Posted in Fantasy, The Lives and Whereabouts of Mz Eliza Elderberry, The Solar Eclipse, Writing

afterthoughts

After what? Thoughts? I’ve always thoughts in my head. So there must naturally be thoughts after thoughts as well.

Oh! I’m just kidding! Not the fact that I always seem to have thousands of thoughts in my head. I do! I have! I am one of those people. What I was kidding about, was the title. I don’t really mean anything with it. I just didn’t know what to come up with as a title. Do you always know what word or words to use?

The first word that entered my mind, was “aftermath”. But that would have been a little bit too… hm… too… something. Couldn’t make it fit into anything relevant. I haven’t experienced any “significant unpleasant event”. So, the word “afterthoughts” is better. After all, I do think! A lot.

Now! That isn’t funny any longer.

But what is a lot of fun, to me, is that I during the days between Christmas and New Year began to go to the library to work on my fantasy story! It seemed hopeless to work on it at home. I always began doing something else instead. Mostly watching a movie.

Well! Anything except writing, editing, whatever!!! I even did the dishes!

The good thing is, that I’ve kept on going to the library with my iPad, ever since, and thus have begun doing something useful with the story. Not every day, and not the entire days. But often enough and long enough to feel good about it.

If you remember, I had planned to translate the Solar Eclipse and Mz Eliza to Swedish. I’ve changed my mind. I’ll stick to it as it is, and keep on working on it in English. I realized it would be too tough to translate.

Just exchange words from English to Swedish, or sentences or even paragraphs, isn’t difficult per se! But writing isn’t only about words as words! It’s to use words to build images that pop up in the head of the reader. It’s showing, not telling! It’s making a story alive!

So, to my own big surprise, at was not easy at all to translate my novel to Swedish. Also to my own big surprise, I had – in English – already built a story in some kind of English manner. Oh, I don’t know how to explain this. But maybe if I say it like this: we all use expressions when we write, don’t we? Not all the time, not in every sentence, that would be way too much anyhow, but we do.

And I don’t mean expressions like “it’s raining cats and dogs”. (It isn’t raining men either… maybe pity it doesn’t? 😉 )

You who have English as your mother tongue, have probably never thought of this. Neither had I! Never, during all those years I have written in Swedish and Swedish only, I have thought of this. What I use to say once in a while, though, is that I paint with words! And of course, I’ve learned about “show, not tell”, “kill your darlings” and other advices that the teachers pour over us.

So when I experienced the difficulties in translating these English “paintings” into Swedish ones, I couldn’t find the Swedish words I needed to paint an image that resembled the English expression. The whole thing went wrong! This may sound very stupid, I realize that. And I’m not even sure if I’ve been able to explain it properly. If so, just skip reading this.

Anyhow! I put the Swedish trial aside, deleted it actually. Then I sorted among the files I had with these stories, deleted a couple so that I only had two left of each. One with the original, and one which I had decided to uses to:

  • one – read it all from the beginning to the end, and simultaneously do some editing
  • two – continue writing on the stories, now at first the one about Mz Eliza.

Why I have to read all of it thoroughly, is because I wrote so fast and mostly on pure intuition that I don’t remember what I wrote. No! I do not KNOW what I was writing! It was more as if someone else was using me as a middle-hand, and the text went past my brain without stopping and letting me learn about the characters and the story. And I need to know that, if I want to be able to continue.

There are parts that I’ve read afterward, that got me totally surprised. Did I really write that? When did I do that? I didn’t remember doing it!

Earlier, I have always remembered what I was writing. I knew the story, the characters, their looks, gestures, how they talked, walked. I knew the landscape, the season of the year, what year! Feelings, intentions. Everything!

And now I know very little! Especially what I wrote about Eliza during NaNo in November, and during CampWriMo in July when I wrote the second part of the Solar Eclipse.

Never, I thought this kind of dilemma could occur.
Never, I thought I could “show” as well in English as I can in Swedish. The issue might rather be some misuse of words (I mean, choosing a wrong one instead of a proper one), and lack of knowledge in English grammar…

But all will be okay. It always does, in one way or another.

5 thoughts on “afterthoughts

  1. Interesting insights, Thea. I don’t have the same command of another language the same way you have, but I know that when communicating in another language it’s important to try and think in that language, rather than think first in English and then translate in your head.
    I’m curious now, what language are your dreams in?

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    1. I was quite stunned, actually, when realizing this. It goes without saying, that I never translate anything when talking, writing, reading, listening to Swedish! AND IT*S THE SAME WITH ENGLISH! I never translate!

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    2. Continue…. pushed the wrong button… 😉

      When I read or listen to English, I don’t translate into Swedish. When writing, I never think in Swedish and then translate.

      When engaging in in English, no matter in what way, I purely only think in English.

      Dreams? What language? To be honest! I’ve never even thought about that. Spontaneously I would say words in this way are never an option. Dreams are speechless, images, feelings. You just know what someone wants to say to you. But I might have forgotten dreams that includes dialogues or monologues. If I ever have had any.

      Besides that, I’ve had a loooooong period “without” dreams. Which is the wrong thing to say. We all dream, but for a long time now I haven’t even remembered that I have been dreaming. These recent two weeks or so, I have realized I have had a dream or two, but no remembrance whatsoever what they were about. Can only say it must have been nice dreams. The few ones I nearly, almost remember.

      Which isn’t particularly good, since I intend to participate in the “Dream-theme-circle” at the library with discussions and interpretations, when it begins again in a couple of weeks. Let’s hope I’ll dream at least something that I remember when I wake up.

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  2. You’re right, Thea, that those who are monolingual never have to think about the subtle differences in languages and the challenges faced when translating from one language to another. It makes total sense that the translation isn’t just a matter of words, but how the imagery and concepts are expressed, the sounds and flow of words are.constructed. Fascinating post. Happy Writing!

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    1. It really did surprise me. At first. But maybe even more, that I actually seem to have an ”English tone” as well. So I keep on working on the story in English now. Skipped the translation. Unnecessary work.

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