Iceland Writers Retreat (2)

[Madeleine Brinkmann continue de nous raconter son expérience de sa retraite littéraire islandaise]

Day 3: Workshops and visits

Barbara Kingsolver, Charged with purpose: theme as starting point for fiction writers
How do we charge our writing with purpose? What is the novel about? How is it going to elevate my life?

Barbara Kingsolver speaks about her need to start writing with a ‘map’ or a theme that shakes her with a deep emotion or conviction. It would be something she would like everyone to think about (e.g. climate change).

We have to think about an incident (e.g. in the news or in our lives) and carve out the theme from it. Of course the exercise is not simple and the author admits that it can take days or weeks to find the theme.  But once you have found it, it is amazing how everything seems to fit in!

Then it is time to build the architecture of your novel.
B.K. then backs up and asks herself why the theme is her conviction, which character is going to convey that truth, and how the character is going to drive the novel.

Never forget that to write is 98% work and 2% magic!

Some of us then participated in the fun Poetry Game imagined by Zahara… Many thanks! What a nice creation!

After an excellent meal some took part in a yoga class while others continued with workshop programs.

Ruth Reichl, Imaginary Meals: Writing Delicious Words
The workshop starts with an exercise. We have to write about parsley distributed by Ruth. It was amazing to listen to everyone’s texts about that plant! So many different things came out!

The author underlined the fact that we should never assume the taste of a certain food in other people’s mouth. The experience can be so different to everyone.
Also, be aware that it is difficult to write outside your own culture.
Always be conscious about the time when you are writing; some dishes were popular in the Middle Ages (or in the 1970’s) but are not anymore, or vice versa.
You need to have the reader on your side so never talk down to him or her by explaining how to eat a certain food; you can use another fictitious character for this purpose.

Harpa, Reyjavik Opera and Concert Hall
In the afternoon, I took part in a very interesting guided tour of Harpa (the Opera and Concert hall) by Ingibjörg Frida Helgisdóttir, singer and student in musicology who also treated us with a beautiful old love song about Agnes Magnusdóttir, the last woman to be decapitated in Iceland around 1820.

Finally, we attended a very nice reception at the City Library hosted by the British and the Canadian Embassies.

Day 4: Literary-themed Golden Circle tour for the overseas delegates

The participants visited the so-called ‘Golden Circle’ sites.
In the evening, everyone enjoyed a cabaret at Kex, with songs and texts by famous Icelandic authors: Jónina and Gerdur Kristny.

Day 5: Roundtable Q&A with all featured writers

Final Roundtable with Featured writers
Thank you, dear writers, for sharing again your advice so generously!
Most participants and authors will head home after that, unless they join the ‘Write and Relax’ prolongation program.


Some pics of the participants and volunteers: Elisabeth, Jane, Susan, Sarah and Sarah, Roman and Ramon.

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