I’ve always enjoyed writing stories. As a kid I had a vivid imagination and I would spend hours writing the stories that I saw in my head. In the beginning it took me ages to finish one story – I had to run my fingers across the keyboard for every letter because I had no idea where each letter was located. I remember wondering a million times why they didn’t just put the letters in alphabetical order.
But I made sure my stories got told. When I was little my stories were mostly about animals. They would talk to each other, but humans could not understand them. They went on adventures together, mostly fleeing from evil humans, and they always ended with the animals surviving because they had their friendship.
Later on my stories involved humans instead, and as I hit puberty they were almost always about love or friendship – mostly reflected in my own “love life” at the time, with the good girl falling for someone and then trying to battle her love for this guy with still being a good girl. Hah!
In school I loved when we had to write stories. My work was always praised by my teacher who I to this date still hold very dear and who I credit for inspiring me to keep telling my stories. I remember handing in my final story, just before we graduated, and her telling me: “One day you’ll publish these stories”.
Even though she told me this ten years ago I never forgot it. Publishing my work has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember.
For many years I stopped writing stories, but they never stopped playing out in my mind. And the only difference in my stories now is that my characters speak to me in English.
Now this presents one major problem for me: English is not my first language. Danish is. I understand English just fine, and living in America presents no issues for me communication wise.
But writing a great novel in your second language isn’t easy. I will see these scenes play out in my mind, but when I sit down in front of my computer to type them out I’m disappointed with the words I’m left with on the screen.
I find them simple and colorless, their impact completely tasteless in my mouth. It’s not that I feel like I write much better in Danish – Danish is a much more limited language than English, since there aren’t as many words in Danish.
I’ve tried telling my current story, which has the working title To Live Forever, in Danish, but my characters speak to me in English and trying to translate them to Danish proved to be almost impossible for me.
So here I am. Struggling with the words I write, but still loving the story. My plan at the moment is to simply write out the story and then have a very rough first draft.
Then I’ll go in and try to edit what I have. That might work. But I’m becoming more and more aware about the long process writing a book truly is. How do authors do it!? My admiration for anybody who has ever finished a book is tremendous – you are all some kind of super humans!
Do you write in a second language? How do you feel about that?