October 2 – October 28
Just got back from Viable Paradise Writers’ Workshop – and man was it incredible!
VP is a writing workshop for early career writers who are just at the brink of publication. Alumni include NK Jemisin, Fran Wilde, and Mur Lafferty (to name a few). To apply, writers have to submit either two short stories or the first few chapters + a synopsis of their novel. Applicants are selected based on the quality of their writing samples. While I’ve received a few nice, personalized rejection letters from the literary magazines I’ve submitted my short fiction to, I had never actually received a writing-related acceptance until that wonderful day in June when I was admitted to this year’s VP workshop.
This year’s workshop was taught be an incredible set of faculty: Elizabeth Bear, Erin Black, Max Gladstone, Steven Gould, Daryl Gregory, Laura Mixon (also writes under MJ Locke), Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Sherwood Smith, Scott Lynch, and Patrick Nielsen Hayden. And the staff – the staff! was incredible. But my favorite people at the workshop were the amazing 23 other writers I met, wrote with, learned from, and graduated alongside – this cohort is sharp, talented, and incredibly generous. I feel lucky to have such a great new group of friends and colleagues.
So what actually happens at VP? The week is filled with long days of lectures, critiquing, one-on-ones with instructors, writing new stories, and (sometimes very late at night) drunken music, laughter, and grilled cheese. There are a few secrets shared with only those who actually attend the workshop (the HORROR that is Thursday, luminescent jellyfish, the truth of publishing a novel – in picture-book-form, and much much more).
My greatest takeaway from VP was that I (and all my fellow VP21 grads) are writers. Prioritizing writing, putting your work out there, getting rejected – these things are hard, very hard. And many of us (if not most or all of us) faced even these things during our time at VP. But what makes us writers is deciding to push through, to continue, to keep struggling and trying. VP’s greatest strength is its community and support – showing each of us that, while the struggle is real, none of us are alone (at least not anymore).
I am really proud of what each of us has accomplished and look forward to what I know each of us has yet to accomplish. My week at Viable Paradise was one of the best of my life (if not the best), and I am so grateful to have had a chance to experience a sliver of the island’s magic.