Maja Hattvangs blogging style stands out in the blogging sphere. Instead of just promoting products and herself, which is very common in the blog world, she just as much reminds her readers of the value of the little things in life and she creates trends rather than following them. In January this year, she received the Bonaqua Great Taste Award at Vixen Blog Awards after 10 years of being a blogger. In addition, she just published a book called Natural Enough* about how to make your own skincare with natural ingredients, right at home in your own kitchen. We think that green is good, so we had a chat with Maja about her new book, the pressures of social media, and about feeling good enough.
What are you working on these days?
I have just released a book on homemade skincare, and that’s been both exciting and a lot of work. It’s been nice to have a publisher that’s got my back and fixes things for me, hehe! Working freelance, I’m so used to doing everything myself. Other than that, I work with social media for Cappelen Damm, write about beauty for pureskin.no and usually have some kind of writing job on the side.
What does a normal workday look like to you?
I usually work from home, I sit at the dining table and write, edit pictures,answer e-mails and do administrative work. I might go to a press breakfast or lunch during the day, but I try to keep it down to one event per week, or it gets too overwhelming. If I need to finish something, I sit down in a café. I focus better if I get a change of environment.
Can you tell us a bit about your book?
It’s a recipe book with curated products you can make yourself, in your own kitchen. From simple things like face masks with two ingredients, to the more advanced, such as lotions and soaps. The selection mirrors my preferences for product types and ingredients that I think suit a lot of people and gives a good foundation for healthy skin. The thought behind it is to combine usefulness and enjoyment, and it’s also really nice to look at! Lars Kjelsnes has designed it and Anne Valeur has taken lots of nice photos for it!
"... the worst was the anxiety about doing something wrong or forgetting something important."
How was the process of writing a book? What was the best part and what was the most challenging?
It was a lot of fun, but also exhausting. I had a pretty tight deadline, so for a while, it was lots of work and a bit stressful. But worth it, of course! The most fun part was to combine all the things I like: writing, making stuff, working in the studio and styling photos with Anne. (who took the pictures). And really immerse myself in something I think is fun. The worst was the anxiety about doing something wrong or forgetting something important. That feeling didn’t go away until I got a copy of the book in my hands and saw that it was good, but I’m still excited to see how it is received.
Your book is about natural skincare and you post pictures with a natural look yourself, while we on Instagram and on many blogs see a lot of the opposite these days. How do you think social media affects the beauty ideals for young girls, and is that something you’re aware of in your own posts?
I think social media has made the pressure completely inhuman for a lot of young people. I sometimes feel it too, and I’m actually very comfortable with myself. I try to be conscious about what I portray on the blog and on Instagram, but on the latter it’s very easy to end up with just wanting to look good, I catch myself thinking that all the time.
How did you become a writer? What’s your education and background?
I have a bachelor’s degree in esthetics from the University of Oslo, I majored in art history and literature, and that gave me confidence in my field of work, and a feeling that I knew something about something. After that, I did Text and Copywriting Studies at Westerdals (a Norwegian private college, ed. note), which pushed me to actually making it a career, and that was very important, I think. For some reason, I have always had very low self-esteem when it comes to my own achievements, and up until two years ago, I didn’t think I would be able to work with something I wanted to do. I have always been good at school, but still terrified of grades, I think that’s some of the same issues. I always got good grades, but was so anxious about failing! But somehow, I have still always tried to do stuff I like, and suddenly it became my job anyway!
"I love everything she writes, and she makes me think in a way that feels real, in lack of a better word. Reading her makes me feel like myself. "
What drives you when it comes to writing, is it something you’ve always been passionate about?
I learned to read very early and have always read and written a lot. But today, it’s not like it just comes pouring out of me; I often have to force it. Mostly, I think that I have to make a living somehow, and then it might as well be by writing. I know I can do it. So I write.
Do you have one or more role models? And if so, who is it and why?
I think Vigdis Hjorth is my biggest literary role model. I love everything she writes, and she makes me think in a way that feels real, in lack of a better word. Reading her makes me feel like myself.
Do you have a goal you’re working towards, either short term or long term?
No. I mostly live from week to week, and make the best out of whatever happens. But I want to publish more books, although I don’t have any concrete plans.
Do you have any advice to anyone who wants to make a living out of writing?
Lame advice, but: write. A lot. And read. A lot. Dare to submit articles or ideas to magazines and newspapers and apply for studies if you feel you’re lacking gravitas. An education is never a bad idea. Best regards, someone with two bachelor’s degrees.
*Editor’s translation! Original title in Norwegian: Naturlig Nok.