Archive for April, 2011

Worlds apart

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Having recently severed the umbillical cord that connected me and my latest novel, I have stepped out into the real world, dazed and wobbly. Suddenly, I am able to complete domestic chores that have been neglected for months, attack my hopelessly messy accounts, have days without wine and stop biting my cuticles. Yet, absurdly, I feel empty. I miss my fictional world and I struggle to adapt to the real one.

This how Franz Kafka described living in the two incompatible worlds:

The difficulty in completing even the shortest story is not in the fact that you feel that the work needs a kind of fire which you have not been able to provide until that point, but the difficulty is in the fact that even the simplest story requires a level of confidence, a sense of being completely inside yourself, which makes it impossible to step out into the ordinary everyday life, where an entirely different kind of confidence is required and another kind of incentive. Up until the moment when the story has reached its natural conclusion and you could depart unnoticed, you instead get agitated, you become filled with a strange kind of unease, and you become forced to complete your work from the outside, with hands that must not only do the work, but must also keep your very self together.

As for me personally, adding to the lack of footing, is the struggle of existing in two separate and mutually exclusive geographical worlds. I will be packing soon, and as with the separation from my manuscript, my separation from my family here in New Zealand will be painful.

Partir c’est mourir un peu – To part is to die a little.

Det goda inom dig/ The kindness of your nature

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Yesterday, finally, I delivered my manuscripts. The Swedish one to my Swedish publisher, Albert Bonniers Förlag AB, and the English one to Penguin New Zealand.  I thought that it would get easier with each completed book, but it seems to be the opposite. This one has been the most challenging yet, and has taken me over two years to complete. I am not sure if it is because of me and my life, or because of the book itself. I am relieved now, but also a little sad. Suddenly, the characters that have been my main social company and whose story has so completely occupied my life, have left. 

Here is a short excerpt:

‘Varför kom du hit, Mama?’ frĂ„gade han en dag, som om han instinktivt visste att jag kommit hit. NĂ„gon annanstans ifrĂ„n.
‘Ja, du,’ sa jag, ‘det Ă€r en lĂ„ng historia.’ Han tittade pĂ„ mig. Eller snarare, pĂ„ sitt vanliga sĂ€tt, inte riktigt pĂ„ mig, utan pĂ„ en punkt alldeles bortom mig, utan att vara precis. Det verkade vara en obestĂ€md punkt, vars enda syfte var att vara nĂ€ra mig, men inte riktigt pĂ„ mig. Han sĂ„g inte ut som om han vĂ€ntade sig mycket till svar, men hans blick blev kvar pĂ„ samma ospecifierade punkt.
‘Jag kom hit för första gĂ„ngen för mĂ„nga Ă„r sedan. PĂ„ semester. Och nĂ„gonting hĂ€nde mig hĂ€r.’
Jag tvekade.
‘Lyckligt eller sorgligt?’ frĂ„gade han.
‘Sorgligt,’ sa jag. ‘Det var vĂ€ldigt sorgligt.’
Jag tittade pĂ„ honom och tillade: ‘Men först var det lyckligt. SĂ„ lyckligt som nĂ„gonting nĂ„gonsin kan bli.’
‘Det mĂ„ste vara lyckligt först,’ sa han och det lĂ€t mer som en privat reflektion Ă€n en kommentar till mig.
Jag tittade pÄ honom men kunde som vanligt inte fÄnga hans blick.
‘Du har sĂ€kert rĂ€tt. Kanske ingenting kan bli sorgligt alldeles för sig sjĂ€lvt.

‘Det goda inom dig’ will be published in August.