nascentnovelist

November 6, 2012

You Never Read the Same Book Twice

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Save one unfortunate decision to return to an old job (it lasted 2 months), I’ve never moved back to anything in my life. Not to my home town, not to my old school, not even to my old hobbies. Until now. Now, I’m back in Oslo.

I used to say that there’s no going back, only forward, so the thought of returning scared me. I worried that I’d feel the same way I had when I tried to go back to that other job: that Oslo would be an old dress that no longer fit. Not to mention all the people – writing buddies, colleagues, friends – I would leave behind in Montreal.

I do miss my Montreal people, I even miss the Montreal version of me, but being back in Oslo is exhilarating. I’m trying my hand at a new career in freelance translation, I’m figuring out how to write in Norwegian, and I’m re-connecting with old friends.

And, as it turns out, my self-made saying held true. Going back is impossible. Although I’m back in Oslo, I’m not back in my old Oslo. People have changed and so have I. It feels like I’m rereading a well-worn favourite, and finding a whole new book inside the old covers.

October 4, 2012

That Gypsy Feel

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 7:18 pm
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We handed over the keys to our apartment on Tuesday morning, leaving our beloved place behind for someone else to fill with memories. It was a bittersweet farewell, but since I had two freelance gigs running at the same time and a fever, I didn’t have too much time to think about it.

(Cafe Abraco on 1st Ave and E 7th S. It can’t guarantee that it’s the best coffee in New York, but it’s damned good coffee.)

Our ride to New York cancelled on us at the last minute, so we hopped on the train. To be honest, it was a bit of a relief as it meant I could keep working during the ride. And with a panorama view of the East Coast in fall, it was inspired work indeed.

Once we arrived in New York — a few hours late but in good spirits — we met the guy who’s renting us a room, a screenwriter named Mark. He’s lived in the same apartment on the Lower East Side for fifteen years, and it shows. Everything is comfortably worn in and he is impressively laid back about us crashing. And if that wasn’t enough, the neighborhood is gorgeous and filled with artists and families. It makes me feel like a new person. I could write a novel from here (but I’ll settle for finishing my second writing gig, due Friday).

So far, we’ve experienced New York as locals rather than tourists. We’ve wandered around, tried new cafes, worked, and met people we already know for drinks. Living in someone’s apartment makes me feel at home, and not having anywhere else to call my own adds that comfortable gypsy feel to my existence. It is definitely my kind of vacation.

September 30, 2012

What to Do When You Have Too Much to Do?

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My freelance writing career has taken off, and I’m enjoying it immensely. I get paid to write. How cool is that? And to use a trite saying: once it rains, it pours. So in the next couple of days I need to pitch two books and write what amounts to a complete magazine. It might not sound impossible, but I also have to pack up my apartment, clean it and move out.

So I pose the question to you: What to do when you have too much to do?

How do you manage your time when work is pouring in?

July 11, 2012

Summer in Denmark

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Quiet. The only noises you hear are crashing waves, seagull cries and the whispers of windswept wild grass. The colours are numbed by grey skies, like your feet after wading through the Atlantic along the endless beach. The tide tugs at you, promising to take you anywhere if you let it. You hesitate. Then you blink, and run across the sand back to your family at the ice cream stand, and buy two scoops with guf and sprinkles, and smile.

March 21, 2012

Writer Wednesday with Deborah Bryan

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Before I knew what a lovely blog Deborah Bryan has, or what a wonderful author she is, I loved her. I loved her because, when I took my first small steps onto this blogging platform, she welcomed me with open and encouraging arms. She was the first to press my “follow” button, and the first to comment. So I have to admit that I’m a bit biased about Deb. She could pretty much murder someone in front of me, and I’d still think she was all right (she’s like Kyle MacLachlan in that respect).

From her For This I Am Thankful (FTIAT) guest post series to her heartbreakingly personal posts, she always knows how to hook her reader and win their hearts. She certainly won mine.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go have coffee with my main character.

Taking time for coffee with character(s)
When I wrote my Glass Ball trilogy in 2004, time was in much, much more abundant supply than money.

Writing was my escape from being broke and without internet access in Japan. As long as I was writing, my world was the fictional town of Munsen, Montana. One of Munsen’s teens, Ginny, was a friend whose nearness helped me overlook the distance of my real-life friends.

I nurtured that nearness by writing virtually non-stop over the course of a month and a half. I’d wake up at 2 or 3 a.m., boot up my laptop and write until I had exactly twelve minutes left to get ready for work. I’d rush to get everything together and fly to work, arriving (barely) in the nick of time.

After work, I’d come home and crank out words until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. I’d then sleep for a few hours and repeat.

I did this daily for the month and a half it took me to write the trilogy.

Seven years later, I commute, work and take care of a dog and a toddler as well as caring for myself. I’ve edited only one of the books I wrote in Japan. I recently started editing the second, a task which seems so very much more daunting in light of my current circumstances than writing a book in six days or a trilogy in six weeks under my old ones.

When I’m away from the computer imagining what I’d like to do with my time, my answers include things like “watching Castle,” “reading,” “playing Bejeweled Blitz,” and “cleaning the toilets.” Just about anything quickly done seems better than working on a task that can’t be done except in microscopic bursts over a very long haul.

But when I do sit down at the computer, I remember how much Ginny meant to me when I really, really needed a friend nearby. As I breathe life into her story, I’m touched to remember how her strength in the face of her struggles helped me feel a little stronger in the face of my own.

I’m only able to give her 20 or 30 minutes of my time at a go these days, but when I do actually sit down to give her both my time and my attention, I discover I’m giving myself a gift, too. In those moments, I remember the old days with Ginny as if we’re sitting together and chatting over lattes. As she tells me about her troubles, I listen and give suggestions I hope she’ll heed.

Each moment I sit down to write, I invigorate a good old friend no less real for all she lacks a physical presence. She got me through loneliness more intense than any I’d endured before, or have endured since.

It may be a struggle to find the time for her, but she’s worth it. Only by giving her this time will I ever be able to learn her full, true story—not just the one she predicts is coming, but the one she’ll actually live.

I’m probably going to keep on wishing I’d decided to give her the time a few years ago, before I became a mom. But in the moments we share while the rest of my household sleeps, I’ll savor the time I do have to catch up with Ginny … and the joy of seeing, as we talk, her path become illuminated.

March 12, 2012

Unlucky Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 10:54 pm
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So, I have a few tight deadlines this week, but I wanted to stop in and share my unlucky day.

Yesterday, I ordered tickets to go home for the summer. I spend about an hour looking for the cheapest possible tickets (“cheapest” here meaning <1600 dollars) and finally settled for one that was exactly 30 bucks less than the one I originally found. I proudly pressed buy, inserted my credit card info, and only on my receipt noticed that it included an extra night in London. Now, if I didn't have a job I had to be back at on that Monday, a day in London could be fun, but since I've already squeezed as much vacation time as I could out of my work place, I didn't feel I could show up late as well. Cue panic.

I contacted the travel agency and they got back to me today, fixing my flight with no problem. No problem, that is, except the nifty cancellation fee of 150 dollars on my first flight, and the extra 30 dollars I had to pay for my new flight. I begrudgingly agreed.

At least I get to go to Zumba today, I thought to myself. Sure, I'll have to go back to work after to meet my deadline, but I'll get a nice break in the middle of the evening to go do something fun, and I'll return all energized and focused (and sweaty). I packed up my stuff and headed out at a quarter past five, only to find that the place was on the other side of town. I rushed over and made it with four minutes to spare. The class was full, and I had to walk all the way back to work, annoyed and un-Zumbaed.

But you know what? I spring is in the air, I got a nice walk, I worked out in the half-empty office before I stumbled home at nine-thirty, I finally got an idea for my writing prompt, and life isn't half bad.

And I'll be in Norway in July. Look me up!

December 17, 2011

Parallel lives

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It took me almost two years, but I finally feel like Canada is my home country too. It’s weird, having two homes, but it’s kinda nice as well. It means I have people I love in both places, different though they are, and that I lead two parallel lives that are equally awesome. Montreal-Martine is more laid back than Oslo-Martine, but she’s a bit less confident. Oslo-Martine is more driven than Montreal-Martine, but she’s a bit less satisfied.

Oslo-Martine has plans every day, she runs from one meeting to the next and she loves every minute of it. Montreal-Martine walks everywhere, watching the world around her, spinning tales in her head as she strolls past families and famous buildings, breathing in familiar scents and sounds, and she loves every minute of it.

As I said, it’s nice to have two homes at once.

December 9, 2011

Writing Mothers: I Adore You!

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 7:38 pm
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For the first time in years, I’m actually on vacation. I’m not writing, I’m not reading, I’m not doing anything other than drinking wine with my mom and working out. And it is wonderful. But one of the important pastimes of the Norwegian vacation experience (for me) is taking care of my nieces. They are adorable monsters and I love them, but as I spend hour after hour listening to M.’s outrageous stories about wolves and dangerous snowmen, and watching V. carefully construct sentences and spell out words, I can’t help but admire all of you writing mothers who manage to juggle work, life, kids and writing. You are all superheroes!

Here’s to hoping I can be half as good as you when I get my own kids.

December 5, 2011

Writing on airplanes

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 12:02 pm
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I used to be able to write anywhere. I’d just bring my notebook and a pen, and I’d be set. Then, I got carpal tunnel syndrome and I had to write solely on computers. But I got one of those early luggable portable ones and tried the same thing. And it worked…sorta. Five years later, the carpal tunnel is gone, but the limited range of writing venues remains. I can write at cafés, in people’s houses, in libraries, in parks (depending on the glare of the sun), on the sofa, at my desk, in the kitchen (okay, strike that last part, that never really works for me), but the one place I can’t get anything useful done is at an airport, in the air or pre/post flight.

How great would it be if I could spend my five hour wait at Heathrow airport writing the non-fiction piece for my writing group that was due that day (instead of avoiding doing it now, two days later)? How great if I could get some words out about the book I’m reviewing? Or, how ’bout I just get some useful editing done? But no. The only thing I’m capable of doing at airports is drink coffee or look at tax free items I don’t want.

Is there something they pump into the air? What is it about travelling that makes me unable to focus? Can you work and travel at once?

October 6, 2011

I’m back from the US with a new craving for pumpkins!

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 10:45 pm
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Seriously guys, I can’t think of anything that couldn’t be made better with pumpkin. Donuts, muffins, soup, beer, ravioli, you name it! Add pumpkin and it becomes delicious.

Oh, I also saw Tina Fey (which is almost like meeting her, right?) and walked through Harvard (which is sorta like going there, amirite?) and bought a book at the MIT bookstore (which instantly increased my IQ by at least 20%, no?).

I’m also here to tell you that rideshares are a great way to travel. Drove to Boston with one person and back up with three others.

More serious, on topic, posts to come. This is just to say that I made it safely back from Boston, they let me back into Canada, and I loved every minute of my trip!

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