Thursday, June 9, 2022

Weeks 25-26: Góða Ferð Dísa

It's now six months since I began a series of posts that has accompanied The Sorrow Stone into the world and the hands of readers. 

Powerhouse Theatre event (picture: Joe Carter)
My first post was on 17 December 2021, and on Sunday just gone, the book was finally given its launch party at an event at The Powerhouse Theatre attended by some four hundred people, including many friends and family and colleagues, as well as new readers of my work. 

The launch was originally scheduled for February, just before the book's official publication date. But then Brisbane experienced a 'major weather event', as it was called, and my own major event was washed out. The Powerhouse, which sits close to the river at New Farm, was flooded, and The Sorrow Stone launch, its first celebration, was eventually realised as the last of a number of live events for the book.

In conversation with Richard Fidler (picture: Joe Carter)

Things change. I thought I would keep this series of posts going for a whole year. But actually six months is the right moment to turn the page and farewell Dísa, and turn my attention to my next project, an autobiographical work which at the moment feels radically, even relievingly, distant from medieval Iceland and its troubles (and joys).

In a few weeks, I finish teaching duties for the semester and begin a rather long period of leave that will allow me to travel to Greece in August and then on to Iceland for a month or so. It will be my first trip to Reykjavík since before Covid began. And it will be my first chance since I began writing The Sorrow Stone to not be thinking about the novel at some level, even if sometimes it was only in my sleep. 

My thoughts about the book now are entirely ones of gratitude. There is no remnant of worries about the difficult periods in the writing process, or fears for how the book would be received, or busy thoughts about what will happen to it next. Well, maybe a bit of those things. But mainly, such thoughts are replaced with a fuller appreciation of having had the chance to undertake this project at all. 

In a scene in the TV version of Brideshead Revisited, someone remarks to Charles Ryder that he's lucky to have a talent (painting) and the time to pursue it. The scene has long stuck with me, because it is such a privilege to spend long periods of time inside a story, and to inhabit it sufficiently deeply to be able to produce readable work that others find interesting. I had the same thought when I was in Helgafell doing research for the book. I told myself to always remember how wonderful this was: to spend long days in the landscape, walking, breathing in the autumn air, thinking about the characters from the sagas, and shaping their stories into an interpretation of my own.

Thank you, Dísa, and your much-damaged family, your strange and violent and brave times, and your heart that raged against its sorrows. Góða ferð.

Near Helgafell, Snæfellsnes, Iceland