All The Things I Hate About My Novel

Okay, so let’s talk about the inconsistency of inspiration.

I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year. I failed at it in 2007, but this is my revenge. We’re halfway into November right now, and I’m halfway towards the coveted 50k words that will mark my victory against the little voice in my head that keeps chanting “You can’t do this so why even bother”. I have a story that has been growing inside my cluttered head for years, and it is now happy as a puppy to be finally let out of there. The problem is that I am beginning to hate it.

I don’t hate the concept or the plot, mind you. I’m really happy with and proud of those. No, my problem is that writing it is beginning to feel forced. I find myself constantly checking my word count just to have an excuse not to write for the next half a minute or so. I find myself rushing through scenes just because I can’t stand to be in them anymore. And I find myself thinking that even thought I will probably reach the finish line well in time for 11/30, the end result will be a text so uninteresting and worthless that not even my  mom will want to read it. I would not want to read it, for heaven’s sake.

Here’s a inexhaustive list of things I hate about my novel:

  1. The characters are flat and shallow and totally uninteresting
  2. However cool the setting is, I am unable to do it justice through my descriptions
  3. I can’t seem to approach the meta plot in a way that’ll make anyone want to read it
  4. The relationships between characters are cheesy
  5. My writing is cheesy
  6. I’m cheesy
  7. I forgot to put yesterday’s leftovers into the freezer and had to throw them away this morning.
  8. I’m out of bread.
  9. My apartment is a mess and I blame it on Writober and WriMo.
  10. Cheese

Yesterday was a completely different story, however. I was sitting at a brass clad table in a coffee house in Sthlm, feeling like a romantic Nora Roberts character as I wrote the winged words of a future bestseller. I knew exactly what I was doing and my ego was untouchable.

I really hope that this feeling of worthlessness and creative fatigue will have packed its bags and left by the time I awake tomorrow morning, because I don’t have room for it in my apartment or in my life. I have so many things going right now that I can’t afford to be humanly insecure about my writing for more than a day. Not only do I have the golden 1666 words to write every day, but I also have deadlines and essays and work to do.

I also hope that it’s not just me growing tired of November from a WriMo point of view. I hope that this is a natural state in the writing process. I hope that my novel is not as boring and flat as I think it is, and I hope that you can forgive me for having such relatively shallow problems in a world where terrible things happen every day to ordinary people with dreams and hopes just like you and me.

Do you have any tips on how to tackle the feeling of being a worthless writer working in vain on a worthless text? Or do you just agree and want to whine together with me? Feel free to drop a comment or a tweet!


And finally: I’d like to give a shoutout for this beautiful blog post by James Radcliffe. It is about the beauty in broken things and it really made my day. I recommend reading it.

Now I’ll be off back to the Self-esteem Lowlands. Have a nice evening!
Over and out!

A Good Talk In The Night

Most good talks happen during the night. What I had not managed to convey well enough before I was able to tell him tonight, in those secret hours between twilights where rules and conventions simply don’t apply. Then he listened.

He listened while I told him everything. About how my mind had started turning from beginning insight already three years earlier, even though I didn’t fully understand it at the time. About how I had fought, ever since then, to hold myself together, to stay the same. Not to lose anything and everything. But after that trip nothing was the same. It journeyed farther and farther away from the same, as did I.

I told him about the numbness that came over me during this struggle. Repressing insights growing inside of oneself takes also repressing thoughts and feelings and passions. He listened, and I saw in his eyes that finally he began to understand. This was never about him. I never meant to break his dream and his story, I wanted to be part of it but I couldn’t.

One thing I didn’t tell him, but in that moment maybe he knew that as well. It felt like that, anyway. And he smiled sadly but knowingly, when finally I described my feelings when in the end none of my struggles were enough. When I realized I had failed, that I could not repress this and that this had always been a losing fight. But that it was never about him, that those feelings were never affected. This was simply something I had to go through to be whole, to be me. And I saw no other way than the changing of everything to make that happen.

I was finally able to explain to him this whole transgender business and all the thinking and contemplation and development I had gone through since last we spoke, more than a year ago. He understood, finally, how things had exploded in my life after I left his. How so many thoughts had been released and finally allowed to be thought and how I had changed in all ways imaginable. On the inside, at least.

And of course I listened to him as well. He had much to say, and I respected him for all of it. He had his own struggles and battles and fears, and he had his own story about all of this. But it was not about me, not entirely. And I felt such relief to hear him talk about it, because I had worried for him and thought about him every day, not knowing anything. A monumental weight was lifted from my shoulders and from my heart by just hearing him talk about the things I had been thinking for so long.

We agreed, finally, that we both had our own, personal stories. They intermingled and entwined, but they were not the same. His story was his, and my story was mine, as all people’s stories are their own. We could not save one another, but we could do our best to understand and so make our own stories more whole. We would speak again, he told me, and hugged me, and let me go. He let me go.

And I don’t remember what I felt or thought when I walked away and he walked away, each back to resume our own separate stories. But I was lighter, I was almost flying. I hadn’t broken anything, I hadn’t failed. All I had done was to allow my own story to tell itself finally, and now he understood that as well. He and his story would be alright, and we would speak again. And then I woke.

How come that most good talks, the ones that really matter, happen in dreams? How come that I always meet him there, and how come that talking there always feels so good but makes me sink like a stone upon waking? I don’t know any of this, but I know that I am crying as I am typing these lines and that one of my greatest regrets is that all our good talks only ever happen inside my own head.

Christina Smedbakken 2015-10-31

It’s past midnight, making it the last of Writober!

Oh. My. God. I’m on the final day of my Writober-challenge. Wowzers.

I won’t be going in for the kill (i.e. the final Writober text) until I have slept and eaten some breakfast, but I already know what it is going to be. If you have been following my writings this month, you might have noticed that my “On Blood And Dreams”-triplet hasn’t been concluded yet. The last day of my October Writing Challenge will see the final installment of that story as well. Hopefully.

Anyways, this has been a challenging and inspiring month. Sure, I have uploaded some older stories as well, but for the most part I have written a new text every day. I have used writing prompts from Reddit, dug up old ideas and let myself be inspired by music, life and not least other writers. I’d like to namedrop some of them here:

http://theaeolianharp.com/ is full of well written stories with interesting and inspiring concepts. The very name of the blog is magical, for heaven’s sake. You should pay it a visit.

http://wwocz.net/ is where I was first inspired to write about space, through one of several awesome stories found there. The blog’s author is also into archery and metal (my own drugs of choice), and has managed to talk me into giving NaNoWriMo another try this year.

https://songofion.wordpress.com/ is the blog of one of my IRL-friends who writes in Swedish and does so very well. If you know the language you should totally check it out. Its author has provided me with tons of encouragement and inspirational feedback throughout this month, and the short stories on the page are atmospheric, well written and engaging – especially if you’re into the Gothic and the dark paranormal.

During this month I have learned to be more effective and economic with words, to get to the point of a story without wasting the time of my readers and also to find ideas for stories in my everyday life. Another thing I have had to develop is a sense for planning ahead and using my time well – otherwise I would never have managed to combine working two jobs and doing two separate college courses with this creative writing challenge.

Thanks for all the feedback and support during this month, you have all been awesome!

But, as we say here in Sweden: “Don’t yell ‘hi!’ until you’re over the creek”. I still have one text left to write before I’m done with Writober. And then remains NaNoWriMo. Am I mad?

Anyways, stay tuned for On Blood And Dreams III!

Autumn Is Icumen In

So I sit here by my window and finally have to admit that summer is gone for this time. The leaves are yellow and I don’t feel bad for staying indoors anymore. That’s a sure sign.

I have three-day weekends now, meaning I work four days and then I’m free from Thursday night until Monday morning. It’s a beautiful week layout, since I don’t work enough to wear myself out totally, and then I have three days to do what the fuck I want until I have to go back to work.

That means a lot of writing, as you might have noticed. Currently I’m about a third into my Writober challenge to myself, where I have to upload at least one story every day to this page. This far I have succeeded, partly thanks to my stash of old texts that I can fall back on when I don’t have the time or inspiration to write a new one. Yesterday I put up a brand new text called The Silence of Her Voice, and today’s text is a humorous writing prompt response named Securing the Family Business.

Apart from these short stories, I’m working on my writing project in Swedish and that is going great. I don’t think I have much left to write there before I can go into the editing and cutting phase. I’m rather excited about finishing that project, since I´ve been working on it since late 2012.

I’m also writing a story together with a friend of mine, and I think it is turning out quite nice.

And last but not least, I’m doing quite a lot of academic writing as well. I’m currently trying to get a long thesis on Religious studies accepted for examination, and I’m also doing assignments for my journalism class. While working as a freelance journalist, of course.

I feel like I’m on a roll and I have lots of inspiration. I hope that feeling will hold all through this year, because I really want to pull all these things off. Now I’m going back to writing all of the things above. Have a nice day!

Writober 5th

OK, so I have this thing going. You may have noticed it’s October now. You may also have noted that I’ve been publishing one story a day thus far this month. I didn’t think about it myself until earlier today, but realized this is a pretty nice coincidence. So I will continue trying to upload one short story for each and every day of October, to see if I can pull it off.

I’ll call it Writober. I’m witty and funny, I know.

Some of the stories will be brand new, straight out of the proverbial oven. Others will be older texts that I have revised and reworked for this purpose. I bet you haven’t read any of them before in either case.

Feel free to follow me through my Writober. View it as a countdown for Halloween, if you will. I know people like Halloween – I sure do, at least. And if you want to join me in this October writing challenge, please let me know. I’d love to read your stuff!

Today’s text is “How to Write A Definite Bestseller” – a humorous text that’s not nearly as pretentious as the title makes it sound.

Friday Night

I could have gone out tonight, listened to a band and had a drink. Or two. But I didn’t. Well, the drinks I had, but from my fridge instead of buying them expensively in a bar. I have music at home as well, and I feel that I really – I mean really – need to calm down. The past couple of weeks have been stressful (albeit in a good way), and now I feel a bit jumpy. I need to land.

Two weeks ago I drove to Stockholm for a two-day workshop meeting with my journalism course. The next day I continued on my way to a place an hour or so south of there, to participate in a three-day LARP-game. Then I had a four hour drive to get back home, and the very next day I began my week of substituting as a cultural editor at the newspaper I write for. At the end of that week, I think I can say without exaggerating, I was spent. Luckily, I really like the job, so that’s okay. This last week I have been back  at my job as a high school teacher, and there’s never a shortage of stuff to be done there.

Phew.

Today I have spent writing. Two chapters have sprung forth for my Swedish writing project, and although they both turned out short I am really happy with the end result. I don’t know how much I have left to do on that text before it is finished, but I suspect it is less than I think.

I have also gone through some photo folders on my computer, and uploaded some of my favorite pics to this blog. Then I found a subreddit for short stories, and got stuck there for a good while. I posted a link to one of my own stories, sure. But in the process of doing so I also stumbled upon several great and inspiring texts from other writers. Some of them I will definitely get back to later.

Now I’m thinking about whether I should continue writing for a couple of hours, or if I should do something else. I’m yet not done with Darksouls 2, and I have a fresh novel by Nora Roberts waiting for me on my bed table. Hmm hmm, a tricky one. I’ll have to consider for a bit. Until i decide, I think I’m going to post another of my finished texts here as a separate blog post.

Stay tuned!

Photo Gallery I

I have so many old photos on my computer that this site would be flooded with albums if I created on for every trip and adventure. Therefore, here’s a first “small” selections of my personal favorites. They are mainly from between the summer of 2014 and the spring of 2015. All but two of them are cellphone pics.