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Essays & Ideas

30,000 Words Under the Sea

30,000 words into a story is where the hard work begins. Up until then you can improvise and go with the flow. But at this point things have to start to fit together and make some kind of sense. Every word you write limits the possibilities for what you can write next.

From here on you need craftsmanship rather than creativity. You need to decide where you’re going and use a suitable narrative structure to get there. Anyone can write a good beginning. But only those who manage to push through and tie it all up neatly will finish a novel.

It’s like going for a relaxing run along a scenic path you like – only to realize you’re suddenly lost in the dark part of the woods. It becomes an orienteering race in difficult terrain and the map is smudged so you have to guess where the important control points are.

All work and no play, you know. So no wonder it’s easy to get trapped at that magical point. I suppose it doesn’t matter how skilled in writing or how creatively visionary someone is. The most important trait to becoming an author is perseverance.

Don’t get stuck in the bog.

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Essays & Ideas

Errors

Errors create novelty.

Ellinor Kall, 2021
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Essays & Ideas

Not every sequel

As a writer I know how fun and rewarding it can be to explore long stories with massive world-building in a series of novels. But I also know how easy it is to get trapped and unable to work outside an increasingly narrow perspective.

We all want more of what we enjoy, and I’m certainly no exception to that. This makes it much safer to bet money on continuing existing franchises than taking a risk with something new. But eventually this repetition can also make us saturated and bored.

Sometimes I find the limited more intriguing. I don’t need every mystery explained. I don’t always want to know the whole backstory of the mysterious stranger in the background. I don’t like to be told exactly what happened ever after every time.

I want at least some stories to end with a trust in me to continue the narrative. Every now and then I want to be given room for speculation and my own conclusions. Sometimes I want to connect the dots myself – even if they are invisible.

Not everything has to have a sequel.

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Essays & Ideas

Opening fork

The opening line of a book
should be a tuning fork
for the readers mind
so it can harmonize with the story.

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Essays & Ideas

Humans among humans

The advantage of exceptional skills in cooperation combined with a great diversity in mindsets and ideas made humanity survive, against the odds, for millions of years. The concept of humans competing against other humans is nothing but psychopathic behavior.

The root cause of this of pathological behavior is external. A few persons, by force or inheritance, have taken control over resources and exploit people to amass enormous amounts of personal wealth. Leaving scraps to everyone else, pitting them against each other.

The problem isn’t people per se, it’s about power and influence.

Solving the trauma of this maladaptive hierarchy would at least be a beginning. But we must somehow reach the unreachable, those who think they’re no longer humans, so that they realize they are nothing more, nothing less, than any other human.

Humans among humans cooperate.

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Essays & Ideas

Tealfulness

Meaningfulness is a human concept. Like tealfulness. If you like the color teal, which is kind of rare in nature and society, you would probably complain: “My life isn’t tealful enough.” But it’s just another metric – irrelevant to nature. You have to put the teal in yourself.

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Essays & Ideas

It’s your chemicals

So, I have an ADHD diagnosis. This was my day yesterday:

  • Phase 1: adhd-medicine kicks in.
    I want to collect my scattered writings so people can read them.
  • Phase 2: medicine at full strength.
    Wow, who wrote all this, it’s brilliant!
  • Phase 3: medicine starts to wear off.
    How ambitious and creative I used to be…
  • Phase 4: medicine drops really low.
    Existential crisis! Who am I? Why do I even write?
  • Phase 5: medicine depleted.
    I can not take it, I’m too tired, I’ll never write again.
  • Phase 6: recovered after medicine.
    Okay, I have to update my website right now! I must enhance how to filter and find genres and topics in my writing to enhance readability and enjoyment. I’ll work with this until it’s after 2 am though I have to get up early tomorrow for work.

I was quite amused earlier today when I wrote down this summary of yesterdays wild, and maybe just a bit exaggerated, mood swing.

But then, upon reflection, I had an important insight. The up-like-a-sun-and-down-like-a-pancake of this journey is exactly how my life has always been, though usually extended over days, weeks or months.

Now I could, thanks to my medication, correlate these well known feelings with the exact timing of the ups and downs in my dopamine levels. This made me realize the full extent of how much our feelings are caused by and dependent on our body chemicals – in this case dopamine.

This is a bit simplified, but: High levels of dopamine makes you want to do things, while low levels tells you that something is bad and not worth doing. Having ADHD is to be in a constant battle with the ebb and flow of dopamine. This is what the medication tries to alleviate.

I try to remember this when I’m hit by the occasional feeling that: “I’m a bad writer and I should stop writing.” Understanding that this feeling is not connected to my actual self-esteem makes it somewhat easier to endure. The experience yesterday made it even more clear to me.

It’s all caused by dysregulated dopamine levels being lower than they normally should be. These incorrectly low levels create a false feeling of negativity and rejection in the brain. This is of course very hard to distinguish from a normal response to something actually bad.

Recognizing patterns in ones own changing mood, combined with trying to observe the circumstances of the present situation, might make it a bit easier to discern the difference. Is there is an actual reason for negative feelings or is it just a chemical imbalance?

To anyone with an ADHD diagnosis I would dare to say that dysregulation of dopamine is probably almost always the reason for all your excessive self-doubt, self-loathing, anxiety and depression.

So whenever you feel bad for something you shouldn’t be feeling that bad for, or at least not for that long, it might very well be your chemicals sending the wrong signals.

It’s not you, it’s your chemicals.

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Essays & Ideas

Freedom of knife

Freedom of knife is like freedom of speech. Just as you’re free to speak your mind, you’re also free to use a knife. You can cut bread, paper, woodcarvings and do many other useful things with a knife.

Both freedoms, knife and speech, are however limited. To keep us from hurting each other it’s illegal to stab people. No one (except surgeons) are allowed to use knives on other humans. Fair enough.

There are also some uses of knives that are very inappropriate even if they are not restricted. If you pretend to stab a friend, they might flinch but then you both laugh. All good, it’s a part of your banter.

But you if pretend to stab someone who is living with a death threat or someone who has actually been attacked and hurt, they will be very scared and suffer for real, even if you intended it as a joke.

“People are too sensitive, you can’t terrify anyone anymore!”

If this is how you defend yourself and continue to complain about how your freedom of knife is getting restricted… Well, then I’m afraid you’re most likely very stupid or a psychopath. Either way, leave the knife at home.

There is also a possible side-effect to the pretend. Some dimwitted people might confuse fake stabbings with failed real stabbings and start to believe that stabbings are okay since they see them everywhere.

Knives, like words, are lethal. Don’t stab, make a sandwich.

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Essays & Ideas

No author authority

Once a story is published the author no longer holds authority over it. Any further influence from the writer severed. Any intention behind the choice of words irrelevant. The story becomes it’s own entity. The sole authority of what’s real and what’s our interpretations.

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Journal

Labels

I’m not comfortable with labels. I know they’re a convenient shortcut in lieu of a longer explanation. But they tend to be so god damn sticky. Even when you peel off the paper there often remain an unpleasant patch of glue that you’ll never get rid of. Both metaphorically and actually.

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Essays & Ideas

Additional Value

Every thing has, among other characteristics like mass, the inherent property of Additional Value: 1.

Application: If you add a thing to a group of things, the number of grouped things rise by the AV of the new thing, which is 1.

This profound philosophical insight I bestow upon mankind today.

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Journal

My biggest fan

I don’t claim to be a great writer, but I write stories I would like to read myself, explore topics and themes that interest and inspire me, write in a style that suits my sensibilities and I always perceive the adroit subtleties woven into the text. I am my own biggest fan.

Again, I’m not bragging. I always think my writing could be better and I constantly strive to improve. My point here is to acknowledge that I’m happy with my writing. A hard but important act for me and any other writer struggling with anxiety and rejection sensitivity.

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Essays & Ideas

No Chosen One

There is a concept in many stories that I’ve been meaning to write an elaborate essay about. But since I never seem get around to it I’ll just write something shorter and less nuanced here and now.

The Chosen One.

I don’t like the concept. Yes, I know it’s a classic archetype, and it’s used in many good stories, though more or less successful. But eventually it gets boring with millions of chosen ones loitering our collective fiction doing heroes journeys ad nauseam.

There is one main thing that bothers me. It’s the notion that The Chosen One, one single person and no one else, can fix this huge problem that society is facing. It is the implication that some persons possess a character superior to everyone else.

Often heritage is invoked. Which makes it even worse by saying that some genes are more noble than others. But however they are chosen, this superiority makes them better at fighting, magic or whatever than those that has already been doing it for years.

I understand that the concept appeals to feelings we all have: “I’m such an ordinary person – I wish I was a secret princess with magical powers about to manifest so I can escape this boring life.” Nothing wrong with delusions of grandeur.

But when stories repeatedly promote salvation from one single person, be it chosen ones, kings, queens or eccentric billionaires, they are fostering the harmful belief that if you’re just “chosen” enough you can and should deal with any problem on your own.

No one is self-sufficient. People are most likely to succeed with the impossible when they work together and help each other. That is our strength as humans. That is the real triumph we need in the final act of the story.

Therefore we need to leave The Chosen One behind and move on by making new stories that instead inspire whole groups of people to go on collective hero’s journeys and help each other.

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Journal

Thinking about stories

Instead of writing any of the novels, short-stories or essays I have planned I spend my entire forenoon sipping on coffee and staring unfocused at the screen while just thinking. I think that thinking is my favorite activity. Maybe I should just stop publishing my writing and just sit and think about my stories. Would avoid a lot of hassle.

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Journal

My bookshelf

The contents of my bookshelf is so good that if it somehow came alive as a person I would totally let it fuck me senseless.

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Journal

Summer 2021

The long-awaited summer holiday – but then you mostly lie staring at the ceiling, hoping to fall asleep to avoid the tears of hopelessness. You turn down social gatherings out of weariness, consume unhealthy foods and swell up like a sugar donuts in a deep fryer.

Nothing is quite real, the body hangs loose as you drag yourself off to shop for food, while the self clings to a tunnel opening that leads into fiction’s seemingly comfortable embrace. There you float in relative safety, forgotten by yourself, for a while, then it begins to fade.

Then you long to taste someone happy, so that you can be happy yourself. But you wish in vain. Actually you just lie there sweating on the damp sheets, actually you just lie there all sticky and staring at the ceiling before you finally sink back into half-sleep.

The vipers wrap themselves ever tighter around the heart.

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Journal

Aquatic thoughts

If the thoughts of most people are like dolphins jumping up, one by one, from the blue water of the pool, eating a fish handed to them by their handler, then my mind is a dark and turbulent sea filled with lots of circling shark fins and bites you never see coming.

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Journal

Thinking ≠ Talking

I am two persons. One is thinking, one is talking. None control the other. So you should know that what I say out loud is only an approximate interpretation of what I’m thinking – not what I’m actually thinking.

My thinking is me; my talking is me. But my writing? Well, my writing is not me – it’s some kind of demonic possession.

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Journal

A seed is planted

Nothing is certain to me at the moment. Who I am, what I do, what I am writing, where I am living, where I am going. I want to do something completely different. I want to move somewhere else. I want to delete every social media because no one on them knows me anymore and I got my actual friends in other channels. I wanna do wage-slavery as little as possible, live a simple and inexpensive life and spend my time on more important things. I’m not sure how I will manage this yet. I need a vision. I need to see beyond the web of illusion that has caught the modern world, that has trapped me here, tired and disillusioned, without knowing what I really want. But change is coming. A seed is planted. Nothing is certain. Everything is permitted.

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Journal

Life – in spiraling

I circle and return to things I once left.
I repeat a cycle through interests and thoughts.
But the circles gets wider and wider to contain
all the new knowledge and understanding
that I gather every lap around.
My life moves in spirals.