For the last, oh, ten years or so, I’ve wanted to attend Viable Paradise, a writers’ workshop that takes place on Martha’s Vineyard for a week every fall. It’s led by writers and publishing-industry people who’ve had my immense respect, and every post-VP account I’ve read from its students has only further solidified my desire to go.
Of course, every year as the deadline rolled around, I thought about applying, and well. Never did. Not enough money. Not enough time off left. Regional shows happening for the day job that overlapped the VP dates.
And, of course, there was always the fear that I didn’t have anything good enough to submit. Or that whatever I’d come up with wouldn’t be good enough. At some point, though, you have to tell Imposter Syndrome to go to hell, right? I’ve learned over the last few years of writing and submitting that really, the worst anyone can say to you is “no,”and the folks running VP aren’t going to send that “no” along with a sneer.
So. I sucked it up. Paged through my Black ‘n’ Red notebook for story ideas I’d jotted down to someday revisit. Found a thing and wrote it. The nice thing is, it’s a story I figured I’d keep working on whether I was accepted to VP or not, and if worse came to worst, at least I’d have the first two chapters written.
Then I dithered. I’m good at that. The chapters were done, but it needed a synopsis. Have I mentioned I’m a weird hybrid of plotter and pantser? Chewed off some fingernails, thought the story through, wrote that down. Also tough: a cover letter describing why I wanted to attend and what I’ve done so far. Have I further mentioned how terrible I am at talking myself up?
Still, I got the writing done, said positive things about, well, me, and printed it all out. My submission went out the day Ray Bradbury died. I got all sentimental and sniffly and told myself, hey, he submitted a story a week when he was first starting out. I have NO EXCUSE not to put a stamp on this thing. So off it went.
Commence another week and a half of nail-biting.
The night after deadlines closed, I had dreams about submissions and rejections and all sorts of other fun brain-fucking-with-me stuff.
On Sunday, I got a ridiculously late start on my sourdough bread (I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.) To you dabbling bakers out there: starting a bread that takes about nine hours from start to finish at five in the afternoon is not terribly smart on a school night. Many cat-naps were had as the clock ticked over from Sunday to Monday. I finally shuffled off to bed around four.
Our stripey orange cat was curled up on my office chair, so I didn’t disturb him. (Guess who truly runs the household.) Which means I didn’t shake my mouse and wake up my monitor and see the email from VP until, three hours later, I rose blearily to get ready for work.
Yeah, the little “Inbox (1)” woke me right the hell up.
I have this funny reaction to emails I’ve been waiting for. My heart simultaneously sinks and soars as I prepare for rejection and acceptance. Schroedinger’s Cat may as well have grown thumbs and gotten himself a gmail account, the way I see those emails. I had to read the first line several times before I was sure that the word “acceptance” was there, and not “We’re sorry to inform you…”
My shriek scared the fuzzy black cat, who sometime in the wee hours had booted the stripey orange one off the chair.
I’ve been over the moon for the last two days. I probably will be up there for the next few months, if anyone’s looking for me. I’m sure there are eloquent things to say about perserverance and believing in yourself. I’m a writer; I should be able to string some pretty sentences together about it. Problem is, I can’t stop kermit-flailing long enough to get them down.
I’m so very excited to be going, and can’t wait to meet my fellow writerly people. One thing I have always, always loved about the sf/f community is how amazingly supportive people are of one another.
That support also starts at home. This fall is Greg’s and my 10th anniversary. It’s October 5th. VP starts October 7th. We’ve talked about where we’d go and what we’d do, though we hadn’t yet made any solid plans. When I breached the subject of VP, and the nearness of it to our anniversary, he didn’t even bat an eye. “You’ve been talking about this for years. Of course you should go.”
So, yeah, incoming sappiness:
Thank you, Greg, for believing in me and rooting for me, and being so wonderful.
Thanks also to Hill and Marty for beta-reading my submission, and taking time out of your own busy schedules to give me feedback.
Thanks to everyone who’s cheered me on. You guys are the best.