Barbaric yAWP

Survived SNOWPOCALYPSE by, basically, staying inside as much as possible. Ursa did not get a walk one morning. We paid our neighbor $20 to do the walk up to our front door (he has a snowblower, and we don’t.) My flight was canceled and rebooked automatically for another flight later in the day. Other than that, my travel was actually quite on time. Almost suspiciously so.

Survived AWP as well. I don’t think the location in DC made for a great conference space. Too many people in too small a place. Two of the sessions I really wanted to see were so packed, I couldn’t get in. I don’t know what AWP’s problem is, but apparently they can’t pick a popular program from a yard. Popular might be the problem, actually. One of the panels that was jammed was the panel on young adult fiction. I can live without that session, but it bothers me that AWP didn’t think more than 30 people—out of 7,000 or so—might want to learn a bit about the fastest-growing market in fiction.

But it’s not just young adult fiction that got the short shrift. A panel on linked short stories also sardined into a 60-person room. Hello? Linked short stories—a panel on how to turn little publishable things into big, publishable things. Who does AWP think is going to AWP every year?

No, strike that. They know who goes to AWP. What they don’t seem to know is who goes to panels. Not everyone does. But the people who do? Are still learning, still trying to get published. At AWP Chicago two years ago, a session on first books got a room the size of a hotel room. The fire marshals had to come and thin the herd. People lined up the hall to listen.

AWP, your old pros are either speaking at the panel or they are down in the lobby bar. The people who come to sessions are the grad students, undergrad students, recent alumni, recently hired teachers, and teachers who still kinda want to have a book out someday. The great un- and underpublished. The readings are nice, but these aspirational, craft sessions are like candy. And if you didn’t bring enough candy to share, don’t get it out.

I’ve announced a hostile takeover of next year’s room assignment plans. Who do I talk to?

Other news: I convinced my friend Mary Anne to write a mystery story. And she did, over about 24 hours. I started the book by Karen Russell that is making her gratifyingly famous. And my friend Christopher Coake sold his novel to be published summer of 2012.

Also, tonight, I bought an e-reader. Yes, I have conflicted feelings.

That’s it for now. I’ve been working at home tonight and I could use a screen break before my eyes fall out of my head.

By Published On: February 10, 2011Categories: AWP, Fangirl, Writing life