Viable Paradise XVI

Viable Paradise

Viable Paradise

I’ve been trying for most of a week to put something into words. But my adjectives and my adverbs keep getting weirded up with my verbs and my nouns, and there’s pronouns and conjunctions and gerunds underfoot, and maybe a split infinitive or two. I get bogged down trying to tell the facts and ignoring the essence of the event. So, instead I’m going to turn off my narrativ . . . ity (as well as, apparently, my vocabularitude) and you get this.

I’m talking, of course, about the experience of Viable Paradise (click on the picture). Whatever I thought it was going to be, it was simultaneously that and something else entirely.

  • Everyone there had some form of Impostor Syndrome.
  • Even the instructors.
  • Rule 1: No one dies.
  • Rule 2: Blood must remain in its original container.
  • Plot tomatoes.
  • The value of the hidden, detailed room in the model house.
  • How to force a person to pick the card I want him to pick.
  • Psychology is a very useful tool.
  • Telling details.
  • Richard II has a buttload of lines.
  • POV fixes everything.
  • I see what you did, there!
  • As you do.
  • Totes adorbz.
  • Jellyfish (at least some of them) are Fireflies of the Sea (or Lightning Bugs of the sea, if you’d rather).
  • The sky is chock full of stars.
  • Just because you spend a bunch of time building the world doesn’t mean your reader has to (or wants to) see it all. If you know it’s there, it’ll come through in the work.
  • I make a better Mafioso than a Thing.
  • Just being in the same room with The Scurvy Cure will apparently cure scurvy forever.
  • Unless you’re a Scurvy Brat.
  • Bob Dylan would be totes hilarious in Richard II.
  • MacAllister Stone made me like kale and collards.
  • I can write a 3400 word story in a few hours.
  • To spec.
  • Including a silly detail that makes no sense.
  • Just after the point where I yell at myself that I’m stupid and can’t do this, I buckle down and just do it.
  • Methodist Munchkin-Land.
  • I found my tribe.
  • And they have some rather odd rituals.
  • Each paragraph, each sentence — each word — should do at least two, if not as many as four or five different things.
  • Do not pet the black and white kitties.
  • Wood stairs are slick in the rain. (Hope you’re doing better, Alex.)
  • Tell the reader exactly what she needs to know when she needs to know it.
  • No more, no less.
  • No sooner, no later.
  • E-books are not going to kill off traditional publishing.
  • Money flows toward the writer.
  • Urban fantasy as a genre is a lot older than I thought it was.
  • The reader is at least as smart as you are.
  • Let the reader figure things out without over-explaining it. It makes them happy.
  • Just use ‘said.’
  • A game of chess is like a story.
  • When someone says, “I want to completely reduce a body to ashes. How big would a room have to be for me to stay in the room with the fire and not get burned or suffocate?” a group of writers won’t blink before asking for detail and suggesting answers and ways to burn the body faster and more efficiently.
  • Did you know there was a Dalek in Richard II?
  • And a Minnesotan or two? Oh, yah, you betcha!
  • And Gollum. Or maybe Peter Lorre. As Gollum.
  • And a southern belle from Looziana, y’all.
  • Bart makes kick-ass fudge.
  • Fudge with marshmallows and pretzels.
  • Yes, it really is good.
  • My girlfriend is a pagan.
  • Who could ask for more?
  • At the altar she’s a heathen, [Thanks, Marc!]
  • In the bedroom she’s just fine.
  • S00per s33krit Steve Brust story reading at midnight.
  • And the discussion that followed.
  • Don’t judge a book by its movie.
  • Dreadful, dreadful, DREADFUL!
  • …the unspeakable horror of the literary life.
  • Always go to the original source material whenever possible.
  • Every writer who has ever said, “I write,” has then heard this: “I have a great idea for a story, but no time to write it. How ’bout I give you the idea, you write it, and then we’ll split the money?”
  • Never call yourself a ‘wannabe writer.’ A ‘wannabe’ is someone who doesn’t write, but sits around thinking about writing. A writer is someone who writes. All of us at VP are writers.


  • I did not go on even one of Jim Macdonald’s three-mile hikes. The extra 90 minutes of sleep seemed more important at the time.
  • I didn’t spend near enough time with the other students. I barely got to talk with some of them at all. :(
  • Or the instructors. They made some good music at night (guitars, a banjo, a bongo, a harmonica, many voices), but I was too busy trying to get sleep to go enjoy it first-hand.
  • Or the staff. They bent over backwards to make sure we had everything we needed whenever we needed it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the experience is a bit of a jumble and it’ll take a while to process it all. I wish I were still up there, hanging out with those 36 amazing people into the wee hours, discussing writing and whatever else came to mind.

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