Oct. 22nd, 2009

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First of all, if you've ever even thought of applying (and maybe if you haven't): apply apply apply. I've been wanting to go to VP for years and never had the guts to apply before this year, and it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life, let alone one of the best things I've done as a writer.

I could go on about what VP is like, or what I did while I was there, or how great everyone was, but there are plenty of other rundowns that will tell you that. Instead, I want to talk about the biggest single change in myself that has come out of it so far, because I only just realized it tonight:

I am not embarrassed to write anymore.

I don't mean that I used to be embarrassed that I wrote, although I didn't tell people about it often; I found it almost physically difficult to write because I was embarrassed to be putting words on the page. Even if no one was going to read them, but especially if they were. It made me the world's worst fest participant, because it was always very hard for me to write the stories I'd signed up for; I felt ashamed the minute I sat down at the computer.

That seems to be gone now. One of the things that attracted me most to VP was something I saw about it online (unfortunately I've forgotten where): VP is a space where you can take yourself seriously as a writer. It was absolutely true, from the very first day ("We are all writers") to the conversation I had while hanging out at the airport with one of my fellow students at the end of the whole thing. A space to take myself seriously. And suddenly I don't feel so embarrassed anymore.

It's still hard to submit stories, but that's gotten easier, too; taking myself seriously means that I don't just write when I feel like it and then let it sit on my harddrive forever.

I don't know if any of this means that I'll ever be published, or anything like that. But I'm absolutely sure it has made me a better writer, and at least as long as this lack of embarrassment lasts, a little more comfortable in my own skin. And those two things alone are totally worth the price of admission.

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magistera

February 2011

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