WWW Wednesday, 6/03-19, Welcome back, Creativity

Hello and welcome to another WWW Wednesday!

I’m feeling creative these days, and thankfully, there are a lot of projects I can channel that creative energy into. I’m working on a cross stitch piece for a workshop I’m a part of, I really want to write again (I’m just not sure what), and I’ve just gotten my hands on some exciting new books. So what better time to do a WWW Wednesday post!

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words, and anyone can join the fun! All you have to do is answer three simple questions (“The three Ws”):

-What are you currently reading?
-What did you just finish reading?
-What are you planning on reading next?

I am currently reading:
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Cathy and I went to see this play broadcasted at the Cinema in Winchester last winter, and I loved the intrigue, the confusion and the strange and wonderful characters. Yesterday I found it for £2.50 in a little Swanage book shop, and I’m working my way through it now. So far very good!

Blurb:
Variously melancholy, lyrical, joyous and farcical, Twelfth Night has long been a popular comedy with Shakespearian audiences. The main plot revolves around mistaken identities and unrequited love. Both Olivia and Orsino are attracted to Viola, who is disguised as a young man; and Viola’s brother, Sebastian, finds that he is loved not only by Antonio but also by Olivia.
While offering broad comedy, Twelfth Night teasingly probes gender-roles and sexual ambiguities.

I just finished reading:
The Hat by Selima Hill

This isn’t the sort of poetry I usually read just for fun, but we had another one of Hill’s books, Jutland, as a set text for a poetry module last year, and I do really like her style. It’s playful and witty and truly bisarre. I think I’ll have to read it again, though, to really get under its skin!

Blurb:
Selima Hill’s latest collection, The Hat, is a disturbing portrayal of a woman’s struggle to regain her identity. Her story emerges through a series of short poems, often related to animals: how she is preyed upon and betrayed, misunderstood, compromised and not allowed to be herself. Like all of Selima Hill’s books, The Hat charts ‘extreme experiences with a dazzling excess’, with dark humour and surprising combinations of homely and outlandish.

Next, I’ll be reading: 
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

A reread of an old favourite; I love Neil Gaiman’s books and the strange worlds he creates! I read this the first time when I was fifteen, and keep coming back to it, for the rich character gallery, the edge-of-your-seat moments and the biting dialogue. Chris Riddel’s beautiful illustrations are also a reason for why this book is a work of art.

Blurb:
Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts.
There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard. But it is in the land of the living that real danger lurks, for it is there that the man Jack lives and he has already killed Bod’s family.

So these are my reads right about now. How about you, what have you been reading lately? Have you read any of these, and if so, what did you think? And if you’ve got a WWW Wednesday post up today, pop a link in the comments and I’d love to have a look!

I hope you’re having a wonderful day,
-Andrea

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“Old Harry Rocks”

Written on the 21st of October, 2018.

The hillside is full of sheep.
They graze the grass we walk on, they don’t mind the steep slopes
and the cliffs.

The villagers call it a mountain, everyone else calls it a hilltop.
I want to call it an adventure.
Everyone we meet are prepared with hiking boots and walking sticks,
we are armed with sneakers and half a sausage roll.
This wasn’t where we thought today was gonna lead us.
Four hours up and four hours down,
we scale steps carved into the hillside,
past trees that have grown into each other
to seek refuge in numbers
from the sharp sea air,
gusts coming in from the northern sea.

Beneath us, Swanage wanes away.
The bay grows smaller and smaller,
until you could fit the entire town between your thumb and ring finger,
lift it up and put it in your palm.
Maybe that’s what I’m trying to do;
Lift Swanage out of its little nook between the hills and the unforgiving ocean,
nestle all the teacups and barefoot walks along the beach
into the crook of my neck,
keep it there to remind myself of the times I’ve felt like I belong here.

I clutch your hand in mine,
feel your nails against my skin.
In front of us, the terrain evens out.
Two chalk rocks stand side by side,
broken away from the hillside, they hold each other up.
They’ve been standing since long before the town came to be,
just as the town will be here
long after I have left.

-Andrea

“I said there’s no getting rid of me now to which he replied I’ll hold you to that”

and when we’re fifty-three
we’ll have a house with a sea view and a stove top kettle.
There’ll be a cat called Steve
and you’ll put on red slippers to fetch the newspaper.
I don’t know where we’ll be,
Portreath, Marrakech, Porto,
all I know is that I’ll race you to the cupboard every morning
and you’ll hide my glasses every evening, we’ll make every day a game.

And when we’re sixty-two
we’ll sleep naked like starfish in the middle of the bed
and your heavy hands will follow my wrinkles,

trace the stories in my worn thin skin.
For the one million and thirteenth time,
I’ll stroke your balding head,
and go in for a kiss
but lick your nose
instead.

And when we’re seventy-four
I’ll smack your butt in the kitchen,
as you take out the turkey,
and our daughter of forty-three will sigh and tell us
get a room,
so we’ll sneak away to the pantry,
and steal kisses by the roast potatoes.

And when we’re eighty-one
I’ll ask you if you love me
and you’ll say
nah, you’re just handy to keep around,
so I’ll stick my tongue out at you,
and you’ll put your hand in mine,
that space that’s made
just for you.

(An edited version of an old poem, picture from Pixabay)

-Andrea

“I Think I’m Dreaming”, cutting two thousand words and wrapping up uni with a bang

“Compelling from start to finish, the writing really takes us into your imagined world of the future, which although futuristic, finds authenticity in current fears about surveillance, work-life balance and control.”

Remember this, the story that never ended? The creative piece I struggled so much with finishing that I started doubting everything I’ve ever done, all throughout my BA?
Yep. Got it back yesterday, and almost started crying when I saw that my lecturer liked it, and gave it a neat little 74. 74! On the piece I had to cut 2000 words off to make it fit in the word count! So happy!

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Okay, let’s recap the last 15 hours of working on this piece, the hours that didn’t make it into the writer’s log, just because of the sheer despair and dread (dramatic, I know) I was feeling at the time.

On the 22nd of May, I sat down in the early hours of the morning and finished the draft of the creative piece. The reason I found it so difficult to actually write the piece, was because the idea was just too big for the given word count and I didn’t know what to focus on. So, I figured I’d just write everything I wanted, and then cut it down to the correct amount of words later.

Big mistake. 

The finished draft was well over 5000 words long, meaning that I had to cut another assignment’s equivalent of words out of it, to get down to my correct 2500 words.

Andrea Wold Johansen Writing Nook Swanage

‘Lemme tell you, there were so many cups of tea involved in this, and the entire day was spent in pyjamas to stay somewhat comfortable. And I pulled out all of the tips from my Tricking Motivation series, to get through the day.

I printed out the full 5000-word draft multiple times, to work with pen on paper and physically strike big red lines through sentences and words that needed to go. To make my job easier I also made a little check list of things that normally clog my wordcounts, which will appear in it’s own post tomorrow. Was just thinking maybe this list could be helpful for others too!

However, I wasn’t alone on this last leg of the journey, I brought Harvey into this with me too; he edited, read and re-read, and really helped me cut out words and sometimes entire paragraphs. All credit to him and his patience for dealing with me. Finally, after a bit over 15 hours of work, the piece reached 2748 words, and knowing that I was finally within the correct word count was such a relief!

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I mean, I would’ve absolutely loved this process to look like this, but it most definitely did not.

Anyway, the reason why I’m telling you all this, is because I’m going to post the finished piece in a minute, I just wanted to let you know what happened after the writer’s logs, haha.

Like I said, it’s a sci-if-sequel, speculative piece set in England, a long time in the future. I’ve never really written neither sci-if nor speculative fiction before, but it was a lot of fun! And the essay that went along with this assignment (in which I debated whether or not the age of social media has made us incapable of forming and maintaining intimate relationships with others) got a 71, so I feel like I’ve really ended this degree with a bang, with two shiny As to leave with. Happy!

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderful day!

-Andrea

Writer’s Log 4

Writer’s Log 4
21/05-2018

Mission Log
Today’s goal is to finish the Creative Voice-Creative Piece.
I’m in Swanage for the time being, staying with Harvey. He’s in the process of applying for jobs and I’m writing this piece, to hopefully finish my degree with a bang. Most likely my last ever creative piece at uni. So weird!

Andrea Wold Johansen Writing Nook Swanage

10:35 I’ve got this.

10:42 So, I just went through everything I wrote about in my last Writer’s Log, and I may or may not have scrapped it all. Didn’t really resonate anymore, it was too much backstory and not enough actual story. Will keep it and maybe put the backstory in as an appendix though, or just use it as something to reference to as I’m working on it.

11:17 Scrapping what I had might actually have been the most useful thing I’ve done with this story! Ended up creating an entirely new storyline, and now the protagonist has a proper mystery to solve. “Kill your darlings,” and all that; even if you like something you’ve done, if it doesn’t move or add anything to the story, it doesn’t belong in it.

12:00 So, this story has taken a completely new turn, and I’m loving it. It now starts out with a teacher fleeing into England’s last existing forest (in the year of 2187), to hide a 100-year-old forbidden dream journal. This is gonna be a ride.

12:22 This feels more and more like a speculative piece, and when it’s done, submitted and marked, I kind of want to post it here. At the moment I’m trying really hard to not make it into a Technology-is-scary story, though, it’s more a comment on how we as a society overwork ourselves and where we might be headed if we keep it going like this. The technology parts are just a bonus!

13:03 Rocky demanded belly rubs, so I had to take a break. It doesn’t matter if you’re well into writing or if you’re in the middle of a good “flow”, there is always time for belly rubs.
Andrea Wold Johansen, Rocky 004Andrea Wold Johansen, Rocky 001Andrea Wold Johansen, Rocky 002

13:15 Since I started the day by deleting everything and had to start again, I’ve changed the goal of the day to 1500 words. Should be doable.

13:45 I’m really struggling with updating the writer’s log today, but that’s actually not a bad thing. I started the writer’s log series to keep myself accountable for how I spend the time I set off as “writing time” and to keep track of how well I’ve been working, but today I’ve just been busy writing and writing. I’ve been banging my fists against a bit of a creative block lately, so suddenly just having the words flow out feels really good again. Not gonna worry too much about the earlier stated goal for today, but I’m having a really good time writing now.

15:05 Okay, Rocky is demanding pets again and I’m feeling good-tired from having been at it since about 11. Gonna call it a day and just keep working on the plot in my head until I can get some more words down!

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Also, just found this image again from June last year (while looking for some research on my laptop), and I have to admit that I do miss the hair a bit…

Recap of the session:
Did not reach either of my goals (1. to finish and 2. to reach 1500 words), but still, a very productive session! Starting from scratch gave me new drive to keep writing, and I’m a lot happier with what I’ve got now. Now it’s actually an interesting story with a proper action and character-driven plot, instead of just being musings about how the world ended up being as it is.

Mistake of the day: Accidentaly. Acidentaly. Acidentally. ACCIDENTALLY!

Wordcount of the day: 1367

Writing location: My favourite ever writing nook looking out over Swanage bay.

Phone breaks: Not a single one, my phone is very battery-dead at the moment.

Beverage of choice: Started off with just a Yorkshire tea, but have switched over to this green tea one of my flat mates brought from Hong Kong. I’m normally not a fan of green tea, but this is really good!

Mood before writing: I’m not entirely sure where to find my plot after the 1000 word long backstory I wrote last time??”
Mood during writing: Delete everything. Start afresh. See what happens.
Mood after writing: Need some time to really figure out how to use the plot to explain how this world works, and how to use the characters to show how not physically (and genetically) being able to sleep would affect an entire population. This is gonna be fun, though!

Question of the day: When you write, do you start by planning out the plot or the setting?

-Andrea

The last couple of weeks…

… in pictures.

 

This blog’s been very quiet for the past few weeks, and I just wanted to let you know why. I made this website back in February, as part of a uni module. The assignment was to create a platform for self promotion on the internet, and while the markers were marking it, I couldn’t update or post anything on here. But it’s all done now, and I got an A on it! 76 points, who’d’ve thought! Very happy and proud of that.

However, the last few months have been great, as you can see from the pictures. Ups and downs, of course, but I’ve made some food, been on some walks, seen lots of lovely flowers (and found lilacs on campus, which are my favourite flowers so that made me very happy) and I also went home for a week, completely unplanned but very much needed. I also got a B on my dissertation(68 points). You know, just throwing that out there, as I’m really proud of that one too.

So it’s been a bit quiet here, but I’m already working on lots of new posts! Stay tuned for more writing, another writer’s log, updates about the general living situation (getting dangerously close to the end of uni now, there are some decisions to be made and some coincidences to hope for) and more pictures.

Thanks for sticking around!

-Andrea

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