Life, the universe and ... oh, whatever ...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

What are the odds?

My study plan for this spring semester was to do the next module in “Nordic languages and literature” with the University of Bergen, and to do the “State Authorized Translator Exam” from English to Norwegian. These are three exams in total, and of course… two of them fall on the same day in May. So, now I’ve had to change my plan and I won’t be doing the translator exam this spring, I will have to postpone that for another year. But, because of the redundancy package I’ve got from the Norwegian Defence, I have to find another course that will make up for missing out on this exam. Now I’m applying for an undergraduate course in “Creative Writing” held by the University of Tromsö. This is a one year full-time course that starts in June this year. Some of the course is arranged as a correspondence course, but I will also have to go to Tromsö one week during the autumn semester and one week during spring – and for another seven weekends through the year. It probably sounds a bit backward doing an undergraduate course in creative writing after having been to England and done the Master in this subject, but I think it will be useful. For one thing, doing a creative writing course always means that you’ve got deadlines that push you to write, and it will also give me a chance to attend lectures by Norwegian authors and meet with people from the Norwegian publishing world.

Today I’m hoping to finish the first draft of book number two in my Viking series.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Busy days

I have just finished a first draft of book no three in my Viking series. The first draft of the first book was about 56 000 thousand words when I finished it, this one is about 61 000 words now. The redrafted and so far final version of the first book ended up at about 76 000 words – I still don’t know on which word count this book no three will end. I have ideas about where in the story I need to put in more details and perhaps more scenes, I have ideas how relationships and people that the reader needs to get more information about. I didn’t know this when I was in the process of writing the book because I didn’t really have all the details on where it was going to end. I now have a ending, I’m not sure if this will be the ending in the final version, but for now it does seem like a good ending – but there are things happening in this final chapters that really truly calls for more insight into the different characters to believe that they will actually do the things they end up doing. Very cryptic I know, but as this is a first draft, I’m not really willing to share much of the story with anyone yet.

As always, when I type that final word and realize that I’ve actually sort of finished a new whole book, I get a feeling of emptiness. For a couple of moments it’s as if I don’t really know what to do next. I have of course big plans on what I’m going to do next: write book number two, and I’m very excited about that. I feel that this book number three is a good one, I’ve kept my writing style and the voice from book number one and I’m so eager to get to the stage where I can get someone else to read it to see if they can confirm my suspicions that this is also just as exciting a story as book number one. The problem now is that I can’t really show it to anyone before book number two is ready, so… Now I’m going to write a first draft of book number two, I guess I’ll be starting a little later today. And whilst I’m writing that first draft of book number two I might also occasionally take a break from that to do a bit of redrafting in book number three. Should really be an interesting process.

Exciting and busy days indeed.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

30 300 words and counting…

Yes, you guessed it right, since Thursday afternoon I’ve written more than 31 000 words on my new novel. It is so strange how the words just poor out of me now that I’ve started, if there are not too many interruptions I should be able to finish the first draft of this novel by the end of the weekend. And then I can start the first draft of the next book: number two, I’ve even got a title for that one now “The Dream”. Might not end up being the title in the end, but I always find I work better with a story if I’ve got a title for it, I don’t know why.

It is exciting days indeed, and this to me is also a bit like reading a book for the first time. Yes, of course, when I start writing I have a pretty good idea about what’s going to happen and where the story is going – but then very often I find when writing it that new things come up, things I didn’t know about till the second I write them. That is what I truly love about writing, that it can really surprise you, even in the smallest details when you work your way through it. So far it’s the story itself that I’m getting down on paper. By that I mean that all the historic details will come later. When I wrote book number one I very often got lost in research every time something came up in the story that made me wonder how things were back then. I would immediately get on the internet or dig out some books and start reading and then stop writing for several days because I did research. It is important to do research of course, but I think that it’s more important to get the story itself down on paper first. Writing this book I now put something in red letters in the story when there’s something I’m wondering about, or if I’ve got a scene in my head of something happening that will need some more detailed knowledge of that time. When I’ve finished drafting this book and perhaps the next one, I’ll go back and spend some days doing all the research. The first draft of “The Battle” was 56 000 words, and the final draft that I entered into the competition was 76 000 words – so it goes without saying that a lot of things happens to a manuscript between the first and the final draft. But – I’ll say this; I didn’t really change the story itself that much on “The Battle”. I added a whole new chapter, and I added lots of historic details but I had no major changes in the story. It does feel like it’s the same thing with this book because the story feels so right when I write it. Let’s hope it is!

Nöjeskryssen - and studies...

Last weekend I was off on a booze cruise called “Nöjeskryssen” that goes between Gothenburg and Kiel. It’s become kind of a tradition, even though I did not get to go last year because I was so busy with my studies. It was very good this year as well, lots of good bands playing – and especially a group called Arrival was great. They’re an ABBA tribute band and I must say the two female singers really do look and sound a lot like Agnetha and Anni-Frid. The concert started at 1 in the morning when we we’re coming back from Kiel and I really enjoyed it, but then I’m also a big ABBA fan so…

The day before I left for the cruise I also received my books for this semester’s correspondence course that I’m doing with the University of Bergen. Some of you might remember that I’m doing this two year course in “Nordic languages and literature”. This semester we’re doing two modules: “Oral language” and “Norse language”. I’m very excited about that second course; I’m actually going to learn Norse, the language of the Vikings. I think this will bring me ever closer to that time and age, and inspire me in my writing. I’ve also discovered this two week course: “From Runes to Script, Orality and Literacy in Viking and Medieval Scandinavia”, that runs at the university of Aarhus this summer. I’m considering applying, it looks very interesting, and I think everything I can do now that can put me in touch with that time in history will be very helpful when I keep writing my Viking stories.

Friday, February 01, 2008

I’m writing!

I’m most definitely back in the game again. For a long time I’ve been thinking a lot about the next books in the Viking series, and I’ve pretty much in detail known a lot about how they’re going to be – I’ve just not really been doing any writing. But these last days I’ve been so inspired and now I’ve written about 5000 words on book number two that for now has the title: “The Hunt”. I was worried before I started writing that even though the story was very vivid in my head that I might not find the words to put on paper, but that has not been a problem. It’s just like when I wrote the first book, the story is so present and so clear in my mind, and the words just flows out of me. I would have written more than 5000 words in the last two days but I haven’t got enough time, there are other things going on in my life right now that gives me a lot of chores around the house and that certainly takes up quite a lot of my time – but that will change in just a couple of weeks.

And for those of you who are not writers and don’t really know how much 5000 words is, my first Viking novel “The Battle” ended up at aprox. 76 000 words – so that should give you a clue about how much work I’ve done on the second book so far.

Something strange has also happened: I’m not sure if the book I’m writing now is number two, I actually think it might be number three. Because whilst I’ve been writing those 5000 words, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the story – and earlier today I wrote a short synopsis for another book that I think fits perfectly in between “The Battle” and “The Hunt”. How is this possible you might ask, that I’m now writing book number 3 before book number 2? Oh, what can I say, I don’t really know, it’s all in my mind and I’m sure it’ll make sense some day. I hope to be able to keep writing about 5000 words a day in the weeks to come, which should make it possible for me to finish a first draft of “The Hunt” in about two to three weeks – and then I can write a first draft of book number two, before I go through and redraft them both. Sounds like a good plan, doesn’t it?

I’m so happy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: writing truly is the best highs of all.

And now I’ll make lunch for my temporarily handicapped mother and then drive her to the physiotherapist. Later this afternoon I’ll keep writing on “The Hunt”.