Books to read.

I’ve been sitting in front of this screen several times today saying Blog god damnit blog! But I have had a hard time getting started. I have a few topics to write about, but I feel like I need time to plan them properly and write them well. So for now, I’ll write about what I’m about to start reading!

Like I’ve mentioned before, I need to get better at reading. I keep buying books, but I haven’t had the time or the energy (to be honest I’ve only been watching rubbish Swedish reality shows) during my last months of studying. Now, I have to get started and, more importantly, I want to.

I am currently reading my beautiful lecturer Leone Ross’s short story collection Come Let Us Sing Anyway, which is awesome. It is interesting, provoking and sexy. Loving it.

Other books I have waiting for me:
How To Stop Time by Matt Haig – I bought this today after reading some good comments on it, and after reading a little I knew this is a book I can disappear into.

Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins – Nope, I haven’t read it yet, and actually just go it today. I love reading books from London, so I’m excited about it.

The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood – I have it on my kindle but haven’t started reading it yet. My wonderful Saskia says it great so I’m looking forward to reading it.

Girl Up by Laura Bates – Laura wrote the oh so great Everyday Feminism which I read, related to and go infuriated by. It also made Dennis fume with anger and he could not believe the stuff women go through everyday. So I bet this one is equally good.

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson – A YA book that Grace Latter recommended. I want to read more YA books because I want to write one some day, so I’d say this is the only way to start; to read more of them.

Anna Karenina by Lev Tolstoy – I got it for Christmas, but in Swedish. It might be good to start reading Tolstoy in my native tongue though? And then I can work my way to English and finally Russian. One day.

I will also try to start writing reviews or reflections of what I am reading. I haven’t done that since I was like 14 so it will be a good exercise for my slow and tired brain.

And if you have any recommendations, please let me know in the comments. I read most genres.

 

X Mags the Spot.

So, I must have mentioned this before, but this term I, and seven other Roehampton Students, have been creating a sex magazine.

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It has been amongst the toughest things I have ever done and my stress level has hit the roof. Our 24 pages magazine went to pint on Wednesday the 2nd, together with three other mags from our course, and after hours and hours in front of a computer and indesign we were done and we could send it to the printer. I cried. The exhaustion hit me then and there and I couldn’t hold it back, we had worked so hard.

A week later, Wednesday the 9th, we held a pitch to four experts from the industry (including Paula Akpan, Sagal Mohammed, Dominic Mills, and Laura Kelly Dunlop) to prove that our magazine deserved to win. But, I’m sad to say, we didn’t. But I am so proud of what we have done and how we finished, our pitch was great. We made everyone laugh and finished the term in the way we intended to, we made people talk, and we made people talk about sex.

Writing a sex magazine has been so inspiring and challenging. We have had to be very careful, there is a fine line between sex and porn in this industry, but we managed it very well.

Also, we had a erotic short story on the back of our magazine, written by me. It was quite odd to have some of my favourite lectures sitting there reading about a woman’s sexual fantasies that I had jotted down. But they liked it, and I am both proud and embarrassed. I asked one of them, shoutout to Chris, if he was blushing reading it, he said he didn’t and asked if I did, and yes, yes I did.

Thank you to my team, my wonderful hardworking team mates, who took care of me at the brink of breakdown, and to Alison who has helped us through this process.

And finally a MASSIVE congratulations to D_RT Magazine who won the pitch, you truly deserved it (shoutout to my girls Saskia and Ola, you are queens).

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The artwork is made by my wonderful and talented friend Diana Verba @verba_art and the pictures features members from X-Magazine and D_RT and the great Sagal and Paula.

Roehampton Anthology.

I have news. Big ones.

Every year University of Roehampton has a competition to select the work of students that will go into our anthology – a collection of flash fiction, short stories and poetry developed by creative writing students. A Creative Writing Soiree is held to announce the winners, and last Wednesday was the big night.

I entered this year and, believe it or not, I won.

I still have a hard time believing it. I can’t quite grasp the fact that one of my stories is good enough to go into print, mainly because this has been the dream for as long as I can remember but also because I had a hard time understanding the feeling in my tummy before the announcement. It was so weird to walk up on that stage…

Now it is time to go into the editing process, which will be fun, but also scary and stressful because of the amount of work I have to complete before May. I have three modules this term, and around 8000 words to write.
The anthology will be published in, I think, autumn, and I can’t wait to see the book and read my fellow students entries.

At the moment I am in Sweden, a few days away from London to check on my cervix that I had a tiny operation on six months ago, and, like Dennis said and now regret saying, I am a soon to be published writer with a dysfunctional vagina.

(God I love that tag line.)

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A chaotic journey.

After a full on crazy-oh my god what is happening-I cannot handle this-kind of week I am now in Sweden, having a beer with my father. I am here to check on my cervix, you know, as you do.

But my morning, and the start of my journey, was absolutely crazy.

First off, the we went into summertime, and I lost one hour of sleep. But also, someone in our building was having an afterparty and I woke up at 3. Two hours later I got up and started checking my trains. It was more confusing than usual and I thought that Victoria Station would be my best chance, although I might have to go with the Gatwick Express, which is a total rip off.
I got there, in an uber, got a coffee and checked my trains. The 6.30 was cancelled and it looked like I had to take the next Gatwick Express. I bought a ticket and went on the train. At 6.58 they announce that the train wont leave and that the next train wont be until 7.22. Shit.
I got out, really annoyed at this point, and talked to a person working there. I asked why the hell I wasn’t warned that this might happen when I got there to buy my ticket, because this had obviously been going on all morning. He said that they don’t know what will happen and that they couldn’t know that this train also would be cancelled, neither did he say that the next one might be cancelled too. I was pissed off. I had an hour to get to the airport, or I was most likely missing my flight.

As I walked out from the platform a guy approach me and asked if I wanted to share a cab. YES PLEASE! I went to take out cash for him and he says “I’ll get two more”. So there we were, four strangers ordered an uber and got into it, half stressed and half laughing at the situation. The planned time of arrival was 8.15, my flight was at 9.20.

My three new travel buddies were all going to very different places, they were all from very different places and were leaving after spending very different amount of time in London.
A woman, late twenties, who was from the UK, was going to Valencia. Her flight was at 9.10. The other man, also late twenties, was from Mexico City and was heading back to Seattle after visiting the UK for a wedding. The man who brilliantly spotted us angry and stressed, was from Belgium, he had been in London for three years and was now heading to Nepal and later South Africa after quitting his job in the City two days ago. It was a good group of people.

We came to the airport, dropped the English girl off at north terminal and went on to the south. I, who only had an hour before my flight was due, ran away from the lovely guys and sped through security. Thankfully, all went well and I could join the group at my gate. I made it.

I had had a bad feeling before the trip and I knew something would go wrong. I didn’t know what, so I just went with the flow. Still, I was super annoyed with the blood suckers that are Gatwick Express.

When I got to Copenhagen I went through faster than ever before, and I was soon on a train to Malmö.

Now I am home, on my little island, having a beer with my father, and I am so so so exhausted.

Still it has been an interesting day and I am grateful I ended up in that car with three very interesting people. I am sure we will meet again, but maybe in another life.

Short Stories: No

No.

Over and over again, she was told no. She wasn’t good enough. It was always something wrong and almost every time she couldn’t understand what it was. Every day, without fail she woke up, checked her emails; some rejections came online, had a big cup of coffee, read the news, skipped most of it and got ready for her booked auditions. Her clothing felt like a uniform nowadays. She wore the outfit the instructor had told her to wear. An outfit he clamed to be eye-catching and sophisticated as well as sexy and seductive. He took her to several shops to find her the perfect bra, the perfect stay ups and the perfect fake smile to portrait in the mirror. This was before he had fucked her against the wardrobe in her flat.

He must have been right though; he was a qualified man. He knew what he was talking about.

She pushed together her big breasts to make the cleavage more daring, that´s how she´d got everything else in life, it would work now too.

Her red car was dirty after yesterdays trip; she had been seated in the suffocating vehicle for hours on her way to another polite, but stern, no thank you.

On her way back home, she had been tired but still hopeful. One day, that no will become a yes.

The radio played old 90s songs which cheered her up. She sang along and remember jumping around to this music as a child. How everything seemed so easy, like anything was possible. Maybe anything is possibly. Maybe today would be the day.

Next to her, on the passenger seat, laid a bunch of fashion magazines. All with beautiful thin white women on the cover. She sighed and reversed out of her drive way, onto the calm road.

It had been four years. Four years of auditions and rejections.

Men in dark suits, men in dresses, women in glamourous gowns and women in almost no clothes, had all said no. In every possible way, they had rejected her, because she wasn’t good enough.

She thought about all the narrowed eyebrows, low coughs and excusing voices. Eyes that looked sorry for some reason, eyes who just looked confused and the ones who looked disgusted. All these eyes rejected her.

The road led her into the city where smoke and dust swirled around the car.

She remembered a shoot in one of the magazines, one that had inspired her tremendously, more than any other shoot in the last couple of years. It might give her inspiration for todays audition. She started looking for it, one hand on the wheel, the other one digging among the shiny paper.

Stopping for a red light, she looked down at the posing faces smirking up at her. She smiled back at them.

A loud noise made her turn and look back through the window when a car slammed into her dusty boot. The car jumped forward and her mouth gasped for air as she and the car rolled out into the traffic.

All sounds were gone and all she could see was the white, thin, beautiful girls fly pass her. She imagined their hair fly around their faces, how they all screamed of excitement. They joined together, hugging and laughing with their perfect teeth and perfect eyes and perfect everything. I will never be them, she realised just as she and the car got hit from the side by a big intimidating black vehicle. Like an intimidating man in a black suit.

By, Hanna Andersson (2017)