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.

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How a corny teen movie can change your outlook on life

So there I was, browsing through Netflix and waiting for my newest video to load into the program, and I came across some of those typically “corny” movies that families watch around Christmas. They are full of clichées and over-the-top characters. Most of them are about teens, bonus points if they’re troubled, and the plot is all about them fighting to reach their dreams. It’s usually something active, like figure skating, gymnastics or dancing. Now, I’m a big tragedy enthusiast, but my poor little heart has a real soft spot for these movies.

I kid you not. I watched a movie called Ice Princess and cried real, adult tears. (All this girl ever wanted was to be a figure skater! Why couldn’t her mum just be supportive?!)

I realise that I’m not these movies’ typical audience, they’re generally intended for teens who’re still trying to figure out what they want from life. To be fair, I figured that out less than 10 months ago and I will be 30 next year. Come to think of it, maybe more adults should watch movies like this (I do think you need to watch alone though, as I think it would be far too easy to make fun of it if you have company).

In a way it was like a time warp and a wish fulfilment – all in one. The familiar “oh to be young again” nostalgia mixed with a nauseating remembrance of what it was like actually being a teenager. No matter how nostalgic we might feel about our teen years, in the end we’re usually pretty relieved they’re in the past.

So what did I really gain from this experience? Apart from getting really sentimental, I also found it surprisingly inspirational. No matter how ridiculous these movies can be at times, the moral of the story is usually to follow your dreams and dare to fight for them. I see so many adults that dream of doing something different with their lives, but they never actually do it. They are comfortable with their normal jobs even if it isn’t exactly what they wanted. They’re afraid to risk that comfort and go into unfamiliar territory, no matter how much they dream of it.

I was that person once, but when given an opportunity to change things – I took it. The situation I’m in now is somewhat similar. I’m determined to become a published author, and I’m fully prepared to fight for this dream to become a reality. Sometimes, we need to evoke our inner teenager to awaken that obsession that makes us go for it. I guess these corny teen movies reminded me of this – that even if I feel low or unmotivated, the fight isn’t over as long as my goal is worth it.

I’m off to Scotland!

My mum gave me this as a birthday present – a weekend with her in Edinburgh. Our plane leaves later this afternoon. As with all travel days, today will be a bit of a stressful day. Speaking of stress, this journey almost got canceled. Can you imagine, my mum tried to do our check-in yesterday so that we wouldn’t have to think about that today. There was an error on the site, forcing her to contact customer services, who told her that they had been unable to charge her card. Therefore – they had canceled our booking.

Seriously.

No one had even tried to notify her about this. No calls, emails or anything. The strange thing is, we booked a flight and hotel as a package deal, and they were apparently able to charge us for the hotel room – but not the flight. Not that that made any difference, as the hotel in question didn’t even get our reservation. What a nightmare.

We managed to fix it last night by panic booking the last two seats on another plane, as well as a last-minute BnB as the hotel we were supposed to stay at was now fully booked. Need I even mention that there were one or two glasses of wine at the end of that roller coaster?

I’m determined not to let this ruin our holiday, though. We plan on having lots of fun with museums, shopping, tea and scones as well as pleasant walks around Old Town. I’m sure it’s going to be magical. Speaking of which, J.K. Rowling lived in Edinburgh when she wrote the first Harry Potter books, and several places are said to have inspired her during her writing. Well, I’m ready to be inspired!

Time to start packing!

Autumn ambiance & creativity flow

I can already smell it in the morning air. An iron-like scent that lingers long enough to be sensed, but it disappears too quickly to be fully identified. The leaves are turning yellow and orange – but slowly, many are still quite green. The sun now sets in the evening. We can light candles again, and use blankets.

I find the changing nature to be truly inspiring, especially after a particularly hot summer. Wrapping yourself in a coat and scarf, breathing in the crisp, cool air is both a longed-for relief and a grim foreshadowing of the upcoming winter.

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I always seem to remember autumn the best. Memories of bygone, childhood days re-emerge as soon as the leaves start to fall: the start of a new school term, shopping for new school supplies, the nervous excitement at being back and starting a new year.

I find this time of year so inspiring. Almost as if those memories help my creativity flourish. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason why, but then again, there’s no need for it either. This results in a mishmash of creative processes and a seemingly endless struggle to make sense of it all. I really want to work on my manuscript, but I’m also super excited to finalise some things in my worldbuilding. On top of that, I have several great ideas for concept art that I would like to start working on before I loose my ‘flow’. Not to mention me having neglected my social media presence for a couple of days and I’m feeling the pressure to get going with it again.

Being a writer is hard, yes, yes. The funny thing is, I already knew this, but I keep getting reminded of it time and time again almost as if for the first time. How does that work exactly? I’m curious. Do we forget about it temporarily in our creative frenzy when everything’s working smoothly, or are we simply tugging along in a constant state of denial? I suppose it doesn’t really matter, as long as we make the most out of the ‘flow’ once we have it.

With that said, I should probably get back to my manuscript.

Fickle friend, thy name is inspiration

Perhaps the term “friend” is somewhat inaccurate. In my case, it’s like an old acquaintance that comes and goes without warning, that can bring gifts yet can easily take them away again, and if she’s in a really foul mood she can cause a terrible despair that not even chocolate can cure. Those days, she usually overstays her welcome.

Goodness, it sounds really awful when you put it into words like that.

But sometimes, the timing of her arrival is so perfect it might as well have been planned beforehand. Sometimes, she comes with high spirits, she is excited and full of exuberant ideas. Best of all is when those two combine. Those days, sadly, she can’t stay long enough.

It’s strange how the smallest, most unexpected of things can trigger a visit from inspiration. Earlier this week, I bought myself a new planner/notebook on a whim and it’s had the most intense effect on me. As I sat down and planned my tasks and goals for the week, I was hit by excitement and renewed motivation, and I ended up following my plan to the letter. Perhaps this is obvious to everyone else out there, but I found that it’s much better to have your goal planning in physical writing, rather than digital. It’s far too easy to ignore a document on your computer, or simply delete or change things you don’t feel like doing. It doesn’t work that way with a physical planner – if you don’t want to do something you have to actively ignore it; which automatically defeats the purpose of even having a planner! I’m sold. This is my new thing now, and it is my highest hope that it will help me make great progress with my manuscript. In fact, I expect it to.

Mushrooms & Doodles

I have to confess something. I have a fascination with mushrooms (not the hallucinogenic kind). If I’m walking in the woods and I see a mushroom, I simply have to stop and admire it before moving on. Bonus points if they’re oddly shaped or colourful.

I have no idea why I’m like that, though. I suppose it’s got something to do with their association with magic and fairytales, as well as their overall prettiness. And don’t even get me started on mushroom rings.

… I got sidetracked.

Last winter, Oskar and I were at a shopping centre and my eyes fell upon a beautiful ceramic mushroom figure in a home decor shop. It had the not-so-gentle price tag of about 30 euros, which I was fully prepared to give until he talked me out of it and we left the shop. I have regretted it ever since.

So yesterday, I went out to buy my brother a birthday card (we share the same birthday btw, but aren’t twins), and I came across a smaller version of the mushroom figures in another shop – and significantly cheaper. With no one around to stop me this time, I bought two of them and felt a surge of inspiration as I left the shops. Once back home, I started doodling around a bit and ended up with this drawing.

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I’m quite pleased with it (can you see the little mushrooms?), especially since I’m still new at the whole water colouring thing that seems to be all the rage right now. Drawing and sketching was a great interest of mine growing up, but I worked mainly with charcoal pencils and very rarely used any colouring techniques at all. But I’m excited to start using them now!

Does anyone else share my fascination with mushrooms? I’m genuinely curious. Do let me know, will you?

Thoughts on inspiration

I want to talk about inspiration. You know, that wonderful, cuddly feeling in your stomach telling you that your idea is amazing, and you can’t stop working on your project for the whole duration your inspirational streak? Yeah, that one.

It came to me when I started writing this book. I was in a trance like state for days, couldn’t stop even if I wanted to (but why would I want to?). Then it stopped… and life went back to normal. My thoughts went back to meal planning, laundry appointments and that thing that had to be bought to make the drill work better.

When this happens, you tend to stop or pause your project, and many never pick it up again. When this happens, your artistic discipline is being tested. I have failed many times, but this time I am determined to make it through. I will finish this book.

So I’ve developed this little “routine”. I thought about what makes me inspired, and came up with a few things. I like to walk in nature alone, for example. I also like looking at art, and listen to classical music. Yeh I’m a bit old fashioned. And whenever I feel like I’m losing inspiration, I try to do one of these things to get it going again. To kind of take control of it. Does it always work? Hell no. Sometimes I can’t even get myself to do it. But you know, those few times that it actually succeeded are days when I ended up writing a lot, when I otherwise would have done other stuff. That’s half a victory right there.