The AWP Conference (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) is this week, and in case you’re new to this blog, AWP and I have a strange synchronicity.
Back when I decided to give up full-time teaching to focus on writing, I moved to Cape Cod, Massachusetts to be a “writer in residence” at my friend Nikki’s house. (OK, so I bitched to her about how I never had any time to write, and she offered me her guest room, rent-free, for what ended up being six months — the squeaky wheel gets the freakin’ oil, ya’ll.) Anyway, that happened to be the year (2013) that the AWP Conference was being held in Boston, a convenient hour’s drive away. So I went.
While living on the Cape, I met the man who eventually became my fiancé. He ended up getting a job in Seattle, so I moved there with him. Guess where AWP 2014 was held. Yep, Seattle. How convenient. So I went.
Then Paul’s job told him he needed to move to Minneapolis, which is where we’ve been living since September. And guess where the AWP Conference is this year. Yep. Almost too freaky to say it, but I will: Minneapolis. How convenient. Obviously, I’m going.
And maybe you are, too?!
If you’ve been to AWP before, you know it’s gigantic and overwhelming and has a tendency to make you feel small, stupid, and uncool. The days are spent wandering around under headache-inducing fluorescent lights, listening to panels and trying to avoid eye contact with the people selling stuff at the book fair. The nights are spent at various readings and parties, where introverted writers gulp wine and make awkward small talk.
It’s a much better experience when you know people, even if they are vague acquaintances. So… come find me! Even if you don’t know me well, or at all, I’ll be flattered that someone wants to talk to me. I’m very friendly and non-threatening, and I might even ask if you’d like to write a feature for Compose Journal (because I’m now the Features Editor). Anyway, I’d rather make awkward small talk with somone than stand alone, awkwardly talking to no one.
Come find me!
Here’s Where I’ll Be at AWP:
-At the Burlesque Press table at the Book Fair (#515). I will be working and/or hanging out a fair amount here. I’m good friends with the director of Burlesque Press, Jeni Wallace, and her husband, Daniel, and trust me, these are some good people to know in the literary world. If I’m not at the table, you should totally talk to them. They will be selling their first book, Siren Song by Tawni Waters, and hyping the third annual Hands On Literary Festival and Masquerade Ball, which will be held this coming December in New Orleans.
-Wandering around the Book Fair, amassing candy and other freebies. Hey, that’s what it’s there for, right?.
-Attending a few panels, especially those about YA and Middle Grade fiction. I may also go to the following panel: A Thread Through the Labyrinth: Learning and Teaching Plot, at AWP, but even if I don’t, I strongly suggest you do, as I guarantee it will be helpful and not just a bunch of senseless babble. Here’s the description: Lynne Barrett, Joy Castro, Lauren Grodstein, and Daniel Wallace will discuss how writers well-trained in other aspects of writing fiction are often confused and daunted by plot, lost in its maze of possibilities. We’ll share our experiences learning how stronger plot invention enhances character, structure, and meaning in novels and short stories, and will suggest approaches to teaching how to perceive, discuss, and evaluate plotting. We’ll offer charts, maps, and other techniques for devising and envisioning a plot’s twists and turns.
-Walking to and from the Convention Center (I live downtown, about a mile away.) Depending on the weather, I’ll walk outside, or try to navigate through the Skyway.
-At the following fun offsite event. It’s a free (and open to the public) reading and reception this Friday night: