I’m a pretty traditional Finn. I like silence, nature and my own peace. My ideal place for writing would be a cottage, far from everyone else in the middle of untamed nature.
When asked about our ideal location for writing in the Heroines group, each member had different thoughts. One clearly wanted to be at home; another in an urban setting in the sunshine, surrounded by windswept palm trees; a third wanted to be in the woods. Yet, all these places had nature in common.
For us Finns, nature is part of everyday life. You can go there to calm down or uncover your feelings. In nature you can, for example, fall in love with your spouse, or spend a moment remembering a deceased friend. Pure nature can be found everywhere in Finland, and Finns know how to enjoy it.
I picture a cottage in the Lappish wilderness, by a small lake. I go there in the winter when there is only twilight and one meter of snow. The temperature is at least -25 °C. There is no electricity; only a fireplace as a source of heat, and light in the form of storm lanterns and candles. As furniture, only a large table, a long bench on the wall and bunk beds. In a corner, a pile of wood and a water tank. There is just enough for your needs, nothing more, nothing less.
When I arrive at the cottage during the day, it is as cold inside as it is outside, since no one has heated the cabin. I’m tired after walking with snowshoes for several hours, but I still have strength. I go into the cottage. With clumsy fingers I light the fireplace, as my breath steams. One of the previous visitors has left water in the big tank and it is, of course, pure ice. When the fire is ready, I take a thermos from my backpack, put some ice from the tank in it, and melt it at the fireplace. This takes a good while.
When the temperature inside the cottage starts to approach zero, I take off my jacket, sit on the bench, and light the storm lantern. Then I look for a piece of paper and start writing. I don’t mind that my fingers are icy, still part of the atmosphere. I sip hot tea and let the pen sing. Writing takes shape slowly but surely. I have all day, evening, and even night. Time is my own. When I am finished with the text, I put it back somewhere in a corner. I hope the next visitor finds it, reads it and writes their own thoughts again for the next visitor.
Then I go out to find a starry sky and a full moon, silence and endless space to breathe. Clean, frozen air, that endless resource of Finnish nature. No sounds can be heard. No birds, no cars. No people. Nothing. I get to be completely alone with my own thoughts.
I gaze at the stars in wonder. I imagine travelling to any of them, and I realize how big the universe is. Northern lights meander through the sky in greens and reds. I spend a long time absorbed in this place.
Am I lonely there? No. Am I depressed in the dark? No. Do I feel fear alone outside? No need. I know things are going well and I am safe when nature is close to me. It gives me strength and it takes care of me.
I am lucky that there are thousands of such writing places in Finland. Every writer can find themselves a suitable place. I enjoy hiking, but I’ve never hit a destination like that before. This has become a dream for me, and one day I will make it true.
Of course, the sky is great for dreaming closer to home, too. Writing allows you to dream regardless of where you are, which is why I love writing. It clears my mind. It gives wings to the imagination, so that everything is possible. It can be practiced anywhere in the world and it connects people. It can influence others and texts always find their readers – at least one reader, but often much more.
Even if only one person reads this text, I hope they can think of an ideal place for writing. It could make a dream come alive, and the dream could one day come true. Everything is possible for the writer.
Oh yeah, you might be thinking, what about that paper in the cottage? What exactly did I write down? I wrote about my loved ones and how happy I am in my life with them. This is why I am happy in the wilderness and my hometown alike.
Written by “O”, a member of the Finnish Heroines group