Here’s the thing. I was an emotionally exhausted, overstretched, under-creative workhorse, fast-drifting along. I couldn’t see a window, not one that wasn’t opaque with frustration. I dreamed of a clear glass pane onto another world, where fewer demands were placed upon me and I could stop and stare into space. I know, as writers know, about windows onto other worlds, the multi-faceted ones of the imagination and of reality, or a fusion of both, and I wanted to step through.
I went to Iceland, a special treat of a holiday, to celebrate a multitude of milestones. I felt my soul expand in the bleak February landscape, its spare, unflinching reality wild and achingly beautiful in such an unapologetic way. Even the rocks seemed expressive, although old and wise and solid. I saw that I needed the remoteness, the wind blowing through me, wild and supercharged, the deep black sand and the incredible blue ice.
That ice placed itself before me, with its tiny bubbles thwarted in ascent, trapped motionless in a layered frame. How great, to fizz for so many hundreds of years, like being immortal (in a good way), with clarity and support, transparency and black depth, a freedom and a soul. I wanted to preserve them and release them, those bubbles, and with the black gritty layer in myself, transform them into words. I wanted the fizz and the grounding, the black ash like the settled firebrand I want to be, I was, I can be, I am inside. I craved a glacial, wild simplicity, the frank rawness and smoothness of the thing, the ice.
Then I started to find it. In conversations, slippery as poetry, yet concrete as a glacier, it was all there for the mind to grasp: questions of people and ice – like is it possible to be transparent and mysterious, unknown or unknowable? Here’s how the springboard happened.
IWR came to me, somehow, a random google from the hidden corners and desires of my mind, from when I used to write. Unaccountable really. I signed up only two weeks before, having never done anything so rash, so last minute, so out of my normal sphere. It’s lucky I am well practised at going with the flow because the process took on a life of its own, aided and abetted by Eliza, and I found myself back in Iceland in April. Those conversations: giving, listening and receiving, laughter, insights, random exchanges with people, writers, whose names and backgrounds I didn’t even know – it was a fizz of bubbles not trapped, but visibly starting to move, in ice that never felt cold. What I could see, I could now begin to touch and feel. I could be brave enough to be my former me and spark and laugh, a lot. I was part of a wonderfully diverse range of the written word. And I could write, of course, into an opening window, stepping through into remembered pleasure.
I listened, I talked, I’m writing. Thanks IWR, for the unlocking.