Journal #2

Breathe. Sometimes you just need a bit of fresh air. When deadlines clog your brain and word counts don’t act like you want them to it’s like your breath gets stuck in your chest, your shoulders, and you need a change of scenery. For me, fresh air means the smell of salty seas and the sound of seagulls and waves. Whenever things get just a bit too much, I get on the train and I go where I know there’ll be an open sea to greet me, and a beach with sand that can run through my fingers. And just like that, I breathe again.

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-Andrea

Written “By a Lady”

Andrea Wold Johansen JA 001When I was younger I remember my sister reading Pride and Prejudice again and again, every time falling deeper in love with the world, the characters and the language. As the younger of us, I always wanted to be like her, and so I repeatedly tried to get into Jane Austen’s novels, but I could never get past the first ten pages. I could never understand why I was struggling so much with these novels, but now I’m starting to see why I couldn’t get properly in to Austen at the age of sixteen. I think I was just too young. I didn’t really recognise how cool Lizzie Bennet was or how groundbreaking her witty remarks were for herr time, didn’t realise the urgency of why Mrs Bennet wanted to see her daughters married so badly, and I didn’t get how insulting and petty Mister Darcy’s comments about the women of Longbourne were and thus, how interesting the shift in his character when he falls for Lizzie actually is. Now, however, it’s been five years since I tried my hand at Pride and Prejudice for the first time, and finally, I’ve gotten through almost the entire book in just a couple of days. Goodness me, what a story it is.

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One of the things that spurred this change of heart and nudged me into suddenly wanting to try my hand at Jane Austen novels again, was a trip I went on a couple of Saturdays ago with some friends of mine.

“Let’s go to the Jane Austen House Museum,” fellow Norwegian Creative Writing student Marianne said, and the following weekend, Christine, Eirunn, Marianne and I found ourselves on the bus to Chawton.

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What an experience.
As we explored the houses that come together to make the museum, we got to try writing with quill and ink, make small pouches filled with lavender and try on period specific costumes. Let me tell you, I’ve never felt fancier than waltzing around in a Mr Darcy coat and a top hat. The floral 1800s dresses were also a hit, with their long skirts and slim upper body fits, and to be fair, I just really want to bring bonnets back into fashion again, Or capes. Capes are cool, too.

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The true magic, however, came from wandering through the narrow hallways of the Austen family’s house. The museum is laid out as similar as possible to how the house would have looked like at Jane’s time, and the feeling of walking on creaky floorboards and looking out at the view from her writing nook, felt like a privilege, something to be appreciated. To top everything off, as we made our way down a winding staircase I’m sure both Jane and Cassandra Austen has run down many times, to the dining room and furthermore into the drawing room, we were met with a piano playing cheerful tunes, a melody we soon recognised as the score from the 2005 Pride and Prejudice film adaption. We followed the sound, as one would do, and found that the pianist was one of the ladies working at the museum. She even asked us if we wanted to play, but we politely declined, opting to just listen as we looked around, feeling truly transported back to the early 1800s. Cliche, I know, but it was great.

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On the way home we stopped by the gift shop, as you do, and I ended up getting a boxset of all of Austen’s novels. February 3rd was the perfect day to make myself a goal for 2018; before the year is done, I will have read all of them. Wish me luck.

Even though I had to turn 21 before I actually (almost) finished a Jane Austen book, I’ve found her to be a very inspiring and interesting woman for a long time. The fact that she originally published her first novel anonymously, but had the title page point out that it was written “by a woman”, speaks volumes of what kind of person she was, way back in 1811. I also enjoyed hearing about her works before reading any of them, and from what I gathered from film adaptions, museum exhibits and my sister’s amazed rambles, she wrote women as characters with personalities and agencies, in a time where a lot of said characters were just seen as passive observers. As I’m reading Pride and Prejudice now, I can absolutely confirm this.

I would highly recommend stopping by Jane Austen’s Chawton home if you’re ever in the area, whether you’re an avid Austen fan, or just interested in exploring the “world” that helped form English fiction like we know it today.

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I had a wonderful time, and I’m sure you will too!

-Andrea

Journal #1

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One day, I’ll have a flat of my own, or maybe even a house. I’m not entirely sure where yet, (haven’t decided on all the small details like what city or country to settle down in) but what I do know, is that my home will have white walls, soft sheets and big windows. Huge, open windows that let in the world, that you can see the sunrise through, that show you days melting into nights.
I want big windows so I can wake up to natural light peeking through the curtains, and because they make me feel connected to what’s outside. I want windows that can help me keep track of the seasons, with views over streets, over trees and over roof tops.

I was lucky enough to get to stay in this wonderful flat in Streatham the other week, and there was something so special about working on a windowsill, enveloped in a double duvet that was both way too big and the perfect size at the same time. Through the dewdrops on the panes, I saw people hurrying past with their groceries, couples huddling together to stay warm and students running after busses with their scarves hanging straight out behind them. As I got my laptop out to write, and the wind rustled the trees outside, I remember telling myself that I don’t think I’ll ever need much more than this, really.

-Andrea

(Also! One of my poems just got “published” on vocal! I’m not entirely sure why it ended up in the sub category “sad poetry”, but if you want to check it out, just click here.  If you want to see some of the other things I’ve been getting up to, mainly poetry there too, click here for my “Pieces and Performances” page! Thank you xx )

“Norwegian winters”

They moved into number 24 at the age of 23.
Brown doors needed new locks, the garage was falling apart,
but they rolled up their sleeves and went to work.
When Winter and his winds flew down from the north
and blew snow right in where the windows were supposed to be,
they dreamt of a red-brick fireplace and a double bed,
a door you could close and proper curtains.
Outside, the snow grayed like a father of three,
and the leaves wrinkled up like fishermen’s hands
as icicles hung from the roof;
swords and slippery ladders.

He brought hot chocolate in pink elephant mugs,
and an extra pair of socks for cold feet.
She went to bed on the living room floor,
a single mattress with room for two.
It was one of those nights, where the snow and the street lights tried to outshine each other,
and the wind played lullabies through the cracks in the ceiling.

Come here, she said from her spot on the floor,
it’s a night for stomach kisses and seven pairs of mittens.

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-Andrea

Writer’s Log 1,

WRITER’S LOG 1
29/01-2018

Hello! I want to make a series on this blog called The Writer’s Log; a semi-frequent update on the creative process behind my writing and creative pieces, from floaty idea to finished product. However, as I’m currently in the last semester of my third year at uni (how on earth did that happen), I’m also working on my dissertation right now. So for the first log of the series (and for this blog in general), please join me in the editing process on my Extended Creative Project.

My story is a children’s story (9-12 years) about kids growing up in hospital. I love both reading and writing fiction for children, and I’m really fascinated about how books for children approach heavy subjects, like death, illness, anger and loneliness. This story began as a creative piece last year, but after the assignment was handed in, I didn’t feel like I was completely done, neither with the characters or the story. So, I’ve reworked it and am now using parts of it for my ECP.

Christmas this year blessed me with lots of inspiration (and a bit of justified terror as the deadline rapidly approaches) and so I finished the first draft over the holidays. I’ve spent the past weeks editing it on paper, and am now applying all my edits to a word document I’ve saved on three different memory sticks, two computers, and my google docs. Paranoid? Me? Naaaah.
The point is, I’ve got the first draft of my dissertation done, but that is 25 pages of unedited writing. Now, let’s try to make it good.

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Mission Log:
Day 1:
First day of editing

12:06 I’m in the library, armed with pink pens and a caramel waffle. Also with a printed Google map over a very small part of London and Mio’s Kingdom in three different editions and two different languages. Let’s go.

12:15 Page 1 done, this is going great.

13:32 Editing your writing on paper is a lot of fun, but getting the changes into the word document isn’t as great. However, different coloured markers for different kinds of edits are very helpful and makes everything a bit more manageable!
Am going for a walk. Just around the library. Not a long one. Promise.

13:55 Okay, I might have gotten stuck in the fiction shelves. Found Philip Pullman’s Clockwork again, and I just can’t resist the whimsical but also kind of terrifying world. “Stories are just as hard as clocks to put together,” it says in there, and that is very true. But back to work now.

14:57 Page 13, right, this is going a bit slow. Have rewritten huge passages though, and spent fifteen minutes figuring out the difference between “scrubs” and “uniforms”. It’s all a process, right?

16:11 Very tired of my own handwriting. Scribbles doesn’t even cut it anymore, it’s more like a long, squiggly line. Have found some cool sentences I forgot I wrote, though. Only 5 pages left!

17:00 DONE! With the second draft at least.

Recap of the session:

Mistake of the day:
It took me seven tries to write the word receptionist. Wow.

Word count of the day:
9183. (Of course, I didn’t write those words today, if anything I tried to cut them out. Currently at 1000 words over the final word count…)

Writing location:
Library, top floor, computer 57. The best computer. Not entirely sure why, it’s just the best one.

Phone breaks:
Way. Too. Many.

Beverage of choice:
I thought it was Four red fruits, but turns out I got rooibos tea from the Food Hall. This makes me a little sad, but is still okay.

Mood before writing: “Got my tea, got my pens, let’s just get this editing over with now.” Mood during writing: “I need to get rid of a 1000 words. And all of this is awful. Can I even write? What am I doing?” Also “Hm, that’s a cool sentence. I love my characters, must nothing bad happen to them ever please and thank you. I’ve got this. Where did my pen go?”
Mood after writing: “I did a thing!

So I think that went okay!

 

Question of the day: -Done any kind of writing lately? What’s your mistake of the day?

-Andrea

 

 

“I knitted your cat a scarf for Christmas”

but you’re impossible to buy presents for.

Maybe I’ll give you the sequins of sun on snow,
and the frost roses I scraped off my car this morning.
I could write you a note saying how nothing lasts forever,
but look how pretty temporary can be.

I could give you a magic chocolate factory,
with a flying glass lift and grass made of sugar,
because nothing’s ever as it seems,
and every problem looks small when seen from above.

Maybe I’ll get you a home made jumper,
so big it could house the Russian circus.
Hopefully, it would remind you to always dance,
even when it’s Jan Garbarek on the radio.

No, I’ll  give you a kiss like they do in Peter Pan.
An acorn on a string,
soft fingers on your chest, messy sheets,
and quiet voices,
in the dark.

I knitted your cat a scarf for Christmas,
but you are impossible to buy presents for.

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-Andrea