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Viable Paradise 21 and More

by Jonathan 0 Comments

On Saturday, I’ll be heading up to Viable Paradise 21 on Martha’s Vineyard. When I got accepted back in July the feeling was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. That said, the workshop seemed a long way off.

Now it’s almost here and I have mixed emotions. Of course there’s the part of me that can’t wait. Then there’s a part of me that wants to keep it in the future indefinitely so I can always have it to look forward to. Ultimately it doesn’t matter either way. I must wait and it will come to pass. What I do while I’m there and after will ultimately define the experience. A week of immersion in all things writing is an amazing gift. Did I mention I can’t wait?

In the meantime I’ve been working on a couple of short stories and percolating ideas for still more. I’m toying with the idea of doing NaNoWriMo for the first time to hammer out the bones of a new novel. I’ll need to nail down some serious prep work if I want to make that happen.

I’ve been reading a ton of short stories this year and it’s been awesome. Digging into Paragons, Apex Magazine, The Weird, Worlds Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, Clarkesworld and more, I’m loving the form, where in the past I found myself ambivalent.

From a writing standpoint, as I mentioned in an earlier post, short stories have been a great test kitchen for story ideas while forcing me to use language more efficiently, to fully form story lines, and to layer in subtext. Another benefit is being able to finish stories and get them out on submission while moving on to the next one.

I’ve also worked through several novels in the past months including The Big Short, The Lies of Locke Lamora, Range of Ghosts, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Hammers on Bone, and Signal to Noise. I just fired up A Star Called Henry last night. So far so good.

I reckon the next time I check will be after Viable Paradise 21. Can’t wait to dig in and report back.

 

Viable Paradise on the Horizon

by Jonathan 0 Comments

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It’s been almost three weeks since I learned I was accepted into Viable Paradise, a week-long, intensive writing workshop on Martha’s Vineyard. To say that I was stunned and elated is an understatement.

Since then, there’s been a lot to take in since then and a lot to figure out.

Having started this journey of isolation and rejection a little over eight years ago, the validation of my work from outside, professional sources has been sparse. I started out writing my first novel with the occasional short story sprinkled in between the seven or so drafts. I’ve had beta readers, queried, submitted short stories to pro markets.

There have been moments — personal rejections, kind words and encouragement — and of course the writing, always the writing, but like many along their own path, there has been doubt as well.

The thing is that I always felt like I was somehow missing the boat, that I should be doing X instead of Y, or that Y was taking too long. Although I knew somewhere in my mind that this was part of the path — that this was the path — I felt I was missing something critical.

In 2013, I donated to the Star Ship Sofa podcast in exchange for a critique of the first fifty pages of my novel by Paul di Filippo. He was kind with his critique, even went so far as to tell me I had “chops”. During our call, he recommended attending SFF cons as a way of tapping into the writing community.

So I did. I attended Capclave in D.C. for a couple of years, then World Fantasy Con for the last two years. I met great people, attended tons of fun and informative panels, yet I noticed something: So many of the people I met had these built in networks of people with whom they could share their experiences, go to dinner, talk about writing, etc.

I enjoy my solitude as much as the next introvert, but when I’m at a con, I want to immerse myself in the experience and soak up as much as I can. Without prior connections, it’s been a challenge to create meaningful, lasting relationships with the people I’ve met. As a result, I felt like I was only scratching the surface at these events.

Sometimes it was a case of being at a different place on the road to publication than the writers I spoke with. On another level, it seemed to come back to not having some sort of legitimacy, some way to indicate to other writers, published or otherwise, that I was worth talking to or was even a writer.

I realize that previous statement sounds a little desperate, but there’s truth there.

Upon tweeting my acceptance an amazing thing happened. I started to receive congratulations from previous VP attendees. People started following me. It was an incredibly uplifting experience.

And so, as much as I’m excited to improve as a writer in the crucible of Viable Paradise, I’m just as excited to meet people and to have that shared experience that creates lasting bonds.