Reflections on Viable Paradise

Summer’s holding the door for autumn, and this time last year I was looking forward to Martha’s Vineyard and my first ever writing workshop, Viable Paradise.

Now, one year later I’ve been thinking a lot about VP and my class. I’ve been thinking about it because I feel a little like I’ve let the side down – no professional-level publications to date – but also because it’s getting cool and it’s about the time of year I started to think how am I actually going to get over to the east coast? and because I learned far more than I realized when I was there, and those lessons have taken some time to percolate through the limestone of my skull, but they’ve made it at last, almost twelve months on, and I think they’re worth sharing.

Everything Tam says is true.

I had had four jobs in a year, if you counted my stint as a freelance blogger, and had collected the trifecta — quit, laid off, fired. I was unemployed at the time. Like Tam, I planned to walk from the ferry to the Island Inn. I wonder how many of us were in that same place, standing on the dock at Falmouth. Alone. Vulnerable. Receptive.

It’s easy to descend into hyperbole about these things. Like Tam, I haven’t had anything professionally published. I’m holding down a job not related to fiction writing, but I’m happy there. I don’t know that I can say that Viable Paradise changed my life, in the rapturous way that’s usually meant. But in that moment, it made all the difference in the world. And it’s still making a difference. And that’s enough.