If you want to write, you need to do it every day, says the author Monika Fagerholm. Trial and error are necessary for her – and so is not being afraid of getting lost in the woods in the process, because only then can amazing things be found
Writers write and writers write every day. I remember seeing this in one of those inspirational guides on writing I enjoy reading – even if they don’t necessarily help you in pursuing your daily writing as much as you would hope. At the worst, they give you a kind of exhausting energy which just leaves you drained. And yes, turning to these kinds of manuals almost always involves an element of desperation; you don’t need advice when everything is going great. More…
A short story from Tapaus Sidoroff (‘The Sidoroff case’, WSOY, 2008). Introduction by Kristina Carlson
It was no use even trying the old cart track branching from the main road. I turned off the engine and glanced into the back seat. My aunt lifted the brim of her hat, her bright eyes peering at me questioningly.
‘We can’t get any farther by car. The road’s nothing but rough brush. What do you think, Aunt Alli, can you walk the rest of the way?’
My aunt shook her head and didn’t even bother to answer. She opened the car door and clambered out. A swarm of black flies wafted into the air from the brush at the bottom of the ditch.
‘For heaven’s sakes, there’s sure enough of these flies.’
She fanned at the air with her hat, straightened the hem of her dress and trudged across the ditch, without looking back, through the thicket of willows. In spite of her hip trouble, the old woman made her way in such a hurry that I had my work cut out keeping up with her. More…
Extracts from the novel Chitambo (Schildts, 1933)
I was born in 1893, of course. That, as everyone knows, is the proudest year in the history of Nordic polar research. It was the year in which Fridtjof Nansen began his world-famous voyage to the North Pole aboard the Fram. Mr Dreary viewed this as a personal distinction and a sign that fate had fixed its gaze on him. He at once took it for granted that I was destined for great things, and he showed much skill in fostering the same foolish idea in me…. More…
Poems from Delta (Teos, 2008). Introduction by Jukka Koskelainen
Like wave-polished stones
we sit on a seashore rock, shading our eyes
from the sun, each other, the deltoid sails, the water.
You ask nothing more,
you know the sum of the angles of a triangle,
that you have your sides, as I do
sometimes they near each other
as if to penetrate each other, cut
a hole in the landscape.
A seagull settles on a crag,
without a glance aside, you’re up and disappear
from my side.
Sails, other sails.
the sea so open and the sky open. More…
A short story (‘Erehdys’, 1956, last published in the collection Lukittu laatikko ja muita kertomuksia, ‘A locked box and other stories’, WSOY, 2003). Introduction by Markéta Hejkalová
My feet are smarter than my head. On an April night in Naples they carried me along the Via Roma past the royal palace and the giant illuminated dome of the church. The people of Naples walked up and down the immortal street like the cool of evening, looking at each other and at the brightly lit display windows. I had nothing against that, but at the comer of Via San Brigida my feet turned to the right. The snow-cold breath of my homeland radiated toward me from Saint Bridget Street.
When I had turned the corner I could see a restaurant window still lit, with its fruit baskets, dead fish and red lobsters. The most hurried diners had already finished their meals. I stepped into the long dining room of the restaurant, the sawdust on the floor stuck to my shoes, a frighteningly icy stare pierced me from behind the counter, but I gathered my courage and whispered bravely, ‘Buona sera, signora.’ More…
Olli Jalonen’s latest novel, 14 solmua Greenwichiin (’14 knots to Greenwich’, 2008), was 19 years in the making. He ponders the joys and tribulations of such a slow maturation
When you spend years or decades writing the same book, what is the drive, passion or compulsion that keeps the cogs turning through the quieter months? Or are the months when you don’t write silent at all? Isn’t it the case that the core of a text or a book is born out of a state of peaceful nothingness?
More often than not, the most important ideas, the strongest details and the sturdiest structures of the art of writing come into being somewhere other than at the computer keyboard. One of the greatest benefits and pleasures of a writer’s work is carrying that work around in mind and body. At these times the writing machinery is whirring, quietly, calmly, freely and unpressured. More…
Extracts from the novel Elmo (WSOY, 1978)
After returning to Finland and Kainalniemi, Elmo got to feel like a celebrity. The various sport clubs were insufferably keen on getting Elmo into their training rings, but Elmo rebuffed them. He had belonged to Kainalniemi Sweat since he was a little boy, and that was enough for him. His mind was occupied by other matters. In the end, even his mother and father began to wonder at his attitude.
‘Why don’t you just go, since they keep asking, and since you do seem to have some talent in that direction,’ his mother urged as she made Sunday coffee from the can Elmo had brought as a gift.
‘Right. Somewhere down the road you could snatch a few gold medals out from under the noses of the others, just for the hell of it,’ his father said. More…
For the writer, not being able to write is just one of the profession’s occupational hazards, says the author Eeva Kilpi. She recalls a particularly debilitating attack of the affliction, and offers suggestions for escaping it
I had no idea I was currently suffering from writer’s block until I was asked to describe the condition.
Now I feel – as I sit at my oId, muscle-powered, Facit typewriter – that a horror of words is the first and normal reaction every time I have to begin a piece (let alone a book). Words dart into hiding like a frightened flock of birds that has barely settled to rest. (And now I hear successful, prolific colleagues rushing to explain how easy it is to use a computer to correct mistakes and move entire paragraphs even from one chapter to another, but I am paralysed by the very thought of a flickering screen, ready and waiting, and of the fateful key by pressing which one may destroy an entire immortal manuscript, as I have heard has happened to some people.) More…
Extracts from the novel Marie (WSOY, 2008). Introduction by Tuomas Juntunen
For once, Marie decided to plan a dinner without the same old roast beef, boiled potatoes, peas, red wine and berry kissel. And particularly no game. The thought of rabbit reminded her of the hunting trip to Porpakka, the hounds puking up rabbit skins onto the parquet floor, the smell of singed birds, the feathers that turned up even weeks later in a corner of the kitchen, the buckshot in the goose that broke her tooth. Mind you, she had to admit that brown sauce was quite good, especially as an aspic. She had tasted a spoonful once the morning after it was made, when Martta had gone out to buy milk and Marja was cleaning the drawing room, and then Martta had come back quite suddenly, and Marie had panicked and swallowed it the wrong way and had a fit of coughing. ‘Good heavens,’ Martta had said, ‘what’s the matter? I just came back to get my purse. I forgot it on the sideboard.’
The true reason for the plan was that she wanted to show them what a real French formal dinner was like, how much better it was. She planned the menu secretly for months, first in her mind, then in writing, at her bedroom dressing table – the only place she had to herself, although the door wouldn’t lock – at first on wrapping paper, which she later burnt in the tiled stove in the dining room when no one was home. More…