Category Archives: A mother’s diary

Every New Book is the First One

I used to think that if not writing itself then at least the rest of the process of bringing a book into the world will become more and more routine with each new book.

But it doesn’t look like that at all. I am working on my books nine, ten and eleven these days and I must say the work on them differs very much from those before and between each other.

One of the books I work on this year, and which is being edited by a professional editor right now, took me four months to write and one whole year to revise it.

It is not my first non-fiction book and not my first work where I made research, contemplations, and developed concepts. However, every step in creating this book, both writing, and editing felt like it was the very first one. Every bit of the process requested me to think out of the box, made me feel creatively uncomfortable, and made me exclaim, “It was never that way before!”

The paradox of wishing some calm of known, of a routine and at the same time longing for new and exciting accompanies me every time I work on my books.

I do feel challenged and feel an urge to complain. But when I slow down and look honestly at what is happening, I don’t want the whole process to occur in any other way.

I want each book to be new and exciting. In truth, I want it to be unknown, however scary this process might be.

And as long as I want it this way, I guesstimate that it will be like that.

What about you and your writing projects? Does each of them surprise you in any way? If yes, then how? If no, did you look close enough? Or non-judgmentally enough?

Picture: My children never stop surprising me. Here is my sweet little girl at the past New Year’s Eve party, claiming that the hat she was wearing was a bike helmet.

Copyright © 2017 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

Cheerleading for Writers: O – Origin, Originality and the Art of Being Authentic

Two of my favourite writers have addressed the topic of being original and authentic.

Menna van Praag told in one of her one minute writing courses on Facebook titled “My One Min Writing Class – enjoy!!” how in her twenties she desperately tried to write something original and didn’t manage to, and how with time she discovered that most authors, including Shakespeare “stole” the plots and stories and told them in their own authentic way.

This is what Elizabeth Gilbert has written in her book “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” in chapter “Originality vs. Authenticity”:

“… the older I get, the less impressed I become with originality. These days, I’m far more moved by authenticity. Attempts at originality can often feel forced and precious, but authenticity has quiet resonance that never fails to stir me.

Just say what you want to say, then, and say it with all your heart.

Share whatever you are driven to share.

If it’s authentic enough, believe me — it will feel original.”

I can relate to these experiences. And I am sure other authors and their favourite authors can related to this too.

But what does authenticity mean? Without looking into a dictionary, I mean. Hoes does it feel like to be authentic? What does the quiet resonance of authenticity mean for me? What do I really want to say?

For quite some time I thought that my past had hindered me to say what I wanted. That I had to leave it all behind, get rid of it in order to find my authenticity.

But somehow all that was coming back, in one form or another, and very prominently in the pieces I was writing.

My story and of those I shared and share my life with kept appearing in my blog posts in and my books. Yes, I learned to write what I know, but wasn’t it too arrogant to write so often about me and those from my very close proximity?

Yes, I heard many times that the way we are today is due to all that happened to us. And I thought I agreed with this, but still I couldn’t grasp or define with concrete words what my authenticity was about.

The most inspiring — and which with practice I started to experience and grasp — was the transformational approach by Ariel and Shya Kane, especially the second principle of the instantaneous transformation: “No two things can occupy the same space”. What they mean by this is the fact that anyone in the world, including me, can only be as we are right now. Not due or despite our past, our current thoughts or our aspirations for the future, but including all these.

No explanation or definition are needed, or probably even possible. I am in the moment as I am. And in any previous moment I was as I was. If I wrote those words about my father, about myself in my fiction, the way I did, then this is the way those words were supposed to come out. And if I edited them afterwards, this is how this was meant to be. Because it didn’t go any other way than the way it did.

The same is with this article. It has its origins from my experience in every moment. I did plan it, and originally I planned to address the word onomatopoeia because I didn’t know it before I read about it this weekend in the book “Creative Writing: A Guide and Glossary to Fiction Writing” by Colin Bulman, in the article with the same title. This word sounded quirky, and I do use a lot of the sound-expressing words in my books. But when I started writing an article about onomatopoeia, it simply didn’t work. After typing Colin’s words in a quote for the article and thinking for a couple of minutes what to write, I decided to listen to the quiet voice wondering if another word starting with an “O” might work for this article. I gave it a try and origin came first.

From there a bridge to originality and authenticity appeared immediately and I knew what I wanted to say.

But even then there was a surprise. As I first had this enthusing me idea, I thought that when it comes to authenticity the word origin would mean the places and events from before, from where I came from. But now, writing the end of this article, I have a different sentiment. I feel that my most authentic expressions and creations can have origin in so many places and events, whether experienced for the first time a second ago or from a memory of my past or the stories of those close to me, or people I met only recently. This is the brilliance of creativity, because the most authentic and the most original is also the most unexpected, and most and foremost unexpected for ourselves.

How do you experience the authenticity? What does it mean for you? How does it feel when upon reading your own writing you have an urge to nod and say, “Yes, this is exactly what I wanted to say”?

Picture: Children experience and demonstrate often those moments embracing originality authenticity and utter surprise underlined by extreme enthusiasm. My one-and-a-half-years-old daughter, Emma, loves “boom-moom” (sometimes also called “baam-mam”). She is looking for them everywhere and makes sure she can step on the same one again and again. “Boom-moom” is Emma’s word for sewer covers not adhering quite hermetically to the sewer openings, so that when you step on them they make a light “boom” sound. Therefore “boom-moom”. Emma is one of my most original, authentic and extremely sweet teachers.


“Cheerleading For Writers”, copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

Wishes and preferences

Last Saturday, I had my own personal epiphany about wishes and preferences.

When I am at my low, as it was past Saturday morning, then I happen to have an idea that none of my wishes come true.

But this is of course not true at all. Now, that I think of it, many of my wishes I had so far did come true. Especially big ones, like having a family. We did wait (and fret) six years (especially the last several of those) for our first child to be born. Then Niklas was born.

Yes, my wishes do come true. Although not often according to my preferences.

Um, if I am honest, never according to my preferences. This is, I guess, the nature of preferences. They are too multiple to fit them all. Something is always amiss, according to my brain. And probably to yours as well.

Let me illustrate a few of my wishes.

My husband’s and my second biggest dream was to own a house. But when I became pregnant with Niklas we said, “No, not with the first child in my belly and not right after his birth. That would be too much.”

So, a few years after his birth and no other child coming (we thought, “That was it, one time wonder.”) we bought a place for our house to stay on.

And about a month or even less after signing the contract of land purchase, yes, you guessed it correctly, I found out that I was pregnant for the second time.

Technically, our second big wish came exactly as we wished. To buy and build a house but not around our first child’s birth. We didn’t make any exact wishes about the time for our second child to be born.

Next wish. Early last year I kept thinking, “That would be really great to write during daytime and not only in the evenings.”

And there I was, I could write during the daytime. With my work contract about to finish and a fast growing belly, but I had a month or two before my maternity leave on which I could write during the daytime. Again, not as my preferences would be, but still, the wish came true.

During the last year I got more and more curious about being an author entrepreneur. First, I thought, “I’ll be a full time writer and own a writing business when I retire.” Then I changed my mind. “No, I want it to happen earlier, but when my books are doing better and we paid off the mortgage.”

And guess what happened. You probably know if you follow this blog. The life was again full of surprises. Being an author entrepreneur and freelancer seems like the best solution in the current circumstances. In order for us to earn enough for living, I needed to jump into quite cold water. This new and unknown for me waters are somewhat freezing, but I must admit, the work I do now as a writer and freelancer, writing on one side and figuring out what is my next move on another, is fun.

Then this past Saturday I have received another illustration of wishes versus preferences.

As I said above, I was on one of my lows. Physically because of a not so pleasant cold (right after reading what it means for a freelancer to be ill and that you can’t just stay in bed if you have a headache and a badly sore throat). And psychologically, because there is always this financial pressure and as a newly baked freelancer I am simply fretting about the money, especially when such a low comes.

Plus on this morning my son Niklas refused to help me to put on breakfast table. He wanted to watch his favourite films on YouTube.

“Nothing unusual here,” you might say. We all know such reactions, also from our own childhoods.

But somehow, on that morning, I exploded. I got angry and told Niklas so. And the fact that I got angry put me further down still. For me this was a certificate of my failure. Not only my business doesn’t run as I would prefer, and I don’t manage the household as I should (according to my slightly unrealistic standards), my child doesn’t listen to me, and I can’t keep my tempter at bay!

So, when Niklas finally showed up at the kitchen table, I had my face in my hands and I cried. The chair opposite of mine screeched the floor and I looked up. Niklas looked surprised. Then he smiled and gave a little giggle. He seemed not to know what to do in such a situation.

“Oh, mouse,” I sniffed. “You don’t know how it looks when Mama cries.” I wiped my tears away with my fingers. “I simply have a feeling that nothing is working.” I gave out a big sigh.

“Me too!” Niklas smiled and loudly breathed in an out. “I also think that nothing is working.”

My thought generation machine spitted out into my consciousness, “Oh great! I wanted him to say ‘Everything will be OK.’ And what does he do instead?”

But there was something in Niklas that made me listen to him attentively. His smile. Pure, childish and honest.

What he said right after, simply made my day. Without blink of an eye, Niklas kept his gaze into my eyes and said, “I want to be agreeable with you, Mama. Always!”

And that was when I had this epiphany about wishes and preferences. I realized that I always wanted to be supported in my ideas. This is what my son did, right then. He said, that he supports me and agrees with me.

He couldn’t have known that I said something I didn’t mean. I never made it clear to him, which of my ideas I wanted to be supported and which not.

The fact is, my son supported me and wanted to stay supportive. “Always” as he proudly said.

His face and this light bulb realization made me understand that wishes do come true and quite often.

Even if they don’t come true exactly as preferred, and even if there is always something still to wish for.

Well, then there is always room for another wish.

And there is always a way for it to come true.

Isn’t it wonderful to know, that as for anything else, this world is endless, including our ability to wish and realize those wishes?

Picture: Niklas and one of his fulfilled wishes, the day when he was officially named a Ninja in his favourite toy store in Aalborg.


A slow lamp

Since we are relatively new in our new house, for about four months now, the lamps play a considerable part in our lives and in our conversations. We discuss which to buy, where to install them, which to install first, and which later.

We even started evaluating them according to their speed.

At lunch past Saturday, Michael (my husband) and Niklas (my son) discussed which lamps are the fastest.

Mind you, not the light, as I tried to point out. They were discussing lamps.

Niklas said the Road Runner lamps and the Speedy Gonzales lamps where the fastest.

“What about the headlights on our car? Are they as fast?” asked Michael.

Niklas shook his head.

Michael nodded. “No, you’re probably right, those of Road Runner and of Speedy Gonzales are faster.”

Niklas objected again. “But yes, the lamps on our car are fast! They are faster or at least as fast as those of Road Runner and of Speedy Gonzales.”

My attempt to claim the light to be the fastest of all, whatever the lamp it was coming from, was to no avail.

Apparently the lightning is even faster, according to my five-year-old son.

My ten-months-old daughter, Emma, is as excited about lamps as the rest of us.

Often when we enter her room, she searches the ceiling light with her gaze and a big smile, whether it is on or off.

And she confuses the German word “langsam”=”slow” with the word “Lampe”=”lamp”. Every time I ask her to take it slow down when she drinks out of her cup, she looks up, searches for a lamp and says, “M-p-p” or “M-p-pa”.

Picture: A selfie with Emma in her room and her favourite ceiling lamp.


How a poster made my day

This is what happened last week. I picked Niklas from kindergarten and we took a bus to go home. Niklas was happy to see that his favourite seats right behind the driver’s cabin were free.

As soon as we set down Niklas looked up and saw a poster with speech balloons all over it, similar to the one we discovered a month before, where each of the balloons were of bright and different colour. Niklas asked me to read the text on the poster. As I read, we discovered that again all of the speech balloons, except one, had a phrase staring with Thank you.

“Thank you that you reduced the volume of the music you listen to. It is a great style!”

“Thank you for helping the woman with the stroller. It is very kind of you!”

“Thank you that you greeted the driver when you entered. It’s a great style!”

And so on.

The special one of the balloons had the following text:
“This is for you, who is on your way to a job interview. We cross fingers for you!”

I couldn’t stop a big smile widening my face.

And then I recalled the special speech balloon from the poster Niklas and I saw a month before. “This is for you, who is coming from the hairdresser’s. You look great!”

I reminded Niklas of that one and we both grinned. Right after that Niklas asked me to read all of the text on the poster again.

Picture: Niklas and I share the love for buses. This picture was taken in Cambridge last year in front of a double decker. We were thrilled to discovered that Niklas’s toy bus had the same number as the bus we saw on the street we were walking.

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P.S. The story “Nothing is Like it Seems”, which I started posting last week, will be continued next week. I will be posting this story bi-weekly until it finds its end.