author’s note: preparing for a writing residency
Posted by jeanne
it seems i can only devote myself to writing when i set aside the time to do it. and with this story i’m writing, it seems that i can only do that in november, for nanowrimo. so it is going to take a month in iceland in order to settle in and write some more of this story. which means i’m going to iceland for a month, because i can. real soon now.
i’ve been planning this (and saving for it) for well over a year. i always take a long time to plan my art residencies, these years. used to be i would just luck into one and go, but now i have more responsibilities – a husband, 5 dogs, kids and grandkids – so i have to space my art travels far apart, say every couple of years instead of every couple of months. i wouldn’t trade it, however; i like my life much better now.
why iceland? people have asked me this. it’s because the story is set in an antarctica without ice. and since i can’t go to antarctica, for various reasons (lack of money to buy my way, and the medical history to spoil my chances of being selected for a residency), i searched closer to home, and found a great art residency in the far north of iceland, in the far north of the globe, to explore things like what’s underneath vanishing glaciers and how it feels to experience arctic warming (which happens in my story). and while i have all the research, the maps, videos, pictures, blogs… i don’t know what it smells like near the pole, how the sun balances on the horizon all night, what the moon does at its full. and i need to know these things. so i’m going to iceland. for a month, during the midnight sun when nobody ever sleeps.
a year and a half ago, when i first dreamed up this residency idea, i looked ahead in my writing and saw that i would never be able to reach the point where i needed to experience antarctica. going by my nanowrimo output, and my output in between novembers, i would have needed to do a steady 6 chapters a year, and in 2012 i only did 5. the antarctica part started at like chapter 14; anyway i hadn’t a hope in hell. so i did a bad trick last year. instead of putting out a chapter in a series of draft sections, revised and then published as final chapters, i posted my daily output and didn’t do any revisions, and didn’t publish any finished chapters. i just spat out as much landscape as i could, and figured i’d polish and publish the final chapters between last november and now.
which of course didn’t happen. all sorts of other things happened, and now i’m raising my grandkid and my kid is here at the house to help while i’m gone off to iceland, and i’m leaving a potential disaster to go run off and lollygag on some hillside, talking to trolls.
but okay, maybe that won’t happen. with fantasies and fears, most of what i spend time and energy anticipating never happens, and i might as well dream up something happy.
so i’m going off to the troll peninsula in nothern iceland, as close to the arctic circle as i can get, to this little bitty fishing town, where i hope to write all the chapters involving antarctica.
and for those who don’t know the plot (everyone), the antarctica chapters are when my characters play the videogame they’ve been working on up until now.
so in chapter 14, the two heroes are dumped into their own antarctica game, the very first to experience it in all its empty magnificence. and in the next chapter (which i believe is chapter 16 because i’m interpolating), they are joined by the testers in the first ring of antarctica. the antarctica game is split into seven levels, and each one gets a chapter. the story line is totally different from the interpolated chapters, because these other chapters take place in the real world, and the antarctica chapters take place inside the videogame. and i’m pretty sure i won’t be writing any of the interpolating chapters while i’m in iceland. i’ll most likely wait until november, and spit them all out, if possible, during nanowrimo.