A trip to the past

A while ago I visited the exhibition ‘Making your mark’ at the British Library (on until the 27th of August, go see it if you can!), which is all about the incredible invention of writing. The exhibition is beautiful and traces the history of writing from the evolution of writing systems, through materials, uses, to modern ways of writing. I’d never thought of writing as an invention before, just something that is as human as talking or breathing – a bit of a silly idea in hindsight.

There are some beautiful manuscripts and items in this exhibition, but strangely the one piece that I haven’t been able to forget was a permit allowing a woman to sell sex for one day only in a specific town (in ancient Rome I think). I’m not a historian so I can’t put this piece in its proper context, but it left me with a lot of questions. Why just one day, why this time, did she choose this herself, was she forced, what was she like, was this common? Infinite possibilities, especially if you have an overactive imagination. But that’s the magic of objects like this, for a brief moment you feel connected to real people who lived real lives centuries ago, rather than unknown blobs in an abstract past.

Museums are a great way to find writing inspiration for that very reason, because I quite often forget that reality tends to trump fiction. Of course, I should be editing my current project instead of looking for inspiration for new pieces, but hey, who’s perfect? x

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My novel journey thus far…

I haven’t dared do the math, but I believe it is roughly 5-6 years since I first started working on my current WIP. I’ve written short stories and flash fiction-pieces in between, but this annoying, misbehaving novel just won’t let go.

Why? Well… I have somehow managed to move between 4 different countries, changed jobs repeatedly and finished a degree since then, and sometimes the novel lay abandoned for MONTHS. Have I learned to manage writing and a life since then? No. But have I learnt what not to do? Hell yes.

My initial goal was just to finish a first draft, which I did, and then I let it rest. A couple of months ago I recovered from a bout of exhaustion and writing hang-ups, and began to edit this monster. I have tried to edit before but stopped as I realised that the monster consisted of 150 000 words (yup.), several multiple scenes, chapters written 2 years apart (and so had both different voice and tone) and waaaaay too many characters. A first draft is expected to be rubbish, but this was… Crazy.

Since I properly started editing (or tbh: re-writing) I have managed to cut about 30 000 words and got the main plot under control. I doubt I will ever query this novel, but it still excites me and it has definitely taught me what not to do. My new goal is to take it to decent draft 2, and then get started on some brand new ideas.

To be continued! x