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Alumni of the month

Alumni of the month: Olaug Nilssen

Olaug has written since she was 19 years old, she has always liked to write and wrote a lot over the years. At Heimly Folkehøgskule she sent a manuscript to a publisher – and suddenly she had become a published author. Nilssen has recently published the book, “Tung tids tale” - a story of how it is to be the mother of a child with autism.

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Olaug Nilssen
Photo:
Bent R. Synnevåg

How did you know that becoming an author is what you wanted to become?

Now that I look back on it, it was all a bit random. I had a writer’s dream early on, but it was more about being a celebrity. You know, as others dream of being a model or a football player. I wrote a lot and liked writing, so it was an identity that was formed early through the studies at the University of Bergen and Skriveakademiet (writing academy).

Do you have any memorable moments from your student days?

It is such a long time ago, but those years at the university where important to me; there is no doubt about that. I remember when Eivind Tjønneland (a Norwegian literary scholar and professor in Nordic at UiB) lectured on how to use irony. He stated that whenever you needed to be ironic or was about to say something ironic, it was important to sharpen/point your mouth as much as you could and make it clear, that this, this is ironic. Then he turned towards us, sharpening his mouth as much as he could and said; “You are very good students.”

What part of your studies have you benefited the most from when it comes to your work?

For me, Nordic is without a doubt what I have benefited the most from. Through my studies, Norwegian literature and Norwegian authors influenced me. I received a lot through my studies and language was essential here.  Language is important and of course an important part of the study course. In my opinion, Norse should be a central part of the study courses in Nordic and literature.

For students who wants to become authors, do you have any advice?

The most important thing is to be flexible. Do no lean too much, on what you write. It is good to have other jobs in between – daring to say yes to other jobs while you dream of making it, as an author will not destroy your chances of making it. It will rather contribute positively to your writing and the process around it.

Have you learned something along the way you wished you knew beforehand?

When you are young, you tend to be a little vain on your own ambitions. Knowing it is okay to step outside your comfort zone and field while producing your art is a good thing. As I mentioned before, that experience will probably help you more than you know. Another thing is to dare to be faithful to your own understanding, be where you are. There is a special value in daring to be yourself in what you write.

Your three best tips for graduates?

  1. Join the industry! Get to know who works within literature, not just in Bergen or in your area, but on a national level.
  2. Do not be afraid to take a step forward and introducing yourself. Show what you can on the platforms you master.
  3. Try to keep your sincerity.

What happens now?

For now, it is all about completing a piece at DNS, a farce called: “Ikkje tenk på det”. That is the first to happen. Next spring I will travel around the country and talk about my book “Tung tids tale”, which I am looking forward to doing. I hope I can continue with literature and drama in the future. Right now, I feel that the road is open and that I have many opportunities.