5 Things that inspire me to write

1. An email from my grandmother

It's a short, simple email, sent on Monday, 26th of July, 2017. A day before, I had posted something on my author facebook page about the important contrast between having happy, sunny days and stormy, dark days.

Somehow, what I wrote had really touched her, and she wrote to me saying how wise I am to cherish the sunshine and the rain and the storms, despite everything. She said that it is important to spend some days just daydreaming, and that's completely okay.

She told me that she loves me, that I inspire her, and that she loves to learn to understand me more and more day by day.

Back then, my facebook author page only had three likes: my grandma and two of my best friends. I hadn't told anyone about said page, but somehow they had sneakily found it anyway. Let's just say they care about me too much and are way too interested in everything I do.

Which is lovely. I love it. But it also kind of freaks me out because I don't think I deserve it.

I haven't had my "breakthrough" yet. So why should anybody care?

In case you haven't noticed, I'm a bit hard on myself sometimes. But that email tells me not to be. I can hear my grandma saying, "Take it easy, love the sunshine, love the rain, love the struggle, love the pain." (that was a completely accidental rhyme but let's just go with it)

That email from my grandmother is so full of unconditional love. It reminds me that I have people who are influenced by my example and my writing even when I feel like nobody's listening. There's always somebody listening. Sometimes it's grandma. And grandma is amazing.

2. My very first book review

I'm not someone who ever squeals of excitement. But when I got my first "proper" book review, I squealed like a bimbo in the makeup section. (is that offensive? maybe)

"Imagine watching a battle at night during a thunderstorm. Everything appears in bursts: heaps of hacked bodies, their blood trickling into the puddled water on the ground. Blue flashes reflecting off shining swords. Screams of men and horses mixing with the howl of wind and the clap of thunder. It’s all very vivid, very intense. But you’d be hard-pressed to tell anyone what exactly was happening, which side was winning, or what it was for. 
I picked up this story because it had a vivid blurb, written more or less exactly the way they tell you blurbs are supposed to be written. I clicked through to a professional-looking site, with a nice map and pictures and even an official teaser trailer. I read a story, written in perfectly manageable chunks, with good grammar and spelling. The writing was evocative, rich with emotion, pithy in its description of scenes and moments. Snow, mead, woodsmoke, steel, fog and clouds—it’s all gorgeously bleak and tragic and Nordic. 
I’m just not at all sure what’s going on, because it’s all flashes of lightning. You see moments—nicely written moments!—interspersed with dollops of backstory, but not much straightforward description of the plot. It’s all alluded to en passant, never told. You have to infer what’s going on from the wry curses and fears characters express as asides, or else guess based on tropes. The runaway magic girl is apparently the protagonist, since she’s written with sympathetic traits. There’s a stern warlord after her, who’s bad because stern warlord. 
Halfway through its current run of seventeen short chapters, I pieced together a bit more than that, but it’s so staccato that I didn’t have much invested in it. There’s no time to stop and breathe, to find out the big picture or what’s at stake. There used to be an unpopular queen, but I’m not at all clear what she was queen of, or why they don’t like her now. There’s people fighting, but I don’t know what they’re fighting for. Everyone feels doomed and hopeless, like the world is ending, and I don’t know why. 
Just for example: in the second chapter, a lone headless body rides into a stableyard and falls off its horse, scaring the hell out of the local help . . . and that’s it. That’s the entire chapter, start to finish. She just describes it more artfully. There is no further context given as to why this corpse is significant, and it doesn’t come up later. I didn’t even feel the need to say spoilers, because what are you supposed to do with this information?
Three stars is "worth a look." It’s certainly that. But mind the rain."
Link to the review: http://webfictionguide.com/listings/a-raveling-night/review-by-theredsheep/ 

It's a three-star review, and it's a surprisingly positive one considering that the novel had some MAJOR flaws that I struggled with fixing so badly that I nearly quit writing. It's my forever work in progress... The story of my heart... The book of my dreams...

I love this review because it puts into words the problems I've had with my writing for years, but haven't been able to properly work on because nobody's said them to me. I've gotten plenty of feedback and critiques over the years, but people are always too nice.

I also think that this review is way too nice, but at least it's also critical. It's helpful.

It inspires me because it helps me see just how much I can grow as a storyteller, and that as long as I keep writing, I'll just keep getting better and better. Mistakes are just mistakes. You get to work and you fix them!

3. The "books" I wrote in 5th grade

In my little school in Borlänge, Sweden, we had a special designated shelf for the stories the class wrote. And that shelf made us write a lot.

That shelf is what made me think about becoming an author for the first time. Before then, I'd loved to write stories for fun. But putting them on that shelf and making them available for the whole class to read gave me kicks unlike anything had ever given me before. It was so exciting!

I was such a shy, awkward nerd, but finally I had my moment to shine!

I wrote sequel after sequel because my classmates kept reading what I wrote, and kept asking me for more. It was a thrilling feeling to "publish" the next part (=put it in the shelf) and have people write their names on a list so that they could queue to read it next.

It's what inspires me so much to write serialized fiction. It just feels so natural, because those were the first stories I ever wrote. Serials. I am passionate about serials.

4. Skyrim

It's the music, the visuals, the people, the lore, the world. I still remember playing Skyrim for the first time in my cousins' basement and barely being able to contain my lust for adventure. So many things to see! So many adventures to go on! So many dragons to slay, and magic to master!

So you can imagine how many hours I've spent exploring forests, towns and rivers in Skyrim. Just hearing the wind in the trees, the growling wolves, the soothing music. It's a bit spooky, but serene. And there's this sense of never being able to play the game enough to discover all it has to offer.

That's how I want my readers to feel when they open A Raveling Night and enter the world of vikings, magic, battles and ancient monsters. I want them to go, "WOOOAH, this is so COOL!"

5. The map of the world of my book

It ties in with the previous one & the sense of wanting to explore and experience. I wish I could just jump into this map and wander around, meet these people, hear their stories, smell the smoke and fish and rain, take a dip in the sea and stand looking in awe at the castle in Hordrigg.

I've spent so much time in this place, but it makes me a bit sad that I'll never actually be able to travel there.

Yeah, it doesn't exist. But at the same time, it's very, VERY real to me.

It shows me how much power my words can have. I created this world with my words.

Only after it was made of words could I even try to create this map with inks and watercolors and all that artsy stuff. Words are magic.

Now, tell me, what inspires you to write?

Why I Didn't Serve a Mission

This is mainly for young or semi-young people in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, so if it confuses my other readers, I'm sorry :) I just felt prompted to write this today for some reason.

This blog post also features pictures from Manchester where my dad (the one I only knew for 3 years) served a bit of his mission in.

There's quite a bit of pressure on young men and young women in the church to serve a mission. Ever since we were kids, we've looked up to the missionaries in our wards, and if we were girls, our mothers or grandmothers probably told us that the missionaries were men we were one day going to marry.

Unless my family's just weird.... but anyway!

There seems to be a misconception that missions simply aren't for some people. That some of us just weren't meant to be missionaries.

And yes, you're right. Serving a mission definitely isn't for you!

When I was few years younger and prepared for my mission, I felt like I needed to serve a mission because everyone else were. But don't get me wrong, I was really excited about it!

I imagined all the blessings I'd get and all the things I'd learn, all the mission references I'd get to say during every future talk I'd ever give, how proud my parents would be, the strangers I would meet, the new places I would see, the language I'd learn, and oh all the stories I'd get to tell people after my mission!

I also felt like I had to go because if I didn't, boys wouldn't like me and I'd never get married (but that's another issue for another time, ugh).

My mission was the only thing I talked about, the only thing I thought about, the only thing that was certain in my future, and every time something was difficult, I clung to the thought of myself with that shiny black badge and dressed modestly in a pretty calf-length dress. It was my lifeline when life let me down.

That dream got me through high school, but it was all about me and not about the service itself, which is why I'm super happy that I didn't serve a mission when I turned 19.

When I was almost about to send in my mission papers, I also got into university, which was a surprise since I hadn't really tried that hard in my entrance exams (I'm from Finland and you have to apply to minimum two universities after high school for money reasons & getting into certain universities is really hard, so if you get in you have to go or you might lose your chance forever).

The pretty, perfect, dreamy mission image in my mind begun to crack.

I prayed about the whole university vs. mission ordeal for months, even after I already had started my studies, and each time, I got the answer to not go on a mission yet. 

An answer to a prayer had never made me so disappointed before. I couldn't believe what I was feeling. I couldn't believe that it was a no.

All my friends were serving missions or getting married, and there I was, trying to change God's opinion and make Him tell me that I needed to serve a mission. Not in a few months. Not in a few years. I wanted it to happen now!

Time passed. Disappointment turned into anger and resentment, and all the while I was studying hard and isolating myself from other people because I felt so lost and confused. Until one day I realized I was going to parties twice a week, missing church activities, hanging out with boys who didn't really follow church standards, and drifting further and further away from what I had once dreamed my life to be. 

Sometimes people at church would ask me, "So, you're not on a mission yet?" and I would shrug and try to explain, but then I'd go home and cry into a pillow.

I was angry with God, my testimony was hanging on a thread, and I struggled with my purpose. I felt like a fraud and I thought the solution would be to stop going to church altogether. I wanted to numb all those feelings and give up.

God clearly wanted nothing to do with me, since I clearly wasn't good enough to go on a mission.

Praying so hard and not hearing what you want to hear is such a lonely place to be.

Then I moved wards because I moved away from my family's house, and immediately got a calling to teach kids in nursery.

Not going to lie, I wanted to turn it down. I wanted to be able to stay home from church sometimes without anybody noticing, which would be pretty easy in a new ward. But with a calling? Nope.

Yet something made me accept it, and now I don't care why I said yes, because I'm so happy that I did. That calling was the most incredible blessing ever!

Teaching the babies in nursery helped me get back to the gospel basics and build up my testimony again. In the end, it wasn't really me teaching them, but the 2-year-olds teaching me.

God knew I needed to start again from the very simple basics and build up my faith like a child. Remembering that I am a child of God, remembering that families can be together forever, remembering to be like Jesus, remembering that I, too, can feel my Savior's love.

Oh, I miss those amazing kids. They will probably forget all the discussions and wonderful moments of love and calm that we had in our little circle on the floor. But I will never.

And because I wasn't on a mission, I got to help the people I loved back home. When they were struggling with hardships, I got to be near them and love them. Hugs and kisses and cards and songs. Long walks or long consoling conversations on the phone.

Being there for them made me see that I wasn't really as lost as I'd thought I'd been.

And then there was that incident when my brain went all berserk last winter, and if that would have happened while I was serving a mission, I would've definitely been sent home and not allowed to return.

Piece by piece, day by day, I begun to see exactly why God had told me to not serve a mission when I had so badly wanted to.

I realized that if I was ever going to serve (which I still might, after I graduate), I would have to do it for the right reasons.

If I was going to serve a mission, I would serve for the sake of blessing others and helping them come nearer to Christ and find the meaning of their life (like I had! ironically by not going on a mission).

If you're thinking about serving or not serving, trust God and pray and please listen to what He wants, and not what you want. 

Don't be selfish. Both deciding to not serve, or deciding to serve could be selfish decisions, depending on your reasoning. I was selfish and went astray, and I don't recommend it.

God knows your needs, and more importantly He knows the needs of the people around you.

And if you're feeling the pressure of other people around you to serve a mission, remember that they can't receive revelation that concerns your life. You have to make your own decisions.

In the end, serving a mission isn't for you. It's for all those lives you touch and the hearts you bring closer to Christ.

And on top of that, I think it's wrong for people to pressure young members of the church to go on their missions as soon as they turn 18 or 19. We've all got our own journey and have got to trust in God's timing. 

I hope to serve a mission some day. But for the time being, I'll try my best to be a missionary at heart every day of my life. Being a good example, serving in the temple, doing good, loving and being kind and strengthening my fellow humans.

You, like me, might need a few years to grow as a person before your mission so that you can be a better missionary. Or maybe God wants you to grow as a person on your mission. Maybe you have another purpose completely. 

So.. Why?

Only God knows. 

And for me, at this moment in time, that's all I need to know.

And as a last little bit of inspiration, watch this beautiful scene from one of my favorite movies ever, the absolute masterpiece of an animation which is The Prince of Egypt, and remember to always look at your life through Heaven's Eyes, because our imperfect human eyes are sometimes very bad at seeing our true potential! You're often a lot better than you think you are. 🌼

Lifesaving Links for Nanowrimo

Happy Nanowrimo everybody!

Spooktober is now over and Nanowrimo is here, which means that a bunch of us writers are sitting locked in our bedrooms with our laptops or gathering in coffee shops to write our novels. It's a glorious time!

But if you've ever done Nanowrimo before, you know that it isn't all rainbows and butterflies. After a couple days, writing 1667 words a day can become a real struggle.

Fear not! There are lots of tools to keep us on track!

Don't let the word counts slip, you guys. You want to get ahead on your writing so that when you get into the middle of Nanowrimo when everything tends to turn into a chaos in your life, you've got something to fall back on.

Here are my favorite links for Nanowrimo that have saved my daily word count numerous times throughout the years:

Write or Die is a word sprint software that forces you to write under pressure, with a clock counting down the seconds until the time is up. I always use the free version because it's free, and it's really good.

Fantasy Name Generators has fantasy character names, realistic character names, place names, historical names, planet names... it's got all the inspiration you need when you suddenly need a new name for something or someone.

Thesaurus is THE website for finding appropriate synonyms for your character's body language or for describing your world. Just try typing in "sand" and you'll see how many words you get.

Pandora Journey is a youtube channel featuring lots of epic inspirational music that I always turn to if my creative juices are drying out. I just lie on my bed with my eyes closed, or take a walk outside, with the music in my ears and instantly have epicness and magic flowing around in my brain. I also really recommend Two Steps From Hell. Gorgeous music makes a gorgeous story.

Jami Gold's Worksheets are amazing for structuring your novel or finding inspiration for what could possibly happen next.

Ilys is a website kind of similar to Write or Die. It allows you to write without editing at all, because you can only see the latest letter you've typed in. I haven't used this one a lot yet, but it's a super fun tool for those days when you just keep overthinking your story. There's no time for that during Nanowrimo!

And a bonus for my fellow non-English-speaking writers out there who are writing in English, I know you all know this, but google translate is really helpful for finding the right word for that thing you're not sure what it's called :D

I write English just fine, but when you want to write quickly and not have to think too much, I love being able to just translate things (and I do it all the time!) :)

Hope you get lots of writing done this weekend!!

xx Em xx

Things I'm bad at

I'm bad at many things: keeping plants alive, doing sports, playing video games... But just because you're bad at something now doesn't mean you'll always be!

1. Dealing with expectations

If someone expects me to be good at something, I'm going to suck at it. If someone tells me I'll fail, I'll do everything in my power to prove them wrong.

I don't know what it is. But whether it be air hockey or writing or video editing, if you have any positive expectations of my abilities, I'll for sure disappoint you. Not because I want to, but because my subconscious just hates me.

2. Wearing lipstick

It looks too fancy and I don't feel like myself, so I always end up wiping it off. I used to feel the same way about foundation and doing my brows. I just looked too put together and it freaked me out, so as a teen I would always blot some water on my makeup to make it look like I hadn't just done my makeup.

I'm bad at doing what I want to do without caring about other people's opinions. But I'm also extremely tired of doing my makeup because of other people, and not me. I'd love to wear lipstick sometimes and not feel like everybody's staring at me thinking, "she really thinks she's something". Because that shouldn't matter! Why is it so hard?!

3. Dressing for the weather

I'm always hot, and even when I'm cold I feel hot. So one winter I nearly lost my toes because I just didn't realize how cold they were when I was out on the lake. My blood in my toes almost completely froze and my toes were slightly purple when I got home, and then it took them 40 minutes to melt down to a normal temperature. It's one of the worst pains I've ever suffered. Just imagine your hot blood trying to squeeze through frozen veins. I was screaming.

I lost feeling in two toes for about a year, and even now, two years later, one of them still feels tender when I go swimming or the temperatures drop. I've got a super sensitive middle toe, yay!

I should wear jackets, hats, scarfs and mittens when it's cold! I should learn to dress in a way that helps me stay healthy, I'm an adult now!

4. Walking in high heels

I don't think it's natural. It hurts like a lot. But women who are able to walk around in those torturous things look so freaking graceful and beautiful, and so I keep trying. But one hour in heels and I give up.

I would really like to wear my high heels more often though. Because they make me walk with better posture and feel more confident. Everybody deserves better posture and confidence.

5. Taking my pills

I've got a mood disorder called cyclothymia, which needs to be treated with pills. But sometimes I can go three days without them, because I forget to take them. So suddenly I'm acting all strange and feeling these unexplainably difficult emotions, and I don't know why. Well, not taking my pills, that's why!

I really need to get better at this. I want to be a stable-minded human being.

6. Replying to messages

I'm terrible. I see a message, I decide I'll reply later when I can use my full attention on that person. But then hours go by. Sometimes days. And I feel terrible.

I don't want to be a terrible human.

7. Working out

I really used to enjoy running. I was pretty good at it. I was in good shape. But then I just gradually started running less and less for a plethora of reasons. And now I barely do stuff with my body at all. I love team sports, and I still love running. It's just hard to find people to do sports with and it's hard to place running into my schedule for some reason. Too many excuses not to work out, basically.

But I should. Because I want to be healthier, and happier, and better-looking. I want to actually think about how I treat my body. These days I just couldn't care less about how I look, but I think I want to care a bit more.

8. Going to bed early

I'm a morning person. I love waking up early, starting my day productively and watching the sunrise.

But most days, my daily activities or tasks just don't go well with that, so I end up staying up really late and then I wake up late and grumpy.

When I wake up early, I always have a 80% chance of my day ending up awesome. But when I wake up late, it's pretty much a lost case already. I just feel so tense and irritated and grumpy all day. I really need to go to bed earlier and fix this!

9. Watching tv shows and movies

When I was younger, I loved binge-watching shows and pulling all-nighters watching six movies in a row.

But now I'm a film student, and I don't feel like doing that anymore.

I know I should watch a lot of shows and movies. I feel a lot of pressure and guilt about it!

But I don't watch anything, because I'm never in the mood, or if I am, the thing always ends up disappointing me because I overthink the characters and the plot and the subtext of the dialogue or the time stamps when plot points occur.

So usually I turn to youtube for entertainment, because it's less structured and actually manages to surprise and entertain me. Which can be a good thing, because there's a lot of educational content on there. But it's also a big time trap.

And it's not going to help me much when it comes to writing scripts for tv and film... Because in order to do that you need to actually watch tv and film, you know.

I just find every tv show with fascinating potential to be a disappointment, and movies are hard to find time or energy or concentration for. So if I watch anything, it's old Friends episodes that I've already seen 4-7 times, or The Office us, which I've watched even more times, or wacky cartoons.

I think I'd be a lot better at school if I made it a point to watch one new movie every week and start watching some tv shows, too.

10. Being on time

I'm late, pretty much always. It's not much, usually a minute or two. But I just can't be on time. Especially not with my sleeping schedule being all messed up these days. I feel like it'd be easier if I woke up early.

But then again, if I start working on projects in the morning, I'll just be late because I lose track of time and can't stop working. So that doesn't really solve the problem either.

And if I make it a point to be 10 minutes early somewhere, I just end up walking around the block because I'm bored, and guess what that leads to? Correct, I'm late again.

There's just no cure for my tardiness. I'll suffer the embarrassment and guilt for the rest of my life. It's chronic.

I just wish I could be on time!

13. Being passionate

I used to be SO passionate about so many things! Books, movies, shows, comics, art, mermaids, animals, trees, nature, following all sorts of fandoms and being super excited about such small "insignificant" things all the freaking time.

Life was so full of joy back then, because I could make myself happy and excited so easily by just fangirling for a moment, or working on a research project on this new animal species I was fascinated by, or writing a new story that I'd just come up with, or reading fan fiction, or reading books, or watching movies. I was so passionate about so many things!

But as I've grown older, I've become really mellow and apathetic and uncaring about such things. I just don't ever get excited about books or movies or stuff like that. My fangirl days are over, and that realization really stings.

I don't know what caused this horrible adultness in me, but I want to become excited like a kid again. I still have so many things that I love and feel strongly about, but I very rarely let myself be truly passionate. Because that would be weird. Or people would judge me. Or I would look stupid.

I've just been taught by my teachers and parents and other kids my age to not be so freaking weird and passionate, because it's weird!

I used to post so many stick insect updates on facebook and pictures of details on my self-made mermaid tails on instagram, but then I went and grew up, got embarrassed and deleted them. And that's such a shame!

Being weird made me so happy! I want to be weird again! I want to fangirl about stuff on social media again and be judged by other 20-somethings who just don't get it because they're boring.

Passion is happiness.

I want to sit and research animal facts and watch nature documentaries for hours. I want to write stories that make my heart pound with excitement, and let myself be surprised by my own creations.

When I was younger, everything around me was full of opportunities and I was so curious and passionate about everything. I want to be that kid again.

12. Living in the moment

I'm always longing for something else. Some other place or some other time, some other people, some other project, some other food, some other music, some other anything.

I just find it hard to be content with what I have right now.

I'm very aware of it though, which makes it a bit better, because I'm not just constantly unhappy because of my inability to live in the moment. I know that I'm a daydreamer. I'm painfully aware of my desire to plan for the future instead of living in the now.

Sometimes I wonder if I should even try to live in the now if the prospect of an amazing future makes me so happy to think about? I love daydreaming about my future kids, pets, home, career... all that stuff.

So if I love it, and it makes me happy, should I not continue daydreaming?

Well yeeah... But I don't want to ruin the present for myself by focusing too much on the future. Because eventually that future will roll around, and I'll just still be feeling incomplete in some way. Moving towards a beautiful future that never turns out that beautiful because I keep waiting for it to become beautiful sometime in the future, when the beautiful moments are happening.

I don't want to miss out on life!

I'll have to work on my current circumstances, not my future circumstances. I want to live in the moment and have awesome memories to look back on. No regrets!

So, here we have it. A bunch of things I wish I could change about myself. Luckily, they're all things that I have control over, more or less. It's just all about putting in the time and effort and making those changes.

What are some things you're bad at that you know you should work on?

Have a happy weekend,

NaNoWriMo Project: Royal Blood

(Royal Blood is not a title, it's just the first thing that popped into my head)

What are you working on this November?

I'd love to learn more about your project, so feel free to use these questions in a blog post of your own and share it in the comments!

What is NaNoWriMo? Click here to find out!

What is Project RB about?

It's a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in a viking society with magic and sea monsters, a prequel to my book A Raveling Night, and it's about the lovers that killed Emery's entire family.

I was inspired by the question: How much blood would have to be shed to give Romeo and Juliet their happy ending?

What's the genre?

YA/NA fantasy romance

Who are the main characters?

Mionaith Adron: charming, rebellious, curious, dishonest, shameless & impulsive.

Corran Koghen: shy, reserved, inventive, polite, secretive, cowardly & destructive.

And their both respective families with parents, siblings, pets and friends, who all get entangled in this whole tragic mess of a romance.

What do these characters want?

Mionaith and Corran both come from more or less dysfunctional families, and they want to just be someone, separate from their families, proving their worth.

Mionaith is tired of living in her magical warrior family's shadow and acting all rebellious to get attention. She wants to find her own place, go on her own adventure, and rise to her own potential.

Corran has strong morals and a great vision of what he wants Noriannd to be, but he also wants to make his father proud and be a strong leader like him--no, he wants to be better than him. But to win his father's approval he has to let go of his own morals and visions.

Name a few supporting characters?

Mionaith's two older sisters, Ghydis the bookworm and Fayvinn the daydreamer. Their mother, Queen Ryiah and King Haldor who saved the kingdom when the Koghen family stood helpless on the sidelines.

Corran's father, a Sea King also named Corran, who's bitterness and hatred for the Adron family has festered and grown for the past twenty years. Corran's older brother, Nadhgan, who hopes to become the next king of Noriannd.

What's the main conflict?

It's pretty obviously the fact that they have to hide their relationship while working with their own families to destroy each other. There's lots of conspiring and betrayal happening in this one.

What is the setting of the novel?

Project RB is set in the same world as A Raveling Night, but only taking place 20 or so years before the events of ARN.

The kingdom of Noriannd is a cold, harsh, mountainous place full of wolves, deers and ancient magic. The city that Project RB happens in is called Hordrigg and it's located by the sea, smelling of salt, fish and smoke.

If you're curious about my NaNoWriMo journey, and why I love this event so much, read my blog post about it here.


Today Marks One Month

Everything becomes just a teeny tiny bit more difficult when you move to a different country.

You feel like an outsider (and it doesn't help that you've already felt like an outsider in your home country/-ies). You talk differently. Some slang has to be explained to you, which makes you feel like a baby learning to speak, and sometimes your brain takes a bit longer to process what's being said because you're not used to hearing those specific words spoken in that specific context.

A fag is a cigarette, for instance. When someone is knackered, they're tired. If someone's chuffed, they're happy. A gutted person is sad.

You also suddenly realize you're using words you normally don't. Bin, trolley, litter, crisps, ring (as in "I'll ring her"), jumper, quid, cheers. And calling fries chips.

The doctor's office is called the surgery, the first floor of a building is actually the second floor (I know, so confusing!), sneakers are trainers, a zucchini is a courgette, an eggplant is called an aubergine, a truck is a lorry, cotton candy is candy floss, a parking lot is a car park, a gas station is a petrol station, and so on and so on.

It's not easy, growing up learning English from American tv and movies....

Also, you have to remind yourself to stop calling your trousers pants!

You don't know where to buy a toilet brush or normal cheese, or why doors open in the wrong direction, or why washing laundry is so freaking expensive.

When you go to buy groceries, it takes double the amount of time than before, because everything is in a different place, there are no brands that you're used to buying, you have to keep comparing pounds to euros in your brain constantly, you can't figure out which milk is the medium-fat one (apparently red milk is zero fat, and blue milk is full fat. But in Finland it's the opposite!), and in Lidl you have to be super quick to pack your groceries into your bag before paying for them, or they won't fit on the pay desk because it's tiny! (unlike Lidls in Finland, where we have looots of space to pack away our groceries in our own time)

And if you happen to have this strange habit of taking walks at 3 am, which is completely safe in your home town, you have to realize that you can't do that anymore. Because you might get stabbed in the butt. Which sort of stifles your freedom. Just a little.

It's weird to realize that you've never ever even thought about the risk of getting stabbed before in your life. Which makes me sound really naive and stupid, because that stuff happens all the time! But the only reason I've ever had to fear at night is if a man is walking behind me and I suddenly realize I'm a woman and pretty defenseless if he tried to, say, rape me. But even that fear strikes very rarely.

And while we're on the topic of feeling safe: you're wondering if you're ever going to get used to the constant sirens of police cars and ambulances going off in the background. (Where I used to live, I heard ambulance sirens like once a week or less, and I really can't remember the last time I saw a police car with the blinking lights on in Finland... 2017 maybe?)

Kind strangers talk to you quite often and you're still caught off guard nearly every time. And you're saying "Please" and "Thank you" so often that you wonder if those words even mean anything anymore.

And how the heck does one cross a road? It's a difficult skill to learn, but after 30 days of almost getting run over on a daily basis, you think you've finally got it down. Although you still feel like a badass rogue every time you dash out onto the road dangerously, while silently hoping you'll get to the university without having to call an ambulance for yourself.

Some days you spend the entire evening smiling and laughing and chatting to people, having fun and enjoying being a foreigner. Because it's sort of amazing to make fun of yourself and your own weird culture and just embrace the different kind of strangeness of the people around you. All of us are so weird! Every country is so weird, because humans are so weird! And it's awesome to just connect by telling each other stories about that shared weirdness which is called the human experience.

But some days you get home and cry for an hour either because you're still mourning your beloved baby pet and missing your family, or just crying simply because this new life is so overwhelming sometimes.

You feel guilty for crying though. You should be happy, right!? You're finally here, in Lincoln, after waiting in anticipation for months!

You made so many plans and had such high hopes! Just think of all the daydreams of the amazing friendships that would be made! The memories! The wonderfully English rainy days! And finally tasting fish & chips!

Yet now it's been a month and you still haven't had fish & chips.

What a disappointment.


Absolutely not!

And I've heard that fish & chips is totally overrated, anyway. But there is still time to try it!

I'm still getting used to a lot of things. I'm constantly learning and finding new English culture quirks and interesting facts and things that confuse me.

Yesterday my friend, who's also my classmate back in Finland, said: "It's funny how the two most boring people from the same school ended up coming to the most boring town in England."

I don't have 20 new friends who I hang out with all the time and go out partying with every week.

I haven't been outside of Lincoln much at all. I haven't been touristing like crazy around England and trying tens of different restaurants or seen many super famous English sights.

I haven't gone to a single party (although that's still on my list! I have to try at least one English student party!).

The only restaurant I've eaten at, I've eaten at twice... he he? (when you find something that works, you stick with it, yeah?)


I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything just because I'm not doing this exchange thing like most people.

I'm a slow human.

I like to sit in the university library and pick out piles and piles of books to read when it's raining.

I like to take long walks to Lidl and watch the soft reflection of rain clouds on the surface of Witham River.

I like to spend hours wandering around the outskirts of the city, listening to people chatting about relationships, sucky DJs, stressful deadlines, boring lectures or annoying parents as they pass.

I like sitting in my bedroom, rewatching the office or friends or reading books or writing stories with a cup of hot chocolate.

I like hugging the horses in the west commons, and petting little cats that jump out on the street and nearly scare me to death.

I like to wander around campus, just watching students be students with their macbooks and colorful backpacks and droopy exhausted gazes on Thursday mornings after Quack.

I like to be here, just being.

Maybe that makes me the most boring person ever. (or one of the two most boring people ever, lol)

But I don't mind. I like being boring, to be honest. Almost as much as I like Sainsbury's frozen vegetable pizza. Being slow and boring is fun.

(So PS: please don't expect me to be punctual. I lose track of time constantly and it's embarrassing. I'm sorry, and I'm also not sorry. Clocks suck.)

My life one year from now

I'm a GREAT fan of nostalgia. A day doesn't go by where I don't spend at least ten minutes reminiscing about the past or thinking about what the person I was one year ago would think about the person I am today.

Coincidentally, this picture is from almost exactly one year ago.

And it goes both ways. I also spend lots of time thinking about the future.

Who am I going to be in one year?

What are my priorities going to be in October 2020?

Who are the most important people in my life? What do I look like? What does my home look like? Am I happy? What am I struggling with? Who am I helping? What is my purpose on a day to day basis? Who do I spend time with? What do I spend my time doing? How is my mental health? How is my physical health?

I have so many questions to Emilia in October 2020!

I hope she's happy!

I hope her life looks something like this:

National Novel Writing Month

Today I want to travel back in time with you and talk about my history with NaNoWriMo, one of the greatest annual events of all time.

It's when writers around the world pledge to write a 50,000 word novel in November, encourage each other, join in writing sprints and try to just have fun with storytelling!

Nanowrimo is a non-profit organization that supports writers young and old with education and networking worldwide, also offering us sponsors and gift codes if we manage to 'win' aka write 50,000 words in 30 days. It's free to join in, so head to nanowrimo.org and register already!

Once upon a time it was the year 2014...

I was fifteen years old, and by this point I had written stories my entire life, but every novel I started turned into a failure, and I was struggling hard with my writer confidence.

During the summer I had written about seven different opening chapters to different novels. A futuristic space adventure, a gory dystopian zombie explosion romance, a heartbreaking robot invasion story about identity in a humanoid world, a badass assassin and princess love story, bloodthirsty mermaids eating pirates and taking over the world, dragons enslaved by half-elves breaking free in the greatest battle ever known (this one also very gory), a girl with fire magic hunted by every soldier in the kingdom because the king wanted to use her as a weapon...

You get the gist. I had an imagination, to say the least.

See, when I was younger it had been okay to jump from idea to idea and explore different worlds, tie plots together from different stories and just have fun with it because it wasn't supposed to make any sense. It was just something I did for fun, and it wasn't serious.

But around the age of 14 I struggled with my identity a lot, because people kept asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and they wouldn't accept 'singer' as a real answer anymore. It was cute when I was little, but 14 is the magic age when you're sort of a child but adults expect you to think realistically and strategically.

So I started saying 'author' because that was so much more realistic and totally didn't result in more rolling eyes and sighs... xD

But I've stuck with my decision, and ever since then the clock has been ticking, and adults have been expecting me to whip out the next great american novel or give up on my dreams.

Doubt me all you want, but this gal ain't giving up!

And this leads me back to being fifteen and writing all those opening chapters. I needed to start writing novels, and fast, or I'd have to get a boring real job, ew!

In the writer world, we have a definition for what was wrong with me. We call it Shiny New Idea Syndrome.

And I was done being plagued by fluffy plot bunnies and sparkling new ideas! I needed a cure!

So one day, magically, I stumbled upon nanowrimo.org while trying to find a solution for my problems. I discovered writing advice videos, blogs and oh so many communities of daydreamers just like me! I set up my own writer instagram account, registered for nanowrimo and spent all of October doodling in class and inventing cool names for my deathly vampire cast.

My parents didn't like that I spent so much time at the computer, and they couldnt' quite understand how this nanowrimo thing was for me. So every day after school I would stay in the corridor and write until I was so hungry I had to go home for. I will forever cherish those moments, although I never finished that novel either, or won my first nanowrimo.

But it was the first time I wrote over 20,000 words on one single project, and it gave me such a boost in confidence that I wrote two entire novels (horrendous novels, let me tell you!) in my remaining time at high school: 68,000 words (my first nanowrimo win in 2015!) and 56,000 words (my second nanowrimo win in 2016!).

Luckily they were very short, so I don't feel that guilty for totally giving up on them. Those novels were so bad! But they were amazing practice! Because of them, I knew how to write a book from start to finish.

I graduated high school in 2017with a much clearer idea of who my author identity was and what genres worked best for me. And I don't think that would've been the case if I hadn't pushed myself so hard to write 1,667 words daily each November.

In the fall of that year I started university, and although I enjoyed it, things started to go downhill from there. I couldn't sit and write stories at school anymore. This education had to be taken seriously, and I had to be fully present! And as it turned out, I stopped writing almost completely.

Last year when I was very depressed, I participated in Nanowrimo and pledged to write every day just for myself. I wrote poetry, continued old projects, journaled my feelings and even scribbled up some old songs... And I made it to the finish line and bought myself Scrivener with the winner discount. I won Nanowrimo 2018, despite all odds!

And here we are, in 2019, many lessons learned and many mountains climbed. I'm in a much better place mentally, I have ambitious novel-writing plans for this November, and don't tell anyone, but I've already started writing my Nanowrimo novel. Shhhh. Sometimes you just can't help yourself.

This has been my Nanowrimo Journey. 5 Nanowrimos and 3 wins later, I'm proud of all the 248,047 words I've written so far.

Happy Nanowrimo 2019, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Now go add me as a buddy! My username is Storyworldofem (who could've guessed?)

Click here to learn about my Nanowrimo project!

Much love,