There's battle lines being drawn.
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong.
Young people speaking their minds
getting so much resistance from behind

Monday, October 19, 2009

Long awaited VP Posts - emotional side up

I'm just getting back to normalcy, so I'm almost ready to start talking about it.

First rule of VP, what happens at VP stays at VP. It's just like Vegas, but without the strippers. Or at least I didn't see any strippers, I was working a lot. I did get to see jellyfish though. Glowing jellyfish to boot.

So first thing is the emotional issues. When I received my acceptance notice nobody was more surprised than I was. This started the roller-coaster. One moment up, the "damn I'm good" feeling, and the next down, "I'm not worthy." Although I should say, it was more up than down. Then at the end of August I started to try and think of questions I should ask. I went over the materials online to strategize how the workshop would go, and trying to map a successful strategy. And, I'll add here that this attempt was full of fail. Nothing came to mind. The page remained blank.

I was very glad of the flight deals I scored. It reduced my money worries by being able to fly all three of us there for the cost I expected for one of us. Then the offer of a ride from Todd not only gave me the opportunity to meet him, but also pushed down the costs to the point I wasn't hyperventilating whenever I thought about it.

For the month before VP I tried to get enough sleep, however that didn't work. Between issues at the day thing and the fun-fest of the night job that didn't happen. Mix in my own apprehensiveness of making the most out of the situation and it was a brew of incomplete sleep cycles. So instead of getting to VP rested and ready, I arrived exhausted and spent.

When I'm fully rested I can go days at a time with very little sleep. While at VP I got about 5 hours of mostly blackout time a night and I downed as much caffeine as I could. There was an early morning walk I wanted to participate in, but I woke to late to go. When I arrived on the island I should have probably slept as long as I could on Sunday, but that was going to be the only day I felt I would have a chance to see the island, so I didn't sleep in.

From then on it was work work work. I'm a slow reader (especially when I am being critical). I'm not the slowest I've ever encountered, but I'm not near the fastest by any measure. Neither am I the fastest writer, so the work load put me seriously behind and I would stay up until I couldn't see straight. It was only on the last few days that I could socialize at night. That added to my stress that I was missing something important (and I probably was).

When we left I was very near the breakdown limit. That's the point that I know that I need serious sleep time and by myself time. So I wasn't up to my usual level of alertness on the way home.

The final emotional thing is happening now. Several of my fellow VPXIIIers (the Fightin' 13th) have talked about what a transformative experience it was. How they're newly remade and fired up. I'm not feeling it, at least not yet. Although the week was mostly a blur (and reviewing my notes to find a link for a fellow Fightin' 13ther, I saw many things that I remember I was there for, but there's a haze between me and the full memory). So maybe when I get a chance to review all my notes I'll get the full effect. I think, though, that the experience I brought into the workshop blunted a little of the "epiphany" moment. I've been critiqued by professionals before (although I would have been willing to pay more for more time with Teresa), I've met professional writers and have studied their habits, I wasn't the student the farthest along the writer path (if there is a path) (and we were all writers at the workshop) but I also have some success. Am I different? Yes, I think so. I have more confidence, my research is slightly more focused, and some other little things, but I don't feel transformed. More like that extra quarter twist of the wrench on a nut you're setting.

So for not feeling transformed I'm feeling guilty and a little confused. Did I miss something? Was I half asleep at the wrong moment? I'm still not feeling all here so is the transformative moment a comin'? WIll it happen when I process it all? Was I so blasted for lack of sleep that I missed my opportunity? Or was this a jump start for some people and what they've experienced I already had made it through, or see, or felt? I don't know. The guilt comes in from spending all that money and time and maybe taking the spot of someone who could have used the workshop more. Confused from thinking I'm missing something, when I'm normally quicker on the uptake.

One thing that did happen is that I drank way too much pop. I tried to keep with tea. Most times though I only had a moment so I grabbed a pop instead. When I weighed myself I was up 9 pounds (now some of that might by the natural 2lb variance, but still). I'm now down about 4lbs from that.


Julia Rios said...

I've spent the week since VP just trying to decompress and process the experience, personally. I just today started re-listening to the critiques I got and trying to make sense of them. I'm a slow reader and a slow writer, so this is just how it goes.

My introvert meter was out of red and into, I don't know, magenta or something by the time I left the island. This last week I've slept a bunch and done stuff only with family. So, basically, just saying you're not alone. One of these days I will actually post about my VP experience, and put my pictures up...

Anonymous said...

And, it's very possible that you've continued busy, and just haven't had your epiphany moment. You may get it when you're writing.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with not having an epiphany moment. Perhaps it is just enough to have made those connections.

I am linking to these posts. Would you like to be linked to?


Steve Buchheit said...

Julia, thanks for sharing. I've downloaded the file Brent posted and am going to listen through them. Maybe it'll hit me then.

Cat, that's also part of why I said yes to a writers retreat this weekend. I've seen where people come out of workshops like this and don't write for months and I wanted something to kick start me back into writing mode. Maybe it'll come this weekend as I relate some of the experiences.

And by all means link away. I think I have about two more posts about VP that I want to get up. This was just the first. There's a fourth post that's related, but only tangentially and isn't about VP experience.

Dr. Phil (Physics) said...

Everyone's mileage varies. I've met a lot of people who've done the Clarion thing (as I have) or Odyssey or VP. Sometimes the epiphany comes early -- and yet you are too frozen in place to apply what you've learned. Sometimes you wander on -- and discover an epiphany much later and realize that Yes, you are the sum of all your parts.

Worrying about it is of no use. It's like the mythical Clarion Week 4 breakdown. Doesn't always happen that way. (grin) But expecting it doesn't make it happen either.

Dr. Phil

Mer Haskell said...

I haven't gone through what's supposed to be a big transformative workshop--Milford is much lower-key, and peer-led, and that's the closest I've come. So, I'm gonna talk out my butt here.

I find that my epiphanies come in smaller doses. I'm not sure how much we think alike, but I rarely read stuff you've written and think, "Steve and I are from different planets," so maybe we have some similarities... but I go for realizations on a smaller scale, fine-tuning my orientations by degrees rather than spinning around 180 at any given time. Part of this is work ethic, part of it is the work that's already been done. When I got serious about writhing, I got serious. It happened long ago, and I didn't start attending conventions and workshops until after the epiphany.

So, possibly you already got serious. And possibly, you already knew kinda exactly how much writing would take and demand, because you had a fine arts background. Possibly, you are just too wise already to be seized by epiphanies.

I don't think that means VP was a waste in any way, though; there are a multitude of reasons to hit a workshop like that, and epiphanies are really not the reason I would go to one. I'm incredibly jealous of all the people you got to meet and spend time with, for example. Tomorrow's writers today and all that jazz. :)

Steve Buchheit said...

Dr. Phil, that's good to know. I know I've never followed the "normal" track. For VP is usually Wednesday when the breakdown occurs, but I think I was so blown going into the week that I was left unfazed by the amount of work.

Mer, I think that you're on to something. This isn't the first creative venture I've made, so it might be that while the views are different, the mile markers are similar. I still experience occasional moments of, "Oh, so that's what my instructors were talking about." Maybe it'll be the same with this.