Gravel and sand hang - entombed - in the bumpy ice on the pavement, leaving the surface shiny and slippery. The temperature keeps switching from above to below freezing and back again, and the sun sets almost as soon as it has risen.

The last time I sat down to write a blog entry was the same season as it is now - winter. A whole lot has happened since then, but as usual my yearly "creative year" post will focus on the creative aspects of my year.

So let's get to it!

Writing

I published a Swedish digital poetry chapbook, "Bygd & betong"! It's available for purchase in three online stores: Adlibris, Bokus and iBooks. It's comprised of 16 poems, all around the subject of life in the city and life in the countryside. I'm really happy about how it turned out, even though I realize it's not something that's going to generate any real profit. I'm also not sure how to market a poetry chapbook, and it's unlikely that anyone is going to just stumble upon it.

Beyond my first published e-book, writing hasn't gone all too well this year. I've written two first drafts for short stories in English, working titles "Alkin Alone" and "Valkyrie". I've also taken part in the first part of a writing course. I started off the year trying to really focus in on writing, but I got stuck in certain projects and sort of drifted off onto other things.

Illustration

This was the second year I took part in - and completed - Inktober. Just like last year I learned a lot from it, and also found a style of drawing that I liked. I'm pretty sure I'll take part in it again next year.

I spent a lot of time this year making a portfolio, redesigning the website, creating a new logo, and making a cover image for various channels, all to sort of build a brand or platform to work from.

Setting up an online shop was a goal I had for this year, and just a few weeks back I did just that. You can now buy a few of my designs on RedBubble, and I'll be adding new ones with some regularity.

Photography

I had a few photography projects planned for this year, but they didn't really pan out. I did, however, make sure to get photos for each month to make a calendar with. I've also gone on a few photo excursions and tried my hand at making videos around and about them.

Equipment wise my camera gear has changed a bit. I've sold off all my Fujifilm gear and made a complete switch to Panasonic. I wanted a camera that was good for both stills and video and after trying out the Panasonic Lumix G80/G85, I was so impressed that the switch was easy. I now have both the Lumix G80/G85 and the Lumix GX80/GX85 (I got that one to be my bring-along-anywhere-camera).

I've done a fair bit of shooting film as well, trying my hand at an old collapsible medium format camera from the '50s, and trying to capture the evening summer sun against the red blueberry leaves with my trusty Nikon F3.

Looking forward

I'm hoping for a big year in 2019. This year was a lot of thinking, planning, testing and trying to figure things out. Next year will be more about doing. I really look forward to producing a bunch of products and finishing projects. I've set up a short list of goals:

  • Extending my online shop - I hope to add much content to my online shop on RedBubble and to perhaps add other shops (maybe Zazzle?), and once I have enough designs maybe I could get approved for a "Merch by Amazon" account.
  • Take part in Inktober again - Third year in a row! It's always a challenge, but I also always learn a lot and get a lot out of it. "Nothing worth having comes easy."
  • Website changes - I'll be rebuilding parts of this website. The most important part is that I need to migrate to a new way of storing the information. Today I'm using XML files, but it looks like I'm gonna migrate to using a database instead. That will also make it easier to add the ability to comment on these posts. I've been looking into using an existing CMS like WordPress, but haven't found anything that suits me so I'll probably keep developing my own.
  • Focus on Swedish - When writing any sort of fiction this year, I will - in most cases - be writing it in Swedish. This means that the robot book I have planned will most likely be written in Swedish. I'm also thinking about how to handle languages here on the website. I'm probably gonna keep writing most blog posts in English but when the post is about something that's only interesting for a Swedish speaker (like me having published a book in Swedish) then I'll probably write a short summary in English and the rest in Swedish.
  • Traditional publishing - Send at least one novel-length manuscript off to traditional publishers. This will likely be a collection of short stories.
  • Short story contests - Take part in at least three short story contests.

Okay, that about sums it up for this year.

Happy new year, everyone!

Swedish winter
Swedish winter

Winter is still hanging on here in Närke with a white landscape outside my window. Snow falls sporadically, and spring is slowly making itself known through bird song and earthy smells in the air. So the weather is pretty much following the schedule.

For me though, weeks four through seven haven't exactly gone according to plan.

First I got a cold, that progressed really slowly and just left me very tired, so I got no writing done.

Then I sort of lost focus completely, and a lot of doubts and questions started creeping into my head. So again I got no writing done.

I think I'm ready to get back into the swing of things now, and I'd really like to finish a project soon to get some momentum going and to feel like I'm getting somewhere and progressing. I'd like to start with as small of a project as possible, but at the same time I want it to turn into a complete and finished product, so it can't really be that small.

I have a few projects that I'm working on, but the important thing now is just to get back into a daily routine of writing.

Weighing down the brach
Weighing down the branch

The third week of 2018 is almost over, and so far I'm keeping up with my goal to write something every day. It's been very up and down what word count I reach each day and what quality I'm able to crunch out, but I've at least put words on (digital) paper.

Week one I wrote a fantasy short story in English. Mainly, this text was just to practice writing and try to build a habit of writing. I started with a character let this character leap out into an unknown wasteland. From there you questions like "why is this person here", "where is he/she going", and "who is this person". So while writing I basically just tried to answer questions about this character, and what was driving her. Then I looked for a structure to the story - how would the story end, what obstacles are there, how will the obstacles be overcome, how will the character be changed by the experience. Mostly though, what got me forward in writing this story most of the time was thinking about interesting, exciting or fun to read about. All in all it was a really good exercise. I started writing on Monday and finished the first draft on Sunday.

Currently, the writing plan I'm trying out is to get a first draft out there, trying to not think too much about if it's good or bad while writing it. Then a second draft, then have someone give feedback on that draft, and then a third and final draft. Between the first and second draft however I'm going to try to let the story "rest" for a few weeks so that I can look at it with fresh eyes.

Week two and three things went a bit more slowly. I decided to try my hand at writing a story for an american science fiction short story contest, so that's what I did. It turned out however, as I learned in the middle of this week, that the contest was for last year and that there would be no contest in 2018 So that sucked...

Writing the second story has also been a lot more up and down than the last one. I can probably attribute a lot of that to this being more of complete story than the last one, and also that I kept running into problems with my story and where it was going. At the start of this week my story felt completely pointless, and I've had to really push myself to rework the story and find interests and find something to drive the story forward. The idea I had for the story was also probably too big for the limited word count of the contest (1500 words).

I still think the story can turn out to be a really good one, but it's a lot slower to write than I would have liked. I've had a lot of moments of feeling like I'm wasting my time writing it, but I'm getting better at squashing those thoughts. In years past I would probable have stopped writing at that point and done something else for a long time and then have had to pretty much start all over again with writing.

So I'll keep toiling away, even on days when I only manage a handful of words and I throw those words out the next day. The important thing is to keep trying and keep learning. For as long as there's something to learn.

And that's a very, very long time.

Follow