The book that made me want to become a writer

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It all started around 12pm, on a Saturday, the 24th of December, 2011. 

My twelve-year old self was running around our (then) house in Paris, wearing an oversized, puff-sleved, black dress of linen – trying to smile and make everyone around me happy, as a failed attempt to bring back the lost joy in our faces. 

I acted like I was content that day, but actually, I had a major headache and my mind was playing around with a toxic thought; the notion that we would stay in France forever, and never come back to our real home. And what would happen to our dear father? Was our lives built up to a coming catastrophe? 

It was in the middle of all the trials, and we were spending our Christmas away from Norway, for the very first time. 

As we were unwrapping presents, I realised that all of our faces were covered with masks. Fake smiles and corny laughter. Encouraging words that didn’t really mean anything. All of us were thinking about one thing and one thing only; our beloved father, who would soon, probably, most likely be taken away from us. 

But there wasn’t anything left for us to do, than to put on that mask. Time had run before us. The wind was changing. A new year was approaching. Presumably it was the year in which our lives would change forever.  

So I continued smiling. I laughed. I joked around. I comforted myself with the fact that we were together in our common fear. See, I was not the only one. Helpless like a twelve year old. That was the state of mind that we were all in that day. And yet, small sensations never felt so great. The touch of my parents hand on my head, the walk around our house and a garden so big you could get lost among the trees and the bushes. I’d listen carefully to every little word my father told me, because I knew that today, tomorrow, or the day after could be the last time I heard him speak for a very long time.

And before I knew it – it was lying on my lap, wrapped in brown paper, covered with a red ribbon. The book that would change my life forever. The book that seemed doll and boring at first glance, but would take my breath away in a couple of months later. The present was from my mother and the cover read: “Eva Luna” by Isabel Allende. 

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“I read it when I was about your age.” my mother said. “Now it’s your turn.” 

I eyeballed the cover for a long time, then flipped it to the other side and read the plot-summary: 

Eva Luna is the story of the main character, Eva Luna and the people and events in her life that shape her. Born to a servant in a South American country, Eva lives a varied life, sometimes exciting, sometimes, frightening, however she never lets adversity keep her down. Eva strives to persevere, and in the end, finds the happiness that eludes so many of her acquaintances through the years.

After I had finished reading it out loud for my family, I placed the book gently on the table and thought to myself: I haven’t read in so long. I’ll probably never read this one. How can one read anyway, when there are so many things that are completely uncontrollable in ones life?

Well, it turned out I was wrong. Two months later, I picked it up and started reading the first page. I never put it down again.

All of a sudden, I was able to let go of the painful presence. I could take part in someone else’s life now. I could engage in someone else’s sorrows, heartbreaks, family-problems and poverty. The world seemed bigger with all these new, exciting characters in my life. Crying didn’t seem so pathetic anymore, because the next time I teared up, I shared the moment with her; Eva Luna. A character in a book had become my dearest friend, and I was determent to keep her. 

The day I finished reading the book, I couldn’t wait to write my own. A million different ideas were boiling in my head. Characters were forming everyday. I couldn’t wait another second. I had to write it all down. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is – if you read something truly mind-blowing, yet at the same time, there is an inner voice in your head saying: I could do the same! – then listen to this voice! Go ahead and do it. BUT it is hard. I can guarantee you that. You’ll start writing a draft of a story. You’ll think it’s amazing and you’ll consider it a finished project. Then, a couple of weeks later when you return to it – your jaw will drop over how bad it is. TRUST ME. It happens to everyone. Remember, every professional was once an amateur. The only thing you need to do is to just sit down and do it. 

First, organise everything. Then you can go with the flow.

Create a plot.

Invent characters that will fit into this plot.

Make your characters come alive. 

Include a hero and a villain. 

Include power-players and mentors. 

Choose a plot-structure. Don’t be experimental about this. YOU NEED A PLOT STRUCTURE if you want anyone to want to read it. 

The hero should have a character-developement.

There should be a question asked in the beginning, and an answer for this question at the very end. ALWAYS. 

And now all you have to do is write. It’s that simple. Yet at the same time, that hard. 

“Eva Luna” may not be the book that inspired you/will inspire you to start. But I hope this article will. 

I discovered my writing at the most unexpected time and I hope you will too. Remember, one can always escape the horridness of ones reality by diving into someone else’s. Either a character in a book, or ones own. 

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

 

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Let’s talk about love

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Should love be an important theme in all books?

What is love anyways? 

Love is a broad concept. For you, it can mean one thing. For the person next door, it can mean something else.

For a teenager, it’s everything. For a middle-aged man/woman, it’s history – and for my brother it’s a scene in a movie. 

Woody Allen has a famous quote from one of his romantic comedies; “Vicki Christina Barcelona” which goes: 

Only unfulfilled love can be romantic. 

Is it true for everyone? Or is it only true for young lovers? 

The big question is: If love is experienced differently all the time, depending on the individual, then how does one write love-scenes that can relate to everyone? 

Personally, I used to struggle with writing romantic scenes in my books a few years back. It wasn’t because I hadn’t experienced the feeling before. Oh no. It was because my feelings were downright incomprehensible for anyone to understand. Every time I fell in love with someone special, I grabbed that piece of paper and wrote down what (in my head that day) seemed like the most passionate prose that anyone had ever written before – only to discover the next morning, how utterly obscure and irrational my thoughts were:

I had invented words that could not be found anywhere in the English vocabulary. 

I had contradicted myself again and again. 

I even scolded myself for feeling this way, because (most probably) I would never see this person again. 

So I started studying different ways of describing love from books that I really liked at the time. I ended up finding a few good ones, such as …

 

A Room With a View by E.M Forster. 

George had turned at the sound of her arrival. For a moment he contemplated her, as one who had fallen out of heaven. He saw radiant joy in her face, he saw the flowers beat against her dress in blue waves. The bushes above them closed. He stepped quickly forward and kissed her (6.39).

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Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories, that it has come to be disbelieved in. Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only. (Cosette and Marius) 

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronthe 

Most true is it that ‘beauty is in the eye of the gazer.’ My master’s colourless, olive face, square, massive brow, broad and jetty eyebrows, deep eyes, strong features, firm, grim mouth, — all energy, decision, will, — were not beautiful, according to rule; but they were more than beautiful to me; they were full of an interest, an influence that quite mastered me, — that took my feelings from my own power and fettered them in his. I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously arrived, green and strong! He made me love him without looking at me.

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All of these excerpts have one thing in common; they are very direct and straight-forward. For example; “He stepped quickly forward and kissed her.” from “A Room with a View” or; “He made me love him without looking at me” from “Jane Eyre”. 

Read the lines out loud for yourself a couple of times. Do you notice how they’re  nowhere near ambiguous or decorated. On the contrary. They are very clear and precise. 

Which love-story has made YOUR heart skip a beat? 

Most likely, it was one that was very direct in speech. I have found that only then – the reader can truly imagine themselves in that scene. 

But what is love? 

The Oxford Dictionary says that love is an intense feeling of deep affection. 

What is affection? 

Affection is the bond between a parent and his/her child. It is the embrace of an angel descending upon you in the autumn of life. Affection is sweet and simple. It does not belong to aliens. 

– Myndin Spildo 

So how does this information help us in any way? 

Why is it so important to reflect upon that which creates us? Namely, love … 

Throughout my research of great love-scenes, I discovered something which has helped me and my creative writing a great deal; When creating a story, one must not just learn to write romantic scenes. One must learn to write romantically all the time. Authors constantly romanticise the sorrows of life, the depression that arises with the confrontation of death – and the rejections that lead us to our particular love. So as an author – I tell you – never suppress these coming phases of life. Don’t save these emotions for love-scenes. Use them everywhere. 

My sister once reminded me of the sexuality that surrounds us – that one early spring morning, she could hear an orchestra of birds sending mate- signals to each other. It tells me that the ruthlessness of our cunning nature, in every flower, every tree and every bush is in fact the very essence of romantic love; therefor just as important. 

Every sentence must be sensual and fertile. In other words; sexuality must exist behind each line. Writing a story is pressing the juice out of a subject. You leave all the uneciasarry things behind – and you write, with deep voluptuousness. 

So yes. Love is an important theme for every craft. And I came to this realisation because I read the books mentioned above. E.M Forster possesses love in each line from his book; “A Room with a View.” So does Victor Hugo in “Les Miserables” and Charlotte Bronthe in “Jane Eyre”. Because tragedies, as well as love-scenes, are equally loveable; They are both sensations that do not change with time.IMG_5775.jpg

Love is timeless, therefor it can be (should be) used in everything. 

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum

(ps: what do YOU think about love, in terms of writing?) 

Escaping reality with books – an interview with Ana Maria de Macêdo

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Do teenagers have a shorter attention-span today, than what they used to have? Is the world really developing with all this new technology, or are people actually getting dumber? This time, I am interviewing a young bookworm and a good friend; Ana Maria de Macêdo, asking her about our highly (damaging?) technological development, in comparison with the importance of reading. 

Why is reading important to you? 

A: For me, its a way of escaping reality by connecting with someone else’s story. I think you connect with a book more when you can see a part of yourself in a character, It doesn’t have to be the main character, it can be a minor one. If the plot is somewhat relatable to your own real-life situation, it can also help you get through whatever it is that you’re going through at the moment. 

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Do you think that smartphones have done something to peoples attention-span when it comes to reading?

A: Yes. Now, we are unable to focus on one thing for a long period of time. Because these days, nothing lasts more than ten seconds- for example, advertisements on Social Media. Everything that you digest online is shown very quickly, and I think that has affected our ability to focus. Because when you read a book, it doesn’t keep changing as much. It doesn’t tell you something instantly. Instead, you need to read on and figure it out for yourself; ergo, your brain constantly gets challenged. Books are not for lazy people. That’s a fact. 

What is your advice for young people who want to be able to read more?

A: Just put your phone on silent-mode, place it in the other end of your room, pick up a book and start reading. It’s that simple. 

What is the most impressionable book you’ve ever read? 

A: It’s a book called “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart. It’s not my favourite, but it’s at least in my top ten. The story has a slow development, but the characters are very interesting, and the plot involves around one secret – which is also the plot-twist in the end. It really made me think for days afterwords, because it changed my perspective completely. I would for sure recommend it to people who don’t mind a slow beginning. I think you have to have a lot of patience for it, but it’s definitely wort it. But I gotta say, my all-time favourite book is “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”. The entire book is written in letters, and the character development of the protagonist is so innocent and endearing. I think he is so pure – especially when he falls in love. Also, theres a plot-twist here. I guess I’m a sucker for plot-twists. I just love them. 

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What made you grow fond of reading? 

A: When growing up, my parents always had a book in their hands. And when I was little, our book-shelfs seemed gigantic. It felt like I was surrounded by tall towers of stories, because it went all the way from the floor to the ceiling. So it felt like a waste not to explore them. The funny thing is that it was perfectly organised for my brother and I. Because the bottom shelf (the one that we were able to reach at the time) was filled with children books – and by each shelf, the more advanced the language in the books became. So as we grew up, we read more and more challenging books. 

What book are you reading at the moment? 

A: I just started reading “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins. I can’t say much about it now, but it seems very intriguing. 

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Ana Maria de Macêdo is a seventeen year old, Brazilian IB-student, currently studying in Sweden. In the future, she would like to work as a therapist for troubled children. 

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Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum (ps, please tell me if you like these interviews, and/or of I should do more of them!) 

 

Who would you rather?

“Who would you rather …” can be a fun game. However, for nerds like my sister and I – playing this game by only including great writers/painters/musicians/actors/philosophers from the past is all the more fun. 

Why don’t you join us? 

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Who would you rather …

 

Go shopping with 

 

Myndin – Merylin Monroe + Oscar Wilde 

Aftur –  Daphne du Maurier + Ingrid Bergman 

 

Sit next to during a plain-crash  

 

Myndin – Niccolò Machiavelli + Stefan Zweig 

Aftur – Jean-Jacques Rousseau + Oscar Wilde 

 

With you on your deathbed 

 

Myndin – Oscar Wilde + Ayn Rand 

Aftur – Astrid Lindgren + Johan Wolgang von Goethe 

 

Have children with (only one)

 

Myndin – Axel von Fersen

Aftur – Edvard Munch 

 

Have as a sibling 

 

Myndin – Henryk Górecki + Goerge Sand 

Aftur – Jane Austen + Edvard Grieg 

 

Go to jail with 

 

Myndin – Alexandre Dumas + Marlon Brando 

Aftur – Charles Dickens + C.S Lewis 

 

 Have as a therapist? (only one)

 

Myndin – Mikhail Bulgakov 

Aftur – Voltaire

 

Rob a bank with? (only one)

 

Myndin – Niccolò Machiavelli

Aftur – Niccolò Machiavelli

 

 

Have a picnic with on a hot summer-day in the English country side? 

 

Myndin – Pjotr Tsjajkovskij + Voltaire 

Aftur – Giacomo Casanova + Johan Wolfgang von Goethe  

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Alright, those were the questions! I truly advice you to do this with a friend over dinner at a restaurant (like my sister and I) or over drinks at a party/bar/gathering with your mates. It’s so much fun and you’ll have a good laugh! 

 

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

Goethe and his lover

“Nature is beneficent. I praise her and all her works. She is silent and wise. She is cunning, but for good ends. She had brought me here and will also lead me away. She may scold me, but she will not hate her work. I trust her.”

 

Johan Wolfang von Goethe 

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Countless of different sources affirm that the German writer and poet, Johan Wolfgang von Goethe possessed a great deal of female hearts throughout his lifespan. According to Theatrehistory.com he experienced his first love about the age of fifteen; a girl named Gretchen. Later, his letters have told us about a passionate relationship to Charitas Meixner, a friend of his sister. Despite the fact that both women left him because of his childish, innocent passion for life and love – he never gave up the hunt for beauty. In fact, his poetry has convinced me to think that his real lover; the one that always was true to him and never left – was the nature. 

“Nature! We are surrounded by her and locked in her clasp: powerless to leave her, and powerless to come closer to her. Unasked and unwarned she takes us up into the whirl of her dance, and hurries on with us till we are weary and fall from her arms.

She creates new forms without end: what exists now, never was before; what was, comes not again; all is new and yet always the old.

We live in the midst of her and are strangers. She speaks to us unceasingly and betrays not her secret. We are always influencing her and yet can do her no violence.”

Johan Wolfang von Goethe 

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Love. If you ever doubt the feelings you have for a person; If you can’t seem to know what it is, how to define it – read some Goethe and you’ll know.

The bewildered poet loved everything that was beautiful, wether it was a person or a substance. However, his deep regards for the forest, the trees, the birds in the sky – was something that was (in my opinion) beyond love. At times it even seems like Mother Earth was his religion.

Every now and then, when I try to imagine what Goethe would be like – I see a boyish man, dancing among birch trees, singing, whistling along with his most faithful friends; the birds.

“If only this man existed today!” my sister said longefully, with sparkles in her eyes, while I was reading some of his aphorisms on nature out loud. The moment she said that, we were actually sitting out, having a picnic in the nature! Suddenly, Goethe had influenced our view on Mother Earth. We were now able to make poetry out of pure grass, earth and sky.

“Goethe is only acceptable for a wild mind. Why? Because he’s too direct for the modern man; the one who suppresses all his feelings. He is also married to the only thing he should be married to; Nature. Why? Because you cannot cheat on nature, nor can you stop loving her. Wherever you go in life, nature faces you with it’s erotic  essence and horrifying truths. And beauty beyond compare.”

Myndin Spildo Nerdrum

I guess I have not only found Goethe’s lover. I have also found my own. And I know that I will be eternally faithful. Because if you think about it – can nature ever really deceive you? Can she ever be ugly? 

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Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

7 on-screen romances that could’ve been based on novels

Has it ever happened to you? You watch a movie and you think, this story is so great, there has to be a book! Then later you discover theres no book. Just a script-writer telling the most amazing story … 

It’s happened to me many times, and it usually ends with disappointment. My mind starts to wander. Wouldn’t it be just heavenly if this was a novel – where I could not just watch those romantic gestures on the screen but also read about them! 

Here are some of my favorite movies, which I thought/wish were based on novels …

 

  1. This Beautiful Fantastic (2016)

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Sweet, adorable and a little bit quirky. I love romances that include a nerdy guy or an outsider. And what’s more – the main character is an author! 

 

2. Keeping Mum (2005)

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Hilarious, cheerful, unorthodox – with a filthy humor! Who wouldn’t want to see a movie that has both Maggie Smith AND Rowan Atkinson in it?

 

3. Letters to Juliet (2010)

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This will forever be my all time favorite romantic comedy! It’s lovey-dovey, it’s eye-opening, it makes you believe in eternal love … do I even have to say more?

 

4. Before Sunrise (1995)

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I always, ALWAYS come back to this one. And for good reasons. This movie is for all the dreamers, it’s for everyone who enjoys getting lost in deep conversations, and it’s also for the hopeless romantics. I swear to god, if this was a book – it would probably be all stained and worn out by now, because I would’ve read it so many times … 

 

5. And While We Were Here  (2012)

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It’s serious. It makes you think. The scenery is breathtaking. Each word spoken is like a beautiful sonnet – AND I got very inspired by it. This movie showed me to a very nice poem, and it also taught me something about the Chinese folklore – about the red string of fate. Definitely worth watching. I only wish I could say; definitely worth reading … 

 

6. Before We Go (2014)

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Psychological, exhilarating and mysterious! I loved these two actors together, and I also really like movies that only is about one night. There should be more books like this! 

 

7. In the Land of Women (2007)

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You’ll fall in love with the main character. He is sweet, charming, mysterious – basically, he gets very well along with women, leading him into a trafficky situation with a mother and a daughter in his neighborhood. Need I say more …? It’s a feel-good movie, full of comforting pep-talks and electrifying looks by the handsome actor, Adam Brody. Enjoy!

 

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

The BEST granola you’ve ever tasted

♥ Ok, yet another food-post ♥

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This morning I felt like something different. What about a real homemade breakfast?

Till this day, I have never really liked the taste of granola or muesli. It always seemed too dry and dull for my taste. HOWEVER – after trying this one out, I realized its because I’ve never eaten a homemade one. And the BEST part of it all – everyone will come running into the kitchen, wondering what that divine smell is. I swear to god. It seduced me, more than most cake- smells have ever done. 

 

So get ready for food-heaven 

 

INGREDIENTS            (Duration: 15 minutes!)

  • 4 dl oats 
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds 
  • 2 handfuls pecan nuts 
  • 2 handfuls hazelnuts  
  • A little maple syrup 
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil 
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon 
  • Shredded coconut (optional) 
  • 1 handful dried cranberries 

 

Turn the oven on 200 degrees. 

Spread the oats on a baking sheet together with the rest of the dry ingredients. 

Place the coconut oil on top. Spread the maple-syrup over as well. The amount is optional. 

 Use your hands and mix it all together until the granola gets greasy. 

Put it in the oven and wait for 8-10 minutes. 

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There you go! Have a wonderful brekkie and remember to read, laugh, smile and overall enjoy the world today. 

Bon appetite!

 

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum