Monday, June 27, 2005

Mindbuzz: VONA Day One Reportback

Today was the first full day of my Voices of Our Nations (VONA) novel workshop experience, and two hours after I've left campus and my comrades-in-writing, my mind is still buzzing from all the great conversations, critique and cameraderie I experienced--just in one day.

I feel as if I've spent the morning in intense meditation: as I walked down the street to my house from the bus stop, the air seemed clearer and more crisp, I noticed the elderly Korean couple walking slowly arm in arm with their big black German shepherd, I heard the small and large sounds of everyday living around me that I normally take for granted. I felt as if my brain had been tuned to a new frequency, my awareness heightened after the morning workshop with Chitra Divakaruni and the other novelists in the room.

I have to admit, after the orientation yesterday for VONA I left feeling a bit apprehensive and fearful about what this experience would be like. The words 'life-changing', 'intense' and 'extroardinary' were bandied about by VONA faculty and alums alike, making me wonder whether I would have a nervous breakdown this week--not what I was planning.

But I'm getting it now: the passion and commitment of the other writers (all writers of color, for VONA is exclusively for us) is truly intense and beautiful, especially for me because it's been a rare experience for me to feel kinship with other writers in a supportive, non-competitive way. It's fuckin' great.

And it was pretty cool to get this feedback from folks about my sci-fi/fantasy novel-in-progress:

"This is really well written...Your language is beautiful" (from Chitra!)
"I found myself captivated and drawn in by the story"
"Wow! Very nice! Sci-fi! I was riveted"

We got into an interesting discussion about the sometimes-assumed 'responsibility' of writers of color to write about our culture, about race and politics, etc. One of Chitra's comments particularly struck me: "It's not so much about the milieu we write in [whether contemporary fiction or sci-fi or whatever] but about the concerns that we bring to our work." (I'm paraphrasing; hopefully you get the point)

The folks in my workshop are an eclectic and intriguing lot: a former journalist for the Chicago Tribune who lives in Guadalajara and rents rooms to writers and tourists; a globe-trotting Hemingway admirer who recently returned to the States from a writing/reading stint in Chile; a young Latina writer from Oakland who is working on a complex family drama novel told from the perspectives of two sisters and their daughters. And that's just a few of them. I feel privileged to be in their company and happy to be sharing with all of them the gift of our writing.

More to come,
In Peace,
Rona

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Have you ever seen Asparagus this BIG
They grow up to 15in long and 2in wide.
arizona gardening

tom naka said...

Just thought i would say hi from Japan. Doing some blog surfing and found your site. Im looking for some cool styles of restaurant fort worth for my own blog. Theres some really amazing blogs about. if you have time check out my site you will find information on restaurant fort worth. Well when i get my blog running hope you come and check it out.