23 June 2014

On Writing

Personal Picture // The Cat & the Diary

Last week, I have been kindly nominated by Lucent to answer some questions about my writing habits. Since I found the questions really interesting to ponder, and enjoyed reading Lucent's own answers as a reader of her blog, I decided to accept the invitation and share with you my own take on writing, as a blogger, writer and decade-long diary filler.

What am I working on?

I currently have several writing projects: in English, most of my time is devoted to updating the Nife en l'Air, finding ideas and writing posts about subjects I may find interesting for potential readers. The topic of simplicity is one I hold dear, for I value the tales of other people's simplicity journeys a lot as a reader.

My main writing projects are conducted in my native language though, French. I have a personal blog in French, the original one, in which, on top of simplicity subjects, I also publish some of my writings. These notes gather poems from my childhood, lists, short stories and non-fiction essays around various themes and universes.

I just completed a short story contest around the theme of Jazz, of which I can't say a word until the winner is designated (in September). This participation is a milestone for me, as I have always been an amateur writer, for myself, and read my Mother and the Fiancé. This is the first time I step up and actually engage in a "real" writer's activity.

Finally, still in French, I am currently writing a short crime story, taking place on a transatlantic cruise in the 1930's, à la Agatha Christie.

How does my work/writing differ from others in its genre?

This is rather hard to answer, as I don't feel confined in one genre. Concerning my main writing in French, I dabble in many literary types (poems, lists, fictional and non-fictional short stories) - maybe this very diversity is a way to be different - although I suspect many writers work on many genres as well to find their home and level up.

Concerning my blogging, which may be the point of interest for the readers of the Nife, I don't believe my blog is anything more than ordinary. The subject of simplicity is very much in the air, and there are dozens of blogs adopting a similar editorial line these days. My writing in English is one of a foreigner, which probably makes the writing style of my posts quite ordinary indeed.

I think the difference comes from the fact that it is my blog, my voice. The Nife is a sneak peek into my own world, which isn't extraordinary, but it is unique, as each and everyone of us has their own life journey. My simplification journey, my reflections, my take on the world and my own experiences might bring a different light on the themes I write about, generate debates, discussions with readers, and lead to help each other on our own journey.

Why do I write what I do?

When I first started my Japanese major, a lot of people asked "why Japanese"? I didn't have an answer for them. It just "called" me. I think it is the same for writing. I remember doing some "mock-writing" on paper when I was a little child and didn't know how to write yet. I remember writing poems during classes when I was bored (which happened very often). I remember writing a whole crime novel during our holidays in Spain in 1998 (on pen and paper, and the manuscript has unfortunately been lost). I remember, inspired by Tolkien, creating a whole universe with my own version of Elves and Dwarves, with continents and a History and tales. I remember starting a blog when, in the middle of the crazy busy life of a student working on week-ends, most of my projects were abandoned. I remember feeling incomplete and unfulfilled when, as a young employee, I wasn't writing as much anymore.

The need to write has always been present within me, for its own sake. I'm not looking to become a famous blogger, or a best-seller writer living off my passion. I just feel like it nourishes my soul.

Now, why do I write about what I write, in the forms I have chosen? In general, I think writing is a way to convey some ideas, let them form and mature, help me understand them, and then share them with other people so they can bring their own ideas to the mix and make the whole reflection grow.

When I am in an emotional turmoil, I write in my diary, as a way to "voice" my emotions, let them out. A way to give them some shape and understand myself better. Writing as self introspection, and emotional release.

Writing poems, short stories and even non-fiction essays, is a way to express my creativity. Sometimes I dream about something special and it inspires a fictional universe for short stories, or fictional characters. Sometimes, I think about all the little things I like about a season and feel like writing a list about it. Writing as expressing and developing creativity, as a way to nurture my soul.

Then, there is the whole life reflection, thoughts about society, consumerism and any other real life topic I might be currently wondering about. That critical thinking is a way to make life choices, understand our position in this big world as small human beings. Writing helps me order all these thoughts, ideas and questions, move them forward. It also helps sharing them with other people, spreading ideas I believe to be worth thinking about, help other people grow with me. Writing as an extension of my thoughts, as a voice to communicate with other people and share interesting topics.

How does my writing process work?

Surprisingly, my writing process is quite similar no matter the genre - from poem to blog posts, short stories...

It all starts with the idea. I'm not waking up one morning saying "I want to write a novel" - the novel is only the form in which I want to develop my idea. I start with one idea, one topic I want to write about.

Then I choose which medium I will use to develop that idea - if it is very personal and emotional, therefore not interesting to people who don't know me, it will be my diary. If it is a global topic that potentially concerns most of us, I'll share it on my blog. If it is a creative idea, about a fictional world or character, it will become a short story, a poem or a novel project.

Then I lay down the main topics I want to cover, I make the "plan" of each chapter (or paragraph) content. For novels or longer short stories, the plan is much more detailed than for non-fiction or a blog post.

Then I write, by chapter/paragraph, everything that passes into my mind, everything I want to share on the subject. I don't bother about the writing style or the length just yet.

Once everything is in, I read and edit - especially for pieces that I publish for readers. I remove every redundant information, every personal anecdote that isn't interesting to people who don't know me. I then rewrite the long, heavy sentences, create paragraphs, and keep editing until it feels smoother and more pleasant to read.

Finally, I check the spelling, the words (especially in English), and verify one last time that all the ideas I had in mind are in there. For blog posts, if the article is still too long, that's where I consider cutting it in two to make it more readable. Then, I work on introduction and conclusion, where applicable.


That was all for the "Writing" blog hop. As I am not used to publishing that kind of pieces, on the process itself, I have no idea if it is of any interest for readers, so please feel free to let me know what you think of that kind of themed Q&A format.

As a last word, I would like to thank Lucent, from the blog Lucent Imagery, for nominating me for this blog hop.

Lucent in Iceland - Copyright Lucent Imagery

I am honoured that she thought of me to answer questions about writing. I am a regular reader of her own little space, and I appreciate the quality photographs, accounts of daily bits of her happy life, and her reflections and learnings about simplicity. Also, the very existence of a photography journal made by a legally blind photographer helps reconsider the limits of the possible. I admire her courage, motivation, gratitude and ability to make the most of life.

I haven't had much time to contact the nominees privately to ask their permission, so please don't feel obliged to participate if you don't want to. Also, the rule says I should nominate three (hum 4) bloggers, listed below, but if you'd like to join please let me know and I'll explain the rules, as well as update my post with the link of the next participants!

  • Samantha Garner - I discovered Samantha's blog a few months back, and enjoy every single one of her posts. Her simple and immersive writing is an invitation to travel, enjoy the little things of life, and her photographs are very beautiful. Samantha also has another blog where she publishes her writing, so I thought she would be a good candidate to answer these 4 questions.

  • Joy from Fried Rice Connoisseur - I have followed Joy in her own life journey from her previous blog Of Stranger Sensibilities, then her cultural and personal musings on her current blog. Sometimes we get a glimpse of another person online and muse that she would make a perfect friend. She publishes some articles about garment factories at Factory Watch, which I believe makes her a good candidate for this blog hop.

  • Emma from This Kind Choice - I discovered Emma's blog as she was starting to publish articles about ethical fashion and the importance of our choices as consumers. The topic of ethical consumption, and the power we have as consumers to decide what to buy is central in a simplification journey, and I find Emma's blog to be a valuable resource of information and food for thought. Also, Emma's writing style is very interesting, and she has published original posts using an unusual structure, which I loved, so I thought she is a good candidate for this blog hop. Edit: her post on writing is now up here.

  • Kristina from Uniformly Dressed - I would also love Kristina to participate, even if it would make 4 nominees. I love reading her musings about style, but also her week-end adventures and her beautiful pictures. Her personal account of our Sunday afternoon in LA was great, it was as if I was reliving that afternoon from her own eyes. I love how she gives life to these moments through her writing and I would love to read her answers to these questions. 

I hope you liked this (not so little) interlude about writing. If you would like to join this blog hop, please let me know, and if you like this Q&A style of posts to know more about my blogging, my simplification journey or myself, please let me know! I'd be happy to answer your questions if there is anything in particular you'd liek me to elaborate about.


  1. Ooh I was so excited to see this in my reader! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and learning more about you and your writing. Thank you so much for participating, and for your generous kind words of me. I am a huge fan of your blog and think it is fantastic!

    1. Thank you for nominating me! At first I wasn't sure how I would answer these questions, but as I wrote it came out naturally. I enjoyed reading your own answers a lot as well, and I really enjoy your blog, your pictures and writing :)

  2. Thanks for the nomination. Your writing is so interesting and wonderful to read. I don't think my own writing is worth a closer examination, but I will try in the near future.

    1. I'm not sure if my writing is so interesting, but it's too difficult to judge oneself. I think you may be underestimating yourself here, I really enjoy your writing :) Of course no pressure, you should only follow up on the invitation if you feel like it!

  3. I am a devoted reader of yours and I am amazed that English is your second language - your writing is very elegant and beautifully considered. Definitely extraordinary rather than ordinary - keep up the lovely work.

    1. Thank you so much for this kind word, it's always difficult to evaluate my own work, for obvious reasons, so I'm very grateful that you like it :)

  4. Thank you for my nomination as well. I would like to respond in a few weeks--though for the blog hop is it necessary to continue the streak? I do not know of anyone I could nominate.

    1. I think the original rules say you should nominate three people, but I think it's no problem if you don't nominate anyone in particular and just offer readers to participate if they have a blog themselves. It's a fun thing to participate in, and shouldn't be a constraint ;)

  5. I was so pleased to see Emma from This Kind Choice as one of your nominees. I follow her blog and yours as well and am grateful for both. Merci.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it :) I think Emma actually published her own answers today, I hope you'll like it too!

  6. Very interesting to read what goes on behind the finished writing we read!
    Thanks for the nomination Kali! I have published my answers :)

    1. Great, I loved reading your answers! Thanks for accepting to participate :)

  7. What a great entry; I loved reading about your writing thoughts! And thank you so much for nominating me; it's so nice to read such kind words. I will make it my next entry! :)