In spring of 2019 I quit my nonprofit job to write a book abroad. In Ireland - my first leg - my cottage drowned in greenery: pastures, trees, wild things. For three weeks, my hands labored intensely to write all that could be done, which was the first half of my memoir. Then off I went to Iceland, where this photo was snapped hours after the sun had set; night never darkened during my near-one-month stay because of Iceland's extreme northerly position.
My room at Gulkinstan: Center for Creativity was cramped but suitable for my needs. My window faced a flowery mountain, in which Laugarvatn, a small village, rests at its base. The village had a humble grocery store, a gas station, up to three restaurants, but not much else. A geothermal vent near a lake is where locals baked traditional Icelandic bread by burying dough in hot sand until tourists nibbled samples next day.
My first week I wrote up to six hours a day. The following week, up to ten hours. And by my final two weeks, my fingers were possessed, as I was pushing at sixteen hours each day of writing.
Evening walks along the mountain and through the village offered temporary respite, but writing returned me inside my teeny room.
During my final days in the small village I rented a car and explored purple night which, again, never completely blackened; the sun dipped below the horizon, skimmed the edges for a few hours, maybe up to four, then hurriedly rose from the north.
I'm fond of my Icelandic memories because I've read Annie Dillard's Write Till You Drop this morning after a fitful night of sleep -
One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.
- fitful because my writing has stalled. I've lost the urgency to finish my second draft, lost the desire, the drive, my purpose. What's happening in the world isn't helping. Work is hectic, though I'm thankful I am able to teach virtually. Helplessness won't get me out of my spiral. I know it. And reading this -
We still and always want waking.
- reminds me to wake up, and continuously wake, until my fingers fall off from typing. Dillard's essay snapped me out of my whatever-it-is, which I won't name because it doesn't matter. What matters is that I'm awake and today, this morning, is what's new and fresh as Icelandic bread: now.
Read Write Till You Drop by Annie Dillard and get inspired to write and live well(ish).