Coming down from my VONA high. Wow. WoW. WOW. This shit really did change my life. It sounds sentimental and cliche, but it's true. The main way VONA has altered my reality is by making me realize that I AM A WRITER. Not a wanna-be writer, not an aspiring writer, but a real-deal-Holyfield kinda writer. A fellow VONA alum said it well:
"...just being surrounded, immersed in writing, [made me feel like] a writer. It's not about skill or publishing. It's a feeling. A little, little hummingbird in my chest flutters. And in the vibrations of its even smaller wings, I hear and feel, Hey you might be able to really do this."
I've been writing stories, poems and the beginnings of novels since the second grade. But I don't think I truly felt I could claim that mysterious, glamorous title of 'writer' until this past week at VONA. And for that, VONA will always have my gratitude. Working with Chitra and my fabulous 'chicken' Novel workshop homies was a deeply engaging, inspiring, enlightening and emotional experience that I will carry with me everyday as I move forward in the world, pen and paper and laptop in hand.
More quotes from the week:
"The obstacle is the path."
--Zen Buddhist proverb, via Chitra Divakaruni.
In the same vein: "Go straight for the pain, because that's where the treasure is. And since people of color have a lot of pain, we have a lot of treasure."
--Jimmy Santiago Baca, via Miriam Louie.
"Poets do a little. But novelists do it for longer."
--Ricardo Wilson, my new novelist homeboy, after the novel workshop crew stayed out 'til 4am (well, okay, I was home by 2:30am) partying at Zam Zam's and Milk in Frisco while the VONA poets and short-story writers were fast asleep in their beds! And whoever said that poets were wild and crazy? Not to mention that one of our novelists didn't get any sleep at all because she had to catch a plane at 7am the next morning.
"You need to get grounded. It's about keeping your feet on the ground."-
-Miriam Louie, fellow novelist, after my emotional post-VONA breakdown left me drained and in tears. I caught up on sleep on Saturday and yesterday, and got my grounding after a week of open-heart vulnerability.
Gearing up: H. and I are moving this week to our new spot in Oakland, so we've finally started packing our stuff up. And boy, do we have a lot of stuff. I'm very excited to be moving back to my side of the bay, and being closer to my new VONA friends, my long-time friends and my family. I feel like I'm going home. And I've earned it.
Their cries echo to the heavens ...
10 hours ago