Icelandic Landscapes: Visual Creative Writing Prompts

Dear readers,

Today I thought I’d share a few photos from my trip to Iceland that could spark some ideas for new stories. These places are all incredibly special to me, and I go back to them in my mind whenever I need some clarity. I hope these photos can inspire some great scenes, settings, or even worlds in your stories.

20170312_092724.jpg

Laugarvatn. A rusty gate at the foot of a mountain. Lake up ahead. Cemetery on one side, and woods on the other.

 

20170228_173345.jpg

Swans fly over lake Tjörnin. Crisp air. Hands in warm pockets.

 

20170307_084444.jpg

Laugarvatn morning. Sunrise reflecting on a thawed patch of lake. Winter ending.

 

DSC04102.JPG

Blurry Reykjavik after a snow storm. 10 o’clock in the morning. Empty streets. Overworked streetlamps. Days and nights roll into one another.

 

DSC04246.JPG

Log cabin morning. Windows heated by the sun. Coffee and porridge.

 

DSC04258

Herd of Icelandic horses. Smell of hay. Round bellies, well-fed. Soft fur, soft clouds, soft snow. Hard ice, numb nose.

 

As always, thank you for being here. I wish you all the best in your writing endeavours.

Yours,

Tamara Drazic

Advertisements

Back Home – Adjusting to Life After a Residency – Printing the Book

Hi everyone,

I’m so sorry that I haven’t posted an update in a little while–I spent my last days at the residency taking everything in, and immersing myself in my work. It was really hard to leave Iceland, and particularly the Gullkistan residency. The cabin became my home, and although I was only there for one month, it felt like it had been my home for years. I’ll miss waking up to light snowfall, and finding new little trails to explore. I’ll miss the big windows, and view of Hekla, the snow-covered volcano. Now, after three days of travelling, I have made it back home to tropical Cairns.

Let me tell you–it feels bizarre. Nice, but really strange. It’s strange that my whole life doesn’t revolve around my writing anymore. This morning, while having breakfast, I was talking to my family, rather than scribbling down ideas, notes, and pieces of dialogue. After breakfast, rather than sitting down to edit, I took my clothes out of my suitcase to wash, and then sent an email to my university about enrolment (post about this coming soon). I’m scared that my focus is shifting too much, but at the same time, it feels really nice to breathe, and take a little step back. I just need to find a good balance.

During my last days in Iceland, I finished my second draft, and decided to get my manuscript printed so that I could do my next round of edits on paper. I used Createspace to get it printed in book form, to help me get a better feel for the pacing of the story, and to help to keep me motivated while editing. It’s not available online, as I’m going to try the traditional publishing route (after many more rounds of editing, of course). I’ll still write a post about my experience with getting the book printed, and the quality of it, for those of you interested in self-publishing.

I’ll also be writing a post to call for beta readers in the near future. I’m a little terrified, but excited to get some helpful feedback. Everything is happening so quickly.

I promise I won’t disappear again any time soon!

Thanks for reading,

– Tamara

Multilingual Poetry Event in Iceland

Hi everyone,

Yesterday, I had one of the most humbling experiences of my life. March 21st is the day of many things–World Poetry Day, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the final day of Nordic Multilingual Month. To celebrate this special day, Booktowns and Gullkistan got together to create Margmálaljóðakvöldi,  a multilingual poetry event in Hveragerði.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to represent Australia at the event, and read two of my own poems. I was extremely nervous, and my voice was a little shaky, but I had such a great time sharing my work. The energy in the space was incredible. There were people from Iran, Syria, Finland, France, Sweden, Iceland (obviously), and more, all there to read poetry in their native languages, and to celebrate art and cultural diversity.

You could really feel the love and warmth emanating from the readers and the listeners the whole night, and as we shared our work, we were all reminded of how beautiful human beings can be. The art museum, Listasafn Árnesinga, was the perfect setting, with thought-provoking modern art as a backdrop to the event.

1

9
The Gullkistan family

It was such a heart-warming, nerve-wracking, and beautiful experience, and I am so grateful to Gullkistan and Booktowns for putting it together. It’s definitely an experience that I will always remember. Each reader was gifted a different book of Icelandic poetry, and I received a beautiful hardcover that is completely handwritten. It has quickly become one of my favourite things.

As always, thank you so much for reading.

All the best,

Tamara

(The pictures were sent to me by Kristveig Halldórsdóttir)

Residency Day 13: Finishing the First Draft of my Novel

Hi everyone,

Today is a pretty special day for me, because it is the day I finished the first draft of my novel, “Juice of Half a Lemon”.  I have written the entire second half, 37 000 words, in the last two weeks, all thanks to this incredible residency, and the time, space, and mental clarity that it gave me to work.

This afternoon, as I began to write the very last scene, it started snowing outside. Everything was completely, utterly silent, the kind of silence that only comes about when it is snowing. That moment has become one of my fondest memories, and it’s just one of the countless fond memories that I’ve made while being here in Iceland. I’m so grateful for this little haven that my mind will always be able to wander to.

The first draft is complete, but I know there is a lot of work ahead of me! I am incredibly excited to move on to the editing phase of this novel, as I’ve always loved editing–moving things around, cutting words, and making things fit together. I know I probably will lose a bit of my love for it after round number three, but we will see what happens.

On an unrelated note, I recently found out that I will be reading some of my poetry at a multilingual poetry event in Selfoss, Iceland on the 21st of March. I am so looking forward to meeting some members of the Icelandic literary community.

I feel like my word supply is in need of a recharge, so this post is going to stay short and sweet. Here are some pictures of the lovely Gullkistan Residency, the place that has grown so close to my heart over the past two weeks:

20170301_133924.jpg

20170301_134247

Let me know how your writing projects are coming along. I’d love to get to know more of you!

All the best,

Tamara

Residency Day 10: Ups and Downs

Hi everyone,

Day 10 of my writing residency in Iceland is officially over, which means I’m a third of the way through! Time goes by so incredibly quickly while I’m working. I never have any idea which day of the week it is, because every day is pretty much the same. I wake up around 7:30, have breakfast with the incredible sunrise, check my emails, write, have lunch, go for a long walk, write, have dinner, chat with the other writer-in-residence, write, check my emails, catch up with friends and family back in Aus, and sleep.

Although I occasionally feel like I’ve fallen off the face of the planet and into some alternate dream-like universe, I have loved every minute of this residency. It has been the best thing I have ever done for my writing, full stop. I can see myself improving with almost every chapter. The rewriting process is going to be a lot of work, especially those earlier chapters, but for now, I’m purely focusing on getting this first draft down. It’s crazy to think that I am so close to finishing it now, this thing that used to seem like such a huge, impossible task.

Of course, I still have plenty of ups and downs with regards to this story. On a bad day, even the parts that I like the most can seem like the worst things ever written by anyone. But the good days make me forget all about that.

Reading through my journal always makes me laugh, and reminds me that my bad times never last very long. Let me welcome you into my mind:

***

4. March.

I think it’s really starting to dawn on me that I can actually finish this thing while I’m here. It was always the goal, but until now, I had my doubts. I have written three thousand words in the last three hours! Feeling good.

5. March.

HOW IS THIS THING GOING TO END? I HAVE NO IDEA. I hate everything I’ve written today. Why does it all just sound so clunky and flat? There is no actual ending in sight, because I just keep writing around and around in circles.

6. March.

I just outlined the rest of my novel. It’s so nice to know how the story is going to end, and so reassuring to have a little guide to which scenes I need to write on which days. Excited for tomorrow!

9 March.

This is really hard. It’s like spending all day every day focusing on the one thing you doubt about yourself the most. My mood is directly affected by how the story is progressing. I pretty much haven’t left my room in two days.

10 March.

I just came back from the most beautiful walk. It’s crazy that I’ve already hit my writing target for the day, and it’s just past lunch time! I am so excited to finish this thing! Not long now.

***

I don’t know if you are quite as extreme (or as melodramatic) as I am, but either way, I hope this post can serve as a little reminder that the bad times don’t last. If you manage to write through them, instead of giving up, you will eventually finish your novel. There’s nothing stopping you.

I hope you enjoyed reading. Let me know how you get through your bad writing days in the comments below!

All the best,

Tamara

 

 

Residency Day 1: Exploring Reykjavik, and Arriving at Gullkistan

Hi everyone,

Wow. It’s hard to describe how I’m feeling right now. I am coming to you all the way from Laugarvatn, Iceland. I’ve thought about this experience so many times, for so many months, and I still can’t believe that I’m actually here. I spent last week in Reykjavik, and absolutely fell in love with the city. When I tell people that I stayed there for a whole week I always get a similar reaction. A week? What did you do for so long? 

Reykjavik may be a small city, but it feels so alive, even when it’s -6 degrees! I decided to stay for a week because I didn’t want to only see and experience things once. I went to the same spots countless times, in some cases every day, and I didn’t get bored at all. Especially because, in Iceland, the weather can change so drastically in such a short time. The lake Tjörnin is ever changing, as you can see in these pictures which were taken only one day apart:

dsc04096 dsc04117

I wanted to be able to see things I loved over and over again, browse bookshops, and sit and read in the sun, without feeling like I was wasting time, and I am so glad that I allowed myself the time that I did. During my Reykjavik week, I also spent a day on a southern Iceland tour, and saw things that photos just can’t do justice. The contrasts in this country make it feel so otherworldly. I so wish I had the time, money, and driving capability to see all of the sights a million times.

dsc04167

dsc04159DSC04147.JPG

The day before yesterday, I saw the northern lights! It’s been a dream of mine since I was ten years old, when I realised that they were actually real, not just in books and movies. As I watched them, I just sat on a snowy bench and thought about how truly lucky I am (and also a little about how cold the bench was).

Today I arrived at Gullkistan, the residency where I will be living and writing for the next month. Putting my bags down in this quaint cottage, with views out to mountains, snowy pine trees, and a beautiful lake, gave me a sense of calm that I haven’t felt since being at home. The actual journey from Australia to Iceland was, let’s just say, not exactly smooth, and I realised that I haven’t had time until now to truly wind down in my own space. I feel like this is exactly where I need to be right now to have a clear mind, and to finish writing this first draft!

Today I sat down and wrote double my word target. Let’s hope things keep flowing. Thank you so much to everyone who has been here with me along the way. Now I’m going to put on all of the clothes I own and try to find the elusive northern lights once again.

Stay safe, healthy, and happy!

Yours,

Tamara

My First Writer’s Residency

Dear readers,

I woke up to some incredible news this morning. I found out that I’ve been accepted into the “Gullkistan Residency for Creative People” in Iceland for March next year. A couple of weeks ago I wrote to them about the novel I’m currently working on, and the plan I have for the month in residence, and now it’s all happening. I have wanted to visit Iceland for almost three years, and I can’t believe that I will be there for a month, doing what I love. I can’t wait to finish the first draft of my manuscript and hold it in my hands. Suddenly the end of my university degree doesn’t seem so scary.

Thank you so much for reading my blog and leaving such lovely comments; I can’t wait to take you along on this exciting path with me. Stay tuned for failed photos of the Northern Lights.

 

I hope something amazing happens for you this week.

All the best,

Tamara

P.S. The October issue of Spinebind goes live the day after tomorrow! It’s been a big weekend.