rosengeranium

Posts Tagged ‘writing math’

Taking time

In Weekly report on 06 June 2009 at 19:54

I’ve spent close to a year paying for wireless internet I couldn’t use, and on and off during this time I’ve tried on and off to get things working by mailing the company, calling them to a number eternally on hold and in generall cursing the organisation in question. You see, this computer is a part of my subscription, and it was delivered to the wrong adress, was broke when I opened the parcel and when I complained it was sent off to Germany where the bright technicians ‘fixed’ or rather just checked up on the wrong parts and since they found them working they sent the computer back unmended. Since the thing needed was a new plastic cover for a port I called again and asked if they just could send me a new cover instead – and got the answer that if I wanted that I had to send the entire computer to Germany (a journey which takes two weeks btw).

You may understand that after this I had little hope that my netprovider could give me adequate support, and the few contacts I had wasn’t hinting at something else (I fondly rember an emailanswer claiming they couldn’t read my complaint since I’ve sent it in PDFformat). But yesterday I finally had enough of paying for something I couldn’t use – so I gathered all important papers, the modem and…

…what was that?

On a few of my paper a special support number was written. My other attempts to reach the support has started out by looking the number up on the company website (which isn’t the most easy one to navigate). This number was different from the ones I’d found before, so I decided to try it. After a few words spoken with a computer I was put through to actual support, and half an hour later my modem was up and running. Yay!

This is in a way depressing. I’ve spent months without wireless net because I couldn’t read my own papers and didn’t take the time to get things right. After all, it wasn’t even an hour I spent fiddling with my computer – that’s nothing compared to how much I surf the net!

Even more depressing is that I have a lot of those things laying around. I need to learn Audacity and Scribus, as well as clear my study. Right now these things feels like enormous waste of time, just like clearing the modem mess felt before I did it. I’ve decided to clear those needless timethieves one by one. Yes, I call them timethieves because messes always steals time – and energy.

One of my biggest messes is my lungs. I’ve been ill again this week and the only thing that cures me is rest. I’ve spent a few days ‘drugging’ myself with animated movies on dvd to keep me from working on any of my projects. The thing is that I work at a call center where people come and go 24/7 and if only one per day brings a cold or a flu I fall ill. Needless to say I’m ready to try any remedy that can strengthen my immune system but few of them actually work (except for washing hands before eating anything – that one’s effective!).  And I’m tempted to return to work at the drop of a hat; I have a family and we do need the money. But if I don’t take the time to rest as much as I need I’ll become ill within days (instead of within a few weeks). So I take the time.

But I cheated this thursday and actually made some work on my project. It’s an illustration, or half of it since I couldn’t finish it before I almost fell asleep over it.

****! My “battery” is too low, I have to end this post right now. If I can find strength enough this week I’ll give you a bonus post on illustrations, copyright and illuminations.

The math

Word count: 0

-handwritten: 0

-computer: 0

Chapter mindmaps: 0

Content mindmaps: 0

Character mindmaps: 0

Illustrations*: 1/2

Editing:0

Research: 0

Gardening blog updates. 4

Current projects: 2

Subprojects: 1+5

Expected celebrity visits: 0

Cold from Hell: A new one

*Since illustrations are more than half of project 1 I added them to the math.

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A zero full of work

In Weekly report on 30 May 2009 at 20:26

Tonight my writer’s math will end up zero – not because I haven’t worked, but because I’ve done things that isn’t covered in my chosen statistics. I’ve done the basework – that boring stuff you need to do before you can sit down and do the real stuff.

First of all I dug through one of our attics. Project one is a handbook in illumination and I know I have my old notes packed in paperbags up there somewhere. They got burried when we moved here three years ago and I never got a chance to unpack them. Now I emptied the attic and looked through lost things and strew old receits across the floor. I even hauled a gigantic matress out into the communal hallway.

Didn’t find them.

What I did find was a few of my author’s tools, so the hunt was not completely lost. My swedish thesaurus, the SAOL (the Swedish Academy’s Swedish Dictionary – this is the standard dictionary in Sweden, the one you use to solve conflicts in Scrabble tournaments etc.) and “Svenska Skrivregler” (Swedish Writing Rules – lists stylistical standards in written swedish language) are now neatly put on a shelf and are awaiting transport downstairs. They’ll have company with a chinese dictionary and chinese sign flash cards. Man, I do have a lot of learning tools for chinese, I should take the bull by the horns and actually learn the language!

There is some hope for my lost notes though. I didn’t find my english writing tools either. My swedish-english/english-swedish  dictionary, my english thesaurus as well as my gigantic blue book for translating the New Testament (excellent for pressing flowers) were nowhere to be found. This means I have some more paper bags in the other attic, and probably I’ll find the notes there… Unless they are in the mess that should have been my study. The quest goes on!

Another thing I did was to collect my new notes and sort them neatly into a binder. This may not sound like an achievement, but I’m pretty proud I did it before it turned into a gigantic chore. You see, I’m using the same block of paper for everything, I keep my work statistics in it, I use it for studying chinese, write for my projects and use it as a folder to carry important documents. After a few weeks it turns much… rounder than it used to be, things are falling out when I pick it out of my bag, and finding a specific text in there is a task. Now I have my important notes collected where I can find them and can pat myself on the back for being organized – at least for a few days.

But the first thing I did this week was downloading Audacity and Scribus. Being able to produce decent looking books for the PODprinting presses is high on my list, and I’m planning to podcast at least one of my projects. I’ve downloaded Scribus several times through the years and always been surprised when I haven’t been able to handle the program at once. Eventhough I know that there still are quite a lot of those that you need to learn how to use before you can actually do something with them, I’ve always acted as if they’re userfriendly enough for me to start working at once. I won’t fall for this this time. This time I’m going to take the time needed to get to know the softwares – it’s well invested hours.

Being the podcast junkie I am I immediately set out to see if I could find some free tutorials on iTunes. Audacity had a few but Scribus didn’t, funny that. (I do expect the online tutorials on Scribus to be excellently layed out on the other hand.) The podcast tutorial I use is Laptop Lounge Screencast: Podcasting with Audacity. It’s good, delivering knowledge in small morsels, which is a treat for us who tend to panic in face of technical stuff.

For an overall understanding of podcasting I read “Podcasting for Dummies” by Tee Morris and Evo Terra – and listen to the accompaning podcast.

So, let’s do the math

Word count: 0

-handwritten: 0

-computer: 0

Chapter mindmaps: 0

Content mindmaps: 0

Character mindmaps: 0

Editing:0

Research: 0

Gardening blog updates. 4

Current projects: 2

Subprojects: 1+5

Expected celebrity visits: 0

Cold from Hell: Gone!

Oh, I forgot to mention I had the celebrity visit this week. This time it was a journalist (yes, I’m using “celebrity” in a wide sense here) who interviewed on my indoor vegetable gardening. I mention this here since I regard this as some kind of training for the publicity work I need to do for my projects once I release them. (If you want to know more about the interview you should head over to Indoor Gardener tomorrow.)

Hamlet should’ve read better books!

In Weekly report on 23 May 2009 at 21:03

I’m particular about something when I write; the reader shouldn’t notice the language. If your reader exclaims

“Words, words, words”

when someone ask what when he or she is reading, then you’ve failed as an author. Your language, the words you are writing, is your reader’s window to the story, and it’s in the the story you should put most of your effort.

Having said that you should know that I find the language is extremely important. Not only because I know editors at publishing houses looks for a “personal voice” but also since bad language gets in the way of the story – much like a badly cleaned window. I learned this lesson definately this spring while reading my fellow writers’ work at my creative writings course. One of us was a bit nervous about her story and spent hours pondering over every word. I think she must have shuffled the letters around  at least three times before she left us her draft.

The effort showed. Her work was  clearly on a level above the rest of us – just because of her thorough approach to her words. And no – you didn’t notice her language while you where reading the text. The story was written in first person, so the only thing you did hear was the particular voice of the main character telling her story. I want to write like that when I grow up!

So, let’s do the math.

Word count: 716

-handwritten: 716

-computer: 0

Chapter mindmaps: 0

Content mindmaps: 0

Character mindmaps: 0

Editing:0

Research: 103 (#2)

Gardening blog updates. 4

Current projects: 2

Subprojects: 1+5

Expected celebrity visits: 1

Cold from Hell: A raging flu – ew!

I haven’t had the strength to be productive this week – on the other hand I’ve been tired enough to comfortably read books. I guess it evens out in the end.

***

Would the play end differently if Hamlet read better books? I don’t know. Seems to me that Shakespeare had some troubbles with endings – if it’s a comedy everyone  makes even, hugs, laughs and sings a little tune, if it’s a tragedy everybody dies, preferably violent and splattery. Hamlet would probably still kill and be killed since the play is a tragedy, but perhaps he’d be a bit happier in the meantime.

What if vikings burned their widows?…

In Weekly report on 16 May 2009 at 22:18

I had forgotten how much I enjoy researching my stories. Project #2 has given me another joyride into viking and ultimately indoeuropean religion. I spent a semester studying indology and indoeuropean languages at Uppsala University – just for the fun of it (yes, I’m that kind of person), and I’m a trained scholar in religious studies so I’ve touched this subject several times before.

Now, this isn’t a blog where I want to write dry essays about religions (I plan to set up another one for that purpose :))  ), but I found a small tidbit that was a kind of – well, lost piece in the jigsaw puzzle in between indian and norse religion. Since I spent most of my time reading about this at the university I don’t know to what level it’s common knowledge that norse and indian religion (as well as greek, christian, iranian and a some more religions) share roots. If you mention Dan Brown I have to say that his picture of THE ancient original religion looks more like a modern day wishlist than something based upon what we actually know about faiths around the world and through history. However he is right in one important point; there is some kind of seed burried deep into time which has sprouted many of the big religions we know about. (Perhaps unfortunately for him christianity is also a member of the indoeuropean religious family and many of the faults he blames it for, as well as many of the virtues he puts on the goddess religion are all traits stemming from older religions.)

Now, to make a loooooooong story short nineteenth century scholars discovered similarities between indian and greek, as well as norse, religion and it became popular to do studies comparing and searching for common roots. In the twentieth century two persons effectively put a stop to this. The first one was Malinowski who made it popular too do thorough fieldstudies instead of sweeping researches that often was a bit too general to be reliable. The first one was Hitler who’s misconceptions about the arian people effectivly blackened the entire subject decades. Not that comparative studies was part of his delirous ideas about Europe, but there was a bit of colonial bigheadery about the old studies and I think that this in combination with the nazi bigheadery became a punch that put people off for several decades. Only recently, with my generation scholars, the subject have gained some more recognition in Sweden. I had a few friends when I wrote my masters essay that made their work on similarities between veda and norse tradition.

The similarities between indian and norse religion are so striking that I’ve often thought that if we want to know what Europe would have looked like if christianity hadn’t concered it (and islam had stayed away) we only need to look at modern day India. But there’s one point where this hasn’t worked out and that is in the status of women. The common conception about viking women is that they were strong and equal or almost equal to men. In Indian religions, however, women are supposed to wait on their husband no matter what (even if he takes other wives, is abusive, eats the children or just is plain unsanitary). Sati, ie. widowburning, are not common in the entire coutry but is still worth mentioning – this is how far you could go on the scale and still be recognised in society. (Yes, I’m doing generalisations here – I chose the save the thousand page essay on the difference between religions in India for a later scholarly quarrel 😉  )

I hope you agree with me that the difference in handling women is striking; the strong viking woman compared to the obediant indian wife who in some cases herself climbs into her husband’s funeral pyre. I never voiced the thought in word but in my backbone I knew that with such a big difference something in the comparison was wrong – a big piece was missing. Such a strong trait of oppression should have at least been hinted at even in norse tradition, but it wasn’t there.

Not until I started to read“Blot – tro och offer i det förkristna Norden” by Britt-Marie Näsström  (translated title “Blót – faith and sacrifice in the Nordic Countries in pre-christian times” don’t know if it’s available in english). There’s three pages (p50 – 53) where prof. Näsström lists proofs at ‘sati’ in norse sources. In this cases the widows weren’t burned, but they were expected to follow their husbands into the grave either by suicide or by being killed at the funeral (or sometimes by being burried alive in the mound). The cases are all related to highranking women, so at least in the upper levels of society a kind of sati was practiced.

Why I’m so happy about this? Because I like finding the last piece in a puzzle. This makes the viking woman’s standing more similar to the indian  – and it should be since there are so many other similarities between the religions. This does also mean that the viking woman wasn’t as equal to her husband as we like her to be. I was appalled when someone first suggested this to me many years ago, but after taking a close look on how women are actually treated in the icelandic sagas as well as in the Edda I’ve been bound to agree. I’m not weeping now.

Would Europe have developed an more elaborate sati tradition and strengthened the oppression of women through time – or would women have rise to equal footing to men if christianity hadn’t conquered the continent? It’s hard to tell – how do you prove something that hasn’t happened? It’s worth noting, though, that both the pluralistic religious systems I’ve studied more closely (Indian and China) has had a period where woman was seriously downgraded – in China to the point that goddesses where ‘remade’ into androgyne gods – and that women’s status didn’t quite recover after that.

My, this did turn into a religious studies essay anyway! Hopefully it isn’t dry, and I rather get this off my chest here than in the project, since the project is about a rather different story. In the math today you may notice that I haven’t written a word, and that’s because I’ve been taking notes while I’ve been reanding and am not counting those. (In case you wonder I’ve been sorting illuminating methods between the different art periods – my sources are written thematically.) On the other hand I’ve been reading quite a lot, so I think I’m still doing great.

So, let’s do the math:

Word count: 0

-handwritten: 0

-computer: 0

Chapter mindmaps: 0

Content mindmaps: 0

Character mindmaps: 0

Editing:0

Research: 66 pages with notes (#1) + 81 pages (#2)

Gardening blog updates. 4

Current projects: 2

Subprojects: 1+5

Expected celebrity visits: 1

Cold from Hell: A new one is creeping up in me…

Salve Illuminatio rises from the dead

In Weekly report on 09 May 2009 at 21:00

Well, I don’t know how many years I did illuminations in the SCA, let’s just settle for “several”. I housed the Aros Scriptorium for most of them, was signet clerc for Nordmark (link in swedish) (a pretty high position for those of you who doesn’t recognise the lingo) and stepped down again, studied actual medieval manuscripts at Carolina Rediviva in Uppsala and at British Library in London. Some claimed to have me as guru (boy, did that make me nervous).  I even had some pretty advanced ideas on a beginners handbook.

And one day I just stopped. Even though I tried to lie myself into believing I just was taking a little vacation I put down my brushes and left it like that. I was fed up and overtired. The fact I had my son at the same time was more of a convenient way out of both the SCA and illuminations than a hindrance for further activities.

Let’s skip the four years since. A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to take a look at a book printed at Vulkan Förlag (link in swedish), a swedish PODpublishing company. It was of remarcably good quality, and the price for colour printing was affordable. This stired old ideas. I couldn’t send my current project to the prints since it’s not written yet.

The old illuminations handbook on the other hand…

I have already done the base work and can write it in my sleep if I like. But would anyone want it? I did the budget version of a consumer survey – I asked on the Nordmark forum if anyone was interested. The same day the thread had four positive answers, which is flattering. But most flattering was the fact I got an email from a scadian wanting to send me money at once. Getting this response after four years of silence was, well, flattering (the third time I use this word in this paragraf) and encouraging.

So, I gave this some serious thoughts. I’m already deep into another project and since I do work and have a family there’s not room for two in my life. I had to choose. The thing is I actually feel like illuminations again. The dulling feeling of a compulsive chore has left (and to some extent settled in my current project) and I’m enjoying mapping up chapters and content. So I decided to switch from fiction to fact for a while. This makes it possible to enjoy writing while catching up on some much needed research on the project now put on ice. Joy and celebrations! Balloons for everyone.

So, let’s do the math:

Word count: 817

-handwritten: 817 (1)

-computer: 0

Chapter mindmaps: 1

Content mindmaps: 4

Character mindmaps: 0

Editing:

Research: 78 pages (2)

Gardening blog updates. 1

Current projects: 1 (and one ‘resting’)

Subprojects: 1+5

Expected celebrity visits: 1

Cold from Hell: Gone!

(1) Yes, I do write my first drafts by hand – I think much better this way. One reason the resting project has stalled is that I decided to only write it on computer. Doesn’t work. I need the sensomotorical stimulation from a pen against paper. When I take up my fiction project again I’ll write the rest of the drafts on paper.

Took me fifteen minutes to count the words, in case you wondered…

(2) “Blot – tro och offer i det förkristna Norden” by Britt-Marie Näsström.  Translated title “Blót – faith and sacrifice in the Nordic Countries in pre-christian times” – don’t know if the book is available in english. The author is professor in religious studies at the university of Gothenburg.

You read this because of taxes

In Weekly report on 02 May 2009 at 18:45

For the first time in my life I’ll do my tax return the complicated way. I started a company centered around my writings last year, so now I have to check up on my receits and spend some time calculating costs. The profit is easy to meassure; it’s 0, nada, zilch. All in all I’ve made a lousy start, so most of my work is to fix things up, starting up things that I’ve should’ve done years ago, aso. aso.

Åsa Folkhögskola

Åsa Folkhögskola

You may have noticed that I didn’t update this blog last week. I spent the weekend at Åsa Folkhögskola (folk high school – follow the link to wikipedia to read about the concept), my latest writing college. I’ve spent a year doing my “basic training” at another folk high school – Wiks Folkhögskola (which actualy have a medieval castle to play with – talk about a dramatic backdrop for writing exercises). Tuition is free, payed by taxes.

In case you wonder; I’ve had my master of arts (in religious studies), my writing education and the delivery of my son (where we both were close to dying) payed by taxes. It’ll take a while before I’ll complain about having to pay them. But I have to admit doing the complicated tax return is a bit scary, especially since I keep all my receits in a tin jar. However, a friend of mine who is a fulltime artist has assured me that it isn’t that hard – he keeps his papers in a shoe box.

My lungs is still killing me. The doctor sent me for some tests this friday and asked if I had some psychological problem that I knew about. Yeah, thanks a lot! I’ve spent nearly six weeks with catastrophic results at my job and being at home ill (making even less money) most of the time just because I felt like it. I may be open for talking to a counselor when you’ve run every test you can, but you haven’t so do your job! Of course I didn’t say that out loud, that’s the best way to make a doctor huff up and do nothing. And they ran an unusual amount of tests on me – at least they took more blood than I’m used to, so I’m praying that they’ll find something, because my lungs is burning.

Well, let’s do the maths

Word count: 1398

Chapter mindmaps: 0

Character mindmaps: 0

Editing: 2 parts

Research: 0

Gardening blog updates. 0

Current projects: 1

Subprojects: 5

Expected celebrity visits: 2

Cold from Hell: 1

Look at that!  I’ve actually got a word count this time! Yay!

I’m a compulsive pundit!

In Weekly report on 18 April 2009 at 20:21

Well, I could certainly say one thing or two about religions. Ask me about the chinese imperial pair’s religious roles the year 1924 and I’ll go on and on and on and on and on and on. And I can certainly brew something up about current religious event like, let’s see, the Hillsborough Catastrophy 20 year “aniversary” (if you don’t remember sections of a badly maintained soccer stadium collapsed under the people watching the game – 96 persons died), Iran jails journalist as US spy and Somalia parliament votes in Sharia law. But my big weakness is my love of puns. No, it’s not love – it’s a passion, an addiction!

It’s so bad my friends at my first creative writings course crowned me the queen of bad puns. “Bad” because they are convinced there are no good puns. I‘m convinced they don’t try hard enough.  Of course there are good puns – you only have to read, say, Terry Pratchett to see that. Now, any swede reading this may say that this is because mr Pratchett writes in english, and that swedish is a language less versatile in this area. And to this my answer is “you don’t try hard enough”. Or: You have a language man/grrrl – use it! (Or, if I in that mood; phrhrhrb!)

I won’t give you any swedish puns today since I assume most of my readers have english or another language as maternal toungue (thanks for stopping by BTW!). As you can see in the header I take the risk of punning in a foreign language – english this time. I’m not sure if I should do it. There are a lot of fine nuances in a language that takes ages to get when you learn it – if you ever do.

Still, I can’t resist . I don’t know if it’s my training as a minister where I spent hours and hours translating sacred texts in a forgotten language (admit that this sounds better than doing my homework on the text course), or if it is my fling with sanskrit where I spent hours translating sacred texts in a forgotten language, or my love affair with mandarin where I… nope, no sacred texts there, and definately not a forgotten language. (To be fair neither koine greek or classical sanskrit are entirely forgotten, but manadrin is the modern language in this trio.) Whatever it is I’ve gradually come to regard language as a toy box where I can pick up things and combine them to new realities.

I’m guilty of making numerous puns. My favourites is in a resting project where I make two old friends having a conversation wich puns in swedish and if you translate the text to english the puns are still there. In another paragraf the pun is only visible if you translate the text into mandarin. It’s quite clumsy – despite my efforts I still don’t speak this language fluently, so I can’t tell if the pun works or not, but I found this easter egg hilarious to write. And if it works in the text, story line and keeps me happy it stays.

The bottom line is that punning is part of having fun as a writer. Even if you don’t use it in your published texts a wee bit of playing around will improve your grasp of words, rythm, content and contexts. Try it.

Now, I have to admit I’m totally stuck on my Big Baddy. I don’t know if it’s the leftover candy from my son’s birthday party, but my brain goes blank when I try to nail the character. And I can’t find my commented copy of chapter one which I need for my editing. I thought I would improve my writer’s math this week, alas it’s worse. So, let’s see:

Word count: 0

Chapter mindmaps: 0

Character mindmaps: 1/2

Editing: 0

Research: 1

Gardening blog updates. 3/3

Current projects: 1

Subprojects: 5

Expected celebrity visits: 1

Cold from Hell: 1 (and waning!)

Oh, I totally forgot that I did some background research on the Big Baddy – I may not be so bad after all.

Now, pun along!

First post on my work log

In Weekly report on 04 April 2009 at 18:57

So, I’m an aspiring author – I got three projects resting (two of them are actually finished stories), one I’m working on and a few more ideas. I’m safe in that departement. On the other hand I’m lacking time, which is a common problem among authors. I’ll have lesser time in the close future, since I need to get a fulltime job. This worries me, I have a family, we’re already worn by daddy’s daily commute to another town, and this’ll take yet another toll on us. However our economy needs restoration, so we don’t have much choice. I can only hope that the person I want for nanny for my son are willing to take the job (ie. I need to take a job that not only pays enough to restore the economy, but alse pays her salary – real life math can be depressing).

To keep on writing I started this blog for logging my work in public. I guess I think it’ll work like one of those ‘loosing weight’ blogs, and I hope it’ll work like my twinblogs Parkettodlaren/Indoor Gardener. They started out as an one hour a day project since I wrote and translated the text during the one hour my son was napping.  Today I have a modest following (100 readers / day), but I’ve understood that the swedish blog is read by many important gardening persons including one of my biggest idols in the game, and I’m getting offers and invitations from gardening media around the world. And I’m close to reaching the goal of growing vegetables for a family of three indoors in an ordinary flat.

My plan is to update on Saturday, listing the latest work and perhaps some musings about anything regarding writing. There may be some bonus updates, if I can without neglecting my other blogs.  So, let’s do the math, shall we?

Word count: 0

Chapter mindmaps: 0

Character mindmaps: 0

Editing: 0

(By now it should be clear why I set up this blog.)

Research: 0

Gardening blog updates. 2/3

Current projects: 1

Subprojects: 5

Expected celebrity visits: 1

Cold from Hell: 1 (and lingering)

This is my first blog using wordpress, so I’m playing around a bit with the toys here. I couldn’t resist setting up a poll regarding my future profession. Keep in mind that I work as a telephone saleswoman right now, and the jobs I’m applying for are in the same genre (who could have thought that the opportunities for masters of arts in religious studies were so few…). If you want to see what my art look like you can take a peak at Joys of Modern Medieval Life, my cafe press shop that is currently resting*.

*No, it’s not pining for the fiords! I’m living in Sweden. Norway is on the other side of the Scandinavian mountains.