how it feels to have a beating heart

being unemployed is a strange beast.

i have so much time. even though jobhunting is demanding, i still have all these hours in my day that aren’t filled out with things to do. i don’t know what to do with all this time.

i’ve been working on my health. i have been thinking about a lot of things. i have given up knitting for the time being. i am not writing as much as i’d like to. i’m having a lot of really vivid dreams. i wake up at four am with the sun.

i’m having difficulties recognising myself while at the same time feeling like i’ve always been like this. i can’t define what this is.

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dandelions on the beach. may 2017.

mieleni minun tekevi, aivoni ajattelevi…

today is kalevala day, or finnish culture day. the quote above are the first two lines in the kalevala, and can be translated roughly to “i want to do a thing”, which is why i’m quoting it here.

i also want to do a thing.

i have chalk embedded into my skin pretty permanently these days. it’s my own fault. we do have modern technology – computers and overhead projectors and whatnot; just this morning i gave a presentation using prezi – but when it comes to good old fashioned classroom teaching, i prefer blackboards and chalk.

the complete radio silence these past two months have been in part because i’ve been so busy teaching finnish grammar that i don’t have much brain space left for other things, and in part because i have not had much to talk about. unless it’s finnish grammar, in which case i have plenty to talk about.

days are now more than 10 hours long. it’s already light outside when my alarm rings in the morning. it’s still light out when i sit at dinner. i’m feeling lighter.

things i want to do:
– advance my academic career
– complete just one of my current wips
– get a permanent job (not necessarily in academia)
– expel the exhaustion that has taken up residence in my bones
– care.

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winter sunrise. feb 2017.

2016 in review

In 2016 I have:

  • held two jobs while writing my thesis
  • actually completed my thesis and turned it in
  • graduated from university
  • experienced the dubious joy of being unemployed
  • written exactly 89,472 words of fiction
  • lost weight
  • moved to finland for an internship
  • read almost 70 books
  • knitted three and a half pair of woollen socks
  • seen my family grow
  • hung out with friends both old and new
  • made art
  • had a big think about my writing and my writing career
  • purchased more than three woollen sweaters

It has been an odd year. It feels three times longer than it really should be, no doubt owed to the fact that it can be neatly partitioned into three parts: thesis frenzy, unemployment swamp and finland excitement. I feel like I’ve aged faster than usual.

I saw the year off in England, surrounded by good friends. I started the new year by travelling across Europe to – get home. To Finland. I’ve been thinking a lot about home, lately, as I also went home – to Denmark – for Christmas. I’ve called a lot of places home, even the most temporary ones. I’m renting out my apartment while I’m in Finland and so I don’t call it home. Yet it’s the place I own, where my bed is, where my bookshelves are, where I’ve got all my things in storage while I’m here. I suppose it’ll be home again eventually.

Seeing as I’ve read almost 70 books this year, I’m only going to list the top ten I’ve read in 2016. Some I might write proper reviews of later for this blog.

Anya Ow – The Firebird’s Tale – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Katherine Marlowe – The Blue Ribbon – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Kate Elliott – Cold Magic (Spiritwalker #1) – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Rachel Hartman – Seraphina (duology) – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Maggie Stiefvater – The Raven Cycle (quartet) – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
C.S. Pacat – The Captive Prince (trilogy) – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Leigh Bardugo – Six of Crows (duology) – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
N.K. Jemisin – The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance #1) – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Naomi Novik – League of Dragons (Temeraire #9) – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Natasha Pulley – The Watchmaker of Filigree Street – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Diana Wynne Jones – Howl’s Moving Castle – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Yes, I know I cheated like whoa and that’s more than ten, but there you go. My favourites from this year.

Five favourite photos:

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hazy winter sunset. december 2016.
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frozen river. december 2016.
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christianshavn. march 2016.
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the towers of copenhagen. march 2016.
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swans and january frost. january 2016.

why don’t humans hibernate?

if i weren’t so exhausted, i would tell you all about how my november went.

suffice to say that i made good progress on three of my stories and have the nano diploma to show for it.

i have a long weekend coming up, so will be finishing up one of the drafts and doing some much needed editing on another. the goal is to have the draft done before the christmas holidays so that i can take the holidays off from writing, and return in january to shine it up.

(cookies, candy, and chocolate is all i want during my holidays.)

i’ve surpassed my reading challenge of 50 books by 17 books, and still have a month to go.

next year i’m considering aiming for a 200k writing challenge. (i’ve never managed to write more than ~145k in a year, so that seems like a massively clever thing to do.)

we’ll see.

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ruska, ruskea, ruusu

it’s autumn here in finland, so everything is gold. the fallen leaves, the sun rays and the wooden facades of the estate.

it’s calm here, and quiet. every now and then there’ll be a rain of golden leaves, indicating a squirrel has just run up a few branches. it gets dark at night. pitch black darkness of the kind you don’t experience in the city.

i’m writing again. i have several projects i’m working on: a couple of novels and a series of short stories. for the first time in my life, i want to actually publish my writing. i haven’t yet decided how – i’ll possibly query one of the novels, and self-publish the short stories, and see how goes from there.

i think i will participate in nanowrimo this year. thinking about it is making me really excited and this year i have several friends who will be participating. i have enough projects to work on, but i think i’ll choose one of my novels as the main project for nano and aim to complete a first, rough draft of it. if i stall, i’ll have other projects to turn to.

i’m so happy about my writing, it’s indescribable. i have this joy just filling me up. even when writing is hard and teeth pulling, it gives me life.

i have access to illustrator, photoshop and indesign for the first time in my life – i had photoshop back in denmark, but not the other two – so i’m going to teach myself how to use them.

i brought my knitting needles along and have discovered that even the smallest k-market in this little village sells a selection of yarns. so i’m going to teach myself how to read knitting patterns in finnish.

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taika. october 2016.