The past calendar year has been full of residencies for me, and they have completely changed my life and my career.
Most recently, I spent January as a resident at the Gullkistan Center for Creativity, in Lugvagartn, Iceland. I had my own room and shared studio and living space with 1-4 other women. I aimed to spend my time there working on the manuscript for The Last Stand, as well as developing my presentation and pitch information.
I reached that goal, or at least I’m pleased with the amount of progress I made on the manuscript and I’m ready to start in-depth edits of what I’ve created. I also worked on my PowerPoint slideshow, which I will have to present along with my manuscript and potential cover art for my book, should it be chosen for publication. I hired an artist for that part of the project as well and worked with him to come up with a concept for the cover. I didn’t do as much online writing as I wanted (you’ll notice this blog has been on a bit of hiatus), but that’s alright. I needed to focus on the novel.
Here are some more detailed thoughts on my time at Gullkistan!
A month is a really long time to work on anything. As my wise younger sister Lauryn told me somewhere in the middle of week three, “No matter what you were working on, you’d hate it by now.” I took her advice to heart for the rest of the trip and tried to keep reminding myself that I’d made a LOT of progress, and that I was actually on track to complete not only what I had hoped for, but also made progress on things I didn’t expect. Somewhere this month I managed to storyboard, write the script for, and begin casting for a book trailer. I hadn’t even thought of doing a trailer until I was knee deep in revisions, considering ways to make my presentation stand out from others, and create hype around the project before I could release the manuscript.
My routine, for the most part, was erratic. I am five hours ahead from my regular time zone, and I never really adjusted to an Icelandic sleeping schedule. I could blame it on my night owl tendencies, but I did the same thing while I was in England in college. Because my friends and family were still awake, I stayed up late talking to them instead of sleeping. It probably didn’t help that there is very limited sunshine in Iceland at this time of year, and if I woke up and it was still dark, I tended to go right back to sleep without thinking twice. I embraced my wonky internal clock. I worked well into the night most of the time, usually climbing into bed for a few hours of Netflix or reading around 2am. Some nights I was up until 6 or 7 in the morning—those were more frustrating because they were definitely stress or insomnia related.
Each day, I tried to make sure I did a little reading (see my review of It here), some journaling, and my hand exercises in addition to working on my novel. I knew that if I only focused on the novel, I would drive myself crazy. I also kept up on the TV shows that I usually live blog while I’m at home, so that I can jump right back in when I get back. And watched the first three seasons of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, because it’s available on Netflix here and not at home. I have a lot of (good) thoughts about that show, and I’ll probably write about it later.
Even when I’m at home, I only tend to eat two meals a day. I brought some cheez-its with me because they’re my writing snack, but other than that I existed on a pretty traditional Icelandic diet. I ate lots of skyr, which is a really thick yogurt. I usually added some milk and sugar, sometimes bananas and/or oatmeal as well. Skyr is used here for all sorts of things—if it’s left nice and thick you can spread it on toast or eat it like yogurt. It’s also a popular ingredient in smoothies and milkshakes and comes in pretty much every flavor you can imagine. I also had hot dogs which are very popular here. They are made with lamb, and they taste different from American hot dogs, but not different enough for me to be head over heels for them.
I ate at the restaurant in the village twice—once at the bistro side where I had a three-course meal, and once in the restaurant side where I had a burger and some apple cake. Both times, the food was amazing and I wish I could have eaten there more often, but it was very expensive. Many products are imported or difficult to grow here, so the prices are higher on a lot of them than in America.
I also ate a lot of beans on toast.
Check in for more tomorrow!