In Which A Secret is Revealed…

I am knee-deep in Residency, but have a little news to share. I got an email on Monday (which included a respectful NDC request – “please wait until after 20 June before you say anything online”), that included some shocking but awesome news.

Remember back when I was going over my resolutions from last year? To catch you up, I had applied to the Viable Paradise workshop but didn’t get in. I was invited to reapply this year, and I did, submitting my packet back in February. Since the application window spans from January to June, I quickly did the exact same thing I did with the NCSU short story contest I entered a few years ago – I quickly forgot about it. Sure, I got the email response confirming receipt of my materials and that “they have been forwarded to the selection committee for consideration,” but there were still four months to go.

The application window closed last Friday, 15 June.

Monday, while hanging out in my hotel room, I checked my “professional” email account [tied through my domain name instead of g- hot- or yahoo-mail or the like, of which I already have too many of…], and downloaded a new message: “Congratulations on your acceptance to Viable Paradise 16” – the Fall 2012 session. That’s the awesome.

The shocking… that I was accepted – and here’s why. All writer’s, especially early in their careers, suffer a form of crisis of faith – self-doubt – wanting to improve, wanting to be accepted, wanting to (eventually) get publication and have the stories find an audience. The last few years my writing has been more about me finding my feet, making the decision and effort to follow my heart and write the kind of stories that I really want to write. (Ever taken an academic creative writing class, you will know what I mean.) Of all of the fictional stories that I wrote during my MA work, only two of them could really be considered “literary”, and one of them was ok, but mostly crap [read – I had to write something for class, my heart wasn’t entirely invested in it. It showed.] The other one was the competition finalist – but I was invested in the idea/prompt behind the story. But it was when I went off the grid – challenged myself to explore genres – that I got some of the better compliments, feedback, and reader intrigue. Most of what I wrote were more “excerpts” than self-contained stories (another limitation of most academic programs, there’s more emphasis on crafting shorts than there are in crafting novels).

But it’s one thing to submit stories to a college (or local) workshop, even a workshop at a convention. It’s something different to be involved in an academic program where working [multi-published] authors are giving you feedback on your work. That’s one of the reasons that drew me to Seton Hill’s program when I was looking around. But to be accepted to a workshop that not only has working writers, writers that I have seen and heard speak at conventions and already had samples of their work on my shelves, and where the instructional team includes editors for a major publisher – especially one that I would one day like to be published by?

That’s the good kind of shock that offers encouragement, suggests that yes, maybe I do have some skills… maybe I can do this after all.

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