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  • Yaddy Valerio

VONA online 2020







Is July 3rd, I am laying on my bed as I write this post. Is the day before July 4th and I am taking a break for the summer. I just ended my 1st experience at VONA, Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation, a multi genre workshop for writers of color Started in 1999. I first heard about this experience in October 2019 at Brooklyn's Lit Crawl. I was recommended to apply. I was hesitant because I did not think I deserved a seat at the table. What Imposer Syndrome does to your mindset, I have been able to move from that mindset by doing. By applying I was beating imposer syndrome. Being part of VONA You will be part of a larger community.


I went through the application process and was confused as fuck so I reached out to an alumni Puerto Rican Poet Elizabet Velasquez and she took me through the application process. The program was going to be held at the University of Miami and I was really excited to go to Miami my second home. I submitted a piece of my mother and pay my $30. Yes that's one thing, is an investment you'll have to make, when you invest in yourself, you'll reach high places!


You have the option of applying for two sessions with a first chocie and second choice option. My first choice was Jaquira Diaz author Of "Ordinary Girls" and my second choice was Willie Perdomo poet and author of "The crazy Bunch" .The deadline was on my birthday so I apply a few days before my birthday. Less than two months later, COVID -19 hit us and you know the rest. I lost my job, I quarantine with my mom. VONA cancelled the event and then they uncancelled the event. They decided to go online. I was not thinking about the program I was thinking of my health and what the future holds for me. In late May I received the acceptance email and I was shocked I was expecting it at all. I was accepted into "Expanding the personal Narrative" with Jaquira Diaz. I was going to turn it down and then I was encouraged by so many people to take it, so I did.I pay my fees and went to zoom. Here is what I learned, resources that was shared and books.


  1. Work on your craft

  2. Your agent works for you

  3. Finding an agent is like finding a spouse

  4. There is Small publishing , big publishing and self publish

  5. Small publishing are easier to work with because they will invest more in you and it does not require an agent

  6. Big publishing are harder to get in if you are a person of color. You will need someone that fucks with your vision.

  7. Self publish youll get all your royalty but youll be your own team.

  8. Even if you find an agent you still have to work as if you are the only team

  9. DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING WITHOUT A LAWYER. Even if is an essay or article. People will steal your work.

  10. When publishing a book youll get an adanvance but if book does not perform well, some will request their money back

  11. Once you complete VONA youll be part of a larger community of writers from all over the country.

  12. Royalties come quarerly

  13. #publishingpaidme - search and authors will tell stories

  14. Poetry gets very little. You'll need to write more for a house to take a poet seriously


What I learned from my instructor Jaquira Diaz


  1. Don't be afraid to take up Space

  2. Hustle for yourself even if you got an agent and people that believe in your vision

  3. Have audacity to take up space and lots more

  4. You should not have to conform to white readers . Be you

  5. Create your own art

  6. Work on Craft as much as possible

  7. Learning to play the game

  8. Focus on the things you love writing about . Write the thing that feels fullfilling

  9. Use a scene to connect readers to your words


Resources


  1. there's a whole database of literary agents of color to pitch to! here's the link: https://www.litagentsofcolor.com/

  2. www.blurb.com

  3. www.ingramspark.com

  4. Dominican writers -https://www.dominicanwriters.com/post/so-you-want-to-self-publish-a-book


Books from Faculty


  1. "Ordinary Girls" By Jaquira Diaz

  2. "Wrapped in Rainbows: The life of Zora Neale hurston by Valerie Boyd

  3. "Casanegra" by Blair Underwood

  4. "From capetown with love" By Blair Underwood

  5. "The crazy bunch" by Willie Perdomo

  6. "Her wild American self " by M. Evelina Galang

  7. "Lolas House: Filipino Women living with war" by M. Evelina Galang

  8. "Freedom in the Family" by Tananarive Due

  9. "The Black Rose" by Tananarive Due

  10. "The Crazy Bunch" by Willie Perdomo

  11. "The essential hits of Bon Bon" by Willie Perdomo


I never thought my writing would take me this part. I started 4 years ago with writing about my wellness journey and now look.




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