AWP Day 2 1/2: advice on the conference (plus some Annie Proulx)

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:

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!

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Published by Samuel Snoek-Brown

I write fiction and teach college writing and literature. I'm the author of the story collection There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, the novel Hagridden, and the flash fiction chapbooks Box Cutters and Where There Is Ruin.

One thought on “AWP Day 2 1/2: advice on the conference (plus some Annie Proulx)

  1. Should have gotten her authograph anyway and pasted it in your book.  Glad you are having a ball!   Julie Snoek

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