VONA has been the best thing I’ve ever done for myself as a writer, for my writing, as a writer of color. I’ve honed my craft and my voice at VONA. I’ve met the best and most encouraging and genius mentors (Junot Díaz, Mat Johnson, Chris Abani, etc., all of whom have been formative to my work) at VONA.
I’ve found a community at VONA that stands with me everyday as a human and a writer.
If you believe in me as a writer, you believe in VONA
For five out of the past seven years, I have attended VONA workshops. I have attended when I felt tentative, and when I felt strong. It was the place to which I returned when 18 months after my stroke, I felt able to write fiction again, and wanted a safe place in which to revisit my writing. It is my writing touchstone, and I want it to continue to exist and grow as a touchstone for other writers of color.
I’ve finished a novel manuscript over the course of my time with VONA. I’ve published stories and essays over the course of my time with VONA. I nailed down my voice as a writer over the course of my time with VONA. I owe so much.
And this is not to say you owe; maybe you do, as a reader of works by writers of color or as a VONA alum (many of whom have moved onto great critical success and whose works have landed on such things like the NY Times Notable 100 Books lists). But even if you do not fall into these categories, I ask you to INVEST.
There is a fundraiser under way to keep the program and workshops robust–and to that end, to bring in more voices from the unknown places and diversify literature. I owe so much to VONA as a writer, and that is why I gave the healthiest donation I could muster this year. And I’m asking my friends with love for literature and the arts, writers and readers, to do the same.
We are constantly asked to give money these days, especially since funding has been cut from so many programs–but if you’re considering a monetary donation to one arts group, I ask that this be it. Your money will go directly to the program and to the writers they support.
Please give. You can either make a donation to VONA or buy tickets to the fundraiser, held at Uptown Body & Fender on Sunday June 30, 2013. The VIP reception, at which you can meet with Distinguished Writers) is from 3:00-4:30pm, and the main event (food, readings, auctions), is from 4:30-6:00pm.