On the afternoon of July 6, when I woke up from my nap I’d take before my 6 PM-4 AM night owl shift at the ER, I got a notice that I’ve been accepted to Viable Paradise/VP21:

“On behalf of the staff and instructors, we’d like to welcome you as a student to Viable Paradise, and say congratulations!”

Um, what? Come again? I kept refreshing my inbox, but somehow the letter stayed. It didn’t magically disappear like if I woke up from a dream. One lodging reservation and a forum invitation later finally convinced me that this was for real. I’ll be a part of VP21. Sweet. This year’s the first time I ever heard of VP and applied way back in February…so to be honest (with a twinge of shame), in the next 5 months I kind of forgot I had applied until I got the update on the turnaround delay, due to an unusually large submissions pile this year. On February 22 I sent in my letter and short story quietly, didn’t tell anyone about it, and didn’t think too much of it. Then of course, once the letter dropped in, the cap came off on social media. When I told my mom about it she happened to be wearing a Martha’s Vineyard shirt that day, from our previous visit to Boston and the surrounding area many years ago. (Pretty sure that must’ve been what sealed the deal. ;D) Besides the Silver Honorable Mention in WOTF a few months ago, this is the next big validation of my writing endeavors I did not expect, yet am very joyful and grateful for. I received a warm, enthusiastic welcome on Twitter following my announcement, from both alumni and my future classmates.

For anyone interested and curious, here’s the cover letter I had sent:

“I am a 22 year-old Vietnamese-American writing from Texas. To put it simply, I want to be transformed. I want to be pushed, prodded, caved in, and turned inside out in making my voice matter and making it strong. My first taste in stories came from my parents’ true accounts of their escape from communism. Further led on by my favorite authors, I frolicked into the realm of speculative fiction to the point of no return. I want to take my skills and the craft to a higher level through the creative solidarity, input, and community Viable Paradise can offer me. Among my top goals is to write with “brilliant brevity”—as my 11th grade English teacher likes to call it—to say a lot in a few words. A program focused on short fiction can help me realize that goal. I also wish to hone my strengths and whittle down my weaknesses, with help from my potential classmates and instructors. Coming from a high school devoted to the arts and as someone aspiring to be a doctor, I value critiques and second opinions. Ultimately I hope that by attending Viable Paradise, by being molded like clay in a kiln through rigor and guidance, I can come out as a polished product.”

I tried to keep it simple and straightforward; I just told the committee where I come from and what I wanted out of the workshop. I’ve been craving after support and network among other writers, which I got a taste of at Writefest in March 2017, my first writing retreat. I hope VP21 will satisfy my craving, and help me find that push I need to grow as a better writer. Now I will occupy my spare time with hoarding and reading books written by my future instructors, to make the wait for October a lot more enjoyable and bearable.

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