Gullkistan Residency, Week Two

It’s 9:30 AM, misty and gray here in Laugarvatn. Sitting at my desk this morning, I am wondering how I could possibly sum up a week full of writing, revising, and reading, not to mention exploring the breathtaking south coast of this fairy tale island. Instead of trying to share it all, I’ll keep this short and sweet. 


Found in the stream at the end of the dirt path I walk most afternoons.


It’s cloudy today, but yesterday it was clear-skied. My husband and I drove the countryside stopping for a late lunch and then onto Vík.


The countryside along Þjóðvegur.


Driving back to Laugarvatn, we saw two waterfalls. First was the enchanting Skógafoss.




Gullfoss, the second waterfall we experienced, was an absolute wonder. I think my husband summed it up well when he said, “I feel like my soul is too big for my body.”


Gullfoss. Photo: Will Hattman


I’ve felt it too, at Gullfoss especially, but also during the quiet times—walking a dirt path to the stream in the afternoons, or when my husband reads me Raymond Carver poems in bed, or when a new story just flows because I have the time and energy to catch it, or having finally finished a full draft of a manuscript that I’ve been laboring over for a year—it has been sublime. I almost feel undeserving. 


The beautiful built environments of Iceland, or me going crazy trying to organize fragments of a personal essay?


Almost. Then, I remember applying for the residency a year ago (see Entropy as a good resource on writing residencies), teaching extra classes to afford the trip, writing the proposal for professional development funds, and so on. It is no easy thing to try to convince people (let alone yourself) that your project is the one worthy of support. But, I understand why it’s done and at some point in the process, little by little, I have started to feel more confident in what I’m trying to accomplish. 


Icelandic writers to read.


I started writing this entry this morning, but wanted to wait until evening to write the final paragraph. Now, it is 7:45 PM. It will take the sky three and a half more hours to darken. I can hear the other people in the studio collaborating and I feel grateful to be in this communal space with such talented, hard-working artists. There’s a line that I keep coming back to from the poem “Gaze” in Famia Nkansa’s chapbook, Sabbatical, that goes, “The best / dreams / are the / small ones, the sort one / sieves with / busy hands.” I love this idea that our dreams are made up of these small, everyday tasks—something that you can work on and towards, little by little, everyday. 


The black sands of Vík