Tag Archives: Writer Residency

VONA 2011: Orientation

Today was the first full day of my residency at VONA. There’s a lot I can write about, but as I’m trying to be on an internet diet this week, I’ll keep the posts brief. I’ll kick off the week of blogging with Orientation, which took place last night.

To give you some background, VONA is hosted this year at UC Berkeley. It is my first time on the west coast, and my first time living on a “real campus.” It is also the first time I’ve ever done anything solely for developing as a fiction writer.

Here are the highlights (and some low-lights) from Orientation:

  • 94 writers of colors
  • My nations are Peru, Brooklyn, bellydance and writer.
  • My ancestors are telling me “abre la puerta.”
  • People named “Juan” like to be called “Al.”
  • There are lots of Brooklyn writers in Berkeley right now.
  • Junot Díaz is the kid that grew up on my block and the kid that mentored me in law school.
  • Evelina’s last name is pronounced “Ga” like the Lady and “lung” like the organ.
  • I’d like to go clubbing with ZZ Packer.
  • David Mura is zen incarnate.
  • I really hope Diem Jones has a lucrative side-career as a voice-over artist.
  • Stern Hall reminds me of a creepy 1980s summer camp. I’m expecting Jason to come out of the woods at any second.
  • Communal bathrooms aren’t that bad.
  • Walking up a hill is good for your calves and poto.
  • Everyone is trying not to be a lawyer.

Getting Ready for VONA 2011

Tonight, I’m flying out to California, a few days before I start my residency with M. Evelina Galang at the Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation. I’ll spend a week at Berkeley with other writers of color working to develop their craft.

I am very excited to get guidance and feedback from Ms. Galang. She has a strong connection to her roots and to the challenges faced by Filipina women. I’ve found that my WIP and other shorter works focus on the women in my life, their struggles, and the impact their Peruvian heritage and culture has on their decisions.

While my writing isn’t exclusively limited to these themes, my WIP has taken on a life of its own. Unlike some of my other work, I feel very much compelled to see it through to the end. I’m sure other writers have felt like this before – the characters and the story demand to be told, and the telling of it is really beyond our control. I hope this upcoming week will help strengthen not only the story, but my ability to tell it.

I’ll keep you all posted! In the meantime, happy writing!

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