I meant to post these links the day before I came to AWP, but I was teaching and prepping for the conference and being lazy, so here’s a late list of advice articles about the conference:
- “Guide to AWP for People Who Don’t Know What an AWP Is” (from The Strangler)
- “All About the AWP Conference: How to Swim in a Sea of Writers” (from the AWP website — written by Roxane Gay!)
- “How to Make a Fool of Yourself at AWP” (from Brevity)
- “The Writers Are Coming — AWP Convention in Seattle” (from the Seattle Times blog)
One last thing: I had so many readings on my schedule tonight (8!!!) that, since attending one would mean missing most, I decided to skip them all in favor of the keynote address by Annie Proulx — which, I’ll confess, I was going to attend anyway, because it’s Annie Proulx.
Her address was delightful. Toward the end, there was a wonderful moment when she checked her watch and flipped through her pages and said, “Let me check my time. Hmm. I’ll just cut some of this.” And the crowd began spontaneously shouting out “No! Don’t cut!” Some of us chuckled, and Proulx paused, scanned the audience, and said, “What’s funny?” So we enunciated: “Don’t cut! Keep talking!” Proulx flipped through a few more ages, hemmed and hawed, said, “Hmm. Well? Oh, okay.”
And we cheered. And she kept talking.
I got so caught up in her remarks that I forgot to take detailed notes, but here are two highlights I made sure to write down verbatim:
“Why do we write? We write to communicate. Communicate what and to whom are the better questions.”
And, on the data analysis of reader habits and on formulaic writing:
“To regurgitate the tried and true is to become a producer of product. [. . .] In my opinion, this is not creative writing; it is bottom-feeding.”
I didn’t bring any of her books with me (I’m lugging home enough from the bookfair without bringing my own), so I skipped the VERY long autograph line, but I did stop to charge my phone and draft this post. By the time I’d nearly finished this, the line was gone, but I realized Proulx was still at the table, gathering her things. I walked over to thank her for making the time to speak at our conference; I told her how much I loved her address tonight and that I think her writing is amazing.
She seemed genuinely taken aback, and she smiled and said, “Well thank you. That’s very nice to hear.”
And on that note: good night, gang!