Viable Paradise

This was my second year teaching at the writer’s workshop Viable Paradise on Martha’s Vineyard, MA.  I have no idea how to talk about it.  I mean, there’s only so many times you can say, “Holy crap, wow!” before it gets old.  But, holy crap, wow.

I can’t mention the students by name, because I’ll leave someone out, and that would be wrong.  But, like last year, they were all as geeked about writing process as me.  Amazing, amazing week.

Thanks to my roomie, Stevie Chuck, who did several wonderful things (including talking Jenphalian into showing up) capped by swapping rooms at Just The Right Time.  Patrick gave a talk about publishing history and its current state that I thought was going to be dull and academic until suddenly it came into a focus with a snap of, “this is why your career is where it is.”  And music; fun, fun music.  Teresa on exposition was her brilliant self, and then she cured my scurvy.  Forever.  Jim and Dr. Doyle, who do the parts of this that I could never do, were wonderful throughout.  Bear spoke of plotting and a bit more came into focus; I’ll be trying some of it out in my current book.  Scott was delightful, and his explanation of plot tomatoes cleared that up wonderfully.  Sherwood?  It astonishes me how small she is, for having that much knowledge; you’d think she’d need to be bigger to contain it all.

And the staff.  Mac makes things work, Bart makes things happen, Chris is the one who is always there when something needs doing.  I’m tempted to leave Pippen out, to continue the joke, but I can’t on account of how much work she does (and the fact that she’s utterly adorbz).

But, really, the students made it all magical.  There was a moment during a critique session when one of them applied (perfectly) a subtle and nuanced approach learned in a critique the previous day.  You could feel the learning taking place.  That’s the sort of shit I live for.  Well, that and writing.  They kind of go together.

Off to Milehicon in Denver this weekend; I wonder if I’ll have come down by then?


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25 thoughts on “Viable Paradise”

  1. I probably would not have showed up without @stevengould’s relentless tweeting! I’m so glad I did. That was so much fun, and the people were caring and wonderful.

    A++++++: would totes crash this party again!

  2. PNH: Watch while I imitate an editor: Yes, I did, because the first few minutes sounded that way. I assume you did that on purpose, because you wanted the sudden snap of attention when it suddenly became interesting, pertinent, and sharp. If you didn’t want that reaction, you should reconsider your opening. But I’d recommend keeping it as it is.

    Also, it needs a new title.

  3. Off to Milehicon in Denver this weekend; I wonder if I’ll have come down by then?

    Naaa, you are going to be a Mile Hi all weekend.

    Seriously though, it looks like its going to be cold.
    What is your favorite booze?

    I am really looking forward to seeing you.

  4. Hey PNH! I have a great idea for a speech! Why don’t I tell you about it, you can write it, and we’ll split the proceeds?

  5. Aww, I missed you! I’ve only ever met you once but I’ve been going through withdrawals all year. Maybe, if I’m super lucky, I can make it to Fourth Street. <3 I'm so glad you had fun again and everything went well.

  6. Puss in Boots: I hope so too. Though, um, no idea who you are.

    Francis: No! We must spread the word! All of must learn of plot tomatoes! And all inquiries must be directed to Scott Lynch.

  7. Damn. Patrick really worked on that opening. Now he’s going to get all writerish about it.

    Yo, Plunderpuss, we missed you. I did a Flounce that put Bear on the floor with full-scale cataplexy. I could only have been happier if I’d scored an involuntary expulsion of fluids.

  8. I’d like to go to one of those workshops one day. I’ve always wanted to put some serious effort into writing. I have a bunch of (what I consider) brilliant ideas, but plot twists and major plot points end up being secrets that I always really want to tell the audience way too much way too early, and it ends up ruining the whole story. It would be nice to learn how to break that habbit so that I can become a better writer.

  9. Hey Steve With A Hat :) I had a wonderful time at VP and am so glad I had a chance to meet you. It’s so awesome to see the wow factor really does cross to the instructors. The writing, the music, it all came together in a way that was totes magical.

    @Chris F. : no podcast. But you can find out by applying. Which if you like to write, you should! It’s so much more than a podcast could ever convey. You have to separate yourself from the rest of the world and soak yourself in writing (and music) from pre-dawn to post-dusk. It’s the knowledge combined with the experience. One without the other would break the workshop down into monotony.

  10. No wonder my daughter got such a high from it. Or, wait… I don’t remember if she went to VP. (This would’ve been a decade ago or more.) She did go to Clarion.

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