Exciting new year!

I’ve finally got some work done on translating my poems to english! We are a group working in Google docs. It is a great experience and I’ve learned more about the english language these past few days than I ever did in one school year.

The last year, I was ill a lot and had so many concerns about non-literary things. Now I finally feel ready to write and let my texts meet the public again. One of the most rewarding experiences of 2012 was a visit to a highschool/college (don’t know what word best describe the Norwegian «videregående»). The students sat spellbound for two hours, listening to my reading and talk. They also asked a lot of questions, about both writing and transgender issues.

I think I need to make the writing and publishing of a new book of poems my priority this year. Although I love the publisher of Frikar and Framandkar, I probably have to look for another one for the third book in this triology. And then there is this more concept-poetry idea that I’ve been working on.

I’m also exploring other art forms; acrylic painting and performance. Poetry is for me more than a form, more like a feeling, a need to express.

All of these exciting things would never be possible without my good friends. Thank you!

The Proust Questionnaire for authors

The Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival has interviewed some authors in this way, for example Stuart MacBride, one of my favorite crime fiction writers. No, I’m not invited to the festival, nor will I be able to attend, but I felt like answering the questions anyway.

«The Proust Questionnaire is believed to reveal an individual’s true nature. We have asked 2011 Festival authors 17 questions inspired by the questionnaire in an attempt to uncover who they are…» Les videre

Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories By S.S. Van Dine

I’ve seen these rules before and found them again here. I prefer mystery novels that follow them, in addition to my own rules(bold):

In 1936, S.S. Van Dine (author of the Philo Vance mysteries) published an article titled «Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories.» Obviously, a lot has changed since then — but maybe not as much as we might think. The rules are: Les videre

Norwegian book publishing business

This text is meant to provide some background information for my Anglo-American readers. It is written from an author’s perspective with focus on poetry. It applies to books written originally in Norwegian. Les videre

Writing like…

Ian Fleming, the father of James Bond!

At least that’s what the automatic analyzer at I write like concluded after analyzing my (so far) only erotic short story in English. I love the result! Erotica is literature with a simple purpose, and thus difficult to write. The language has to be simple and the genre conventions are strict. If my erotica has anything in common with the books about James Bond, I’m very happy.

There is of course the possibility that the outcome was a result of English not being my native language, and that my English really stinks. But I, of course, choose to ignore that possibility.

Help with structuring a collection of poetry – software?

I’ve been searchin the net for a long time without luck. So I’m hoping someone reading this blog have good ideas and recommendations. I am not sure if I need a dedicated software or just an application to Open Office.

What I need help with:

  • creating a list of short texts, preferably from the first line (my poems usually have no titles, usually don’t rhyme and is very short)
  • linked to the actual text
  • enable me to see a preview of the text (readable) without opening every document (if every poem has its own document) or use an extremely large letter size.
  • In the actual text I need to be able to format it like I do in Open Office or Word. The line spacing is especially important.
  • I would really love it if I also could tag my poems with themes and select every one with the same tag at once and move them.

I can’t find anything like that. It is possible that such a software do exist, maby made for another purpose, and that I just don’t realize that it can do the things I like it to. Please tell me!

An introduction – for my hypothetical english edition

The Norwegian last name Stein means stone and comes from a small farm on the west coast of Norway, where the first settlers found more stone than soil.

Tarald Stein is a Norwegian poet and transman – the first to write about transitioning from female to male in Norwegian.

In this english edition of the  first two of his collections of poetry, the poet has rearranged the poems and created a  new entity.

(Yes, I really want to do that some day and get my work published in a larger language. Any foreign publisher or agent reading this?)

The nearest book

I found this at Anginae’s blog and thought it would be fun. Especially since the pile of books beside my couch consists of books I’ve not had the time to read yet.

1.  Pick up the nearest book.

2.  Open to page 123.

3.  Find the fifth sentence.

4.  Post the next three sentences.

The book on top of the pile was Transgendered – Theology, Ministry and Communities of Faith by Justin Tanis.

Discuss this issue thoroughly with program leadership and with transgendered people within the community. Where the group intends to include transgendered people, say so explicitly. Transgendered people are accustomed to being excluded; you need to make your inclusion as broad as possible and obvious to all participants.

The title of the chapter is Creating a Genuine Welcome for Trans People in Communities of Faith, but judging from these few sentences, it might be a good idea for any organisation or meeting to read it. I actually look more forward to reading other chapters, like «Gender Variance and the Scriptures», «Gender as a Calling» and Transgendered Body Theology». If I just had the time for all the things I’d like to do!

Reactions on telling my story so publicly

People often ask me what kind of reactions I’ve got after publishing my book and talking publicly about being trans. They seem to expect that I’ve gotten a lot of negative reactions, and seem sometimes disappointed when I tell them that the reactions have only been positive.

I’ve got comments from friends, aquintances, neighbours, strangers, my friends’ mothers, my family, parents in my daughter’s kindergarden, an old teacher of mine and so on. Some directly, some through friends, some by phone and some on my norwegian guestbook or blog. And they’ve all been very positive. A lot of them says I’m tough, but I don’t think I am. I’ve chosen to believe that most people are good until proven otherwise. I had to at some point, unless I wanted to go crazy. With that attitude, it’s not scary to talk publicly about taboos. Ant to be tough, I think you have to be afraid at first, before you overcome it.

Some years ago, there was an interview with me in one of the biggest tabloid newspapers in Norway. I was a «female» porn-writer and, because I’m quite proud of all my writing, saw no need to be anonymous. I did expect to get a few phone calls from people who didn’t see the difference between writing porn and being a sex-worker. I got one. And I almost felt sorry for the bastard.

People do tend to be better than most people think. Or maybe I’m just incredebly lucky?

Trans in the media

Yesterday was a crazy day. I started on TV early in the morning and was mostly busy with interviews all day. I even got to talk some of my book, the reason why I do this media-thing in the first place. Norway is a small country and trans-issues are not very well known, so I’ve done a lot of educating. I’m not afraid to talk about myself, and some transsexuals find that intimidating. I’ve been told to shut up because I’m not representative for the whole trans-community, especially in terms of being gay. That makes me really angry, bacause it was one of the reasons I didn’t come to terms with my identity earlier. I haven’t heard from any of them this time, but I know where to go to get my head chopped off. I’ll just give it some time.

It’s exhausting to answer questions about myself all day, but I’ve got to meet many nice journalists and got some very positive comments from strangers irl and online. It feels good. And I do think what I do will benefit others in the long run.

Some things puzzle me a bit about how the media like to portray transsexuals. Why is it so important to print my old name? It doesn’t reveal anything about me, really. And very few people knew me by my intermediate female name and not by my male name. I’m happy that no one has tried to print my given name, bacause that would be a link to the past with a lot more consequences.

I try to make my gender-experiences less freakish by linking them to common human experiences, but it seems like the media don’t like that. I guess they would like to portray me as a freak. It doesn’t bother me all that much, because I think they’ll have a hard time to accomplish it. I honestly don’t think people see me as a freak, not in person anyway. And that is what matters.

Norway is a small country, in good and bad. I recently read Gender Outlaw’s post about transmen in the media, and how it makes him frightened of hate-crimes against transgender men, including questioning his own safety. I’m convinced that this is almost non-existent in Norway. I feel free to speak, free to be visible and free to talk to the media without facing the terror of hate and violence. It’s a real privelege! I wish everyone could have the same freedom of speach as I do! And feel safe.

(I’ve posted links to the interviews on my norwegian blog, but wasn’t sure if anyone not speaking norwegian would be interested.)

Talking to the press

My book will be realeased this monday and the days are filled with interviews and planning. I don’t expect people to believe me when I say I’m not just happy for the attention, although it is true. I do like educating people about transsexualism and gender-issues, but it’s weired to see myself described in the words of the journalist instead of my own. After all, I’m used to to the writing and taking the decicions myself.

The reasons for doing it anyway is that I want to spread my book. I want people to buy it and read it and hopefully learn something. I also want to educate journalists and the people reading/watching/listening to the interviews, even if they won’t buy/read my book.

But sometimes I feel I’m trying to swallow camels. Especially when the form is very tabloid. I also have trouble not telling the things I should keep to myself. Keeping my daughter out of it is not that hard, but playing nice with the norwegian gender-clinic is very, very hard. After all, they are not, and have never been, nice to me. But the time has not come for that yet. They might deny me a diagnosis or treatment if I show my anger.

Let me tell you this: As a Norwegian citizen, there’s two systems you have good reasons to fear; the child service and the psychiatry. Both have very few limits as to how they can make a persons life miserable and they are usually above the law.

I guess I’ve already said too much.

Writing erotica

I’ve written enough erotic short stories to fill a book and I’m now searching for a publisher. Writing erotica seems to be a habit that goes in periods. I’ll write story after story for several months, and then suddenly I can’t do it any more.

It’s been some time since my last erotic period and I think it’ll soon be time for it. This post could be a way to renew my interest in the genre. I’ll explain how I write my stories and what I like about it.

Erotic short stories are what I call literature with a purpose. It’s supposed to turn people on. I think that’s the reason why the composition is quite strict and kind of classic. You have to raise the tension according to people’s arousal.

Maybe what I write would be considered porn, and I usually use that term for it, mainly because it seems more honest and fair. I’ve never understood the difference really.

In the magazine where I’ve gotten my stories published, they want stories of a higher literary level. They’re supposed to be both pornographic and literary at the same time. Now, that’s a challenge: How to write about sex without clishés? How to write a story with the purpose of turning people on, but make it a good story too? I love challenges!

Ususally I start off with the main character feeling really bad. His wife, girlfriend or boyfriend has left him, he’s lost his job or he’s experienced some ther kind of loss or defeat. Then he meets this man, often someone he knows, who he sees in a new way, and gets attracted to. Yes, my stories are usually gay, but some are also transgendered.

I need to use my own sexual fantasies, and that made me feel vulnerable in the beginning. That was back in 2004, when some friends asked why I didn’t write erotica, since a lot of my writings were about sex. So I started and really liked it. Now I don’t feel so vulnerable anymore. I’ve realized that my fantasies aren’t just mine, that other people have similar fantasies and that my stories can help them come to terms with their sexuality.

I’ve tried to write plain staright stories too, but they never work. There must be some gender bending involved, or at least some uncertainness around how the persons define themselves and their sexuality.

I’ve also tried to explore BDSM, but have given up. Some light bonding is ok, but everything else in that category is more of a turn off than a turn on. And then it is impossible for me to write sexy about it. The same goesfor fetishes. So my stories are kind of vanilla actually.

When I tell people that I write this kind of stories, they’ll often ask if I get inspiration from my own sex-life. I always disappoint them. I write about the sex that I can’t have or don’t get. And it works for me.

A poet writing a novel?

It was a lot of work to make my poems ready to be published; re-writing, finding synonymes, cutting away dead meat. But after all, writing poems comes kind of easy to me. Writing pros on the other hand, now that’s another story.

At the moment I’ve got several writing projects, among others a mystery novel and a childrens book. I’ve written some erotic short stories and like it. So I thought that it wouldn’t be so difficult writing in another genre with strict rules. Well, it seems I’m too good at keeping it short.

After finally finding a good plot and a main character I can live with (after all, you live a long time with the caracters of a novel while writing it), I started writing. Then I stopped and read it through. I discovered that if I kept focusing on the plot, there would never be a novel, maybe a very short short story. And that would be fine if this was the material of a short story, but it’s not. To make it good, I need to make it long, to give the characters some space to do what they’re supposed to do.

How do you do that? The «detective» needs to be brought astray. He must believe some things that turn out not to be true. I find that very hard.

Initially I had my eyes on a competition for the best mystery novel, where the deadline are in november this year. I now realize that I’ll never make it in time, and that’s a shame, cause I’ have good use of the money.

I’m not giving up this easily of course. I never did with my poems. After all I do have a good plot and some interesting, complex characters. I can’t just throw that away. But it will take me more than a year to finish it, that’s for sure. I’d be happy for any advice, comments or ideas!