I live… again!

Posted in About writing on April 21st, 2010 by Jeppe Grünberger

I thought I had better breathe a bit of life back into the blog. I have been gone for the last months for two reasons: I decided that I needed to focus on getting my novel back on track and then that I also had to do a bit of work to earn money for staying alive and such minor details. This has kept me a bit busy, but now I am back to give you a new, strange short story. A short story about time travel, money and sudden friendship. A must read for all who have just built a time machine and are thinking of using it! Read it here!

Facing the fear of failing

Posted in About writing on November 13th, 2009 by Jeppe Grünberger

I think one of the most profound characteristics of writing is having to deal with failure; not failure limited to rejection by a publisher, but fear of encountering and facing a failure you yourself have crafted. Quite possibly this also applies to many other aspects of life; of daring to move beyond the familiar patterns, but I will contain myself mainly to the theme of writing here and let people make their own conclusions.

Our failures tell a lot about us, possibly more than we wish to know ourselves and certainly more than we wish to have others know. Therefor, probably, writers and other artists are often very protective of their works and sometimes reluctant to risk trying to publish it. Facing a very physical, crafted instance of your failure is hard to ignore. You wouldn’t believe how often I have wanted delete the short story of the IKEA sofa that I published here the other day, but I haven’t done it yet. To me, it’s a failure, and all I really want to do with it is delete it. And possibly it should be deleted so that no poor soul has the grave misfortune of reading it, but I have to learn and so I have to face failures. This blog is not just meant to be about me posting short texts to potential readers and curious friends but a sort of professional diary and mental work space. Yes, the idea of a mental work space sounds awfully pretentious, but give it a chance before you discard it.

Generally, writing is thought of as a mental, intellectual creative art form. It’s about having the ideas and the thoughts, and while that may be partially true; more than anything else its a craft. The idea changes profoundly on its way from your mind to paper, no matter how thoroughly you think you have it thought through. Writing is something that you get better at by doing it, that you rehearse and practice constantly if you want to be good. To create a text, to build it, is a very different thing from analyzing it. Sure, it can help to be good at analyzing your own work, but if you want to build it yourself, you analytical skills are more likely to inhibit you than assist you. Take the sofa-story for example – I still believe the idea of it could have worked. It could have been amusing and even just the slightest bit interesting, but it didn’t turn out that way. And that is not the idea in itself, its just poorly crafted. The sentences don’t flow the way they should, and the implicit structures that should have formed the basis for making it funny somehow just collapse.

Again, the sound of implicit structures and flowing sentences sound intellectual, but they are actually not. I don’t think that many if any writers plan every finer point of their writing – the flow and the interesting structures that make it good. Its a craft, a feel that you have when you are doing it, that this is right. This works. And sometimes it doesn’t work. You toil with a text for hours on end, and you keep changing small tings to improve it – but it doesn’t happen. Perhaps you are having an off day, or perhaps you are simply just not good enough as a craftsman to make this yet. That’s what happened with the IKEA story, took me several hours of annoyance, and I just wanted to delete it. Admittedly, I wasn’t having my best day and did have some trouble keeping my mental focus. But there are also lessons for me to learn from this abomination of my mind, so that the next time I try to create a story with two layers that are suppose to interweave into something amusing I will remember this failure. And hopefully I will learn from it as well and get better. I believe that if you have taken the strange choice to write, you cannot fear failure – you are more likely to encounter it here than in most any other professions. And you will only have one person to blame for it as well.

But like any other craftsman it can help to have a place that is defined as where you work and where you can evaluate your own work. A place where you go when you work, where your tools are. That is a keyboard or a pen to a writer, but more than that it is a place in his or her mind. And I actually made this blog partially to expand that workplace. So that I didn’t only have my current novel and my private battle with it, but a place to make small attempts at other things and practice daring to make them public. To practice having people either love or hate what I did.

Now, none of this will help anyone who already read Of Hopelessly Immature Furniture and feel that I owe them five minutes of their lives, but perhaps they find it a bit more forgivable now, seeing as I still spent more wasteful time writing it than they did reading it.

We cannot be afraid of failure, for only the lessons of failure and the will to risk failure will help us expand ourselves beyond the boundaries in our lives that inhibit us and shorten our days and our lives. Fear keeps us at home where we feel safe and where the days pass, literally, like sands through the infamous hourglass. Writing is where I come to seek out failure, to do battle with it every day – and a few times I feel like I win. But certainly not always, and even when I don’t win, I still have to write about it. Because, that is what I have chosen to do.

Blogging about writer’s block…

Posted in About writing on October 19th, 2009 by Jeppe Grünberger

So, I decided to move to Barcelona in Spain, just as I had decided that I wanted to be a writer. Since I don’t speak a word Spanish (or Catalan for that matter) the two decisions seemed equally sensible and I wanted to share them both with the world. I think the world should generally feel better about its decision-making skills and this is me doing my part to improve everybody’s self-esteem. You’re welcome.

To make things better I am not even a native English speaker. No, I’m Danish (no, not A danish – it’s a nation… it is! Look it up if you don’t believe me.). So, shortly put I am a Dane living in the Catalan-speaking part of Spain who writes in English. I had hoped that would made me this really cool, international person, but instead it has just made me generally and confoundedly confused. When I wander through the charming streets of Barcelona, I have no idea of what is going on around me at any given time. People may be chatting on the street about the toxic gas especially designed to make testicles shrivel and explode that has just been released into the metro system by maddened lesbian terrorists, and yet you will see me smiling and nodding while I get out my metro card and keep walking down the stairs.

But really, you may then ask, does the internet need another blog about being an idiot? Surely we have enough of those. And yes, we do have enough of those, but this blog is actually not intended to be about idiocy (note: intended). No, this blog is about writing and about the unfocused, sometimes unwelcomed and almost always strange ideas, thoughts and notions that pop into your (or at least mine) head while you try to write something sensible. Having moved to another country seems to only make this problem worse as I have no one around me to throw these distracting ideas at. No one who will understand me anyway. I have tried flushing these creative hick-ups out of my head but they seem to clog up the drain instead. They insist on being realised and they keep blocking my brain from writing anything else until I do realise them. So now, I am going to blog them – I am going to create a place where I can simply write them and put them.

In many ways then, I have created this blog mainly for my own personal reasons, but don’t get me wrong: I would love nothing more than for someone to take something of value away from what I write here. Be it joy, inspiration or just a quick laugh on my expense – it is not important. So, I will put my thoughts and small pieces of creative misfits and peculiarities here for anyone to read or discard as rubbish – whichever they prefer. I have added a section to the blog called “Texts and oddities” where I will put the imposing, creatively disturbing notions that come out either as short stories, short prose or even poetry. At this point in time there is but one text there, but there will be added more, I’m sure.

So, we will see how it works out, I guess – both for me and anyone who stumbled in here either by mistake or led by a fetish for the odd, creative misfit and perhaps a good laugh.