Deadlines and Goals


There is never enough time to do everything. We think that these organised people around us somehow make new time to do all things they love. They don’t. They just have their priorities straight. For effective time management – every book on that subject will tell you so – you need to set your goals. You need to see where you want to go, how you will get there, and when you will do so. That would be all fine if there wasn’t that nagging voice in the back of your head: Does it really matter RIGHT NOW? Couldn’t you just do it in two weeks time? Nobody will care anyway. Watch one more episode. Meet with your friends for dinner.

We put our tasks off until we can’t anymore because we have reached the ultimate deadline. Resulting in stress and bad outcomes. Why not invest more time in realistic planning before hand and then getting the job done? (Hint: we are lazy)

For all this wonderful planning (that I by the way adore) you need to know your goals in life. And then hustle. I just read Lilly Singh’s “How to be a Bawse” and it is awesome. So much practical advice on how to a) be a decent human being b) get shit done c) set your goals and d) grow and climb the ladders of life. You should really check it out. This book is a kick in your booty that was located lazily on the sofa. My booty has been in a very comfortable position lately. I told myself to write daily for this whole year. I made it until the middle of April. Then I stopped. Too much to do, I told myself. My dream – becoming a writer – seemed too far away. I had writer’s block on my latest book project and I just couldn’t get myself to add any more words. The mere thought was ridiculous. How could I write anything every anyway?

Instead I told myself that there was too much to do for uni and then ate my body weight in peanuts and watched youtube videos. Congratulations.

Goal setting for my blog hasn’t worked out that well in the past (look at the hundred’s of posts where I told you I was going to upload regularly. That went so well…) But it doesn’t help to complain about that. Let’s try again. Only talking doesn’t bring me anywhere. I need to do what I preach.

To kick myself in the booty, get away from all this “I am so stressed” nonsense, striving towards my goal of being a writer, I will post once a week. Please hold me accountable for that. Write me angry emails or comments if I do not provide a post every Friday.

Do you have a project you need to get done? Set yourself a deadline and tell your friends to check if you achieved it. Write me in the comments! Tell people about your goals and you are more likely to succeed. Let’s beat the monster of procrastination together!

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I’m Back & Book Project


Oh it has been a long time. I actually have an excuse which is not really one. I have lost my password and nothing worked anymore and exam phase and bla bla bla. But I’m back. I will write essays about the environment and feminism again.

Over the last few months I have been writing daily. It gives me so much pleasure. At the moment these texts add up to 90 000 words… You would think that a student had better things to do. But writing in the evenings is always the thing I’m looking forward to most (Well, not every day … aka writer’s block or evil cycle of self-hatred)

What have I been working on?
It’s a book. You guessed it. My twenty-third (or so) attempt to writing a book. I think everyone is laughing about me and my projects. This one is different, I like to tell myself. It’s non-fiction.
I always loved to read fiction but I could never make enough stuff up to fill a book. I would be overwhelmed by all the things I had to consider. What would they eat? How would their kitchen counter look like? What would the pictures on their walls show? Nope, too much work.
Then I discovered non-fiction. First, through self-help books and then through books about the environment. Which got me thinking. I am an environmental management student. Why not write a book about that? I began to research a little and quickly settled with climate change as a topic. Far too broad. I read loads of scientific papers and decided it should be about the social aspects of climate change. Analyses of feminism, media representation of climate change included. Now that’s a topic I can work with. I wrote a bit and I read a bit and now suddenly it’s 12 000 words. This is going well.

The only problem: I’m a little bit overwhelmed by the dimensions of this project. The more I read the less I know. I am painfully aware of my ignorance and my following ancient concepts of society. I have to step past the rules and read everything I can get my hands on to be able to be a decent human being in writing about this.

This project gives me life, it gives me hope, and it gives me a purpose (why also keeping me putting words on a page every day).

Also I would like to give a huge thanks to the lovely women who commented on my post on feminism (https://verenacave.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/intersectionality-and-feminism/)

https://scribbledstories514.wordpress.com/
https://sammarshihab.wordpress.com/
https://tuneinfeminism.wordpress.com/

Thank you so much for you kind words, they really gave me back some energy to write on and to use my voice.

If you would like to point out any issues or questions I need to include in my book, please tell me! I would love to discuss them with you!

NaNoWriMo Day 28: My 2016 Reading Challenge


50 books in a year. That was my commitment for 2016. Along with a thousand other projects. Here is what I read this year. Here are the books that changed my life.

Opens goodread list. Scrolls down. Here we go. It feels like ages ago I read these books!

1. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

The Millennium trilogy are probably the best crime novels I have ever read. I couldn’t put them down. I ate through them. Give me more! I shouted. Not only do these books have intriguing characters. They are alive. They have challenges to overcome, they change. They are ripped apart by their own doubts and passions. Furthermore, I love how the writing bits are portrayed in the books. You can be led by a good idea but you have to do the work. Blomqvist is a really good journalist but it takes time for him to craft his stories. When you read about him writing, you can see his head veins pulse as he sews word after word together. It’s political, it’s gripping, it’s amazing.

What did I learn? I absolutely adore writing. Journalism would be kind of cool…

2. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Hosseini has shown me with his book A Thousand Splendid Suns that he is an astonishing story teller. This book, though… I don’t know. Maybe I didn’t get it. For me the story line didn’t work. However, there were parts that were heartfelt and strong.

What did I learn? A lot about the history of Afghanistan

3. Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier

I don’t know how often I have read this book in the last three years since I discovered it in the library. How often I have gone through its pages and admired the words. I just love this book so much. Just like with Harry Potter, I have to read it once a year. It gives me so much. Inspiration to travel, to learn a new language, to think deeply about life. The author is a philosopher, he gives lectures in Berlin. That explains a lot.

What did I learn? I have to learn a new language.

4. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

What did I learn? You can build your own beautiful world in your head.

5. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson

See 1. Guess why I started learning Swedish? I want to read these books in their original language some day… Well not only because of that but you get my point.

What did I learn? I have to start with Swedish.

6. Emma by Jane Austen

So seldom, we see strong female characters written in the time of Jane Austen. She really was a great writer and I love her stories. To be honest, I can’t stand most of the modern romance novels… When I do need a bit of that, I turn to Regency writers.

What did I learn? You should not try and marry people off. It always goes wrong.

7. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

What did I learn? WW II was so traumatic that one can lose his mind and travel off to a different world of aliens. Plot twist! No but honestly, it is hard for me to process all these tales, to even understand who people could do something like that.

8. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

This book completely blew my mind. The character building is admirable. I cannot understand how she made us believe so many things and then crash it all at once. You could see some cracks but you would never have guessed to what extend she turns everything around.

What did I learn? You should never trust in what you see. Or in what you think you know about a person.

9. The Martian by Andy Weir

I cannot count the times I laughed out loud in the middle of the night. I couldn’t put this book down. Guy stranded on mars. It’s hilarious. The science behind it is well researched, it all makes sense. The best thing about this book is that this man retains his humour. It’s the most funny book I have read this year.

What did I learn? You can survive on Mars with only potatoes to eat. Also, you should never attempt to make water out of hydrogen and oxygen.

10-12. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

I don’t normally read young adult fiction but these books… I loved them.

What did I learn? You should fight for your rights and rely on the people who were always there for you. One originally good person can become more evil than the most evil of them all… Be careful.

13. The Chamber by John Grisham

What did I learn? I was against death penalty all the time. Now I’m even more terrified and more against of this whole system. All this legal stuff takes a long long time.

14. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Oh, so… That is actually a thing. Matt Haig writes about depression in such an honest and loving way. I read this book in a day because I couldn’t stop. It comforts you because you are not alone. It opens your eyes. It is like a hot cup of tea on a bad day. It offers a lot of tips and stories, it gives you so much.

What did I learn? You should read this book over and over on bad days. You have a problem to deal with here.

15. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

What did I learn? All the worst things can happen at once. You should be prepared. Together, we are stronger.

16. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

This was one of the first English books I have ever read. I didn’t understand a thing. The overall plot maybe. Now that some time has passed and I read nearly every book in English – I’m amazed! This is an absolutely brilliant work! Also very deep. I like that.

What did I learn? It’s difficult to be a teenager in a world of phonies.

17. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

What did I learn? You can go high and fall very veeeery low in just a few moments.

18. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

What did I learn? Prejudice, the killer of love since 1813. Be open-minded.

19. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Re-read that one. You need some cheesy, heart-breaking fiction once in a while. And I do love John Green.

What did I learn? Some infinities are bigger than others. Your favourite authors can be douche bags when you get to meet them. Books can change your life. It hurts because it matters.

20. Deception Point by Dan Brown

Dan Brown’s later works are a lot about symbology and religion. This one, though, is about science. That’s exciting! A meteor!

What did I learn? You should always be a bit sceptical about improbable scientific findings.

21. Alice in Wonderland Part 1 by Lewis Carroll

What did I learn? A tea party is an awesome thing. A story can help you escape a little in difficult times.

22. Something to Tell You by Hanif Kureishi

What did I learn? Psychoanalysis is so weird…

23. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I had loved the film but now I had to finally read the book. I enjoyed it. It was very healing.

What did I learn? Love what you do, love yourself and do a little yoga from time to time.

24-26. Harry Potter 1-3 by J.K. Rowling

Every year I re-read these books. I always discover new aspects of the story. What they leave me with is that feeling of not being alone. I can always go back to these books and feel comforted. The school descriptions and the snippets we see of Hermione studying- they are very motivating.

What did I learn? You should go study now, Hermione said. Community and a sense of belonging are important. When in doubt, go to the library. Hard work will enable you to go anywhere.

27. The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz

See 1, 5. It is the fourth novel. I was really unsure. Would I ruin my experience of the first three books? I didn’t, which is nice. He really did a good job.

What did I learn? There are some authors who can indeed make sequels to the great work of Larsson. It is better, though, to invent your own characters and just let it be.

28. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

How can I describe what this book did to me? I was in tears so many times. I loved it, I was moved by the writing, I was in shock about the story. It’s such an honest and true book.

What did I learn? Standing up for your rights can hurt you. You should always try, though.

29. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

When I read the first pages of this novel, I knew that Adichie will be one of my new favourite authors. Her ability to tell stories, to connect thoughts, to find the right words… It has overwhelmed me.

What did I learn? I didn’t know anything about the Nigerian-Biafran war and about its horrors. She couldn’t have done a better job to underline the importance to read broadly to me. To stay informed, to be curious.

30. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

She creates stunning female characters who fight for their rights, for their dreams with all they have. They crash, they have flaws, they are so real. Adichie is definitely my favourite author of the year. And my favourite female writer ever.

What did I learn? You should go out and find your path, but know that you always will come back in the end. A more balanced, knowledgeable person than before. Invest a little more time in your blog.

31. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Part 1 by L. Frank Baum

I always read this one my phone when I was going somewhere by train. It’s a pretty little story, a beautiful fairytale.

What did I learn? If you don’t think you are smart but solve all the complex riddles you and your friends face… Chances are you are actually smart. Embrace your cleverness.

32. How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

What did I learn? You should call yourself a feminist. Here, rip of these glasses that patriarchy put on your eyes. Do you see? Yep, that’s inequality. It’s EVERYWHERE!

33. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Such an inspiring read! It taught me were to seek for ideas, how to be creative. It tells the stories of books she has written herself and of other people who struggle with creating. Many of my self-doubts were addressed in this book and it really helped.

What did I learn? Ideas fly around, you just have to be open and catch them in the right moment. Keep going.

34. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I love unreliable characters. They add that bit of extra spice to a story. I love the setting of the novel, the characters, everything. It was brilliant. Second best crime novel this year.

What did I learn? You should maybe not trust the brain of a heartbroken alcoholic on a train.

35. De ensamma by Håkan Nesser

These Swedes do have a special love for incredibly dark tales, don’t they? I read this book while the ocean roared behind me.

What did I learn? If two murders happen at the same place with decades between them, possibly the same people were involved. Also, read some Kierkegaard.

36. The Call of the Wild by Jack London

What a beautiful little story. I read that when we were at the Baltic Sea, camping in the woods. The perfect atmosphere. It’s so beautifully written and the descriptions are great. You can feel the pain of these dogs. You can see him transform slowly back to what he always was- a wild animal.

What did I learn? You cannot deny your origin. Where you really come from. It will give you strength to endure anything.

37. The Starch Solution by John McDougall

This is the book that made me become a vegan. Consequently, this must be the most life-changing book this year. Afterwards I binge-read all books I could get on veganism and vegetarianism in my library. The Starch Solution explains everything you need to know if you want to be a vegan. The nutritional facts, the environmental ones… It’s great as a start package.

What did I learn? To become a vegan.

38. Der Tod in Venedig by Thomas Mann

What did I learn? The way from success to falling can be so quick.

39. Dead Poets Society by N.H. Kleinbaum

What did I learn? How to be a better teacher. Oh, Mr Keating… You have taught me a lot of useful lessons for my students.

40. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

This was the starting point for my obsession with non-fiction books this year. I have read other books by Foer but this one is especially interesting. He knows the facts. He’s a great researcher. After this book, I wanted to change people’s minds about eating meat.

What did I learn? Here are the basics to win nearly every argument about factory farming.

41. Anständig Essen by Karen Duve

What did I learn? The marzipan chocolate in my supermarket is vegan! Being vegan isn’t actually that hard.

42. The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

Atmospherically a wonderful novel.

What did I learn? Books are amazing. Bookshops are even more amazing. Never try to build one in a city where the people hate to read.

43. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

This book moved me so much. I never knew the whole story of Malala. All the things she did left me in complete awe. She is such a strong, intelligent woman and she already has changed the world.

What did I learn? Stand up for your education, you are so happy to have one. Go study, girl!

44. A Thousand Country Roads by Robert James Waller

What did I learn? Sometimes memories are better rested in your heart than revisited again after years.

45. Das Urteil by Franz Kafka

What did I learn? Well, that Kafka was weird, wasn’t he?

46. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

I’m so ignorant! I know so little! In every essay in this book, Roxane Gay showed me how little thought I had given any media I consumed or anything I said. She discovered racism and sexism in places I would never even looked for them. It made me feel a little ashamed, to be honest.

What did I learn? Look deeper, read more critically.

47. The Vegetarian by Han Kang

What did I learn? Becoming a vegan can break apart your whole family. People are ignorant, you have to deal with this. Also, artists can be really strange people…

48. Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama

What did I learn? Even the president has doubts. Work for the well-being of other people. Find your origins, make your family’s stories yours.

49. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I talked about these last two books in yesterday’s post. Be sure to check that out.

What did I learn? Be courageous, follow your personal legend.

49 Books. 49 messages. So many things I’ve learned through reading. It made me a more curious person, a more considerate one. A more open one. It made me realise the important things in life and what I want to do with my own.

I’m aware that I didn’t do all the books on my list justice. I would have loved to write an article about every single one of them. It would take me another hundred pages I suppose. That’s why I broke it down a little and only talked about the most important ones to me. I hope you liked my book record.

One more book left for my challenge, it will be A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Next year I will attempt to read more books from all over the world. Broaden my experience. Learn even more. It will also help me with my writing because in the end… Writers only copy each other.

Which books have touched you this year? Did you read any of the ones I read? What are your opinions on them? I would love to know!

Current Word Count: 48048

NaNoWriMo Day 22: 270 000 Tons


Some people say it is the plastics era. We drink out of it, we wear it, we use it for everything. It is useful, of course! I’m just looking over my desk, what do I find? Plastic headphones, plastic calculator, my laptop, my phone do have plastic parts, pens and bottles and wrappings of food, the boxes I carry my food in to uni. Everything is plastics. This is one indication of how I’m also a slave to the system of plastics that has overcome us. Slave is too passive. I also actively choose to buy those things! I can’t help it! I’m in no means better than anyone else. I just would like to bring some awareness to it. To consider our actions more consciously.

The thing is: We can do something about this problem. We can use different wrappings, bottles, clothes – there are alternatives. Why don’t we choose them? We all know the reasons. Plastics are hygienic, light, cheap. Here comes the challenge. They are too good for us and too bad for everything else around.

To make the discussion not too complex I will not focus on the obvious source of plastics – our fossil resources. This is closely related but will not be an aspect here. I want to focus on the effects plastics have on our environments and accordingly on us. We are not only eating out of plastics, we are eating them themselves. Our water is full of little plastic particles so tiny you cannot see them anymore. In our food, in fish and marine animals. We feast on plastics every day. Tasty.

I want to provide you with some numbers here: 268,940 tons of plastics are currently swimming in our oceans (1). That equals roughly estimated 50 000 elephants. Well, that’s also a bit difficult to imagine. Take the population of Los Angeles. Average of 70 kg per person. The combined weight of all people in Los Angeles equals the weight of all the plastics in the seas. That’s the weight. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?

But why does the plastic flow and isn’t magically disappearing? This is why we bought it for, right? It is light and durable. Now we got the problem. Through sunlight and other weather phenomena the plastics are dispersed into small particles. And then eaten by all the small creatures that inhabit the sea. Plastics move up the food chain. Until we also consume them.

Not only do the animals consume them, they also get entangled, are seriously harmed and may not even hunt for food anymore (2). Have you ever tried to eat with a plastic bottle attached to your arm or even your head? With a foil around your body? It is terrifying.

Through wind and the currents in our oceans, those little particles of plastics are transported everywhere. Inputs in southern hemisphere are much higher than in the northern, but the amount that is found is approximately the same (1). Plastics are everywhere.

So now that we know all that, what now? This is maybe the most important question. I don’t want to be a preacher because I think that talking does only help to a certain extent. I show you my art, what I am passionate about. I hope that you will become passionate about it too. Also, I want to stress, that I am no environmental angel. I also buy vegetables in plastic foils. I also use shampoo in plastic bottles. I do all those things too. The thing is: I am aware of it and I try to reduce it. My way of thinking is that even a small change can have an impact. Our actions matter, the good and the bad. Maybe next time you buy water, take ones in the glass. Or buy yogurt in a glass. Buy articles in larger containers. Don’t buy bottles at all. Cook more and eat less packaged food. Bring you own cup to your favourite coffee shop. You can do many things.

Through my studies especially of waste management, I became more aware of the whole system we are a part of. When I go grocery shopping now, I think about what is going to cause the most garbage. Which of those wrappings I can reuse. It is a conscious decision. Maybe you can think about this the next time when you go shopping. Even small changes matter. To our environment and in the end also to all of us.

We are the only inhabitants on this earth making something that nature cannot break down. It tries, making the problem only worse. There is a great series of talks on plastics in oceans. Look it up here: TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch.

We had a very interesting topic in Economics today: The Stern Review on Climate Change. A little summary: It costs us up to 5-20 times more to invest in dealing with the effects of climate change than to protect it from happening in the first place. Investment in climate protection. It gets more expensive every year. GDP will decrease around 1% annually, if we change our energy sources to green energy, our transportation system. If we don’t do so, there are going to be many different effects, that influence our economy in a negative way: The weather events will get more extreme, there won’t be enough water and people will not be able to do agriculture anymore. There will be diseases and heat stress. Loss in biodiversity, pollution – the list is endless. Maybe you are a very rational person and you just want to see the effect climate change has on us on an economical level. Here are the numbers: 5-20% loss of GDP to today’s status. When we do nothing about our current situation. When we do not try to tackle climate change. When we put our hands in our laps and sit still until this earth will eventually collapse.

This is a message to the most extreme climate change deniers, people who do not see the point. To the most blind or unethical people: We will have a worldwide economic power decline of 1/5. Open your eyes and get to work.

Those numbers in the Stern Review are a few years old. We have done more research. The consequences we have found are even higher now. That’s why our potential loss will also be higher.

If we instead choose to invest in renewable energies, we might also face a potential economic benefit. The market for these energies is huge, we can make money with it! The authors suggested, that we might even have an increase in GDP in the end, of 2%.

A student asked: “When it is so much cheaper and apparently everyone knows about that, why aren’t we doing anything?” Our professor posed a question back: “Are you talking of me? All economists know this review. Everyone in this room does.” He went on to explain something totally unrelated to the question. The core remained. Why? Why aren’t we doing anything?

Dealing with climate change now is best for our own lives, our society, our economy, our environment- everyone! Or as or professor said: “Climate change is the biggest market failure we ever faced.”

We live in capitalism, we want high short-term profit. We face trade-offs. If we acquire a short-term benefit from our actions and in the long-term we might feel guilty about having polluted the environment, we don’t care. That’s how the system works. It’s the same for the big companies. In the end, they are the ones with the influence. Not the people, not the politicians and the workers, not anyone. The power lies where the money is, I’m sorry. Either we try to change that system or we try to deal with the problem together as a front against those who go on polluting. As consumers we have a choice. As people we have a choice. We can put our money where we think our interests and values are best represented. When we don’t participate in a plastic-wrapped system anymore, it has to change sooner or later. If we do not give money to companies anymore who will pollute our oceans with hazardous plastic waste, they will not be there much longer. If punishment from governments does not help, we have to do it. If we cannot speak to hearts anymore, we have to speak to bank accounts.

That all sounded so abstract. Let me break it down to some simple steps:

Notice what you buy. Buy less. Recycle more. Take action, clean up, speak up. Here’s a brilliant article on 10 easy steps to avoid plastics and to change the world in little steps: https://www.nrdc.org/stories/10-ways-reduce-plastic-pollution

Let me end with two little stories.

My mum and I went to the store recently and I tried to find a dish detergent which would be sustainable and without any hazardous substances. We found one. Wrapped in a bottle that was made from the plastics from a canal in Amsterdam. The waste would have reached the North Sea. Now it was put back into the process chain, recycled. It’s still plastics but if we cannot break it down into fossil oil again, we can at least use it as long as possible.

When I was walking around my favourite lake the other day, I saw some people collecting plastics out of it. Plastic bags, wellies, plastic wrappers – everything you might imagine. It was horrible to see that much garbage in such a little lake. On the other hand I was so happy to see people showing love to their environment. A child and his father I believe. Why don’t we make father-son fishing trips about collecting garbage in the future? Make it a challenge. Clean up your hometown.

Do you live near a coast or a lake? Start a cleaning project by yourself or ask your community if there is one. With joined efforts, with love for our planet and by little actions, we can change the world.

Here are the sources I used:

1 Eriksen M, Lebreton LCM, Carson HS, Thiel M, Moore CJ, Borerro JC, et al. (2014) Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans: More than 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250,000 Tons Afloat at Sea. PLoS ONE 9(12): e111913. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0111913

2 David W. Laist: Overview of the biological effects of lost and discarded plastic debris in the marine environment, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 18, Issue 6, Supplement B, June 1987, Pages 319-326

If you are interested in the Stern Review I mentioned, here’s the complete study: http://mudancasclimaticas.cptec.inpe.br/~rmclima/pdfs/destaques/sternreview_report_complete.pdf It’s 662 pages long, just so you know. There are some good summaries out there which you maybe rather would like to go to. I’m doing Nanowrimo, I haven’t got any time to read this whole thing either.

Current Word Count: 36 964

NaNoWriMo Day 2: Frankenstein – A Review


Yesterday evening I wondered if I’m out of my mind. My friends wrote me: “Really?” I don’t know if I can rely on my creativity. Do I trust myself with this project? It is a lot different now. All those words that I’m writing will be out there the same day I wrote them. That’s terrifying. But I know you are a gentle group of readers.

Last night I finished “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley. What a book! I was impressed by it, I loved it. It fits quite well with the season. I spent most of Halloween listening to the audiobook. It created that amazing spooky atmosphere. Now let’s get into depth.

The book opens with the letters of an Arctic explorer, Walton, who writes home. He sees a man on the ice with a dog sledge – Victor Frankenstein. Yep, Frankenstein is not the monster! Turns out that even on the book’s cover, Frankenstein has power over his monster.

Frankenstein begins to tell his friend about his journey and a new narrative perspective is introduced. He grows up in Geneva in a loving family and moves out to go study. His interests are in old science books and knowledge that is not valid anymore. His professors laugh at him. He begins studying chemistry and the human body. In his lab he collects body parts and with the help of electricity turns them into a functioning creature. He is overwhelmed and disgusted by his monster. He runs away and falls ill for a long time. When he finally returns home he finds that his younger brother was killed and he knows that it was his monster. Justine, a woman who the family had brought up because she was not wanted by her own family, was accused of the murder. Frankenstein does not speak up. Justine is hanged.

Frankenstein meets his monster in the mountains and is surprised that he is able talk. The monster tells him his own story and opens up the third narrative perspective. It is the longest one and the most interesting. When he discovers his senses, he is filled with love and joy but when people see him they run away or threaten him. He hides in a small stable and watches the inhabitants of the nearby house for a long time. He learns to speak and read and confronts them. First the old blind man to get the respect of the family. When the others come home they are terrified and chase him out of the house.

In his rage the monster tries to find one living soul to love him. He does not find anyone not even Frankenstein’s little brother. He kills him. His demand to Frankenstein is to make him happy, to give him a mate. His words are convincing and Frankenstein agrees to do so. He leaves for England with his friend and after long journeys he settles down on a small island to make a new creation, this time a woman monster. For the first time he thinks about the consequences and rips his work into pieces while the monster watches. The monster kills Frankenstein’s friend. Devastated, Frankenstein returns home and marries his cousin who is killed that very night. His whole family is destroyed. Frankenstein chases the monster around the whole world, ending up in the Arctic Sea, where the tale ends.

The story was written by 18 year old Mary Shelley when she, her husband, Lord Byron and some others spend the year without summer together in a house. Locked all the doors and wrote spooky stories. What is it that you did when you were bored in the 1800s? Write a book. What is it you do when you don’t have that much free time and have many other interests in the 2000s? You start to write a book in a month.

When many try to find the interpretation on a biographical basis, I want to focus more on the questions the book leaves open. I want to describe to you what I loved about the book.

There are three different narrators. They influence each other in a significant way. In the beginning one might think: This is about Frankenstein, why is there an Arctic explorer? He is on the same quest as Frankenstein was. The search for knowledge. He wishes to explore these regions, come home, be celebrated. They both fail in their searches for wisdom. Walton returns home and Frankenstein dies, terrified by his monster.

It is important to acknowledge that it is a very one-sided tale. Frankenstein doesn’t know anything about the feelings or thoughts of his monster. When he gets to know them he feels sympathy for him. He finds it much harder to hate the monster once he has heard his story.

We do not have the capacity to look into each other’s brains and therefore we have to ask! We have to talk to people about their feelings to make decisions. It’s an essential part of being human. Otherwise, we think of anyone different than us as a monster.

The most inspiring and interesting part for me is when the monster learns to speak and write. He sits in a small shed the whole day and watches a family. He learns their words and manners, their values and actions. Just like a child. Frankenstein fails to be a “parent” for the monster. The monster has to search for it somewhere else. He is patient and learns a little more every day. However, he is still not recognised by the family. As his speech and reading skills develop, his only thought is that he wants to be part of this family. He wants their respect. Isn’t it fascinating how through seeking knowledge and the ability to talk, even monsters become human?

In the beginning the monster just feels happiness, he says. He is rejected by society again and again. This creates the real monster. Frankenstein did not. Which leads us to the question of nature vs nurture. How much did he put into the body of the monster? How much is upbringing? People are terrified by his looks. However, the old man, who does not see him, respects him. What does that say about society? Isn’t it also applicable to today’s society? Where you can be discriminated against when you are different?

The moral status of the monster changes. In the beginning, one might feel sympathy for him. No one loves him. He tries so hard. He reads books! He doesn’t even have a name! It changes when the monster becomes violent. Kills other people. But we can’t hate him. It’s not his fault! Frankenstein neglected him! The monster says that it didn’t like the killing. He is self-reflective, especially in the end when he apologises to Frankenstein. Which is too late. But the strength of his words has the power to impress others.

Let’s look at another moral challenge. Frankenstein’s bondage to his monster is the end of both of them. The scientist creates something and soon realises what he has done. He wants to build a female to save his whole family. He becomes aware of the consequences. He will create a whole family of monsters who might destroy the earth. The monster might not be honest. It is family vs society. Who does he want to save? He decides for the sake of mankind. His family is murdered and he also dies. Nevertheless, he saved the world of monsters! Which he created… Was it his responsibility to act in that way? What is the relationship between creator and creation? Does he have the right to destroy his monster because he made it?

Another central question is what made him do it. Why did he create such a being? He wanted recognition, he wanted to seek knowledge. What are the responsibilities of a scientist? Where does curiosity end and where does he have to stop? In Walton’s case it is exploration vs death. In Frankenstein’s case it is creation vs death of his whole family or society. When the crew on the ship wants to turn around and go back to England, Frankenstein appeals to their honour and courage. Is that worth so much more than life? For Frankenstein it is. He wants to chase his monster until it dies or he himself does. He has nothing to lose.

One of the most impressive scenes for me was when the monster approaches the little brother of Frankenstein. He is alone in the fields and thinks to himself that this small boy can’t be spoiled yet. He doesn’t know about whom to respect and whom not to. But the monster is wrong. The child is terrified of him and threatens the monster to tell his dad. Education starts early on. We learn from what our parents do, we imitate their actions. It is therefore not surprising that the little boy is frightened. He has learned to react that way. The killing of the boy is wrong, no doubt. Killing is always wrong. However, it was not the boy the monster wanted to kill. It was a projection. In that child he saw what he had experienced from every human he ever approached. Hate and fear. Which made him the monster that he is.

The question remains – who is the real monster here? The one who created or the one who killed? The one who abandoned or the one who sought happiness? The one who sought knowledge and fame or the one who could have destroyed whole mankind? The one who was acting irresponsibly or the one who killed a family? It is a difficult question and I don’t know the answer. Maybe both of them.

The descriptive language of the novel creates such a contrast to the narrative of the story. The alps and rivers, the tales of the journey… Romanticism is a wonderful period of literature and its moral questions are still applicable today. It got me thinking a lot and this is when books have served their purpose, I suppose. Making us think about us, about society and actions, about morality and responsibility.

The story reminds me a lot of the drama “The Physicists” by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, one of my all time favourite dramas. I’ll probably write a little something about it soon.

See you tomorrow,

Happy writing!

If you are also taking part in Nanowrimo, please tell me! I would love to hear from you!

Current word count: 3739/ edited 2910

NaNoWriMo 2016: A 30 Day Blogging Challenge


“The first words are written. Go on creating your novel. The world needs your novel!” the NaNoWriMo team said in their email. I felt guilty. I hadn’t written any words yet! I hadn’t even started a new novel! I wanted to be part of this community again! People deciding to write 50 000 in 30 days. Those are my people! … I felt left out.

I wanted to take a four week university module which would have taken all of my time away. The registration period was already over. There went my plan for November. In desperate need of a new project I started writing. I need that thrill. I need the excitement. My friends always ask me: “Do you have another ‘project’ at the moment?” I do now. “Last minute, but I do. I’m writing 50 000 words once more. In blog posts. This time without any planning at all.”

Last year I was in a better shape. I was prepared. I wrote 50 000 words and I loved it. I wrote on the trains, I wrote late at night, I put together a story. Since I didn’t have a great novel or even a decent idea, I thought that had to change the following year. I wanted to start preparing in August. September went by. October. Today I find myself at my laptop typing the first words of this year’s NaNoWriMo. Spontaneous.

I don’t know what it is about late autumn and winter that drives my creativity. I love it when the nights get cold and crispy leaves fly around, when you walk through seas of red and yellow. I love sitting with a hot cup of tea inside, a blanket around me. Listening to an audiobook and knitting. Now I’m sitting here with a laptop. Coming up with ideas. Writing every silly little thing down. With a bullet point in front of it. Bullet points add seriousness.

New projects make you excited in the first days. Around day 20 last year I had a creative breakdown. I couldn’t write another word. I was exhausted. I wanted to say: “Screw it, I’m not doing it anymore. Here, have all these pages, I’m quitting.” Print them all out, dramatically rip them into small pieces, throw them across the room and shut the door. I haven’t done that, because I do not like to kill trees.

I usually see myself as a quitter. I am not. I finish things, late, but I do. I finished that painting, that jumper, that song, that book I didn’t want to read another page of. I would appreciate if you sent me some inspiring quotes or encouraging messages, though. Or topics you would like me to write about. It would mean the world to me.

Last year I wrote in German. This year I’m writing in English. I noticed that you can write a lot more words in German. Our words are longer, our sentences are, too. We can give you an hourlong presentation that we want the steaming cup of coffee over there. We can talk to you for ten minutes when we actually just want you to hand us the salt. Germans… In Swedish it’s the same, by the way. Maybe that’s why I love learning this language. You can write beautiful sentences with 50 nouns and 13829 adjectives. That’s also why Germans adore commas. We use them to create scrapbook sentences. Commas are our tape.

I might be writing streams of consciousness. I have to get those 1666 words together every day. My main goal is to write down the rants about the environment I have flying around in my head. I have an urgency to write them down. My only restriction will be that the posts are at least 1600 words long.

You can only become an author through writing. Write every day. Write when you have a free afternoon. Write when you have no time at all. Write when all you want to do is lie in bed. Write despite all circumstances. Writers always find time for their passion. The concept of NaNoWriMo is beautiful. You type and count. You write everything in you. Then you are clean for another year. You turn on the tap, let the water flow and then you can start writing the good stuff. Another aspect of NaNoWriMo is that you do not review your texts instantly. You write them and do not go over them again until you are finished. That’s not that easy with blog posts. It usually takes more time to edit my texts than to write them. I don’t plan. I have an idea, an inspiration, sometimes a quote or a topic I am fascinated in. I write them down. When I add the last word I realise that I have repeated myself over and over. Then the fun part begins. Deleting every second sentence. Trying to put it in an order that is comprehensible. Having someone read it and say if I have written a labyrinth through which only I know the way.

“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”

Oh Mark Twain, you were so right. I would love to have a small voice in my head guiding me to these wrong words. A spectator who knows exactly which portion of what I have written is wrong.

To all of you who are accepting the challenge of NaNoWriMo out there, I am applauding you. You are awesome and I believe in your ability to finish this project. There will always be people to encourage you. It’s a lovely community of talented and strong people who will build you up. It’s a worthwhile experience. I did it last year and I’m coming back. Couldn’t have been that bad last time. It is my passion to write, to tell stories, to learn.

I love the talk Elizabeth Gilbert gave about creativity. Some people have a burning passion. Some people do not have only one thing that makes them get up in the morning. They follow wherever curiosity leads them. Like little hummingbirds they fly from one flower to the next. In “Big Magic” she explains how her novel “The Signature of All Things” came to life. She developed an interest in gardening. Planted flowers and vegetables. She wanted to know their origins and did some research. She noticed that it could be a novel. By simply following a small interest, she set the basis for another book. Isn’t that beautiful?

My passions are mainly in art and the environment. I will write about these in the next 30 days. I am a hummingbird taking on this year’s NaNoWriMo in blog form.

Happy writing and see you tomorrow!

Current Word Count: 1753/ edited: 1135

Snowden.


Technology is amazing. The way we use it today is out of our control, though. It shouldn’t be but it is. The amazing ideas we are able to share through networks are used against people. If they aren’t, they are at least collected. Huge piles of data. On every one of us. Skyped with your mum? Walked your dog? Talked to your sister about this upcoming marriage? Shared pictures with your family? We know about everything!!!

I just watched the film ‘Snowden’ and it obviously got me thinking. What is this crazy world we live in? Big Brother and all… Not that I didn’t know it. Except… Who does, really? Do we know what is going on? Would it be good for us? To grasp the dimension of these actions? That all our data is collected? Everything?

I find it very hard to understand this. Maybe it wouldn’t be good if I did. Bad for the paranoia I guess. Our information is used and the profiles of people are connected to other profiles to other profiles. A database on everything we do.

My dad always says that the safest connection is no connection. What does this mean in this special context? Should we shut down all our accounts? Say goodbye to the social media platforms? Throw stones at cameras in public places? Do we even have a chance?

We have two choices. Either we change ourselves or we change the system. They always tell us that they collect all this information for our own security. I have no doubt that they do. To which percentage is this really useful, that’s the question here. I am not informed enough to make a judgement on that question. I am not sure, though, that we need to collect EVERY INFORMATION on EVERY PERSON to make sure we are save. I don’t get this system. It is frightening me. Since this all got public, who hasn’t thought about what they are texting or writing or posting on the Internet for a second time? Who hasn’t been influenced? Who hasn’t put tape on their webcam or at least thought about it? Who hasn’t watched a camera closely and wondered who might sit on the other side? It is a terrifying world we live in or at least they want us to believe that. To justify the actions.

Now we have to decide. Do we start building a defence system in our computers? Do we start using more encryption etc? Would that even help? Do we stop using them at all? Or do we change the way this information is dealt with. How it is collected. Do we change the way, our security is protected without knowing what Susan texted her boyfriend today? What the best apple pie recipe from aunt Rose is?

Many people say they don’t care about this because they have no secrets. Oh come on. You wouldn’t want your mum to read your diary, right? There is a reason why people invented doors. Why they invented curtains and blinds and why they don’t tell the truth all the time. This makes us humans! We all have secrets and that is perfectly fine. There is a reason for that. Up to the point where these don’t harm other people. Next time you say that you have nothing to hide… Just think how it would be to be completely honest with your mother-in-law. Yeah, this new hairless dog is veeeery cute and of course her cooking is spleeeendid and she looks amazing in this pink and purple curtain she is wearing. We are not honest all the time. It’s good that way. Just think about your mother-in-law seeing you talking to your spouse about this family celebration, laughing about her awful cooking skills. You wouldn’t want that.

These are all very small and laughable examples but we do have a right on the protection of our data. We have rights and I think they should be protected. Along with our security. I believe this is both possible at the same time. And if data is collected to gain an economic or political benefit… There must be something wrong with the system, too. This problem will probably be solved soon. When EVERYBODY is spying on EVERYONE. No one will gain any benefit from that. Also, talking helps. International groups sitting together and talking about problems. I’m a big believer in the talking bit. Where we work collectively together and not against each other to make this world a little better. With a little less data collection and more reasonable thinking.