Expectations for VONA

just finished packing up for my trip to Miami, Florida. I will be spending the week out at the University of Miami campus in Coral Gables for the VONA Writers Workshop. I am really excited about this opportunity, as it was part of my self development goal for 2016. I was asked how I felt about this opportunity. It turned out to be a heavy question. I realized I have some intense mixed feelings.

My expectations for VONA are a bit bi-polar. However, the excitement is still there. On the one hand I don’t truly know what to expect from the whole experience and don’t have much in the way of expectations. On the other hand, I have a short list of three goals that I am hoping to walk away with from the VONA experience. I know my position is contradictory in its construct: How can you not expect anything and still come up with goals for yourself? Yet that is where I stand going into VONA.

I believe the latter position stems from the fact that I don’t view myself a “writer”- let alone a “creative” person. So long have I shied away from labels, even had an extreme repulsion to any sort of label, that I have lost the ability to embrace the power of being defined by a simple word.

 

Worse, in not embracing defining experiences, I have not worked on the skills and craft that go with it, in a professional or targeted way, in this instance writers and writing. I don’t have expectations of VONA because I don’t know that this experience alone will provide me with what I need to walk away feeling, or being, any more comfortable with calling myself a “writer.” (Do I really know anything about English grammar to call myself a writer?)

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The other part of me, that constructs three goals, is the practical side. Not wanting to simply go into something and walk away magically having accomplished something, I want to set some base metrics to measure the success of the experience. Especially since I am spending money on it! Here are the three goals:

First, I wish to experience the writing process. Or at least the writing process through a self describing and accomplished writer’s perspective. 

This may sound weird, but I always get discouraged by the way I write. Always feeling that my process is inadequate,  and being alone in my writing process, I find myself frustrated and often times stop at the initial stages of writing. I realize I have an idealized, maybe romanticized, view of writing. for example of the writer sitting down and pounding out a piece of polished publishable work, something like Jack Kerouac’s drug induced madness “On The Road.” I think being around writers and an environment focused on writing, I can shatter some of these stereotypes.

Second, I have been blogging for years and in my writing I have noticed a change. 

In fact, I have consciously made changes in my style over the years. However, I rarely get feedback beyond people telling me they have read my blog. I crave constructive feedback on my writing. I realize that compliments, while appreciated, are not the same as critical feedback. If I accept that i am a writer, then to grow as a writer I need critique that will challenge me to find my “authentic voice.”

Finally, I hope to identify my voice and its place of authenticity. 

I always felt that as a person of color, my writing is not really all that important in the greater context of American society. I mean there are so many more white people, and what person of color will want to read my work. Plus, I don’t consider my work all that relatable. This is a massive self-defeating perspective, but its one I contend with when I sit down to write.

Where do things stand as I wait to leave for VONA- Insecurities galore!

But look, this came out of my 2015 taking stock of myself process and from the Artist’s Way exercises. I simply have to embrace the discomfort I feel and not deal with making sense of it right now. I can sort out the feeling later. Plus I have a lot more material to read over and write my notes on for the Travel Writers workshop I am participating in, so I will focus on that on the plane ride there.
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