I’ve been a little bit here and there throughout the summer, and after a week of hard work and even harder carousing I finally managed to gather together my camping gear scattered around by the move, buy the things I had lost, and head over to Nuuksio National Park to relax. As it turned out, it was a trip of surprising productivity.
This has been a very weird, a very productive and a very chaotic summer. There has been some annoying stuff and some missteps, but all the good things that I have slammed into have outweighed that stuff ten to one. Weirdly enough, even though the theme of the summer has been being so broke I haven’t been able to go anywhere, there haven’t been too many chances to rewind, because for me it happens in the nature, like in a cabin, when diving, etc. I’ve been meaning to go camping to Nuuksio for ages, but most of my gear had been scattered here and there during the move and the break up, and I didn’t have the money to replace some stuff I really needed, like a tent mattress.
One thing I really appreciate about living in the Commie Reindeerland of Finland is the fact that going into wilderness is really easy. Everyman’s rights give you the right to basically go to any forest you find and build a camp there without any cost or permits. National Parks and nature reserves are of course a bit of a different deal, but usually they are not that much more difficult.
When I was packing, I felt really scatterbrained and more than a little hangoverish, because I had been wired as fuck throughout the previous week and partying in the previous night. I managed to get most of the stuff with me, apart from a change of clothes, towel and swimming trunks. This was the first time I was going to Nuuksio area without a car of my own, so figuring out the busses and the most handy shopping places took some thinking. It turned out that the closest bus stop was a couple of kilometers from the guide house. It was a sunny and a really hot day, and trudging on a dry and dusty dirt road drenched in hangover sweat I couldn’t help but laugh at the great white hunter feeling like he’s about to die even before he’s reached the starting point of the trek. When I got into the forest proper, out of direct sunlight, and downed a couple of liters of cold water at the guide house, I was already feeling much better.
I had chosen one of the easier locations, a small island a few kilometers into the forest. The Nuuksio area is full of rocky ravine-like formations, scoured there by the ice age glaciers, with dark little lakes on the bottom. My camp was in one of the bigger lakes, where the shores were more horizontal than vertical. When I got there, I was one of the four crews sharing the place, but there was hardly a rush. Some of the others gathered up around the assigned fire place to chat (no open fires in National Parks except where permitted), but I was feeling far too antisocial for it so I just took over one corner of the island.
What I basically did throughout the afternoon and the evening was napping in the tent, reading Redshirts on Kindle sitting on the shoreline, basking on the sun, drinking coffee and making pea soup dinner with my own spirit stove. A bunch of mallards were hanging around my campsite, just chilling out for a few hours just like I was. They got so familiar that they almost started nipping at my toes and exploring my tent.
As the night fell, I took some time to photograph the sunset, the trees and the surroundings, and when it got properly dark, I wandered the shores looking for Perseids, managing to catch a pretty impressive fireball. I also almost stepped on someone who was sleeping in a bivouac or maybe just with a sleeping bag right on the ground, managing to scare the shit out of him.
I don’t usually sleep too deeply in a tent, but paradoxically I wake up refreshed nevertheless. This time the night was utter shit. My joints kept aching, a flock of geese had landed on the lake at dusk and they kept tooting and squabbling throughout the night, which was a perfect counterpoint to a camp on the other side of the lake, where people who had come to drink the night away in a forest kept hooting and squabbling as loudly. I had weird fragmented dreams and at one point I snapped awake yelling “oh no, not the rabbit – hah shit this is a dream!” (no, your honor, I have no idea what that was about).
Then something weird happened. I’ve perhaps mentioned the fact that in the beginning of the summer I secured a publisher for my first novel, which did well in a writing competition last year, and I should come up with a second draft by the end of the summer. I’ve been having… well, a massive stage fright about starting to write the second draft, and I had barely touched the text in over a year. I don’t feel insecure that often and it frustrates the socks off me when it happens, and the book had been riding my ass through the summer, compounded with all the other stuff. Well, suddenly I had this dream where someone was turning the pages of the printed manuscript of my book in front of my nose, making notations to the text. This really sarcastic and tired sounding voice started berating and insulting me. “You little whiny shit, stop whinging and making excuses and get with it, you needle dick – like this and this, get it! Start here and do it like this!” – and on and on like that.
When I woke up in the morning, I still remembered the notation in the manuscript pages, and the annoying tone of the voice. Although I was more amused than taking it seriously (oh come on, brace for corny and affected: a first time novelist goes into the woods to get an epiphany!), my head was abuzz with ideas and I found myself packing up right after breakfast and heading towards the downtown with a good speed.
I dropped my gear home, went to a cafe in a downtown, opened up the manuscript and well – two hours vanished and I had done a structural overhaul to the first quarter of the text. The cafe closed down, exeunt scriba, a move into a bar, and when that closed down at two in the morning, the overhaul was done, I had the kind of understanding and control over the text I really hadn’t had before, I was ready to start writing the second draft – and that’s exactly what I started doing right the next day, feeling happy and amused as hell. It’s nice that my subconscious doesn’t even stoop to try being subtle anymore.
This is a backdated entry, written about three weeks later. Since that I’ve managed to write the second draft, two out of the four short stories I need to finish this autumn, and to get a good idea for a third one. Well, fuck corny, if it works – I’m certainly not hating this!
As I’m writing this entry, there’s an early September rain and windstorm raging outside. I would like to get one or two more camping trips done before the winter sets in. Life is heading into interesting directions, art is pouring out and things are happening. I’m thinking 2012 will end up being one interesting year for me…