Viable Paradise

 I've been travelling so much that only now have I had time to reflect on what, in writing terms, 2013 should be about for me. Mostly, it's all about what I learned at Viable Paradise.

Sunset on GayheadSunset on Gayhead

Viable Paradise is a unique one-week residential workshop in writing and selling commercial science fiction and fantasy. It's not easy to get into; I was rejected once before, two years ago, and in fact had given up on trying again. 

Oak BluffsOak Bluffs

Then in May we visited Martha's Vineyard briefly. I was keenly aware of the Island Inn as we drove past it, because I knew that was where the week long workshop was held. As our ferry pulled away from the island I decided to apply again. In two weeks I wrote and submitted a story and I'd been accepted. That was my first VP lesson: the secret to writing is sit down and write. 

Steven Brust InstructsSteven Brust Instructs

From my acceptance at the end of June to that glorious week in October I had some time to read. And I needed it, because VP's list of suggested reading is incredibly long, as is the list of instructor publications. This was my second VP lesson: if you write sci-fi and fantasy, and you write it well, and you write it all the time, then you make a living. And unlike the instructors in many MFA programs who are teachers first and writers second, the instructors at VP all make their living doing what they do best, and they do it all the time. Their list of publications is mind boggling. I tried to read at least one book from each instructor and each time I felt overwhelmed by the plethora of choices.

Frank, Teresa, Debra, Jim MacdonaldFrank, Teresa, Debra, Jim Macdonald

Here's the lineup: Elizabeth Bear, Steven Brust, Debra Doyle, Steven Gould,  James D. Macdonald, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, and last but certainly not least, Sherwood Smith

So what did I learn from VP that will help me face 2013?

Gould, Teresa, Patrick, BrustGould, Teresa, Patrick, Brust

1) Sleep is overrated. Why sleep when you can be playing guitar, singing, playing poker, and yes, drinking, all at the same time? Or wandering out by the beach looking up at stars that these can only be seen from places like Martha's Vinyard, or looking down at glowing jellyfish in the water?

2) Writer's write. Writers write fast. Writers are too busy writing to moan, except about the vagaries of publishing.

Sherwood SmithSherwood Smith




3) Writer's submit. The difference between a dilettante and a pro is that a pro is sending stuff out all the time.

3) Your peers at VP are all awesome writers. Do your best to stay in touch with them. 


Mac & DawnMac & Dawn









4) You can't write if you are hungry. Macallister Stone's fantastic cooking, conducted miraculously across multiple hotel efficiency kitchens, took care of that.

VP XVI GroupVP XVI Group

5) You can't write if you have scurvy. Therefore it is important to take the scurvy cure, which is Teresa Nielsen Hayden's handmade limoncello.

Steven GouldSteven Gould


6) If you are a VP alum you can join Codex.

Applications for Viable Paradise XVII, 2013, opened on January 1st, 2013, and will close on June 15, 2013.