Getting the Writing Back on Track

When I woke up last Saturday morning, everything was so quiet. The garden was enveloped in mist but when I hurried into my dressing gown and out onto my favourite bench, the air was warm and welcoming. A perfect, end-of-summer-beginning-of-autumn-morn.

So I got my cushions and made my morning latte (love you, Nespresso) and thought about how wonderful it would be to just sit here and write.

Then I wondered why I didn’t do just that.

Why was it no longer natural for me to just grab the Mac and tap tap tap away?

Because I’d become so focused on all the must-do-as-indie-author tasks (Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads) that I’d lost all the joy writing brings. I kept putting it off because it meant more half-hearted Tweets and annoying posts to clog up my friends’ newsfeeds.

But now that I’ve said goodbye to social I suddenly found myself inspired again. I didn’t want to tweet or apply fancy filters to photos to make it look like my life is a montage from a French film, I wanted to write.

To write.

I got more done on the sequel to Chocolates in the Ocean sitting on that bench for an hour and this past week than I have done for the past two months.

And it felt good. It felt like me again.

When writing was fun, not diluted by all those other tasks you’re told you have to do but don’t really want to. We all know they never get done properly.

Do what you love. Life is so much better that way.

I’ll sweep the leaves up later.


Goodbye to Social – Hello to Writing!

It’s been a few days now since I said goodbye to my author Twitter and Facebook accounts.

It feels gooooooooood.

Suddenly I’ve stopped stressing about posts that I’m not writing and started stressing about actual words – in my book – that I’m not writing. The ideas are starting to flow again. I feel less like a marketeer doing a job I don’t really want and more like a writer.

On my way to work or in front of the screen I’m thinking of plot twists, dialogues and character development rather than snappy 140 characters post that all add up to one thing: BUY MY BOOK!

Right now I’m slashing my way through the third draft. When it’s all done (i.e. somewhere around draft seven/eight) then I will send it to an agent. Not stress about Amazon editing, Facebook, Twitter.

The book I currently have on Amazon is with an agent now. (Yes, I linked to it. I said I was giving up on being social. I didn’t say I don’t still want people to read it.)

What I’ve learned is that if being a writer in today’s world means spending most of your time maintaining email lists, posting on social media or reviewing other people’s books in the mad hope that they will do the same for you, then it’s just not for me. That doesn’t make me a bad writer. It just means that it takes away too much focus from what I really want to do.


Do I Really Want to Be a Writer?

I’m not kidding.

I’ve been asking myself that question a lot these last few months, because I just can’t find the motivation anymore.

I sit down to write, I end by obsessing over how few copies of my book I have actually sold on Amazon, how to get more Twitter followers, why I can’t be bothered to post anything on my Facebook page or just how Goodreads works.

Do you know who follows aspiring writers on Twitter?

Other aspiring writers.

Do they buy your book?


And if they’re not aspiring writers, then they’re running some kind of online business proposing to help aspiring writers for a limited time offer – JUST FOR YOU!!! – of $49.95 (regular price $199.95)

I said I would drop the whole Indie Author thing but I still had the vestiges of it hanging onto my computer.

So I’ve decided to take drastic action.

Twitter account – gone

Facebook page – gone

Actually writing stuff and not obsessing about social media – on it’s way back.

Let’s see if it works this time.


The Yeti in the Window

So we got the keys to our new apartment. After months of planning and dreaming, we were finally going to live in Copenhagen. My son wanted to celebrate.

As we wandered through the city, we came across one of those Fish Kiss spas. (For the uninitiated, you stick you feet in a tank and small fish nibble the dead skin off you feet. Like cuddly piranhas. Or Care Bears with fangs.) We’d tried it once before and had promised ourselves we would do it again. Now the time had come.

And, then, just as I swiped my card through the machine, I remembered. You had to roll your trousers up to your knees. And sit in a room full of people with their feet in tanks. You had to be on show.

Never normally a problem for me. Give me a mic and centre stage and I will talk and present projects and sell you concepts till the cows come home.

But the horror! It was April. And I hadn’t shaved my legs since the last time I wore a skirt. Which was probably February. On the optimistic side. It could have been New Year’s.

So I would be sitting there, on display in the window like some bargain rate Amsterdam hooker, with my very hairy legs exposed for all to see.

In my mind I could already see people pointing and laughing. The girls downstairs where you had to wash your feet. The girls upstairs. The other customers. The people out on the street looking in.

No way!

I was so close to telling the immaculately groomed Russian on the other side of the counter that we’d come back another time. Then I looked at my son.

And thought about the message I would be sending him, if I backed down and ran away, having just promised him – and paid for – a treat.

What would he learn?

That appearances are what matter.

That strangers’ opinions of how you look should govern how you live your life.

That you should always conform to society’s norms and expectations regarding your appearance and behaviour.

That’s not me.

That’s certainly not a message I want him to take out into the world.

So I sat there. Proud, hairy, sipping Moët Chandon and laughing at my son’s jokes.

A little self- conscious?

Oh yes.

But a lot wiser.

When You Know the Ending


I read once that the first chapter Margaret Mitchell wrote of Gone With the Wind was the last one. The ‘My dear, I don’t give a damn,’ part.

What the rest of the story then becomes, is a tale of how they became the people they are in that scene. All the joys and sorrows that had lead them to that one place.

Everyone right now is talking of mindfulness, living in the moment, being present.

But what if you’re the kind of person who just has to leave the moment and sneak a peak at the last page?

I am.

Not because I worry that I’ll die without finding out the ending. I doubt very much my last thoughts would be, ‘Damn, I never found out who did it / whether they got together / if they neutralised the bomb.’

Just because I like to know how things will turn out. Somehow it makes everything in between more real, more exciting. And this is only if I’m reading a really good book that I’ve completely lost myself in. If it’s a story I’m struggling with and characters I don’t care about, I really couldn’t care less how it turns out for them. My dear, I don’t give a damn.

And then there’s life.

If there’s one thing I can’t sneak a peak at, it’s the last page.

That just annoyed me sometimes. Not knowing how a new job / new relationship / new interest / new home would turn out.

Then I went to lay birthday flower on my grandmother’s grave.



But it’s not just her grave. It’s the communal grave in Rudkøbing churchyard. If you’ve read my book, you’ll know all about Rudkøbing. (Here’s a link to Amazon – shameless self promotion). It’s the grave for those who did not want plots of their own or had no family plots to go to. The identify of everyone here is known, and when I was last here someone new had just been buried.

But this is where the story ends.

This is where my great-grandparents are buried. Where my grandparents are buried. And where my uncle (who always had to be different) has his own little plot just beside them.

And this is where I am going one day.

This I know. This I have decided. Which means I know how it ends. I have sneaked a look at the last page.

All I have to do now, is make sure I write an exciting, passionate and joyous story so I have lots to tell the ones I have loved and lost when I rejoin them. Knowing the end, allows me to be completely alive in the present.

Am I religious?

No. I’m an agnostic bordering on an atheist.

But I know I will see them again.

I know the ending.

I Just Can’t Do Indie

I am a writer.

I’m sorry, but I’ve tried calling myself an “indie author” and it just doesn’t work for me.

But then, neither did indie music. To me it always meant “grunge” and if there was one look I never ever reconciled myself to, it was grunge. No way in hell would I wear little summer dresses with Doc Martens. So the “indie” label never sat well with me. See how powerful words and associations can be!

I’ve been writing since I was ten and what I always dreamed of was to see my books on a shelf in a book shop. I wanted to walk through an airport and see people picking up my book. I wanted to see someone reading it on a train, on a plane, and hear a laugh or a sudden intake of breath. I wanted to stir people’s emotions, write something that takes root in their hearts and follows them throughout their life.

I’ve tried for a year to focus on social media, building email lists (hey, it’s what I used to do for a living) but my heart just isn’t in it. My heart beats to the tap tap tap of my keyboard and the gentle whir of my Mac as the words are born onto the page.

I’ll keep tweeting (do any readers actually follow unknown writers, or are we all just following each other?) because I rather enjoy sharing random, sometimes mad thoughts. But the focus from now on will be on finding an agent, who will then find me a publisher.

There are some great indie authors out there who really make it work for them, and I think that’s amazing. But it’s just not right for me. Not right now.

You have to be true to yourself. No matter what you do.

People can tell when you’re faking.

Happy reading!

The Threat of the Metal Chair

Did you know that my son spent almost the entire autumn and winter months threatening to hit me with a metal chair?

Before you mutter, ‘Brat / Psycho / What-kind-of-mother-are-you-to-allow-that-state-of-affairs-to-continue,’ let me tell you the story of how it happened.

It’s all about the power of commitment.

27 September 2015 was one of those charming autumn days when the summer seems to linger just a little longer. When the leaves are just starting to turn and everyone stays outside to soak up the last rays of sunshine before the long, dark winter months begin.

After my son gave me a severe scolding for eating all the bacon for breakfast (the excuse that protein in the morning was good for my diet fell on deaf ears), I hung my head in shame as I stood quietly by the sink. The atmosphere in the room was oppressive, the sadness that had been dogging me for months still at my shoulder.

The picnic we had been planning no longer held any interest for him. Even me, who would normally jump at the chance to spend a day walking in the autumn woods, had no interest in going.

So I mentioned instead the one place I wanted to go. The one place I could imagine myself feeling happy that day.

‘Let’s just go to Copenhagen.’

It was like a magic formular.

Bacon forgotten, sadness forgotten, we rushed to get dressed with squeals of delights and called to each other about everything we wanted to do and see.

We ran to the train station, our coats flying out behind us like wings. Waiting on the platform, we laughed and told jokes, and the two hours on the train seemed to fly by. We ate lunch outside, squinting at the sunlight, and as we walked down to our favourite food market, Torvehallerne, my son turned to me and said, ‘All right, Mummy. Now we’re going to move to Copenhagen.’

And just like that, the dark clouds and the sadness they brought vanished. The path ahead was clear again, and it was, at last, time to go home.

We played hide-and-seek in the botanical gardens, ate enormous ice creams by the harbour, finally saw the crown jewels, and didn’t want to go home at all.

This is when the metal chair came in.

My son said, ‘We’re moving. No backsies.’

It all seemed like a dream. But it was my dream. I didn’t want him to move for the sake of my dream.

Which I kept telling him.

Was he sure?

It shouldn’t be just for my sake. It should be something we both wanted to do.

And over and over, while I looked at the move from all angles, procrastinated and saw only the obstacles.

‘Look,’ he said one day, ‘we said no backsies. The one who takes it back gets hit by a metal chair.’ He said it again. And again. Until I had no choice but to face my fears and set things in motion.

Did I mention he’s nine?

That was seven months ago.

Where are we living now?