On Day 1 I meet the other writers on the project. Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir, Icelandic author and folklorist, Marjun Kjelnaes, novelist, poet and playwright from the tiny Faroe Islands, and Stefan Larsson, who’s local and is a writer of children’s books and a screenwriter. The two administrators, Hedvig and Kristin, who are also writers, are also there, and we later meet Johanna Pyykko, the filmmaker. That’s seven of us. Guess who’s the only one who can only speak one language? Luckily they’re all lovely and don’t seem to hold it against me.
Bryndis tells us that construction in Iceland is overseen by an ‘elf-seer’ who will advise whether the elves approve of the building work in question.
We start our work tomorrow. Elves permitting.
Day 2 there’s discussion over coffee – everything in Sweden is over coffee – of the project. No decisions are reached and to be honest it’s hard to see how this is going to come together coherently.
Day 3. Herring for breakfast. More talk, more looking at what we’re individually writing, finding correspondences, overlaps, contrasts. Something might be starting to emerge.
Then more writing, exploring, diving deep, seeing what I can find. Turns out Bryndis is a free diver. She can hold her breath for three minutes. Three minutes! At least she says she can. I think I want proof.
Day 4. A long day writing and recording as the piece comes together. Decisions made over shape, languages, cuts and tweaks. There are four writers here with distinct voices, but those voices are interweaving, approaching from different perspectives and arriving somewhere similar. It’s fun, fascinating and productive.
I’m feeling tired, but lucky to be here. And the day began with pancakes and homemade jam which, as everyone knows, is the perfect way to start any day.
Day 5. Morning off. A wander round Gothenburg, down to the harbour, to the market, which is a bit like Todmorden market only run by Harrod’s Food Hall. Then, in the afternoon, final tweaking on the film, introducing spoken chapter titles, shortening here, adding a line there. And then a farewell dinner.
All this plus readings, workshops, meetings, boat trips and memories that will last. It was a fantastic experience.