Sunday, 25 September 2016

Saving Ibsen

I probably shouldn't get so emotionally involved, but when I see a book in disrepair I feel an accute need to help it. I picked up a copy of Ibsen's plays when I went to Finland. It had been rejected by a library and would probably go in the bin (!) if nobody took it. The pages of the book were all in good shape but they were falling out in chunks. I put on my superhero suit and exclaimed: Intervention time!
The only thing I could think of doing was divide the 5 plays into two A5 folders. They'll be a bit clunkier to read but still easy enough (and now I can add notes of my own without writing on the actual pages). I'm really excited because although the supporting texts in the book are in Swedish, the plays are in their original Norwegian and I've been wanting to read them that way for some time now. Hurrah!
So yes, this copy of Ibsen will have a second life in my bookshelf and hopefully feel a bit more loved in it's olden days.

I hope you're having a great weekend!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

It's in the feet

I often think my creativity lurks in my feet, or they're at least the motor. (Apologies to the muses for any unpleasant odors.) That's why I love a morning walk to get the blood pumping and the voices talking. And if I keep getting stuck during the day I might go for another one. And another one. And another one ... (If it feels like a chore I usually tell myself there's a tea or a coffee waiting on the way.)
It's always a joy to see a good sized tractor in London. 
This morning was beautifully sunny with a layer of haze still lingering. I walked aimlessly because that's the best way to discover new streets in your own area, and it also helps the brain access those golden nuggets from the subconscious. (Which also lurks in my feet?)
The best named fast-food place in London. Wets your appetite, doesn't it?
By the time I got home both the haze and the mental fog had lifted and I remembered an article a friend posted on Facebook. It gave tips on how to be a writer. Tip number 2 suggested typing isn't the same as writing, if anything typing is a very small part of writing, it's the mechanical bit that transfers all the hard work your brain's already done to a piece of paper.
I love looking at all the pretty houses. 
Remembering that as I sat down in front of my computer (with another cup of tea) and hoped to get some work done, I made my own suggestion: Typing might not be writing, but walking certainly is!

I hope you're well!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

That time of year

I bought a new diary the other day, 2016-2017, and as I walked out of the shop I felt that familiar autumn feeling; Let's do this! Yesterday our sunny, 30 degree weather changed (via a mighty thunder storm) into puddles on the ground and a chill in the air. I pulled out a wooly jumper, opted for my boots and once again felt energized by the seasonal turn. Here we go!
I'm sure I'll complain about the gray and the cold at some point, but right now I welcome the change. There is so much to be grateful for and look forward to. It's time to move back into my favourite cafes as the park becomes less hospitable as an office. It's time to really get stuck in (and enjoy it). So much of what I do is a slow process and it means I have to appreciate every step of it. If all we ever focus on is the end goal, we risk losing days, months and maybe even years of our lives without really noticing. And I'm not okay with that.

Here's to September! I hope you're well!

Ps. You might've noticed I changed a couple of the photos in the header. I just thought it was time they caught up with my third decade. :)

Monday, 6 June 2016

Is it the plague?


I got back from Finland on Friday night and looked down at my legs which had been itching the entire flight. Goose all mighty! They looked terrible. My first thought was the plague or something similarly deadly, but then I remembered all the mosquitos from the evening before. The huge red marks must be bites, although I'd never had them as bad before. I sought some expert advice and apparently I might now be extra sensitive to Finnish mosquitos since I haven't been properly bitten by them for a few years. My immune system is becoming British! (I won't pain you with a photo.)
Anywho, it was otherwise a lovely trip with great weather (most of the time)! The main reason I went over was the theatre related meeting I've mentioned before. It went really well, I'm really excited and there is lots to think about! In addition to that I had a great opportunity to see my 4-week-old niece for the first time (hurrah!) and also slightly older members of the family and dear friends.
 On Thursday my friend/host and I challenged thunder and rain (relying on the weather forecast that promised nicer weather for the evening) and took a ferry to Vallisaari, an island outside Helsinki that was used by the military for many years but has recently been opened up to the public. We had a wonderful time. In most places nature has taken over the old structures and it's a very nice place to walk and have a picnic. It also offers great views of the sea and Suomenlinna. Unfortunately the mosquitos enjoy it too ...
But I can happily report that the bites are getting better. Maybe I should get a few Finnish mosquitos in a jar so I can "fortify" myself throughout the year? I'm glad I didn't get any ticks though, which are also common in Finnish nature. Here in London my main concern is the spiders!

Anywho, I hope you had a great weekend and enjoy the rest of the week!

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The Weekend Away

Hello, hello!

How are you? I feel like I've just come back from Miss Marple-land!
I can never take photos of the sea that makes it justice ...
Thorpeness is a very picturesque village by the North Sea. It used to be a small fishing hamlet, but then in 1910 a rich Scottish barrister bought the whole area and made it into a private fantasy resort for friends and family. It wasn't until the 70's that a lot of the properties were sold off and today about 400 people live in the village in winter, and about 1600 in summer because it's still a popular place for holidays and there are plenty of houses to rent on the beach and in the village. (There's also a huge population of bunnies, small and large, to the dismay of the golf course, I'm sure. But they wouldn't sit still for a photo.)

Thorpeness' two sights (in addition to the beach): The House in the Clouds and The Windmill:
We had a wonderful time. It's great to experience real quiet and real darkness. We went down to the sea several times a day, just to look at the water, breath and walk. One evening we sat on the beach and watched a thunder storm slowly roll towards us over the sea. When the rain finally hit us everyone bolted up and ran.
So peaceful. 
During the day we worked a lot. We sat in our little cabin, which had a delightful nautical/80s decor. I got through a first edit of a project and feel quietly optimistic. It's lovely to go back to a text after a bit of a break, with fresh eyes, and realise there might be something there. I wasn't completely deluded when I wrote the first draft.
My favourite place to write. It had amazing light!
A couple of evenings we then walked along the beach to Aldeburgh, about 10 kilometers in total, to buy supplies (the local village shop closed at 4pm and the caf├ęs and restaurants soon after) and to eat fish and chips. The coastal town is also a popular holiday destination and used to be the home of composer Benjamin Britten.
Yep, we went there.
So all in all, a fun, productive and refreshing weekend away! I would just say, if you ever decide to go, do reserve plenty of time and patience for travel! We encountered cancelled trains, delayed trains and trains held up because some emergency on the tracks. We then ended up with a taxi company that seems to have all kinds of issues ... On our way back yesterday they'd forgotten about our booking and we barely made our train home.
Whenever I got stuck I'd look out this window and feel calm. 
But we're here now, back in London and I'm determined to make this relaxed, slower pace last. I have about a week before I fly off to Finland for a few days. There's an exciting theatre related meeting booked in, and I'm also going to see my new niece! Hurrah! But we'll get back to that ...

I hope you had a lovely weekend!

Thursday, 19 May 2016

And we're off!

... quite soon anyway.

Having grown up on the coast of Finland, I'm a child of water and woods, and so is my friend. Together we decided to ditch London for a long weekend and find a nice spot for a DIY writing retreat. We're leaving for Suffolk tomorrow. There might not be loads of trees (?) but we'll be right by the sea and we're counting on lots of fresh air!
A tiny bit of the Gulf of Bothnia seen from the Finnish West coast.
 I really look forward to getting stuck into some editing. Sometimes a change in scenery can be great for the creative juices. I'm also looking forward to walks on the beach, sitting in the garden with a book and a cup of tea (when it's not raining) and late night chats with my friend.
Trees are GREAT! Until they fall on top of your summer cottage ...
The little cabin we're staying in doesn't have wifi so I probably won't be blogging. I might do a bit of Instagraming though so if you're interested you can find me on madicken_m. I'll probably link the photos to Twitter as well, if that's your social media of choice.
By the time summer reaches Finland and you muster up the courage to have a swim, you're so pale you're practically see through ...
Right, enough self-promotion! I hope you have a lovely weekend and I'll see you when I get back from the coast!


Thursday, 12 May 2016

If the Emperor says

I'm reading some Marcus Aurelius at the moment. He was a Roman emperor, a Stoic philosopher and he's a hard taskmaster when you just want to hit the snooze button for five more minutes instead of getting up to do some editing ...

At day's first light have in readiness, against disinclination to leave your bed, the thought that 'I am rising for the work of man'. Must I grumble at setting out to do what I was born for, and for the same of which I have been brought into the world? Is this the purpose of my creation, to lie here under the blankets and keep myself warm? 'Ah, but it is a great deal more pleasant!'  ... 

... You have no real love for yourself; if you had, you would love your nature, and your nature's will. Craftsmen who love their trade will spend themselves to the utmost labouring at it, even going unwashed and unfed; but you hold your nature in less regard than the engraver does his engraving, the dancer his dancing, the miser his heap of silver, the vainglorious man his moment of glory. These men, when their heart is in it, are ready to sacrifice food and sleep to the advancement of their chosen pursuit. Is the service of the community of less worth in your eyes, and does it merit less devotion?  

So said the Emperor. Now I'm not sure how much of my writing is of service to the community but I do feel it's what I'm supposed to do. And sometimes getting something done means you just have to get up and do it. You can't always feel comfortable if you want to be productive and creative. You can't always wait for the right mood or inspiration, sometimes that comes along once you've actually started. (And sometimes it doesn't, but you still put the effort in ...)
I love a good coffee shop, but very little beats a sunny park (when there's also coffee in it). 
At the same time I do believe it's important to take care of yourself if you want to be productive and creative in the long run. Learn how and when you work best and how the rest of your life affects these patterns. I know my writing patterns pretty well by now. I know that I need to be well-rested and well-fed. That means going to bed at a reasonable hour because I want to be up early, and not skipping meals. (So even if I'm prepared to sacrifice food and sleep for my work, it's in my best interest not to.) I know when to take a break so my brain can work on its own without me yelling at it to figure something out. Walks are good for that. Coffee with friends too. Anything really that allows your subconscious to work its magic in peace.

Going into a blind panic is rarely helpful. Being kind to yourself when you're doing your best but still falling a little bit short is very important. Give yourself plenty of second chances. After all, the Emperor also said:

Because a thing is difficult for you, do not therefore suppose it to be beyond mortal power. On the contrary, if anything is possible and proper for man to do, assume that it must fall within your own capacity. 

Those are my thoughts anyway. (Apologies to any Stoics who feel I've taken things way out of context.) I hope you're all doing well and look forward to the weekend!


(Quotes taken from Meditations, Penguin Books, 2004)