Wednesday, February 29, 2012

AWP Or Bust!


Today I head to Chicago for the annual AWP conference. What, you may be wondering, is AWP? This quote from their website should clear things up:
The mission of The Association of Writers & Writing Programs is to foster literary achievement, to advance the art of writing as essential to a good education, and to serve the makers, teachers, students, and readers of contemporary writing.
In other words, AWP is a gathering of writing professors, editors, literary journals, MFA students, and writers of every age, color, and creed, who descend upon a city and then spend three days in the nerdiest way possible - attending sessions, going to readings, and trying to network even though most writers are shy and introverted. But that's why they invented alcohol!

I have never been to AWP, and I'm very excited to attend. I imagine it will be like all those librarian conferences I attended back in the day, except this time I am actually passionate about the topics. In order to prepare myself for what will be surely be an emotionally and mentally exhausting sojourn, I read this short and funny field guide to AWP, by the excellent folks at Tin House. My favorite lines:
Writers are an entertaining and an educational species to observe. In North America, there is no better location to watch writers “socializing” than at the AWP conference, where once a year in February, writers of all ages and backgrounds migrate to a city with an intemperate climate to banter, dance and mate with one another—a rare phenomenon!

Fiction writers: With their paradoxical characteristics and extreme volatility, fiction writers make for fascinating viewing. Be warned—fiction writers tend to require a great deal of attention and necessitate almost as much alcohol as poets. They are very sensitive about the size and heft of pillows. Quirky fiction writers!

Poets: Consider yourself very lucky if you come upon a poet—they are an endangered species! Poets can be divided into two types: those over fifty years of age, and those under thirty-two. There are no poets in between thirty-two and fifty because they have gone out and gotten jobs.
Read the whole thing. It's very amusing, and will give you a good idea of what I'm up against. In the meantime, I will be doing my best to take advantage of every opportunity that AWP offers, which means I will not have to time to blog, sleep, or eat until my return on Sunday. I will, however, make time for Twitter. Some things are sacred.

See y'all next week! Chicago, here I come!