IWR 2018 Participant Janine Vici’s Story

IWR 2018 Participant Janine Vici’s Story

What if I told you how brave, accomplished, and assertive I felt when I registered way back during the summer of 2017? It was taking place in one of my favorite places on this planet. And I was to learn so much.

Romantically I saw myself as looking out the window between finely crafted words, at the black and white diapo landscape. The blue ice cube glaciers at Jokulsarlon lagoon yonder on the horizon, glinting in the sun. Geysirs bubbling happily across the stark scenario and my writing flowing like its gorgeous and diverse waterfalls. I would be inspired by its plenty literary muses, immersed in a bubble with its silent icy mists and steaming thermal waters surrounding me. Totally concentrated with razor sharp focus. And my iPad.

And so, busy as a bee. I submerged my fantasies, illusions and expectations into the dark, healing waters of the Secret Lagoon of my subconscious. It was done. Back into my frazzled life as a CranioSacral therapist, wife, mother, grandmother, orchid collector by day, and reader and writer by night. Stealing blinks of time from my colored agenda:  Grandchildren circled in fluorescent MeTime pink, caring for my Orchids, Laundry and Groceries in HomeTime yellow, CST appointments in PatientsTime blue, and home managing in FinanceTime green.

So far, writing for me was a hobby. Pleasing, satisfying, therapeutic and cathartic. I had no WritingTime color circling any space on my book.  Nada, nothing in any page. I’ve always described myself as a reader. In spite of being half way into my project of a thirteen short story collection, & taken several fiction and nonfiction workshops. Writing still was a hobby for me.
Seriously? Writer? Me?

What if I told you how intimidated I was feeling as time approached and gnawing self doubt reared its ugly head?



While riding the short distance from Odinsgata to the Natura Hotel, I felt like a tweenie all dressed up, going to her first prom. Butterflies in my stomach? You gotta be kidding me.

Moths more like it.

What on earth possessed me to think I belonged in this exalted level of talent, creativity and expertise? Words like Fellowships, Awards, X many books published, daunted & haunted me.  What was I doing entering the  sacrosanctum lobby and registering in this Retreat for Writers? Why wasn’t I soaking in Sundhollin pool, or trekking Landmannalaugar? When I reached my room, after receiving my black ‘goody bag’ from the welcoming, smiling staff, I wondered if I shouldn’t be running across the tarmac I could see through my window, to the first plane out to Akureyri, Greenland, or the Faroes, instead.

Far, far away from making a fool of myself.

Ok, I confess I love Iceland, Icelanders, Icelandic lopapeysa sweaters, Icelandic smart and distant sense of humor, not to mention the Canelle Snudurs from Sandholt, Messinn’s Atlantic Char, Gæsabringa slices with Raspberry Vinagrette from The Deli,  Skyr, Lamb Grilled Koftas from Alibaba, Kjötsúpa from any petrol station, and my new obsession: Loki’s Rye Bread Ice Cream with Whipped Cream, drizzled with Rhubarb Caramelized Syrup — I bought a tiny bottle of it so I can smell & taste Iceland every time I open it back home in Florida. A whiff of its earthy, creamy, tart and sweet aromas magically making Íslands come back to life. Thankfully NO whiffs of fermented shark, thank you very much.

So, I was here, entering the Dinner and Readings. Sit with us close by the mic — as suggested by my new friends, repeat alums Rosie and Ian. ‘Live in the moment. Smile. Breathe deeply in and exhale slowly out’— As directed by myself. Worse case scenario, I would take notes, and try my best to keep silent with an intensely creative expression on my face throughout the workshops.

Loved hearing the stories read. Started melting into my surroundings. Restless night with weird dreams.

When I stepped into my first workshop, the one by the fantastic Lina Wolff about “Plotting and Writing Non – Linear Fiction”, and later her “Creating Antiheroes” and then both of Rory Maclean’s Travel Writing workshops, and finally Lauren Groff’s  brilliant one on “Gaps, Spaces and Silences” I had stopped feeling like an isolated molecule, an outsider, a dwarf comet passing by into the void.

I’ve never felt more at home. I belonged. I became part of the live, pulsing, creative body of this wondrous galaxy of writers. By the time I exited the Q&A Panel Final session, I had finally assumed my craft. It was my language, I was a writer.  I was hearing a reflection of my own intuition. It resonated with what I felt should be, from the gut. I had gained confidence.  I volunteered to read out loud my class exercises. I recognized myself as being part of this pack. I trusted my ability. I metabolized everything I learned. So…

What if I told you I came out of 2018 IWR enveloped in my newly minted creative self with the word WRITER engraved in my mind,  heart and soul?  Learning so many techniques was invaluable. Now, I not only know and own these tools. But most importantly, I own the acquired confidence and self acceptance that I AM a writer. With the multitude of colors of the landscapes of my travels, weaved by the myths and legends of my Venezuela and adopted Ireland and Iceland, I intend to circle lots of WritingTime in my book.

#AmWriter……………………………………. Janine Vici Campbell

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