Sunday, 30 August 2009

When I'm not writing

When I'm not writing my mind is in a funny state. I wish I could be as tranquil as the peace statue, but I feel more like the West Pier: a wreck.

When I'm not writing I'm letting my emotions control me. When there's no frame to my days with planned writing hours my life is spinning out of control. My need for engaging with people gets bigger and I end up in situations I don't want to be in ... Quite often alcohol is involved.

When I'm not working on my novel I feel incapable of doing any other writing. It's like the creative part of my brain dies. But tonight I forced myself to write about something that has been on my mind for the better part of August and I felt an immense relief. I didn't write it because I want to prove anything or because I wanted to show it to anyone. I wrote it simply because I needed to release and express my emotions somehow. It doesn't matter that it'll never turn into a story. I kept my fingers moving. It reminds of why I became a writer in the first place: a need to make sense of myself and the world.

The current situation with Replacing Angel is this:
*Person1 who is a professional editor is going to read the manuscript and give very detailed feed back on everything from grammar to plot problems.
*Person2 who is just about to sign a contract with a publisher is going to bring the manuscript on holiday and pretend its a "real" book and then report back what he remembers of it.
*Person3 is reading it at the moment and has already reported that it flows well. In exchange I'm reading her novel in progress. (This is not a detailed reading, the focus is on the general feel and structure of the novel.)
*Person4 who is one of my very best friends is going to read it and tell me what it is I'm trying to say or is failing to say. (She always knows when I'm faking it.)

A big, big THANK YOU to everybody else who's offered to read Replacing Angel. I might get back to you, but at the moment I think I've got enough "eyes" on my novel ...

My plan is to start the 4th draft of Replacing Angel in October. But don't worry. I won't spend a month drinking and getting into emotional states ... In September I'll be busy doing promotional stuff for my first novel in Sweden and Denmark.

p.s. When I'm not writing I borrow books from the library like CHANGE YOUR LIFE IN SEVEN DAYS. When I'm not writing I take more showers. When I'm not writing I'm totally and utterly confused.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Jelly Inc.

Jelly Inc. was formed about three weeks ago.
The intention was to put on a gig at Bombanes restaurant in Kemp Town.
It was a very chaotic meeting and we all left feeling
how is this ever going to work out!?
Another meeting and two and a half rehearsals later
we were stars in a show called What now!?

Call it poetry. Call it play. Call it cabaret. Call it whatever you want.

We all played two characters each:
professor of philosophy/barman
poetry teacher/new age woman
poetry-hating Swedish punk/waitress in love
pregnant housewife/cocktail queen

You get the idea: Expect the unexpected!

Some people who came to see the show said it was good enough
to be in Brighton Fringe next year!

Jelly Inc. is:
Bernadette Cremin
Lou Ice

Did I mention that we take bookings ...?


Sunday, 23 August 2009

My bedside table

It's a small round dark wooden table that came with my furnished rented room. I've made it a bit more personal by using a bandana as a table cloth. My glasses are on there (most people don't know that I wear glasses unless they've seen me at work!) and my mobile phone that doubles as an alarm clock. There's also a box of nicotine free snus (Swedish tobacco), a box of Swedish throat pastilles, (why are all throat pastilles in the U.K. like sweets?) a glass of water or cranberry juice and a hand cream that my aunt got me for Christmas. (The kind of thing I'd never spend money on myself.)

And then there are my books of course and my journal and my diary and my note pad ... Plus a pen that I bought at Hong Kong airport.


As no armchairs or comfy seats came with my room I spend a lot of time sitting in bed reading and writing, sometimes with my laptop, sometimes without. I start every day my writing my morning pages (a practice I've kept up since doing the Artist's way) in my note pad. I finish every day by writing a short account of what I've been up to that the day in my small blue diary. In between I write down random thoughts in my journal (at the moment a famous moleskin sketchbook). If I'm tired or just lazy I spend a lot of time reading. Often I have one novel, one non-fiction and one poetry book on the go at the same time.


Reading at the moment:

The (dis)advantage of doing casual work in 16 different libraries is that I constantly find books that I want to read; it's just a matter of finding time ...

The novel I'm reading at the moment is called Harm's way and is written by Cella Walden. I've only read the first chapter but I can tell it's good ... It's the kind of novel I adore: young female protagonist trying to find herself ... As I'm young and female myself I'm always looking for heroines to identify with. Examples of such a heroine is Lou Connor in How the light gets in by M.J. Hyland. (A book I keep on my bedside table to inspire me when my writing dries up.)

I'm also reading three non-fiction books. The first one is Write away by Elizabeth George. She talks about writing in a very chatty way and it makes me think of my own novel in progress, how I can improve it and so on. As she's a crime writer I have a lot to learn about conflict as plotting is my weak side. The second book is a spiritual one called Intimacy by Osho. It just jumped out at me in the Bell, book and candle shop in the North Laines ... I find it very hard to open myself up to new people that I meet so hopefully it will be helpful. The third one is A woman in your own right by Anne Dickson. It's about learning how to be assertive .... I've finished reading it, but I still find it hard to put what I read into practice. You're supposed to do a lot of role play, but I haven't been brave enough to ask someone to play with me ...

Lastly I have three poetry books on the go: The English Earthquake by Eva Salzman, Sunday at the Skin Laundrette by Kathryn Simmonds and Life Mask by Jackie Kay. They are all good for dipping into. And I love finding lines like "The Dustbins are in bloom" (Kathryn Simmonds).

Couldn't put down:

Other useful numbers
by Sarah Broughton. One of these books that not many people have heard of ... It's a beautifully written book about yet another disorientated young female. There's not much of a plot, but being in Tracy's head and observing the world through her eyes is a joy even if the subject matter is depressive ... (A girl searching for a lost love going from one relationship to another and one job to another etc.) It's a library book, but I keep renewing it and will soon have to buy it ...

Gathering dust:

Kate Atkinson's Behind the scenes at the museum. I do want to read it one day, but I have a problem with books that are "forced" upon me. A friend bought it second hand and passed it on to me and said I just have to read it ... I know it's a good book and that I'll probably like it, but it's the kind of book that will always be around and I'll be happier continue my reading of unknown obsure novels with young lost female protagonists ....

Secret indulgence:

It's not really a secret ... but I love reading teenage or so-called Young Adult fiction. Not the ones for "young" teenagers, but the ones that are a bit more gritty. Last one I read was Killing God by Kevin Brooks. It was written in a very refreshing way using song lines by Jesus and Mary Chain. The ending was a bit too dramatic to be believable, but all in all it dealt with abuse and religious fanatics in a good way.

This blog post was inspired by a regular feature in Mslexia where a famous person reveals what's on their bedside table.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

No desire to wait

I have a great desire for feed back.
I have contacted 4 people.
2 in Brighton.
1 in Edinburgh.
1 in Stockholm.
I have asked these people if they are willing to read the 3rd draft of Replacing Angel.

Now I'm waiting.
I'm hoping that all of them will say yes
and that all of them will have things to read for me in return.

Because what else to do? When I'm waiting for feed back
I'm sort of standing still.
But my desire is great.
I still need to do something creative.
Starting a new novel is out of the question.
I've got a few poems and short stories on the go.
And a few performances coming up.
And about 10 books outstanding on my library ticket.

Perhaps I'll just take a break and read.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


It takes a lot of patience.
Writing that is.
Especially when the world is full of distractions
in the form of sunsets, beautiful people and laundry.

I'm editing the third draft of Replacing Angel,
so it'll be in good shape
when I send it out to my critics.
I'm about half way through now ...

It's nice when you're starting to see the novel as a whole
and how everything fits together
how every bit of dialogue has to matter ...

To keep going I have a few post-it notes
with encouraging words in front of me.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009


The picture shows the plan I made up before starting the 3rd draft of Replacing Angel - my novel in progress.

A summary: A young Swedish girl called Natalie goes to Brighton to stay with her English friend Angel. But Angel announces that she's going travelling and Natalie is left with Angel's room, Angel's job, Angel's friends and Angel's lovers. But she can't have the Man - Angel's boyfriend. Basically it is a coming of age story. A battle between wanting to lead somebody else's life, but realizing that you have to find your own way in the end ...

I started working on Replacing Angel in late 2007 and finally it feels that I've actually written a good book. But even if I've written 90 000 words (282 pages in Word, Arial 12pt, 1,5 line spacing) I still have miles to go ...

I don't mean I have to make the story longer. It'll be probably be shorter in the end ...

I'm a big fan of dividing things into sections and chapters and come up with titles. At the moment my chapter titles are:


Some agents advice you not to write a prologue or an epilogue. I think I might get away with it by calling it "Before the beginning" and "After the end". But that might change ...

My next step is to polish this 3rd draft. Then I'll send it to a few trusted writing friends who hopefully will give me some useful feed back. After that I'll embark on a 4th draft ... Then there'll be a 5th draft that will only deal with grammar and spelling.

My long term plan is to send my stuff out to agents in January. I might finish before then, but January seems to be a good time. No big book fairs, the Christmas rush will be over and the agents will be willing to work with something new ...