Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Writing in January--Your Partnership is Needed!

Ah, the beauty of winter! It's finally made it's way to Denver, and as Mark and I hike to the grocery store across the snow-covered city-slickness, tentatively feeling for black ice, I realize I need to figure out something to cover my face with. Ten degrees is cold. Thanks to global warming, and our winter at the Hilligoss's off-the-grid cabin in Utah last winter, it's been a while since I've experienced ten degrees! Come to think of it, it's been a while since I've experienced winter!

According to the good people at Vermont Studio Center, temperatures in the village of Johnson range from -30 to 40. You read that right: negative 30. For the record, my body has never been anywhere near -30. I grew up in Southern California. I'd be intimidated, but weather doesn't intimidate me, despite the best efforts of TV weather people ("It's the storm of the century!"--whatever). I love weather. Southern California is the most climate-controlled place on the planet--boring as hell. Almost as hot. I'm looking for cheap winter boots, and trying to hunt down used snow shoes! I can't wait!

Vermont Studio Center, for any of you unfamiliar with it, is an awesome place. Someday I'll figure out how to edit the links to the right of this message of put a hyperlink to it. I was referred to VSC by the illustrious and delicious Rikki Ducornet, who, to the great sorrow of Denver writers, has abadoned us for the rain shade of Port Townsend, Washington. VSC provides studio space, housing, uninterrupted work time, critique from more advanced colleagues in one's field of creative endeavor, and perhaps most importantly, community for sculptors, painters, and writers from around the world, throughout the year. I was blessed to receive a partial scholarship to VSC for the month of January, and so will be there from Jan 7 to Feb 2 this year, working on my collection of short stories, "Stepping into the Kingdom" (inspired by my experiences in Palestine), the new novel I started this month, and a poetry chapbook I've been trying to finish for a few years now.

Howard Norman and John Yau will be the fiction writer and poet in residence, respectively. In addition to critiquing writers' work, they will give craft talks and readings while we're there. I can't wait.

Although I received a partial fellowship and work-study grant, and Mark and I are paying quite a bit of the rest, I still need to raise money to make up the difference. The cost for the residency, plus airfare, comes to $3800. Mountain View Friends Meeting gave me a $500 scholarship. I still have to raise $900 though. If you would like to make a donation, please send your check or money order to

Val Phillips
VSC Fund
P.O. Box 300062
Denver, Colorado 80203

While your donations are not tax-deductible, during the time I'm at VSC writing I will not be contributing MORE taxes to the war machine! It's a good thing.

All donors will be gratefully acknowledged on this website, in print when my work is published, and at public readings in Denver. Additionally, for a donation of $25 or more, you will receive a hand-bound, autographed copy of the stories and poetry I complete at VSC. Support radical artists! Please! Partner with me in envisioning and creating a better world.

Many, many thanks!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The End of NaNoWriMo

No, it's not a Orkan greeting. It's National Novel Writers Month, and it comes to an end tomorrow. In addition to writers extraordinaires, Nancy Stohlman and Carleen Brice, I helped represent Denver in this insane undertaking. For more info, see:

Sorry I haven't figured out hyperlinks yet. Another project for my cold month in front of a computer screen in Vermont.

NaNoWriMo, which I would recommend to any writer (which means to anyone), is this crazy "contest" in which thousands of writers globally--linked through the NaNoWriMo website, and local write-ins and groups--endeavor to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. It's not only acceptable but expected that much of what one will write will be rubbish, but a lot of it can also be quite brilliant. Writing with the Muse turned way up and the Critic turned way down (as they must be if one is to produce prose so prolifically) is a fantastic antidote to writer's block and the fake humility known as ego.

Last I'd heard, Nancy was closing in on 50,000 words of what will no doubt be a brilliant 3rd novel of hers. I can't wait to read it. Hell, for that matter I can't wait to read mine!

NaNoWriMo has been a positive, but bittersweet experience for me. I spent most of the month making excuses rather than writing, although the very beginning and very end were productive, exciting and revelatory. Thanks to Nancy and some gorgeous shared writing time together in a mountain cabin last weekend, I've gotten reinvigorated and have been writing every day this week. Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I've started a brand new novel, with brand new characters, who are fascinating me and going in directions I never expected. The totally tentative title of the book is "See." It will be my first completed novel.

And this is my first completed blog entry, neither as profound nor eloquent as I had hoped for my premiere entry, but, as with NaNoWriMo, sometimes it's just about showing up and getting the words down on the page.

Write on!