Maiju’s Teacup 17.1.2018 – Snowglobe

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The prompt for today was that if I had to build a diorama to represent my interior world, what would people see when peering in.

    So the first thing I did was to google the word ‘diorama’ to make sure I had the concept right. According to Wikipedia, (which I will trust on this):

The word diorama /ˌdaɪəˈrɑːmə/ can either refer to a 19th-century mobile theatre device, or, in modern usage, a three-dimensional full-size or miniature model, sometimes enclosed in a glass showcase for a museum.

This made me think about a snowglobe, because that’s what I’d make if I built my inner world as a diorama. It would have to be a huge snowglobe because I would need there to be and ocean of tea. On the other hand, that could be represented by just a dop, or a cup. Nah, I want an ocean of tea.

The houses would be wooden in the centre but turn into ones built of books the closer to the edge you got. Miniature me would be sitting on a wooden terrace at the edge of the tea ocean, next to a sauna. She’d have her diary at hand, pen at the ready. There would be vast forests spreading from the shores of the sea and small cosy cabins here and there with bookshelves lining the walls. There would be a path that led through the forest to a small town with only a teahouse, a library, and a yarn shop. Because what else would you need? And the town would be inhabited by hedgehogs and cats. Hey, it’s my diorama world!

An when you shook the snowglobe, thousands of tiny words would spread and flutter across the snowglobe skies and when they landed on the ground and on the trees and buildings and on the tea ocean waves, you could read what kind of strange and random poetry they’d make. And of course the snowglobe would also be a music box and you could wind it and it would play The Rolling Wave, the traditional Irish Jig that should never end.

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Maiju’s Teacup 8.1.2018 – Reluctant Suspension of Disbelief

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My theme from the 365 journal for today were scars. I wondered wether to tell you about my measles scar that reminds me of the first time I finished reading Emily of New Moon, or the story of the scar on my brother’s forehead which has been told so many times in our family gatherings that history became legend, legend became myth, and for two and a half thousand years… Wait… What? The real story has passed out of all knowledge.

But instead I’m going to write about a matter that’s been in my head for many months now. It was touched upon in the StoryCraft pep talk webinar that I mentioned.

Distraction.

There are many kinds of distractions in this world. Especially for writers. An interesting meme on Tumblr. A monthly group challenge on Instagram of poetry about goldfish memories. A shiny piece of paper on the floor that you compete for with the cat. It makes a wonderful crinkling sound and rattles when it falls.

These are the smaller, momentary distractions. Then there’s that gnawing feeling when you look at your bank account and realise you can barely afford the rent and the cat food. Though, I find that lack of money works well focusing your attention on the things you really need. I’ve got so much writing done because I couldn’t afford to go somewhere and do something else AND because I can’t afford a monthly payment to Netflix or Viaplay. I could barely afford internet and that was pure luxury (also necessary as my writing website is online).

Now that I’ve been working, there are even more distractions! With income I can afford to go places, buy books, go to the cinema etc. I can invite friends over when offering them a splash milk and biscuits with their tea isn’t an extravagance I don’t even want to admit.

I’m also starting to plan vacations in places which require saving money, and saving money means making more of it than I spend in a month which cuts heavily back on writing time because travelling from Finland to anyplace that isn’t… Estonia or Sweden, is expensive. Hell, travelling within Finland is pretty expensive if you don’t reserve the tickets in plenty of time for the cheapest bus imaginable.

So yeah, distractions.

But what keeps me going is what I like to call the “reluctant suspension of disbelief”  (referring, of course, to Coleridge’s “willing suspension of disbelief”). It’s that mad, insane, totally based on false narratives, bonkers, utter nonsense belief that one day, one day this text will be something joyful. Will be finished and make sense and will have readers.

Being a writer is sailing between those two lines. The suspension and the disbelief. I call it reluctant because it really require’s a lot of work and madness and faith and insanity to sail those seas. And the biggest distraction of all is when that suspension falters.

I’ve been teetering on the edge of disbelief for a few days now. The task ahead seems enormous. No, it is enormous. On the other hand I could choose to take a safe cushy job where I could earn enough money to travel and see friends and do fun things and not skimp and scurry around the edges.

And it even feels selfish to choose to be creative. Yes. My friends and family have to worry about me more. People have to extend their brain power over the normal amount when they hear that I’m not actually just doing manual jobs because I’m getting back into gear. I’m doing them because I’m writing a book and these kinds of jobs won’t take too much of my creative energy. It feels selfish to demand that attention.

Yet, I can’t seem to be able to lie about it. I read an article where an author wrote about how they always told people anything else but the truth. True, it’s easier to say “I’m working here part time now” and leave it at that. And I do, if it’s a person I barely know. But I don’t want to tell that to my friends. Even if the dreaded “oh yeah, what kind of a book are you writing” follows. It’s so much of what I am. Of what I do. Of how I behave and react and live. No one expects my friends who are at home with their kids to deny they are mothers, do they?

So yeah. And yet there’s the little voice telling me that maybe that new cushy job wouldn’t be so exhausting and hard that I couldn’t write as much. And that maybe I could afford that new computer that wouldn’t leave me in a lurch every once in a while. And maybe…

I don’t know.

I write to find out.

I strain against the reluctance.

 

 

 

 

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*The photo at the top is from 2003 on a hilltop in Abergavenny, Wales, taken by my good friend Hanna, who would never doubt I can do this.

Maiju’s Teacup 7.1.2018 – Small things

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I had a few rough days because I’ve been feeling under the weather.  The tasks set for the past two days were really interesting, involving a family portrait, but I didn’t have time to blog about them and I want to keep to the date. I’ll probably get back to them though,  because they resulted in ideas that I’ve had for years and never really properly set down in fiction.

Actually, on Friday I would have had time to blog, but instead I spent the evening watching (even participating a little) a webinar about creativity. I didn’t even realise how much I crave for a creative community, before I watched the webinar. It was a pep talk by StoryCraft that I would really recommend if at all interested. Story is a conference about creativity that my friend Amber has attended for a few years now and she swears by it. I can understand why now. It would be awesome to be able to attend this year, but the timing is a bit off. I would have to be able to afford to book the tickets and flights now when they’re still cheap, and I can’t afford to do that. Or I might be able to do that, but then I’d have to work more this Spring than I’d like to which would cut back on my writing time and be pretty counterintuitive. I’m going to aim for next year though, since I have more time to plan and save.

Anyway, I’m filling my diary with ideas and realisations I had attending that webinar and may get back to it later. Now to the task at hand:

Today’s prompt wast to think of the past week and remember what was something strange or wonderful that happened. This morning I couldn’t come up with much. The cold has had me pretty exhausted all week, so that timeframe doesn’t work for me. But I’m widening my net. Because, not only is the week ending, the job I had at the store as a clerk ended yesterday too. I’m going back, but it’s not entirely sure when or for how long. Sooner rather than later, the boss said and didn’t even remove my keys or work clothes, so I believe her. But as I looked back on the nine weeks I worked at the store, so many wonderful things come to mind that I wanted to list a few of them.

My absolutely favourite thing about the job was that on the way to the dressing and break rooms I passed through a stairwell that was on the other side of a wall from a pet shop. I could hear the birds singing in their cages every time I passed. While not a fan of caged birds, it did add an otherworldly quality to the stairwell. That patch of tropical forest in the middle of the mundane.

I loved people who hummed while they packed their groceries. When I lived up north that was a much more normal occurence. People sang or hummed while walking on the street and talked to strangers more than here. The town I live in is bilingual and I think it has something to do with the fact that people don’t speak to each other as much. They’re afraid of the other person not understanding them and thus feeling ridiculous. Or that’s how I think it affects the locals. And as a result people who talk to strangers (me) are thought a bit nuts.

I really liked the last young kid at the counter in a group of teenage boys. The store is next to two schools so there’s no lack of kids buying candy on their breaks. Every once in a while there’s this group of 3 – 7 boys who come in and talk loudly and buy loose candy and soda and don’t look at you over the counter except for a nanosecond and only talk at you to tell that they don’t need the receit. The last little boy in this crew, however, is usually the sweetest one. He’s polite and he talks to you and when you wish him a merry christmas or a happy new year, he thanks and wishes it back.

Another kind of customer I really liked were those middle aged people who stand in the line looking as if they’ve swallowed a barrel of lemons but when they get to the counter they are sunshine itself. I like the overly polite and kind older ladies and gentlemen and the man who shook my hand while wishing me a happy new year. And also the shy people who look at you shiftily but are polite and you can see there’s so much going on in their mind and you might be the only person to whom they’ve talked all day and you try to be kind but not too invasive because you’ve once been them yourself and know how they feel from the heart thumping in their ears to the cringe when they remember later that they forgot the milk and are too exhausted to go back.

I liked the rapping, clinking sound that comes after the day when the evening shift counts their cash when the store is empty. And the stuttering sound of the old calculators when they print the numbers on the strip of paper.

All in all, I’m glad to be off but I’m really looking forward to these things when I go back.

Maiju’s Teacup 4.1.2018 – Making plans

So today’s task was to come up with descriptions that ascribe an animalistic quality to something that doesn’t breathe. I did that this morning, in the journal, in Finnish. I’m feeling a cold coming on and can’t be bothered to go and get the journal right now (it’s all the way in the kitchen, which is at least 5 metres away… you see my point).

So I decided to take this opportunity to give an update on some decisions I made concerning my writing.

I never believed when someone said one should set a deadline for writing or it wouldn’t get done. Now I do. This is one on a long list of things I’ve realised to be true before experiencing them. I shouldn’t even be surprised. In October I had a goal to reach every day, in November I did NaNoWriMo. Both of them worked really well. Maybe because I had a realistic expectation of the “finished” product.  In 2016 when I quit my job in March, I decided to have a draft ready in May. Possible, yes, but not quite realistic. At that point I wasn’t well enough, mentally, to get the draft done or know where the story needed to go.

I felt adrift for two days in the beginning of this year. Sure I did have this journalling project and my manuscript, but I had a whole year ahead of me. At some point there would be CampNaNo, and then another, and finally NaNoWrimo, but I had no specific timeline. And I have to say, I am closer to the end than the beginning in the draft. Saying: This year I will finish my novel, seemed so vague. But when I say: By the end of February I will finish this draft of the novel, it sounds way better.

So, unless there’s some sort of work-related surprise, I’m heading for finishing this draft by Feb 28th. And then I’ll edit it in March and do the story challenge. I will talk about that more later, but it’s something I did last year and I loved it.

To get to my goal, I set a target amount of 300 words per day on Novlr. I also pledged that on #WriteChain which is a Twitter project for writers forging a string of consecutive writing days. I like the latter more as there’s some kind of outward accountability involved.  Novlr just shows me a message that says, hey, you did it again.

I also signed up for a few other things, StoryCraft among them, that will possibly help me get to my goals and keep my focus on writing. Though that seems not to be the problem this year. I am very focused. I guess it’s that my mental health has improved so much that I can now take on bigger projects AND work and have a balanced existence. Which is pretty darn exciting!

Right. There’s the info blast. I’m now going to fall asleep and hopefully not wake up in a fever tomorrow. G’night!

Maiju’s Teacup 3.1.2018 – Meeemries…

 

So today’s task was to try to figure out what was my first memory and why do I remember it.

I remember quite a bit from when I was really small. But I think I might have been about two years old when I first met my best childhood friend. I might have made up the whole memory or it might be that we didn’t meet for the first time just then, but this is what I remember.

We are on a walk next to the fence that surrounds the racetrack next to our yard of rowhouses. It’s a sunny Spring beforenoon and probably a weekend because my dad’s there. My brother is hogging the stroller for some reason even though he’s a year and a half older than me. My mum’s pushing the stroller. The light is that golden one that only happens in memories in films and when you can’t quite remember what it smelled like in those in your own head. I imagine there was a bit of frost in the air, yet the coltsfeet were out. The mud that inevitably followed the melting snow was frozen on the surface too. We meet another stroller next to a little patch of wood and a small golden haired girl is holding onto it. We skip the formalities and continue hand in hand together along the road, glancing at frozen puddles and smiling just because it’s nice to have a friend.

As to why I remember it, it’s probably because she was my first friend. My brother is just that bit older and has always been that much of a hazard that it took me a long while to learn to walk because I always sat down when he got near me. We stayed best friends until about 3rd grade and were still in the same group of friends for years. She now has two kids and lives in the capital. According to her Instagram 🙂

Maiju’s Teacup 2.1.2018 – Graphology

So today’s assignment was to write a character sketch based on a handwriting sample. My thought at first: what handwriting sample? Well, I had the idea of, not just googling random handwriting, but digging out some old letters and picking one at random.

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The letter is from an old high school friend of mine whom I’ve lost touch with and I was afraid the result would be somewhat affected by knowing the person who wrote the text. But it’s really not.

I wasn’t really sure how to go about this but once I started, it sort of got away from me. So here goes.

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She didn’t need a ruler, the lines kept straight all by themselves. But sometimes a letter would appear on the page in it’s mirror image. When she was young she had been left-handed and would have remained so but for her own stubbornness. Everyone said it was OK to use her left hand, but she saw how her brother was writing, effortlessly, without smudging the words with a dragging hand, and decided she would learn to do the same. Margins appeared in her text with the same preciseness.

She always checked what was appropriate to wear for both the occasion and the weather, always taking both into account so diligently that it never showed what effort it took her. She had stopped caring what other people thought about her a long time ago, but the image that she aspired to was imprinted from some strange combination of other people’s expectations that she had experienced as a child. She had craved for someone to set her boundaries, to tell her how to be because she felt like her own opinions on the matter would be inherently wrong whatever they were.

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And now I need to leave for work 🙂 but I can definitely use this for something later!

Maiju’s Teacup 1.1.2018 – 365 Thoughts on Writing

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This is my first cup of tea of the year, Darjeeling First Flush, and my new journal.

I’ve been a bit lazy with this blog lately, mainly because of being so busy at work and tired after work and trying to write or make Yule presents whenever I have time. Well, now I have time. I just have three shifts left at work and then I have no idea yet what I’m up to. The job was a temporary contract and no one’s talked about continuing it even though I made it clear I would be interested in that. I was a Christmas rush help and it seems like they aren’t going to need me, at least immediately.

My friend Amber just gave me the brilliant idea of using one of my Yule presents for not only to spice up my blog but to write and share more about my experience as a writer. My brother or his fiancee found me this wonderful Q&A a day for writers -jounal. It’s a year’s worth of questions about writing. I’m only on the first page and don’t want to peek ahead, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be good.

I’m answering these questions every day and will try to share the question and my answer on the blog daily. Maybe on some days I won’t manage it, or will only take a photo of my answer but I’m going to try. (Famous last words.)

The question for the first day was: Why do you write? What does it do to you?

Writing is how I make sense of the world. The times I’ve been too lazy or depressed or tired to keep a diary are hazy to me now. I don’t know how I survived. Even when I’m trying to exorcise some bad thoughts or give myself props for doing something good, only writing will eventually do it for me. I’ve had some longstanding regrets and issues and while writing doesn’t solve them, writing them down turns a part of them solid and it’s stuck on the page and not in my mind anymore.

Writing fiction works in almost the same way. I recognise every quirk of my characters’ as some aspect of myself. Even the weather and the locations are significant for me. And when I learn something new about myself, I also learn something new about one of the stories I’m working on.

Writing is the only thing I feel like I know how to do. And I don’t mean that I think I’m brilliant at it, but it’s the thing I strive for and the thing that I defines me in my own mind. It’s a goal and a pursuit that I value.