see posts on my “process” in that area as well. I have managed to mess up a pair of socks by knitting the second one on needles that were too small. And I only realized after I had knitted the toe, the foot, the heel and the leg and was supposed to start the ribbing where the pattern told me to change to smaller needles…

I have started a ribbed sweater that just sucks the energy out of me as one of the sleeves is knitted with horizontal ribs. I knitted forever and it just didn’t grow…
I am currently knitting a Cornflower Shawl (after seeing Anna’s start of one over at garndrommar.se). I started over four times before I found the needle size that produced a shawl I was happy with. And I also changed around the main and contrast colour. Now, I’m loving it!

4. An end
My favourite yarn store is closing down in a couple of weeks. I’m really sad about it, but that’s me being selfish. I know the owner is happy with her decision and I fully understand her.¬†And admire her for¬†her guts!

 5. Photography
My distant ed photography class didn’t go well. I loved the first lesson. And I loved the second one. But it ended with¬†an assignment I couldn’t do at the time. I needed to wait for an order from Amazon.com. And I needed to wait for sunlight… The assignment was about panning moving objects to create pictures that show movement. How easy is that to do in my parts of the world in early February? I left for work int he morning in darkness and came home in darkness. The weekends were snowy and cold. And I couldn’t do it.

And the teachers constantly told us to work through every class and assignment before moving on the next one. So I got stuck.

I still have access to all the classes online and will try to go through them over summer and fall instead.

6. Photo project
I’m still working on my photo project for 2011 (blogged here, here¬†and here)¬†and I’m really enjoying it. I’m way behind on transfering the pictures from my camera to the computer and to actually make the choice of what picture to name “Today’s Picture” but I’m not stressing too much about that one. Promise you’ll see some of the pictures here on the blog.

7. Earrings
During the spring I have pierced my ears. I had them pierced when I about ten but let them overgrow a couple of years later as the started acting up. I would put in earrings and my earlobes would get all red and swollen. This time around I went to a real piercing studio and had them done more professionally than¬†I would’ve had in a beauty salon. I’ve decided to use earrings made out of titanium or sugical steel as they are better for sensitive ears. Wish me luck!

This has led to me being absolutely fascinated by earrings! I don’t think I’ve ever noticed that so¬†many people around me use earrings. And good looking ones too. I love the look of dangling earrings and can’t wait to expand my jewelry wardrobe. I’m currently waiting for an order from silvermason over at Etsy. You will see¬†a post about those earrings when¬†I get them!

8. Health
This spring I decided to deal with the fact that¬†I haven’t felt comfortable in my body and clothes in a long time. I joined Weight Watchers online and have so far lost 9kg/22lbs by eating more, more regularly and healthier; and by increasing my weekly exercise by taking more and longer walks.

I have spent more time preparing and eating food this spring than I have ever done in my life. And I enjoy it! I try new recipies and new ingredients. I have given up cheese sandwiches for dinner and try to cook something instead. Or at least make myself a plate of veggies and cold cuts.

I have signed up for a membership at the gym from July 1st and I’m looking forward to start building muscles. I’m in desperate need of stronger abs and chest muscles¬†to keep my back and hips from acting up all¬†the time. And I’ve proven to myself that working out at home isn’t my thing… The sofa is far more comfortable than the floor. ūüôā

9. Writing
I haven’t written anything at home for the pure pleasure of writing in nearly 6 months now. I think about it a lot though… Strangely enough; that doesn’t produce readable text.

10. Change?
I’ve also concluded that some things never change. And I speak of myself.

I have this feeling, this urge, to start a creative business. I follow blogs on creative entrepreneurship and I dream. And I make plans. I have five options for names. And I sort of know how to brand myself. And how to keep things moving. And where does that take me? Not far. To be honest. ‘Cause I forget¬†to specify what my business should be about and I forget to produce anything…

And that’s sort of the way I am. I know how to write a letter of interest to a publisher for the novel¬†I haven’t written yet. And I know the pros and cons of different marketing strategies for the novel I haven’t written yet. And I also¬†know [fill in the gap] for the [fill in the gap] I haven’t made yet.

There are more random stuff I could share. But why do it all in one post after such a long absence? Next time, you’ll get pictures too. Promise!

Finished my Creative Writing class

I handed in the last assignment for my second Creative Writing class a couple of weeks ago and got my grades last week. I finished this one (too) with the highest marks. The feedback I got from the teachers all along fell into the category of “you know how to use the language and you do it weel” and “your texts are very well written but are a bit too matter-of-factly and would be better if you did more of show-don’t-tell” and “try not to tell the readers everything but let them draw their own conclusions”.

Nothing really surprising for me, to be honest. I know I need to work on my telling-stories-skills when it comes to narration, suspense and descriptions of characters and the environment. And I know I handle the language well. But it makes me happy that my teachers saw the same things.

I feel more secure in my writing after these two classes, but I also feel more apprehensive to actually work on my own writing projects. I doubt I have anything important or interesting to say. And even if I do, I doubt I could express it in a way that makes it good enough to be considered literature. Maybe I should stick to non-fiction? Or just bite the bullet and realize that practice makes perfect? ūüôā

I now have university credits worth half of a semester’s full-time-studies in Creative Writing.

This semester I’m doing a class in Photography and Visual Communication. I have finished the first lesson (the lessons are videos consisting of different interviews and lectures) and I’m so excited to learn more!

Projects for 2011

Today I’m starting two new projects that I intend to keep up for the year; one involves a diary and one involves a camera. I’ll keep you posted!

 

Visual Communication

I decided to go with the photography class for next semester.

As of mid-January, I’m a part-time student in Visual Communication. The class is offered as distant ed from a Swedish university, and if I understand it correctly it will focus on how to create pictures “that say something” and how to use them in communication. We’ll see if I’m right.

I got accepted to the third writing class as well but thought I needed a break from writing assignments. I don’t work much on my own writing projects and I think I’d like to focus on them a bit more than I have done this last year. And I’m toying with an idea for a project¬†combining writing with photography and learning more about pictures and how to use them can’t be bad…

I’m really looking forward to the start of this class, but I have a writing class to finish first. One more writing assignment and one more literature discussion and I’m all done.

Tre sekunder and my writing class

I have just finished reading the fifth book about Ewert Grens; Tre sekunder (or Three Seconds, as it’s called in its English translation), written by the two Swedish crime novelists Anders Roslund and B√∂rge Hellstr√∂m.

Now, what to say about it? The story is scary. But the whole novel is slooooow up until a certain point where the adrenaline just explodes and it gets intense for 100 pages or so. ¬†Just to slow down again. I’ve read the four books prior to this one and I’ve enjoyed them all. The books all have different themes (trafficking, incest, death penalty, people living underground and now drugs and police informants) and as a reader I truly believe the research the authors have done. Even though many events seem unlikely and foreign, I believe Roslund&Hellstr√∂m when they tell me they base their books on real people and real events.

But reading this fifth book of theirs wasn’t as enjoyable as reading the others. I hated the language in which they let sentences run on and on and on with commas instead of breaking them up with punctuation marks and capital letter. I found strange passages where people didn’t behave in a logical manner. One example is when a man opens an envelope and takes out five different objects. He places them in a row in front of him. He takes the first three objects and looks at them properly. Then makes a phone call. And waits for an answer. Then, and not earlier, he glances at the fourth object. He takes it up, realizes what it is and goes to check if it functions. This means leaving his office for a bit. Then, and not earlier, he looks at the fifth object and states what it is. He checks to see what information he can get from it. Now, this is not what people do. If one gets an envelope with five objects in it, one takes them out and states what they are before making phone calls and leaving your office to check one object’s functionality. Right?

And the whole book is written in third person but in two or three places the perspective changes and the characters starts to think of themselves as “I” in a way I find disturbing.

So, where the other four books like this when it comes to language and writing technicalities? I don’t know. I know I didn’t curse my way through the pages (as I partly did with Tre sekunder). But I haven’t taken them out from the bookselves to check. It could be that the other books are more properly written, but honestly I think it’s a result of me having another mindset. I read texts in another way now. I’ve always been a grammar police, but with my classes in Creative Writing, I’ve also started to pay more attention to perspective, to plots, to descriptions of people and the settings, and other foundation stones of fictional work.

Reading has become a different experience to me now. And I hope it means that I’m learning new things. Or at least that I’m bringing old knowledge back into the light.

I wonder how taking a photography class focused on visual communication will change the way I look at pictures?

4 Things Meme

My knitting friend Anna over at garndrömmar.se set me up for a challenge as she wanted me to answer a meme about different things of four. Here goes:

4 TV-shows I watch
Grey’s Anatomy, The Event,¬†the Swedish quiz show¬†Vem¬†vet mest? (Who knows the most?) and the sports news.

4 things I’ve done today (Or yesterday as I’m writing this the evening before I post it)
I cheated to and from work today as I used the car instead of walking or biking.¬†I had chicken wok for¬† lunch.¬†I worked on the fourth assignment for my writing class but didn’t finish it. I made a swatch for a pair of Snowbird Mittens.

4 things I’m looking forward to or longing for
Warmer temperatures and longer days¬†(and November just began…). Having friends over for lunch this weekend. The knitting marathon that Fr√∂ken Garn houses in two weeks time. Finding the courage to battle quilting my big quilt.

4 things on my wish list
A week in a silent retreat. A dinner with Douglas Coupland so I can pick his brain for a bit. Enough vacation days and money to take me (and my boyfriend) abroad so I (we) can see family and friends. Getting tattooed by Stina at Eyescreamtattoo in Ystad.

4 things I hate/loathe/detest
Feeling inadequate. People using my ideas or my work without giving me credit. When I start crying from anger or frustration instead of being able to scream at whatever made me angry or frustrated. And of course; war and violence.

4 people I challenge with this meme
I’ll leave it open for anyone to grab…

Magic Hour – learning good writing

Two days ago I finished listening to a book called Magic Hour (but I did it in Swedish and here it’s called En flicka¬†som kallas Alice) by Kristin Hannah. I hadn’t heard of the author before and had no expectations for the novel. I thought it sounded interesting as it involved a psychiatrist and a “wild child”, thought to have been raised by wolves.

What I got was a novel with clich√© characters (psychiatrist-focused-on-her-career-with-a-broken-heart, flirty-doctor-with-a-secret-past-that-makes-him-doubt-love, man-who-loves-his-best-friend-from-childhood-and-now-wants-her-to-know-about-it, policewoman-who-loves-her-best-friend-from-childhood-but-doesn’t-know-it, smalltown-journalist-doing-whatever-it-takes-to-get-a-story and so on), inconsistencies and stupidity (a starved girl who hasn’t had anything but plants and grass to eat for a while is repeatedly fed waffles with whipped cream, hamburgers and french fries without any physical reaction and¬†the¬†girl who doesn’t know words knows that someone has told her about the “big bad world out there”,¬†the girl’s biological father shows up and claims her after not having seen her in three years and then ends up giving her back to the psychiatrist the same night as he can’t handle his daughter) and a story as predictable as December coming after November.

The psychiatrist and the handsome doctor did end up together. The police woman realized she loved her best friend and they ended up together. The girl got better and got to stay with the psychiatrist. The psychiatrist and the police woman, who are sisters, patched up their relationship and realized that they loved each other.  And everyone lived happily ever after.

Sure, it wasn’t all bad. I was interested in finding out what had happened to the girl (and when the end came I couldn’t tie it all together but I don’t know if it’s just me or if it was a bit unclear) and curious about her recovery and what would happen to her. There just wasn’t enough of that to compensate for the clich√©s and the predictability of the story.

And while I was out there walking or biking with the book in my iPod, I thought about the difficulties of staying away from clich√©s and mainstream stories without getting accused of being “out there” and writing about things and characters¬†that readers can’t connect with. And how readers sometimes get disappointed if you don’t stick to the¬†stereotypes and decide to shake things up a bit by letting your characters do the unexpected. And about how this book wasn’t in the least daring.

Magic Hour didn’t gain anything from the two stupid love stories in it. Absolutely nothing. So, why choose to include them? Why not be brave enough to skip them and focus the story on the relationship between the girl and the psychiatrist? And maybe the sister conflict (even though we’ve read that one before as well)?

Lately, I’ve realized that I learn as much about good writing from reading poor books as I do from reading the great ones…

Feedback in writing class

My second distant-ed writing class at the university starts on Monday next week. I’ve been looking forward to it since the beginning of the summer when I finished the first class. This follow-up class will have the same structure as the first one: writing assignments, feedback and literature discussions.

I truly enjoyed the writing assignments in the first class as they forced me to write things I’m not comfortable with, like dialogue and poems, and in doing so made me realize that I shouldn’t be afraid of approaching certain parts of writing. I wasn’t as thrilled about the reading assignments though.¬†More than half of the books we were supposed to read had a very spiritual approach to the writing process and the life¬†one¬†would lead as a writer.¬†Those kind of books are not really my cup of tea. I get tired of the repetitiveness of the message; write because you’ll feel better and write every day. I’m more of a practical girl and like the books on how to structure stories, how to use words and how to plan a plot and such.

I got through the reading and I got through the (often) lame discussions they led up to. My biggest struggles though¬†were in the feedback area. Every assignment was posted online for other students to read and leave feedback on. We worked in groups of ten. For every assignment¬†we were¬†obligated to leave feedback on at least five different texts. I found giving feedback to be very difficult. We weren’t critiquing (finding faults or just giving praise) but giving the writer a chance to see how we as readers felt and thought of the text, what kind of questions it raised and what parts we found unclear or even¬†too clear. It was all in the name of wanting to help the writer improve the text.

I worked hard on my feedback. I know I’m very nit-picking when it comes to texts and my eyes and mind often just focus on the language. I see the words that aren’t spelled correctly, the verbs that are not used in the right sense, the wrong articles or pronouns, the missing commas and prepositions. I like grammar. And structure. (Not that I’m always grammatically correct myself… Especially when writing in English…) What I’m having a harder time with is seeing if a character is developed enough, if a story has the right pace or if there’s a connecting theme to the text. I guess I know language but not as much story-telling.

Anyways, I spent a lot of time on my feedback, really trying to address different aspects of the text. I tried to be constructive and come up with alternative sentences if something didn’t make sense to me. I suggested other words if something jumped out at me as not really fitting. Reading someone’s text, drafting my thoughts and writing the actual feedback took me between an hour and an hour and a half. This resulted in me spending approximately 6 hours working with feedback for every assignment.

And I often got feedback that were either just three sentences long or focused on a memory or a thought that the reader had had while going through my words. Feedback that I estimate took about ten minutes or so to produce. Very seldom did I get feedback that helped me make my text better, feedback that offered advice on parts that needed improvement or questions leading up to me clarifying parts of the text. I was often disappointed. And I never got used to the fact that I didn’t know how my feedback was received. Did they appreciate it? Did I unintentionally hurt someone? Did they use any of my suggestions? The structure of the class didn’t give us the forms to communicate about the feedback.

I realized that many of my group members didn’t make this class a priority. They handed everything in right before deadline and¬†rushed through feedback and discussions. I hoped that the ones who couldn’t prioritize the class wouldn’t sign up for a second one. I hoped for new group members. And then yesterday I did the offical registration for the class online and realized that many of the names around my name were the same as they were this spring…

Suddenly I don’t feel as pumped about this class as I did before. I look forward to it, but not with the same excitement.

I do try to focus on the positive experiences I had in writing the assignments, reading books I most likely wouldn’t have picked out myself, getting to know some of my fellow students a bit in their writing life, trying to learn¬†to approach a text without expectations and becoming better at giving feedback. I learnt some and had lots of fun in the class.

Let’s hope for me becoming part of a group in which all members love feedback!