Writing Is Extremely Hard
I’ve lived in the same house all my life, and the surroundings have always been very idyllic. Meadows, a lake surrounded by trees to make you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, and a sunset that always makes you walk in the direction of the lake whenever you leave the house in the evening. There’s a soccer pitch where I played as a keeper when I was a kid, we even played there in the winter when there was a foot of snow and I would throw myself after the ball on sheer ice.
A forgotten tennis court without a net where boats lie in winter, and a little further along the shore, rune stones from the Vikings. Like actual Vikings from a thousand years ago, they sat there and talked about stuff, probably sacrificed a goat or two and put up a stone with runes on it, just to say: “We were here, and don’t you forget it!” I don’t know if I’ll mind if it was entirely forgotten that I once lived here. It really is a beautiful place.
But my memories are melancholic more than anything else. Probably because this entire nation is melancholic. I experienced the greatness of the place alone. A lot of us do. I walked endlessly growing up. I needed time and space to think, to figure things out. The lake certainly provided that. Especially in the wintertime, when it froze over, allowing you to escape into the moonlight in minutes. There were times when I loved that place. But I couldn’t be happier to finally have escaped.
I wrote that a long time ago. As I’m writing this, it’s November, almost December 2013. I just went to take a look at my blog for the first time in months and noticed that I had an unpublished post. This was it. I stopped writing it for some reason. The thing is, now that I’m a student in London, I haven’t exactly escaped my melancholia. Maybe it’s permanent. But hey, at least I’m moving forward. With the pace of a snail, or at least it that’s how it feels. But it’s better than moving backwards, to be forced to move backwards by a lorry and to be crushed against the pavement. Because that could totally happen, especially when you bike around London without a helmet and earphones in your ears. As I tended to do.
I want to add a note on lakes and what they can help you understand:
You know you’re a privileged little shit when you fall through the ice of a frozen lake and when you get out of the freezing water, your first reaction is: Oh, for fucks sake, my phone’s broken goddammit! I went through and when I tried to get back up, the ice I was holding onto broke under my arms, but when I finally managed to avoid drowning in a freezing lake, I didn’t think I’m so lucky to be alive. I was thinking, Now I’m gonna have to get a new iPhone, great. Fucking great. At least my phone died a hero’s death, he fought bravely into the end.
I managed to take some selfies of my violently cold and red legs before he, much like Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic, let go of the door he was floating on and responded no more. Now whenever I plug it in it becomes really hot, probably because the water inside it is boiling, what a nice afterlife that must be. While I was in the water, I might have panicked about the fact that I was almost drowning, but at least the cold water was refreshing. And at least I panicked and showed some will to live. I got myself out of there instead of letting the water take me. Now I have to deal with this sudden spurt of will to live. Am I going to wear seatbelts and bike helmets? Jesus, not wanting to die really turns you into a dweeb. But it’s also, in a way that nothing else can be, rather refreshing.
In the early days of my garbage YouTube channel, I wrote long monologues that I would try and fail to deliver on camera. My YouTube channel slowly became better, and even though I after years got to the point where I would enjoy watching my own videos, it never took off. I was a Swedish guy talking about American politics. It was never going to work. It took me a long time to realize that, and if I’m being entirely honest, I’m not entirely sure I have realized it yet. After these long monologue videos inevitably got literally zero views, I would post the text and hashtag the living fuck out of it on my blog. It also got zero traction. It was slowly dawning on me that I was not made for going viral.
My dad used to write screenplays, and I think he still does to some extent, but he never talks about it or shares any of what he has written. Not that I’m going to share any of my writing with him of course. That would be horrific. I knew he used to write sketches. Years and years ago, we were watching the shirt-hanging ceremony for the Swedish hockey player and my childhood idol, Peter Forsberg. If you’re unaware, if a hockey player does particularly well for a team, they might retire his jersey, and no one playing for that team can wear that number on their jersey again. In this circumstance, the team was the Colorado Avalanche in Denver, and the jersey was number 21. Dad came into the room, adding as he so often does a new level of darkness to the proceedings.
“Why don’t they just hang him in the ceiling?”
Seeing the embryo of a sketch, I asked: “Do you ever write these thoughts down anymore?”
“No, it’s been a long time since I did that.”
“Because that’s over, it’s never gonna happen.” I like to think that he hasn’t given up, regardless of what he says.
In season eleven, episode eleven of Family Guy, about 20 minutes into the episode, Brian the dog has had some success with a play he wrote. Then he reads a play that Stewie the talking baby has written that is much better than his own, and he succumbs to alcoholism and depression quite rapidly.
He then says this to Stewie as they sit on the bleachers in Times Square: “I was so happy until I read your play, Stewie. I finally had some kind of success as a writer. It wasn’t big, but it was mine. I was fine being an okay writer until I discovered I was living in a house with a brilliant one. I know we don’t talk about doggy years a lot, but I just wished you could’ve waited to find out how talented you were until I was gone. By the time I’m dead, you won’t even be ten. You’ll have 70 more years to be great. I just wished I could’ve had five to be good.”
“There’s your voice Brian. It’s a depressing voice, but it’s yours. Write from that,” Stewie says.
I know it’s strange, but at that moment, I actually took writing advice from Family Guy. This must be a new low, I thought, but batted it away as quickly as the thought appeared. This was back when I actually watched Family Guy regularly, which was a long time ago now. This story has been in a state of flux for a long time.
I’m 24 at the time of writing this, and I’ve been writing this story for the last seven years and for the first time, I’m starting to see the end. For a while, I thought I would write the book in the third person until the jumping-off-the-roof-scene and then switch to the first person because that was when I finally “became myself” or some bullshit like that.
However, I semi-quickly realized that I wasn’t very good at writing in the third person, which prompted the voice in the back of my head to say this:
It’ll be so much better if you write the whole thing in the first person instead of trying to be so fucking artistic, you little shit.
This was harsh, yet good, advice. Also, the problem was that as time went on, my life didn’t really ever start to lack in misery, which meant I had a lot of silly shit to complain about, which just meant that the loose notes and paragraphs just kept on stacking up. I couldn’t stop describing the story to myself from the point of view of having already written it, even before I had written far from half of it, which was just ridiculous. I was looking at it as complete, even though that was far from the case. But after a long, long time, I finally reached the end.