Thursday, July 23, 2015

That Writer’s Diary

by Cecilia Ekbäck
This spring has been hectic. Wolf Winter was published early spring with all subsequent demands and I was also finishing off the first draft of my second book In the Month of the Midnight Sun. I often felt my salvation to be was my ‘writer’s diary.’ 
When writing Wolf Winter, I didn’t keep a diary. I jotted down my thoughts on scraps of paper which, of course, I misplaced, or which were difficult to decipher because my handwriting was too small and untidy. My research was in a similar state – I thought I would remember, but didn’t. The editing process was long and a number of things had to be re-researched as I hadn’t kept track of original notes. It was only towards the end of writing Wolf Winter that, spurred by the diaries of outstanding authors such as Virginia Wolfe, and André Gide, I tried the practise of writing a regular diary (and keeping a research file!).

As a writer, I often miss the collegial life I previously enjoyed, where ideas where debated and discussed in the workplace. Putting down my thoughts in diary form forces me to articulate thoughts, from muddled impulse through to something that is clearer, and that sometimes proves to be a ‘gem’. Often I don’t see this until I reread my notes later. When I wrote the end of In the Month of the Midnight Sun and despaired, I often went back to the notes I took towards the end of writing Wolf Winter to remind myself that I had felt the same way back then; that feeling confused and even despairing seems to be a part of my writing process; that even when I am not sitting at my desk, my mind is continuously at it, and eventually the answer will come. Diary writing also helped keep me centred in the midst of, what I felt was, a turbulent publication period with many things such as interviews and speaking engagements that don’t come natural to me. 
I use my diary to discuss with myself the book I am currently writing, any everyday issues regarding plot, characterisation or similar, plus potential plot developments. I also use it to note any thoughts about books I am reading: ideas, skilled use of techniques, or similar. I believe that in time, my diary will be where I see my own development as a writer, where I push myself further, and where I understand things about myself as an author. 
Cecilia Ekbäck was born in Sweden in a small northern town. Her parents come from Lapland. She now lives in Calgary with her husband and twin daughters, ‘returning home’ to the landscape and the characters of her childhood in her writing. Her first novel Wolf Winter was published in February 2015. Her second novel In the Month of the Midnight Sun will be published in January 2016.
Swedish Lapland 1717; a group of disparate settlers struggles to forge a new life in the shadow of the grim Blackåsen Mountain whose dark mythology lies at odds with the repressive control exerted by the Church. Into this setting, Maija, her husband and two daughters arrive, wanting to forget the traumas that caused them to abandon their native Finland and start anew. Not long after their arrival, their daughters stumble across the mutilated body of a fellow settler in a picturesque glade. The locals are quick to dismiss the culprit as wolf or bear, but Maija, however, is unconvinced and compelled by the ghosts of her past, she determines to investigate the murder.

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