Sounds like acceptances for this year’s Viable Paradise workshop have been released into the wild. Congratulations to this year’s crop of hopefuls; you’re in for quite a week. To commemorate the occasion I’ve scrounged up my list of random thoughts on preparing for the workshop, resurrected from my old blog. May it prove useful to Uncle Jim’s latest padawans.
1. If you’re planning on flying into Martha’s Vineyard via CapeAir, be sure to fly into Boston via JetBlue or American Airlines if you can, as they are near CapeAir. The CapeAir gate is off in the small, strange Terminal C. Not knowing any better, I flew in on another airline and had to trek from one end of the airport to the other to reach the CapeAir gate. A brisk twenty minute walk, and I was also subjected to the soul-sucking hell of a second TSA security screening for changing terminals.
2. Call ahead and never assume that any place is open in October in Martha’s Vineyard. A lot of stores and restaurants have closed for the season, and the grocery store we were heading to closed at 1 PM! (9 AM to 1 PM! Bankers would kill for those hours.) This resulted in an alternate grocery run to a liquor store, and alcohol rather than deli sandwiches. Woohoo liquid lunches!
3. Prepare to ask the right questions. The instructors are extremely available throughout the week, and I found that asking pointed questions yielded valuable results. The best: “If I were to go home right now and focus on strengthening the weak points of my writing, do you have any specific recommendations?” This question garnered a wealth of techniques, references and writing exercises that have already helped improve my writing.
4. Bring quarters and a little laundry soap. The washer and dryer are right outside the main conference room, so it’s easy to throw stuff in while writing communally.
5. Get out there and join the group! All week I felt as if I teetered on the outer edge of my abilities to socialize, but it was well worth it. The conversations you’ll have with your fellow classmates will be the stuff of permanent memories. You can sleep once you get home, but you won’t be able to sit and listen to established authors and editors chatting and telling war stories. Great stuff.
6. Stay in touch with your classmates. Over half our group is on Twitter, using the VP boards and/or following each other’s blogs. This has helped tremendously as a coping mechanism on leaving our little island and returning to harsh reality.
7. Don’t begin with a prologue.
8. Help the staff whenever you can. They do an outstanding job and could use a nap every now and again. Just like you.
9. Don’t order the lobster plate at The Wharf in Edgarton unless you are really hungry. Not to mention any names.
10. Kate is always the Thing.