2022 has been such a roller coaster. So much has happened and I’ve such ups and downs. Here’s a bit of a run down and a reflection of the past 12 months.
Visions of Ravens
I think I managed to get through three or four drafts of Visions of Ravens this year. I started revising and realised, three chapters in, that I was in fact editing and had to take a step back and start over. I then read through the whole thing before I started taking revision notes.
Revisions finally consisted of cutting scenes, adding scenes and rewriting scenes. I went on to edit the whole manuscript and lastly went through a proofread. My parents finally, after three years, got to read it. I’ve sent it off to betas and those are getting back to me around mid-January.
After three years of working on my first ever book, I finally made an attempt to work on something new. The little spark of an idea was given to me by Catherine Petterson and I promptly started researching and plotting. I then drafted the first half of the book for NaNoWriMo and had my first successful go at the challenge!
This is the topic that is the most painful one to talk about. I studied all of the spring to catch up on the Swedish subjects (I went to high school in England so my grades are a bit messed up and makes it hard to apply to uni here in Sweden) required for the teacher programme.
I then applied, with four A and one B and still didn’t get in. Turns out I’d not taken this test for higher studies that I didn’t know about despite being in contact with all these advisors. So I managed to take this test in October and applied again.
On Friday (9th Dec 2022) I received news that I got in! This whole process has delayed me a year in my studies which is annoying, but now I can proudly say that I will be spending the next four and a half years at Stockholm University studying teaching in History and English for High School.
So because my university studies got delayed I was asked if I wanted to come back to the pre-school I used to work at when I first arrived in Sweden. I decided to go back as a substitute on Thursdays and Fridays which left Mon-Wed open to catch up on those Swedish subjects and once I’d finished those I actually got recommended another teaching job by a writing friend. She got me an interview, and I began teaching Swedish at Berlitz to adults in the autumn.
Thanks to my Critique Partner Rhee from Faber Academy I got in contact with Chiara Brunetti who’s part of the Stockholm Writer’s Network. She invited me to join their VBTC (Virtual Butt to Chair) where we meet every morning on Zoom for one to two hours and write. This has been a huge deal breaker in my writing routine and I don’t think I would have finished Visions of Ravens without it.
VBTC is hosted by Catherine Petterson who gave me the idea for Project Codex. She’s also the founder of Stockholm Writers Festival which I got the honour to volunteer at. Here I met John Berlyne from Zeno Agency, and it was an absolute pleasure to get to talk to him. I will be volunteering next year as well and have been asked to help out with SWF’s social media in 2023.
At the festival I also met Dallas DeFee who’s pitch I got to listen to and got instantly hooked. We swapped contact details and this autumn I started beta reading her book!
Through the VBTCs I also met Lizzie Carlyon and Jasmin Ado. We’ve formed a little writing trio of sorts and meet up every Tuesday afternoon in person to sit and write. They’ve become two of my closest friends since I moved back to Sweden during the pandemic.
We’re all part of a beta reading group, so apart from Dallas’ book I’ve also had the privilege to beta read two other girls’ books: Vendela vonFluck and Vendela Rupp.
Lizzie and I also started a podcast, because why not? We really enjoy the conversations we have and wanted to share them. The Writing Vikings now has five episodes out and we talk about writing, storytelling, fantasy, history and historical reenactment. It’s a mix of stuff that we enjoy. You can listen to it on YouTube or Spotify.
I’ve not been huge on social media this year, but I reluctantly made my first reel and I started up my newsletter again, which you can sign up to here.
Lizzie also invited me to join the The Viking Village of Storholmen and I started taking part in historical reenactment. I volunteered there for a week in the summer and have been taking part in their activities and events and learnt so much of viking culture that you simply can’t grasp from books.
This means I’ve picked up sewing. I love handicrafts in general and merging my love for creating things in textiles along with history has been so rewarding for me. This means I’ve also started tablet weaving which I’ve long wanted to do.
I also attended Medeltidsveckan (Medieval Week) on Gotland this summer where I attended loads of interesting lectures on history, mythology and folklore. At their market I got hold of loads of lovely fabric to sew my Viking clothes in and I got to meet Tora Wall at her lectures. Lizzie and I talk about out experience in Episode 3 of The Writing Vikings.
I started sewing a pair of trousers with my grandma, which I didn’t finish because I got distracted by learning how to knit. I used to crochet, but since my grandma broke her wrist and struggles to knit I decided to learn knitting as well. Seeing as I can no longer ask her for knitted socks for Christmas, I’ll have to learn to make my own.
I’ve been absolutely hooked on knitting and managed to knit myself a jumper over the spring which I’ve been living in ever since. Knitting has become almost a meditative practice for me in the evenings.
And this last bit is not related to reading, writing or anything creative at all, but it makes me so happy that I want to share it. I got a sports injury back in 2019 that refused to heal. I was unable to run the half-marathon that I had planned with my friends and could have such intense pain in my legs that I couldn’t even stand up at work.
However, after a lot of help with stress in 2021 and carefully going back to the gym in 2022 I finally started running again without pain. Two weeks ago I ran for a full 48 minutes, which is the longest I’ve been able to run since the injury! This summer Dennis and I trekked up to the top most point of Åre (1420 meters above sea level) without any pain from the injury.
This may sound trivial and rather unrelated but being able to exercise helps me control stress and makes me more productive. For me, it’s a huge win.
This year has probably been my most productive year yet. I still struggle with some things. A lot of things are not finished and I wish I was further along on certain projects, but I also got a crazy amount done.
I am immensely grateful for my writing community and the friends I’ve made this year. I’ve had so much fun along the way and I cannot wait to see what 2023 has in store!