“Strawberry Breath”

I am not a song writer, but I appreciate the ease with which well-written lyrics can fall off your tongue. During the second year of my creative writing degree, I got to experiment with a module that focused on song writing, and while not strictly my “thing”, I did really enjoy it.

This song was written in 2017, as part of that module, to the melody of First Day of My Life  by Bright Eyes. It is supposed to illustrate all the small things that make up your perception of someone you love, all the small things you never thought of as special until you started associating them with your person. It is also about how even though a relationship may start off all exciting, like “fireworks and circus nights”, the safety and the comfort of the years may shape it into “October stars and Saturdays, and peppermint and quiet snow”, a quiet sort of every-day love.

Image by Robert Balog from Pixabay

“Strawberry Breath”

Verse:
This is a story about a boy,
Who wished on cardamom and tea cups.
He wondered the world without a map
smelled like the city,
danced like rain.

I got to hold him for one night,
Strawberry breath and chilli chocolate.
Thought I knew how to give him everything,
Now I know
I don’t know what that is.

Chorus:
But I have learnt that I was wrong.
You’re not the fireworks and circus shows
I made you up as, no.
You are October stars and Saturdays
And peppermint
And quiet snow
oh oh. 

Verse:
If I could hold you one more time,
I want to hear all of your stories.
About rhubarb and sugar and blueberry jam
And how it came to become you.    

Talk about silver in your hair,
And promises both held and broken.
about choices and beauty and bitterness,
and how we will grow old one day.

Chorus 2:
I don’t want fireworks and circus nights,
But blankets, slippers, plastic glasses,
pillow forts and snowball fights.
You are October stars and Saturdays
and knowing it will be alright.

Oh oh oh. 

A fun little experiment, where I tried my hands at something I very rarely do.
I hope you’re having a wonderful day!
-Andrea

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“Maybe I Like Honey After All”

“We used to come here for Easter sermons as children, but back then the stone building had stood straight-backed like a school teacher, hushing every childish giggle. Now the doors were wide open and the entrance was decorated with draping curtains of pink and yellow.”

Hello!
This post is my 100th post on this blog! This page has been up and running since February 5th 2018, so that means a 100 posts in exactly one year and two months. Seeing as this blog began as an assignment for my former Creative Writing degree, I figured today I could show you a piece of writing I handed in as coursework, around the same time I started this blog!

So, the piece is from a module called Travel Writing, and it was written in January 2018. It is about the notion of “holidays at home”, and the ways that your hometown can surprise you when you start really looking at all the places you’re so used to existing in. For me, it was going to a festival my hometown puts on every year, for the first time a couple of years ago. Have a read, and thanks for sticking with me for a hundred posts!

-Andrea

“Maybe I Like Honey After All”

                 “You don’t have to buy the honey; you just have to taste it.” She grabbed my arm as I walked past her and shoved a spoon dripping with fresh honey into my hands. “Only local bees.”
I called her the Bee lady in my head. Her hands were rough; a worker’s hands. Wrinkles followed the lines of her face, the price of a long life well lived, and silver hair was gathered in a braid that hung down her back. She had decorated it with flowers for the occasion, greens and pinks and yellows.
“So many people think they don’t like honey at all, but that’s because they’ve only ever tasted the store bought kind.” She shook her head, making the braid dance.

                  “They don’t know how real honey actually tastes.” She winked at me. I thanked her and was about to leave, but she insisted on another spoonful.

                  I bought a jar.

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“I love you like a candle flickering on December 1st”

Edited version can be found here.

I want to pour you thirteen cups of tea,
strawberry and cranberry, twirling, swirling,
like your voice braided into my daydreams,
songs made of honey, my memories vowen into your stories,
as we make tomorrow something we do together.

I want to make you raspberry brownies
and hot chocolate like my mormor used to make it –
floral aprons and warm milk,
like the smells in the café we’ll own one day.

I want to see poetry slip across your lips
and art in hands on hips,
paintbrush nails across naked skin
resting next to each other;
touching, home,
safe.

I want to yell at stars with you
like people have always yelled at stars.
I do not know what astronauts eat,
but if they eat freeze dried cheese on toast I want to eat that with you,
our helmets resting next to us on the ceiling,

and as we pull the covers around us in our spaceship,
I want to be next to you in bed so close
that when you turn around I’m already in your arms,
your hand across my waist,
your thumb rubbing fairy tales into my stomach.

I want to leave kisses on your fingertips
and never be wasteful with the touches on your eyelids.

I pull your arms around me.
Touching, home,
safe.

-Andrea x

The Winchester Bucket List

Are you going to uni next year, and wondering how life will be as a student? Are you worried about working part time alongside your studies? Even better, are you going to uni in Winchester, UK, and are curious about new places to go, small nooks to discover and explore? For questions like these, the University of Winchester has created a student life magazine that focuses on simply living life as a student, no matter what course or degree you’re on.

Remember I told you about this article I was writing a while ago? The magazine it’s in has been available at the uni for a couple of months, and it’s been handed out to students at the open days for a while, but now I’ve finally got my hands on a copy of my own, and can show you guys!

My article is called “The Winchester Bucket List”, is featured on the front page, and I’m listed on the contents page as a “student contributor”, which I’m really happy and a little bit proud about!
Talking about the article; this one was a lot of fun to write for a lot of reasons:
Firstly, I was contacted and asked to write something for this! After emailing back and forth with the management and content team, we figured out that a “tour” of Winchester would be a fun thing to put in there.
Secondly, I got to pick out my favourite places in Winchester and write about them, and now I’ve basically got the perfect memento of the town I’ve loved living and studying in.
Thirdly, for the first time ever I did both the article and the pictures! The photos in this piece are all by me (except for the St Catherine’s one), and taking “proper” pictures that would look good in an article like this was an interesting challenge I’d never taken on before.

I sent this piece off with pride when I was done with it. Then I was told that it would be given three full pages, something I was not expecting but really, really appreciated! And, drumroll please, here is the finished piece:

Look how cool it looks!! I had no idea how the design would look, but I’m really proud of how it turned out. The whole magazine is available for free at the University of Winchester, and it’s filled with tips and tricks on how to survive life as a student, created and written by current students and recent graduates.

Question of the day: am I the only one who finds it really difficult to take pictures of grassy hills (i.e St Catherine’s hill)? Everything just turned out very green for me… Also, does anyone know how to put separate pictures together into a pdf file? Help and suggestions are very welcome!

Hope you have a wonderful day!
-Andrea

“I Think I’m Dreaming” again and “Intimacy in the age of social media”

Two posts in one day, I know, I’m sorry.
You see, in my last post I was talking about these two pieces I’ve handed in and gotten back, and I just wanted to share them with you!

This is the creative piece I had to edit so much, called “I Think I’m Dreaming”.
Like I said, it’s a sci-fi, speculative type thingy, and I had a lot of fun writing it.
You can find it by clicking here!

The picture will hopefully make a little more sense after reading the piece.

The second piece, which I don’t think I’ve talked as much about before, is a reflective essay. The main essay title we got as part of the assessment was “How We Live Now”, and then we had to make our own under-title. I ended up writing an essay about how social media has changed our way of being intimate, pros and cons of being able to stay connected with anyone anywhere in the world, and asked the question; Has social media made us incapable of forming and maintaining intimate connections?
It was a really interesting essay to work on, and I’d love it if you’d check it out!
You can do that here!

Okay, that’s all for today, I promise!
Thanks for taking the time to read these posts and maybe also the pieces.

Have a great day!
-Andrea

“In the Soles of Their Shoes”

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m still working on coming to terms with the fact that I’ve finished my BA. Part of this process, I’ve figured, is going back and looking at pieces I wrote in first and second year. Most writers hate looking back at earlier pieces, and I’m definitely no exception. All the sentences you’d cut, all the careless spelling mistakes, so much showing and not enough telling. However, it is interesting to see how far you’ve come, and it feels good to know that all the errors you find in your old work are things you know how to correct now; areas in which you’ve grown as a writer.

This short story (hidden under the Continue Reading bar) was one of the first short stories I ever wrote in a lecture, in a module called Creative Voice I. The task was to find an idea by looking at pictures, then head to the library to quickly research said idea and like this, come up with a story. I got a picture of Audrey Hepburn, the classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s shot, and started looking at her past and her life during the war; how she and some other girls put on secret ballet rehearsals and shows unbeknownst to the German soldiers. It got the ball rolling for a story about children helping out the resistance during the second world war, and resulted in a 700 word story. Also, today I’ve edited it slightly and submitted this story to The Master’s Review‘s Flash Fiction competition.

slipper-1919321_1920.jpg

On the topic of growing as a writer, though, if I were to write this story now I would show more of the surroundings to properly set the time and place more clearly, and also make the character’s intentions and feelings more clear. I would also work more with the characters, as the reader doesn’t really get a clear feeling about how old the girls are or why they’re doing what they’re doing. Also, the change in mood from the girls skipping down the street to one of them suddenly sneaking into the abandoned shop feels very sudden. Other than that, I do like it.

Click the Continue Reading Button to read the piece, or click here to see some of my other pieces!

-Andrea

“In the soles of their shoes”

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“Mina”

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Yesterday, alumni and current students of the UoW’s Creative Writing programme gathered to celebrate the programme’s 10 year anniversary as an independent single-honours degree. It was a wonderful night, with speeches, music, quizzes about the lecturers, a “memory fireplace” (a fancy fireplace we stuck memories written down on post-it notes on) and lots and lots of readings. Stick about 50 writers together in a room, and you won’t believe how many great, weird, thought-provoking and heartbreaking pieces you can find. There was everything from poetry to short stories to song lyrics, and the red thread that wove itself through the night was just to celebrate this course and how much it gives its students, how much it shapes us as people. A feel-good night with wine and beautiful dresses, chill formal, with lots of applause and a warm atmosphere.

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At the same time, we also ” celebrated” the launch of the 2018 edition of Vortex. Vortex is the uni’s literary magazine, open to submissions from everyone (not just students). This year’s edition is a bit special, however, as it is the first issue that has been created by students, with third-year Creative and Professional Writing students forming the editorial board, marketing- and design team. I’ve wanted to submit work to Vortex since receiving a copy in the “welcome to uni”-pack in first-year, but it wasn’t until the end of second-year I managed to gather up the courage to actually send anything in. Now I’m so glad I did. The 2018 edition is an absolutely beautiful magazine, illustrated by Kat Beatson, and filled to the brim with great poems and short stories. It doesn’t have a specific theme, but to quote someone from the launch yesterday, it’s got a quiet vulnerability to it, at the same time as it’s fierce and weird. If you’re in Winchester, it’s definitely something to check out.

Andrea Wold Johansen, Vortex 1Andrea Wold Johansen, Vortex 3Andrea Wold Johansen, Vortex 2

I was also fortunate enough to be able to read the piece I submitted to the magazine at the launch, and if you want to read it, you can find it here!
It’s a piece I wrote in second-year, based on research done on children’s fiction as a platform to talk to children about difficult subjects. It’s also what started my dissertation, and it was weird to revisit and read it, now that it’s almost a year old.
I do like it and am quite proud of it, though.

Screen Shot 2018-04-13 at 16.19.04The proper pictures in this post are by Ben Coleman, you can find his work here.

And if you want to listen to it while reading, here’s a video!

(And sorry for all the links here, but if you wanna check out some of the short stories I’ve been lucky enough to get published or any poetry performances I’ve been a part of, then just click here or go to the “Pieces and Performances” page in the header bar!)

-Andrea