Time to let loose a little bit

So my new tag video is up! Honestly, I had a lot of fun doing this. Is it intellectual? No. Is it educational? Not really. But is it fun? Yes! I will do the occasional “fun” video, but of course, everyone knows I prefer the pretentious intellectual stuff. I hope you’ll enjoy the video! πŸ™‚

When you lose sleep, you lose something more than just sleep

I have this thing where, if I drink anything after 8 o’clock in the evening, I will have to get up during the night to go to the bathroom. I call it my curse. Well, okay, one of my curses (we’re all a little mad here okay).

I’m also very sensitive to sleep deprivation, but I guess everyone is to some extent. So anyway. It’s really the simplest thing in the world; I had some chocolate yesterday evening, and I don’t like eating chocolate unless I have some water with it (I literally do not have a good reason for this). And so naturally, I woke up at around 4 o’clock at night because I needed to go to the bathroom. This is always quite an adventure – because, in our flat, the bathroom and the bedroom are on opposite sides of the flat. So I did a bit of googling and found out that our 96 square meters is 1033 square feet. That’s the walk I have to take in order to get to the bathroom, and I usually don’t turn on the lights, but it depends on how dark it is outside. I do have to watch my step, though, because Niles likes to place his toys/balls very strategically in the hallway so that we accidentally kick them when we walk there (because that means play time!!!) – and there’s quite a big risk of slipping and falling on them.

You see now why this is a bit of an adventure? Wow, this turned out longer than I expected. Anyway, so last night I had one of these nightly walks, and no, nothing bad happened, I didn’t slip on Niles’ toys or anything (why would anyone think that?), but I simply couldn’t fall back asleep when I got back. So there I was, and I spent a few hours with my own anxious thoughts just trying to fall asleep, until eventually I had to get up and get started with the laundry.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, I’m a complete wreck today. It’s funny how, when you lose sleep, you’re not just tired, you’re not really yourself. Kind of like being drunk. It doesn’t matter if you try to be productive, you just can’t. Today is also Tuesday, which is normally the day when I write and prepare scripts for my weekly videos. I have therefore decided that this week’s video will be a TAG video. I found one that seems really fun for both the one doing it as well as the people watching, so I hope it will turn out well. So this was a strange blog post, I have to admit. But then again, I’m not really myself today.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope everyone else is having a great day and are feeling rested!

Jane Austen’s Emma – A Study in Character Relationships

It’s finally done! (Not to self; if you know you’re planning a long video, don’t expect that you’ll be able to do it in the same amount of time as the shorter ones. Just don’t. It doesn’t work that way.)

I have to say, I’m very fond of this video. I had so much fun doing the analysis of the various character relationships, and for some reason, a lot of fun doing the synopsis as well – it ended up being twice as long as my analysis (oops). I’ll have to keep that in mind for when I do videos like this in the future. And yes – I will do more videos like these! Just not very often though, as they take a long time to make and I want to get as much writing done as possible.

Feel free to give it a watch πŸ™‚ and if you’ve already read Emma, or are just not interested in listening to my lovely synopsis, then you can skip ahead to about 30 minutes in. (You’ll find all the timestamps in the video description.) If you enjoy it or have any other thoughts about the video or the book, do let me know! Enjoy!

The beauty of nature – especially when it’s odd

We had a lovely mini-hike yesterday where we went to the nature reserve of Skrylle. There’s a certain charm about the rugged, winter landscape here in Sweden. The silhouette of naked trees against a white sky makes for a cold and dead impression, but the faint rippling of a nearby stream still breathes life into the surroundings.

Niles had a great time getting himself very muddy as he ran along the trail.

I wouldn’t go as far as calling myself an “outdoorsy” person. I’m far too comfortable at home on my couch to be able to uphold such a title – but I do appreciate nature whenever I get the chance to visit it. There are so many peculiar things about nature that really inspires me. It could be an oddly shaped tree or a cute little mushroom growing all by itself in a meadow. Contrary to what science often tells us, there are no rules in nature. It does whatever it feels like doing, even if, sometimes, that doesn’t always make sense.

Humans are so obsessed with rules, and truthfully, I’m no different. We like things to make sense. It’s satisfying to know how things work and to be able to detect a pattern. I suppose that’s why I find the strange decisions nature makes to be so interesting. They surprise me, but in a good way (because I generally don’t like surprises). The next time you visit nature, have a look around for some odd things – I’m sure you’ll find many. Take a moment to appreciate it, because, after all, lucky are those who can see beauty in their surroundings.

Why don’t we end with a lovely little quote from Jane Austen:

A mind lively and at ease, can do with seeing nothing, and sees nothing that does not answer.

On writing believable relationships

We all love complex characters. Even more so when they meet other complex characters and start interacting with them – there are so many possible ways for this to go! What do they really think of each other? Is there instant like, dislike, jealousy, admiration, attraction? Will there be drama, trust, betrayal, romance? Just like with our real-life relationships, we don’t necessarily think the same of all our friends, colleagues or loved ones/family members. Just as every real person is unique, so should our fictional characters be, thus making their relationships feel real as well.

This is no easy feat. There are only so many questionnaires you can fill about your characters middle name or favourite colour before you start feeling like your brain is just one big pile of superfluous information. But truthfully, this is another matter. My point is that it takes a lot of trial and error to get the relationships right, and I’ve been working on this lately as a way to further improve my story.

The method is simple, but requires having a draft to be able to use. I don’t know if this is common knowledge, I simply sat down and tried some things until I found something that worked for me. So I decided to put it in a video and share it with the world! Feel free to give it a watch and let me know if you have any thoughts, I always appreciate that. πŸ™‚


Day trip to Copenhagen

While I can’t deny that I’m still feeling the repercussions of a very pleasant New Years Eve, today is going to be a rather active day. Oskar has taken this week off from work so we have decided to take a day trip to Copenhagen. Despite it being only 40mins away by train we only go there about once a year, which is a shame, but at the same time, it makes it all the more special. Being a history nerd, I just love to walk around the beautiful city centre and visit museums, and we’ve decided on the National Museum for this trip. Never actually been there before, as I tend to prefer visiting castles (again, history nerd). Afterwards, we will probably walk around some more, maybe even have a pint somewhere. For tonight we have a table booked at a restaurant which seems quite nice. In other words, it’s going to be a long but lovely day! The highly distinguished Niles von Fluffenstein will therefore be retreating to my grandparents’ house, where he will be spoiled with long walks and lots of cuddles until tomorrow.

A small trip like this feels like the perfect way to start the new year, as it will surely fill me up with inspiration. Although I can’t wait to tackle some of the things I have planned, I suppose we all need a little break from time to time.

End-of-year Reflections

I hadn’t really planned on taking a break over Christmas, but here we are. There’s no video ready for Youtube either, which makes me feel a little bad, but I suppose it was somewhat unrealistic to be able to stick to my normal schedule during those busy Christmas days.

But now it’s over, and we’re getting closer and closer to New Years Eve. I have mixed feelings about this to be honest. Whilst I’m super excited to start 2019 with a bang, I’m also a little apprehensive about my expectations and whether or not I will be able to meet my goals. I guess this is completely normal though.

What are my expectations? What are my goals? A few months ago, I played around with the idea of being able to publish my first novel in 2019. I haven’t quite given up on this yet – but I think the more realistic approach would be to aim for the end of that. It has come to my attention how much… well, preparation that needs to be done after the book is actually ready to publish. What I mean is, if I want to do things properly, I need to have the finished book printed and ready in my hand months before I can actually release it.

It’s a little bonkers, but it also makes sense.

As writers, we want to focus on writing, being creative, weaving together stories with interesting characters. But the marketing side of things is just as important as the writing side because we want people to read and enjoy our books, and if they don’t know it exists, well, then they won’t read it. With this in mind, I’ve come to realise that publishing a book – even self-publishing – isn’t as straightforward as I initially thought. But that’s okay.

To sum this up, next year will probably be quite a busy one, and I’m looking forward to it. I just have to try and calm down in my expectations, because ultimately, it doesn’t matter if I don’t finish in time to publish next year. The most important thing is that I keep going, that I work hard and never give up. As long as I do that, I can be proud of myself.

Say it with a vlog

Here it is. A completely unscripted video – some might say an unscripted mess – but at the same time, it’s authentic. It’s nothing more or less than me (and Niles being his normal diva self, of course), being completely honest about the experience of finishing the second draft.

Am I proud of myself? Yes. Does it show? Probably.

Cheesy Christmas movies – a rant about A Christmas Prince, The Royal Wedding

I’ll admit it. I love cheesy Christmas movies. Not because of them being genuinely good movies, but because of their guilty pleasure-value. It’s fun to make fun of, with the occasional moment that actually gets to you and you might even shed a tear (or several, because I’m such a girl). So – I had last Friday all to myself because Oskar was away at a company Christmas party. An excellent time for guilty pleasures, in my opinion.

You know, I quite enjoyed the first movie, A Christmas Prince. It had a certain something to it which made it feel cosy and nice, and therefore it should be no surprise that I decided to watch its sequel, A Christmas Prince, The Royal Wedding.

Ok, that’s enough backstory, let’s start the rant. There will be spoilers, obviously.

The amount of ridiculous things in this movie is truly baffling, even for someone like me who actually enjoys corny movies. I’ve therefore made a list of things that I noticed whilst watching. Some of it will seem nitpicky, but I simply couldn’t resist.

  • There is a scene with four people sitting in front of a computer, each of them having a cup with a hot beverage. The funny thing here is that all four cups are different from each other in size, colour, patterns, everything. And this is a CASTLE. This just made me wonder if the royal family of Aldovia couldn’t get a set of matching cups.
  • The wedding planner is an Indian gay guy who is so over-the-top that it makes me cringe into my cushions. Also, who starts to plan a wedding only a week before it will take place?
  • Amber’s father. We all know this standard character, the one that is supposed to be very out of place in a high class/royal environment because they’re so “down to earth” and familiar. That’s him, times 10, despite him only being one person.
  • It’s always nice when the plot requires some hacking skills to solve a problem, and all of a sudden, someone on the team just happens to be really good at hacking! How lucky that someone could take care of that stuff right when they needed it.
  • What’s up with the archery? It’s thrown in so haphazardly that I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be a call back to the first movie or if an earlier draft of the script had a proper purpose for it that made sense, but was cut out later on. Also, who keeps a bow and quiver/arrow set as wall decorations in a castle? Swords and shields I get. Suits of armour I get. But archery set?
  • This is a corny detail that I actually loved because it made me laugh, and that was Amber’s notes as she was talking to a guy about the strange on-goings in Aldovia. You know it’s pristine journalism when they write “fishy” in their notes. Just in case she forgets that there’s something… well… fishy going on.
  • I haven’t been to many weddings, but isn’t the dramatic wedding fanfare supposed to play after the ceremony is concluded and the couple is exiting the church? Here it plays as the bride walks up to the altar, and it felt really weird. As if she would have to march to keep up with the music.
  • Speaking of churches. Never been to a royal wedding either, but oh my did they pick the smallest church they could find for this wedding. It just looked so sad, and the only guests were members of staff and that boy the little princess has a crush on. I have to say, I was expecting a little more royal flair!
  • Oh the shoes! Listen, if you’re the kind of person who can’t walk in heels and prefers to wear flats – specifically converse – in your everyday life, that would of course mean that you would prefer to wear converse on your wedding day, too. Because people are that one-dimensional.
  • We have to talk about the crown jewels. So – we’re at a photoshoot for Amber and the King (I’ve forgotten his name, aaaah), and Amber wants to wear a locket of sentimental value. But then, the Indian gay guy insists that she should wear the crown jewels, and takes out this very modern looking necklace. It’s a floral design on what looks like a heavy chain, and it’s gorgeous – but it doesn’t exactly say “crown jewels” as much as “fashion spread in a magazine”.
  • This might just be my foot phobia talking – but I really didn’t need the close-up of her gay friend’s foot as she painted his toenails. I mean, it’s Tuesday now and I’m still not over it.

I had so much more, believe me, this movie is full of weird decisions. Overall I had a fun time watching it, but I have to admit that I wasn’t quite prepared for what I was getting. I’d recommend seeing it with friends, though. Maybe add some drinks, that would surely make it even more enjoyable.

I finished the second draft!

Yesterday was a milestone – a pretty big one, too! Like the title says, I finished my second draft. To explain it a little further, I finished editing the first draft. I feel like I have a new understanding of novels and how they are created. The first draft is, without doubt, terrible. I don’t think there is a writer out there whose first drafts are flawless. Once you start really looking into your writing, your world, your characters, the plot oh my god, the plot… you realise you have a lot of work to do.

It would be interesting to have a specific number showing how much of the first draft I kept and how much was deleted or rewritten. Trust me, it’s not much at all. Kind of a depressing thought when you think about it: I spent six months writing the first draft, and ended up rewriting most of it. Even the outline changed as I worked. But you know, it’s still not a “waste of time” because in the end, my book will be better for it. I’ll probably do a lot of rewriting again once I start with the third draft.

However, before I start with that, I’m going to have a look at my characters and their arcs. I did this for one of my antagonists the other week, just to see how useful it would be: I wrote their backstory, from childhood and up, and then I wrote their side of the story in the book, kind of like an overview of their perspective. I had always known in my head what this character’s personal journey would be, but now I put it into words and fleshed out the details of it. It turned out great, really great. I see this character in a new light now, I know every move they make and why – that is the most important thing for a story in my opinion. Every character has to have a reason for their actions.

I have decided to do this for every important character in the manuscript before starting with the third draft. Some people might think that I’m very late to do this now, but I’m actually quite slow when it comes to building characters. I need to create them as I write my story, they come alive in the setting I’ve made up for them. I have a feeling that this exercise would also be very helpful in discovering potential plot holes and such, which is an added bonus. So that’s what I’ll be working on now!

I hope everyone else is having a pleasant Monday πŸ™‚