Erik Attends Viable Paradise, Days 6 and 7

The denouement of any story should provide a sense of closure and emotional resolution, resolving any outstanding conflicts.  Deviations from this pattern, such as in Neon Genesis Evangelion or Lost, are often met with disappointment or hostility from the audience.

But this blog isn’t a narrative.  It’s a series of impressions, a stream-of-consciousness travelogue attempting to describe an experience in terms of its emotional impact rather than — and in fact, studiously avoiding — factual events.

And really, I’m just fucking tired.

Here, then, are my final observations, from the most immediately emotional to the most abstract.

  • My allergies don’t agree with Massachusetts.  I wish I hadn’t had to discover this during the best week of my life.
  • People aren’t distractions.  People. . . are people.  I wish I hadn’t treated some of them as such.  I had come to VP to learn, true, but I erred too far on the side of study this week and not far enough on social interaction.  Though one person comes to mind right now, I would have done better to talk more with all of those I had spent a week with.
  • That said, I’m glad I made the friends I did.  I’m glad to know I’m not crazy or foolish — or that I’m no more so than others who came with me.
  • Beta readers are so very important in the process of making fiction.  Workshopping isn’t strictly necessary, but every writer needs someone trusted who can provide the necessary change in perspective.
  • Viable Paradise is like Hogwarts: we students are all wizards, but we still need to learn the ways of magic.  Also, Uncle Jim is the muggle equivalent of Dumbledore.
  • Conflict — external or internal — is the propeller that drives the model airplane called story.  Milieu are the wings that give it lift, characterization are the tail stabilizers and wing flaps that guide the plane, and prose are the struts, bolts and other bits keeping it from flying apart.
  • If nothing else, be persistent.  Writing rewards patience and discipline.

I had two moments of deja vu (“all over again!”) during the trip: once during a lecture with Scott Lynch, and once as I was driven from the Island Inn, waving goodbye to two wonderful people that I’d gladly call friends.  My skeptic friends love to call me out on my superstitions, but I believe that deja vu usually signifies an important moment in time, a freeze frame, a “telling detail” as Lynch puts it.  I don’t know what either of these moments mean yet.  Perhaps I should just remember the experience for now.

I am so thankful for the instructors who gave a chance on an ambitious story that didn’t seem to do much: Elizabeth Bear, Steven Brust, Debra Doyle, Steven Gould, James MacDonald, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, and Sherwood Smith, as well as the de facto instructor Scott Lynch.  I’d also like to thank the gracious and caring staff: Bart, Chris, Mac, Pippin (with an “i”) and Kate, and Lisa, who couldn’t make it out to be with us.  And I’ve made so many friends this week that to list them at all would be a disservice.

Well, I guess this makes a good resolution.  Maybe I do have a chance at this whole writing shindig.