Wednesday, 21 December 2016

What I've been doing

I don't know if I have so regular readers that anyone would really notice I've been gone the whole autumn... but I'm writing this post for my own reflection. I've been so busy and so much has happened that I need to digest it better than I've been able to, since I can finally breath (for three weeks) now that it's Christmas time. So I'll just list the things I find important.

Wrote a book

I've never written a book this fast, in two months, and given how busy I was with other stuff, I was pretty amazed that I actually did it. (I had a deadline for a competition, so I guess that helped.) It usually takes me about a year to write a book. I take a lot of time pondering, rewriting all the time before the first draft is anywhere near complete, doodling the characters and having fun in the world I'm writing in. But this time I just wrote without even reading much of what I'd written in the previous day, and it still turned out surprisingly coherent. It's a comtemporary YA novel set in high school, and it's mostly about identity struggles.

I have a bad tendency to hate my writing exactly at the moment I'm supposed to submit it somewhere. It didn't happen with this one. I'm kind of worried it's only because I didn't have enough time to be critical about it, but... I guess it's still worth it. The feeling that you're still in love with what you're submitting. I honestly still love the book. What's also weird is, that it's in a different way than before. I usually have a really hard time parting with the characters. I want to write more about them, even though the story is done, and I know writing more would only lead to bad and unnecessary sequels. But with this one I was just completely satisfied with the story I'd written for these characters and didn't feel like I'd need to write more. I love these characters but just one book is okay. How odd.

A doodle of my protagonist.

I have to confess though, that I did run into some interesting side characters, who only appear once or twice in the story but I got so interested in them, that I'm planning their own books for them now.

Anyway, it's nice to know now that I can write rather fast when I want to. I might just do it again. :D

Participated in two writing competitions

So yeah, the other one was mentioned above. And I think the ”participating in a competition” part was and is probably always going to be harder for me than the writing the book part. I guess in a way it's easier than just submitting to a publisher (we don't use agents in Finland) because you have a deadline. It's very hard for me to decide something is ready enough for professional eyes so a deadline helps. But only kind of. It still feels like it's never ready enough, and I always should've edited it more and more.

And writing a synopsis. That's amazingly hard for me. I didn't write the book so that I could squeeze it into two pages, you know? I wrote it exactly because the story can't be told in two pages! Yes, I know it's important to be able to summarize the main ideas and plot points, and I don't think I'm even bad at it. I just hate it. Because that's not the way you're supposed to go into the story.

The other one was a short story competition. I spent some time editing a couple of my older fantasy stories for it. To be honest, I think they're too weird and abstract, and not fantasy-like enough for that competition... but you never know if you don't try. Short stories don't have the synopsis issue, but then again, writing short stories sort of feels like writing a synopsis for me... Yeah, long fiction is definitely my thing. Most of the short stories I start to write actually turn into novels and I can't help it. The truth is the ones that stay as short stories only stay that way because I don't think they're as good. Heh.

It's not that I never have fun writing them though.

The short story competition should announce its winners soon, I think.

Completed two important study modules

This was the busiest semester in years! I'm getting closer to graduating and for me that meant doing two pretty big combinations of courses that are required before practical training. I mean, only one is actually required, but I have two internships for the spring because I applied for an extra program in pastoral psychology. Most of these courses required constant attendance (you could only miss one class for an important reason). Luckily I managed to attend 100 %. I had many 8 am to 6 pm days and lots of homework too, it got easier towards the end of the semester, but I was so busy I couldn't even think about my degree work... It's been untouched for months. I hope I have time to complete it in the spring. The internships will keep me busy but I hope not as busy as this semester has been...

These courses have given me a lot, though. I was really inspired through all of them, and a big part of that was how great teachers I had. Never before in my college years have I felt that the teachers were as involved. They were not only interested in their subjects, but us too. I'm becoming less and less uncomfortable with public speaking because I've finally found out that I'm fit for something. My problem has always been my quiet, monotonous voice, and expressionless demeanor. Turns out, in the right context, I'm not expressionless, or too quiet, or too monotonous. I'm calm. And it calms others. Instead of making it hard for them to follow, as it has been with most of my academic presentations, when there's a meditative element, like there often is in a religious context, it seems to make it easier for others to focus. It's finally a good thing that I'm not a ”performer”! That's pretty uplifting.

The courses were full of things I'd always had trouble with, or been unsure with, and in the end all the feedback I got was so good I think I went home in tears for several times. I couldn't believe I'd really done well enough to receive that praise. It was surreal. When the pastor in charge of my group said my sermon was so good she'd had to avoid copying it next Sunday when she had the same topic. I was sure she was joking, but apparently she wasn't because she repeated it to her collegue, and told me next week that she though she managed to avoid it. I know I'm not completely untalented for writing, at least at some level, but that kind of feedback is rare and something to treasure. Besides I'm more confident with my fiction, not speeches or presentations!

I'm still thinking about everything that happened with a sense of wonder. I'm actually tearing up from happiness as I'm writing this. There are just so many things that may seem small alone, but together make this semester almost too amazing for me to comprehend. I obviously had insecurities I wasn't even aware of, since I'm so bewildered. But then again, I guess it's the most typical of me, to believe so hard that I can do something, and then not believe it when I actually do make it.

Participated in three ballet shows

If you take into account that we performed some of them multiple times, then it's six.

Ballet was amazing this semester. I got to prepare for more performances than I usually have. I didn't improve my flexibility as much as I planned but I did improve my pointe work a little bit. Enough to do a variation (read: easier version) of Pizzicato passably. I'm still by far the weakest link in my pointe/repertoire class but... it's no news for me that I still love it all. I love struggling to dance.

I usually do three ballet classes a week, and I couldn't have handled more this semester. I had to take one whole week off when I was finishing my novel, and then made up for it by taking six classes the next week. That was a great week.

The first show we did was called Relevé Goes Retro, and it was for celebrating the school's three year anniversary. Yes, it's that new! I got to draw the poster/the tickets:

My class did our can can from last spring, and some of my friends came to see our school for the first time, so I was actually really nervous. But all went good, as far as I know.

The next thing was the ”dancing display window” that has already become a tradition in the school. This was my first time being a part of it. We did parts of our performances for the Christmas show, so it was like a sneak peak to that. It was really fun and weird.

The Christmas show was only a couple of days ago. All in all, I think it was really good. I made tiny mistakes that the audience apparently didn't see (not my friends or parents at least), and at some point my foot just got a cramp and I couldn't stand fully on my toes, right when I should've, but other than that... I guess, I'm just really happy I somehow made it through. Especially since last spring was pretty hard on me, pointe-wise, and I couldn't even do half of the pointe classes, let alone the performance. That was because I have this one toe that just seems unable to do pointe. It's always in pain and the nail goes back to black right after I've managed to heal it, no tape can make it better. But this semester I found a silicone tube that makes it so much better I can't believe it!

My pointe/repertoire class had two dances: that Pizzicato variation and a dance called ”Sleepwalkers”. To be honest we had too little time to learn them. Pizzicato especially. It's pure technique and it felt like we lacked some of it from the beginning to really do it well. But taking the time into consideration I think we did rather well. I haven't seen the videos of them yet though, so my opinion might still change, but it felt good at least. Better than it ever did at practice, so that's something. The sleepwalker dance is actually very simple, the steps are easy, but I still felt like it would've needed more practice as well, because it's very slow and has some difficult balances which definitely could've been better. I wish we'd get to do these another time with more practice!

My other two classes had their own dances as well. One was a variation of the pas de trois in Bayadere. (Not on pointe.) I had a really hard time learning a certain part of it. I actually didn't get it completely right even once at practice but I did get it right both times we performed it. (This is actually rather typical of me...) And then we did a masked baroque style dance, which always went pretty smoothly in practice and in both performances as well. No drama there. I think I was able to purely enjoy dancing the masked dance the most, because it felt rather effortless. Of course, getting the part in bayadere right got me pretty high, but then I did make a mistake somewhere I usually didn't, and Pizzicato and the Sleepwalkers just didn't go as smoothly as the masked dance all the way through, even though the steps were right.

Mom came to take pictures so here I am, half dressed, between shows.

I think the Christmas shows went well enough though, for me to feel like they were a really good end for this super busy semester. Definitely made some good memories I'm going to treasure. Especially since I'm going away for two months, for the internship, and will only see this beloved ballet school again in March!

Some other honorable mentions/good memories from this semester:

Vegan week!

My roommate and I challenged ourselves to one vegetarian week and one vegan week. The vegetarian one was a piece of cake but the vegan one was a real pain... I know it could've been better if we'd prepared better and if I hadn't been so busy. But I was, and it was really annoying to go to the store in a hurry and not being able to buy anything I normally buy. But we made it through and then we headed to the nearest chinese buffet on Monday right after morning classes.

Plain old tomato spaghetti was my favourite vegatarian food of the week. (The book is Anna Gavalda's Hunting and Gathering and that was good too!)

I learned at least, that it's actually harder for me to give up cheese than meat. Huh. I'm still such a carnivore that raw meat makes me drool, but cheese... Cheese is even more necessary.

Pizza with vegan cheese was definitely the most satisfying food of the vegan week.

Printed a copy of my book!

I'm rewriting this fantasy novel and not doing anything with this old version. But my roommate loves it, so I decided I'd give her a physical copy of it, so she can read it easier and maybe not feel so bad when the new version won't be anything like it.

It turned out quite thick but I think the font and the word cout per page is perfect!

The pages with pictures turned out surprisingly well too!

This was the first time for me to see a novel of mine as a ”real book” so this experiment was really exciting for me too. It may seem silly, but it was really fun to do this myself from the start.

I was the Slayer!

We went to this Halloween party with my roommate, with kind of a short notice so I was happy I was able to come up with this in one day, even if it's not immediately regonizable and the dress isn't completely right. (It was the only long, white dress I could find in a second hand store, and size S so it was a miracle my chest fit in!) My roommate was fem!Spike. xD

I tried to learn to say "I'm the slayer, ask me how!" like Buffy, but I failed miserably.

I turned into a Kataja fan!

Uh, yes, it's basketball. My roommate dragged me along, and I tried to resist for some time because I knew this would happen, and I already had too many obsessions as it was. Now it's worse. Yay!

She was actually into it before we started watching that anime, Kuroko no basket, but not this much. So, that series is partially to blame for the fact we've been watching Kataja every other week or so...

Kataja's victory (77-76) over Le Mans Sarthe in the Champions League was epic.

So there we sit, practising our common hobby on the side: typing all the players by Enneagram and MBTI. Kataja has a lot of Six.

I'm not too mad at her for making me a fan. Because I just got her into ballet! (Seeing our Christmas show this year was the last thing she needed to go bunhead, apparently.) So it's a win-win. After way more resistance than I ever put up, she's signing up for a beginner class! Too bad I'm not in town for two months... It's been like, ten years since I had a ballet dancing friend I hadn't met through ballet. I hope she'll find it fun enough to keep doing it!

My room turned into a storage!

My parents renovated the kitchen completely at the house... I guess I was lucky I only had time to visit home for a couple of times this semester. I'm pretty happy living with a kitchen!

Luckily it's done now, that I'm back home for Christmas. But my room still looks about the same.

Playing badminton and ”playing badminton”!

Another fun hobby we've been into with my roommate. Obviously we're just playing around but it's good exercise. Sometimes we drag another friend of ours along. It's hilarious, because most of the time he can't even hit the shuttle but every now and then he accidentally hits it, and it's almost impossible for us to catch. He calls it his noobie strike.

Then there were nights when no one else was at the gym. She wanted to throw baskets and I was having some serious trouble with Pizzicato at the time, so we used the opportunity. If anyone asks, we were palying badminton like we were supposed to.

I crashed my friend's practice.

She got some pretty hilarious pictures of me practicing soutenu:

This looks like I'm hovering, not spinning!

Yeah, my turns are still pretty ungraceful on pointe!

I finally got around to getting myself a Hufflepuff scarf!

Especially since Pottermore has confirmed it, I've been so proud of my house. No to mention when my professor said: "Systematic theology is the Hogwards of the school of Theology. It's full of weird tricks the majors of other theological subjects don't understand." So the others are muggles! Haha. I kind of can't get into Hogwards any more officially than this!

Early Christmas party!

I got together with a couple of my friends before holidays started, which was really nice since I'm going away for so long. We basically ate ourselves sick.

Totoro's watching over me!

A friend gave me his treasured, handmade Totoro to look after me while I'm away on holidays and the internship. I was touched.

Totoro is helping me with Christmas preparations.

All in all, this semester was really full and pretty amazing. I just feel like so many lucky things happened. I definitely have a lot of energy for the next year now!

Merry Christmas, everyone. <3


  1. Ihana postaus! sulla on ollut tän kaiken lukeman perusteella aika jees syksy <3

    1. Joo...! On se. :D Hämmentävä, tavallaan. Että joskus melkein kaikki voikin mennä just niin kun suunnittelee/toivoo...