Iceland Writers Retreat (1)

Madeleine Brinkmann, une de nos plumes, nous fait partager son expérience : elle participait à cette retraite littéraire islandaise. Une version en français de cet article sera bientôt disponible.

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ICELAND WRITERS RETREAT, Reykjavik April 8-12 2015

by Madeleine Brinkmann

Featured authors: Marcello Di Cintio, Adam Gopnik, Barbara Kingsolver, Alison Pick, Ruth Reichl, Taiye Selasi, Sjón, Linn Ullmann, John Vaillant, Alan Warner. So many thanks to the authors for their teachings!

I did it again! The 2014 edition of the IWR was so inspirational, I learned so much, and I had so much fun meeting all the authors and participants from all over the world and it was so well organized that I just had to register again. Of course, for me it is easy. I’m a local delegate and I live just five minutes away from Hotel Natura, our ‘headquarters’.

The Retreat came into life three years ago during a long and dark Icelandic night when Eliza Reid and Erica Green, the Founding Directors, met and talked about creating a space for writers and aspiring writers for ‘learning, exploring, writing and getting creative inspiration’. This year the number of participants is over a hundred.

So far, I can tell you one thing: the 2015 edition is keeping its promises! Thank you Eliza and Erica for such a great organization!

Day 1: Getting started

The founding directors, Eliza Reid and Erica Green (positions 1 and 3) Madeleine, a participant (2), Tobba, Iceland Travel (4).
Everything started with a welcome dinner where I met Jane from Australia, Stephen and Leanne from Malta, Zahara, Molly and Jeanine from the US, and Kit from Canada. We all immediately connected. After the dinner we enjoyed listening to the authors, who read from their own work.

Day 2: The workshops

I would have loved to attend them all. But we were each allotted five. All workshops were apparently fantastic, but I’m going to write about the ones I attended.

A message to our IWR Friends: please feel free to comment on and share what you learned during the other workshops!

With Alison Pick: The Journal as a literary tool

Alison Pick, in the middle
We were encouraged to keep a journal and to write in it every day. It’ll be used as a container where we can find interesting material about both our conscious and unconscious thoughts.

The exercise:
Let the pen run freely on the paper (5’-10’).
Then, reread and underline the passages where you feel energy, excitement, fear or anxiety.
Write, following the ‘nerve’ of these underlined moments.
This exercise reveals a lot in terms of feelings which we don’t want to see and which then appear.
There seems to be no best solution for organizing a journal apart from dating the entries or editing them online with a title.

With Linn Ullmann: small and complicated things

Linn Ullmann signing a book

After a welcome coffee break, we are ready to attend our next workshop with Linn Ullmann.

The author had 4 expectations:
  1. We should focus on our creativity and just start to write, otherwise the energy will be used to make excuses : the laundry has to be done, I feel too tired to write, I need another cup of coffee...
  2. We should think of ourselves as bearers of stories. Sometimes they can be the smallest things.
  3. We should be aware of where and when we write, then create the space needed in our schedule! Social media are the death of writing, she says, because they use up so much time!
  4. Don’t be afraid to lose your footing when necessary.
Never wait for inspiration. Just write!

Exercise: In general, practice a fierce curiosity and be attentive at all times.
Tell us about what happened to you this morning.
Barbara Kingsolver, Bridging the Two Cultures: Creative writing about scientific matters

After a delicious lunch, we had a great discussion about the role of authors whose topics are science. Actually, few authors combine a scientific background with a literary one. Nevertheless, to bridge that gap between science and literature is very important in our world to raise consciousness in matters such as climate and environment.

As a writer, you have to check all the facts and rely on experts. You owe your readers the absolute scientific truth. And the contract is also to make the reader turn the page, so it has to be fun and interesting.

Later in the afternoon, we attended a reception hosted by the City of Reykjavik at the City Hall.

(To be continued)

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