Last Week at Gullkistan

It’s Sunday evening and my stay here at Gullkistan is coming to a close. August 2018 has been the most productive month I’ve had to date. One of my goals was to write 31 stories, one for each day in August. As of today, I’ve drafted 25 stories and, if all goes well in the next couple days, I’ll have reached my goal. I suppose it should be no surprise (since this beautiful country has won my heart), that Iceland has found its way into most of the stories I’ve written. I even ended up writing a modern retelling of Guðmundur G. Hagalín’s wonderful tale “The Fox Skin,” which I read last night at the Gullkistan Open House.

Reading and presenting work

Saturday I went to Selfoss to lead a second writing workshop on flash fiction. I led the workshop at Fjöl­braut­ar­skóli Suður­lands a school which is somewhat of an architectural wonder.

The flash fiction workshop was well attended—about 12 participants, all motivated to learn and write. Similar to the first workshop, everyone was very warm and welcoming. Most of the participants were Icelanders, some from Selfoss and a couple from Reykjavík. I was grateful that they were all willing to speak mostly in English out of courtesy to me. Again, I was impressed by all the flash fiction shared in the workshop, though I shouldn’t be surprised because, in my experience, most people here are well read and have creative minds.

One of the participants in the workshop was a book fairy (if you don’t know about these delightful creatures, you can find more information here). Afterward she asked me if I would like to be a book fairy for a day and hide a book in the town. Of course I was honored to do so! By happy coincidence, the book I was hiding was by Guðmundur G. Hagalín, the same author who’d written “The Fox Skin,” the tale which I had been working on retelling just a couple weeks prior. I was pleased to pass along Hagalín’s wonderful book. The fairies must have been working their magic that day! [Read “The Fox Face” in Shirley Magazine. In May 2019, this was featured on the Book Fairy blog.]

As I mentioned, Saturday night was the open house. We had a great turn out and I was impressed with all the work the artists-in-residence accomplished over a month’s time. 

Sylvie Donaire’s gorgeous prints and pop-up books.

Anna Vihra talks about her prints and photos.

The “push-pull” of Sae A. Lee’s abstract paintings

We ended the evening with a lovely celebratory dinner together and talked about our respective creative processes, as well as the challenges and rewards that arose over the past month. It was a delightful evening and we were all so thankful for the opportunity and for the wonderful people at Gullkistan who helped to make it possible.

I have four more days here in Laugarvatn. I’m looking forward to writing and to leading one last workshop at the school here. Then I’m off to Reykjavík! It has been a wonderful stay, but I’m excited to return home on September 1st.