Monday, 26 April 2010

Radio Free Brighton

Today I guested Polly's Arty Party Hour at Radio Free Brighton which has moved into a new studio under the bridge by Brighton Station.

I think it's a fantastic and welcoming community project where new as well as established artists in all areas get a chance to take part and develop their ideas. There are also recording and rehearsal studios that can be used for a small charge.

To talk about myself and my writing for a whole hour was just what I needed. A right ego boast (even if Polly pointed out that I was actually SHARING my experience knowledge skills etc.) Best of all - I got to pick my own music.

The show repeats tomorrow, Tuesday, 5pm. Tune in by clicking on this link:

Sunday, 25 April 2010

You can't hide on the net

Sometimes I think I can get away with writing things on my Swedish blog that I don't necessarily want my English readers to know ... But I didn't take into account that there are some clever people out there, like James Burt, who use Google translate ...

Yesterday I wrote a very honest blog post (in Swedish) and today I got an encouraging text from James. First I thought how the hell did he know? Then he mentioned Google translate.

So now you all wonder what the f?!? I blogged about ... Well, you can go to my Swedish blog, copy it all and put it into Google translate, but I'll save you the trouble because I'm being kind.


She blogs less when she doesn't write. Because she blogs about writing there's no point in blogging when she doesn't write. She's twenty-eight years old and an award-winning novelist. In Sweden. In England she's nobody. Yet. She sent her manuscript REPLACING ANGEL to five agents. Five big agents. Everybody said no thanks to representing her. The agent she most of all wanted said no as late as Wednesday.

When the email with the agent's name popped up in her inbox she felt hot and cold at the same time and needed a poo. She was hoping for the agent to say that she wanted to see the full manuscript. (Usually you only send the first three chapters plus synopsis and cover letter and sometimes a CV). But the agent said:

"Thank you so much for sending me REPLACING ANGEL. I've taken a look and I'm afraid I don't think it is right for my list, but I wish you all the best in finding the right agent to represent you."

Which by and large was the same thing as the other agents said. But the positive thing was that this agent replied personally. The other agents replied through their assistants.

But Wednesday night there was no positivity in her life. She stuffed herself with a half big bar of chocolate and had thoughts about going to Beachy Head.

She didn't jump from the cliff. But she jumped to new hope by cleaning and sorting through all her cupboards and drawer and wardrobe. She took everything down from her walls. Instead of flyers postcards concert tickets and various other stuff she now stares at white surfaces.

Apart from clearing away her sorrow she has cut her hair for £9 and had another ear piercing done. Painted her nails she did too. To avoid thinking she concentrates on the physical. Her room. Her body.

Next week she's going to think again. Next week she'll get out the list with the five agents who will be next in line to receive her manuscript. She'll send it to five agents at the time until someone says yes. She'll never give up.

Thursday night she stayed up till one o'clock, answering emails/letters from the student at the school in Gothenburg she visited a month ago. Many asked how you go about finding yourself. Not by having more ear-piercings done that's for sure.

The most important thing is to find out what and whom you like and what and whom you DON'T like and ask yourself why. You find yourself by listening to your gut-feeling. And your heart. You find yourself by creating dreams and following those dreams.

To find yourself is harder than to NOT find yourself because it requires that you work on yourself. That you have to go down a few winding roads. Short cuts are just "long cuts" in the end.

And even if you've found yourself (as Louise thinks she's done) it happens that you lose yourself from time to time. Then you have to ask on. To find yourself is also to be aware of what you do and why you do it.

She's aware that she cleans every nook of her room and experiments with her appearance because she needs to focus on something physical before it's time to use her brain again.

And she's aware that her brother and her aunt will think that it's annoying to read about her in third person. But that's just another way of getting to know yourself. To look at yourself from the outside, to gain distance.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Miming Silence & Altered Egos

Last week I went to the official launch party of Bernadette Cremin's poetry collection Miming Silence. Watching Bernie perform inspires me, fills me with joy (despite depressing subject matters), and makes me believe in poetry even if I'm having some kind of break from the scene at the moment.

Here is a favorite line from the poem Mother's meeting:
"and I do love him (in a water-colour way)
but I envy the way he loves me."

What I admire the most about Bernie is that she seems so natural (even when she is in the role of different characters!) and is not afraid of taking the piss out of herself.

Bernadette is also doing a one woman show in the Fringe Festival called Altered Egos. The first show is Sunday 2 May and the second one is Sunday 9 May, 7.30 pm Iambic Theatre (above Bell, Book & Candle shop, but entrance Regent Street.) Don't miss it! Tickets are 2 for 1.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Is a writer a writer only when she/he writes?

I just read Vanessa Gebbie's blog post where she writes that she's going to take a break from writing for the first time in eight years due to her father not being very well. She says "It is odd not being a writer any more, for the moment. I am wandering around a bit aimlessly, feeling blank. A writer has to be someone who writes…not someone who thinks about it."

A doctor is a doctor even when on holiday. If you know how to save lives you don't walk past a bleeding person in the street. That's how I imagine it anyway. If what you do is your passion it's always going to be with you. Yet it can be hard to accept when you're not sitting in front of your computer typing words that make up sentences that make up paragraphs that make up stories or chapters.

I have hardly done any writing in the past two weeks due to having visitors from Sweden. It makes me feel restless, as if life has no real meaning apart from spending time with people you love and care about. And maybe that's the plain truth. Somebody gets ill and you care for them. Somebody visits and you spend time with them. Life is about relationships between people. Yet I think everybody benefits from having a real passion in life, something that makes you feel alive, something you can return to even if all your relationships are broken.

That's why I started to write in the first place; I felt that I didn't fit in anywhere and found it very difficult to hang out with people without acting, without analysing every conversation. Also I often feel bored with life and writing about it instead is an escape. For example once I went to a quiz night and I really hate quizzes because my general knowledge about things is not that good ... But instead of sitting there hating the quiz I decided to write a short story that somehow involved a quiz night.

Because I had nice visitors and enjoyed myself over the last couple of weeks I have nothing to write about. I wasn't bored and there was no major conflict. And now I don't feel like a writer because I don't even feel like writing at the moment. I have a few short stories on the go, but my heart is not in it 100% as with my novel. Short stories don't give me the same satisfaction as novels. I prefer to follow something for a longer period of time. It's a bit like the way I like to travel. I don't like going to a new place every day, sleeping in a different hostel every night. When I go travelling I prefer to go somewhere and spend at least a month in one place so I get a bigger picture.

So ... is a novelist a novelist only when she/he is physically working on her/his novel? No! I'm a novelist waiting for a reply from the agent that I really, really want. A waiting novelist is still a novelist. Once a writer always a writer. But you do feel better when you do more of the writing and less of the thinking. However ... breaks are necessary and good, and people are more important than words. Sometimes.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Sparkling stories at SPARKS

The first time I went to the live short fiction event SPARKS upstairs at Three & Ten in Brighton I thought wow these writers are really good and it's really cool that a photo has been commissioned to go with each story; I wish it was me up on the stage ...

Yesterday that wish came true. I was quite nervous as I've never read a short story on stage before. When performing poetry I memorise all my lines and feel in control; somehow I find it more nerve-wracking having to read something from a piece of paper - especially as I've got this fear of pronouncing the words wrong. Another fear was that I would have to read my story, STEAL FROM THE RICH AND GIVE TO THE POOR, in front of a picture of a nipple as my story features a woman who's lost a nipple to a drunk plastic surgeon ... Luckily the photographer had chosen another scene from the story - a girl writing in a cafe.

SPARKS is a friendly event - hosted by the welcoming and charismatic Jo Mortimer - and I always appreciate talking to other writers and hearing their work. When cycling home along the sea my head was full of story snippets: (love?) notes hanging from a tree, bloody feet in rubber boots, a hotel room in Cairo, a lizard in a mouth, a person suffering from seasonal affective disorder, a mother preparing herself for something difficult ... you name it!


Today I had some bad and good news. My story LOVERS OF THE PLANET was not accepted for the next Short Fuse event at Komedia (Wed 14 April), but the good news is that I was really, really close to having my story chosen. The only problem seemed to be that it was a bit too long as they need a variety of short and long stories for the evening. So it's not really bad news at all - I'm actually really happy. It also mean that I can go to Bernadette Cremin's official launch of Miming Silence at Iambic Theatre that happens the same night. As if that wasn't enough the Are you sitting comfortably? short story event at the Basement is happening the same evening as well ... Brighton is great! The choice of three good events in one evening is amazing compared to one half good event every other month in my hometown ... But I think I'll have to write a story soon about being able to be in three places at the same time ...

Photo: Saskia Wesnigk-Wood . Big thanks also to Tim who videoed the whole event.