Six Months Since Paradise

On October 7th, 2012, roughly six months ago, I arrived in Martha’s Vineyard by ferry (a liminal experience, uncle Jim would later explain). Two young, friendly staff members, Chris and Bart, drove me to the hotel, the Island Inn, checked me in, and led me to the common room where everywhere (minus some latecomers) had gathered.

So began the weeklong workshop/crash course in poker/liminal experience known as Viable Paradise.

Since then, I’ve begun writing for The Daily WTF, and one of my stories was recently bought by an online magazine. Some of my students have achieved even greater success, and while I’m so incredibly jealous at times, I can’t help but feel proud.

There’s a certain amount of secrecy regarding what happens — and believe me, you don’t want the magic spoiled for you — so I can’t go into specifics. I can tell you that you don’t learn a secret handshake to get published, or the password for the secret lunch at WorldCon where all the cool authors get to eat, or the patented Surefire Query Letter that will get you a three-book deal from the first publisher you send it to. (Or at least I didn’t!) Instead, you learn rare, invaluable advice on the writing process itself, straight from the people who make a living from it.

Nor do you stop learning after you’ve left the island. If you’re like me, who has barely chewed through half of the recommended reading list, you’ll have a stack of books, virtual or real, which you’ll continue to read from. Attending VP also grants you access to Codex, an online forum/workshop for neo-professional writers. And you’ll also make friends with your fellow students and your instructors.

A word of warning: Viable Paradise doesn’t cure Imposter Syndrome. Don’t go expecting to feel as though you’ve learned everything possible. You’ll be in such heady company, learning from legends, meeting fellow students whose work will make you wonder if you’re no more than a chimpanzee banging on a Macbook Pro.

I feel that way still.

But it’s worth it, and it’ll change your life for the better. Applications are open until June 15. If you feel like you need that push, do it.

Just remember. Sometimes you’ll feel like this: