This year, I debated for quite a while about making the trip to Minneapolis for this year’s AWP (a trip I’m on as you read this), because as much as I love AWP and as much as I have always wanted to visit Minneapolis (I hear fabulous things about that city), AWP always takes a tremendous amount of energy and time (and money). But a couple of months ago, I began to see the multitude of announcements in my Facebook feed from friends and authors whose work I love who would be at the conference, presenting or reading or selling brand new books. So AWP became, as usual, irresistible, and I am tremendously excited to get there.
Last year in Seattle, I was promoting my then-new checkbook, Box Cutters, and I spent a lot of time hanging out at the sunnyoutside press table (#128!). I also participated in a few readings to promote the book. This year, I plan to hang out at the sunnyoutside press table again (come find me!), and if you have my chapbook or want to buy a copy, I would love to sign one for you.
Alas, though, all of the readings I’d been invited to have fallen through, for a whole range of understandable logistical reasons. In some ways, this is great news, because it makes me a free agent, available to attend whatever I want, whenever I want. This is a new experience for me, because in the past I’ve almost always been supporting a literary magazine or promoting a book. So I’m looking forward to enjoying this conference in a way that I have never really enjoyed AWP before, including the chance to focus on the panels. And Minneapolis is a tremendously literary city, with a lot of local presses and authors and reading events that I am eager to explore.
(I do love reading, though, so if you’re at AWP and are looking for a reader to join in your fun, contact me!)
I do have a handful of panels that my students have sent me too, and I look forward to attending those and reporting to my classes about what I learned. I’m also planning to attend some panels particular to teaching at two-year colleges (which is where I work), and I have a couple handfuls of panels and readings that include good friends of mine or authors I admire (or even idolize), and I can’t wait to see those people. And of course there is the general camaraderie of AWP, the opportunity to hang out with writers that I know online or used to know when I lived in other states but have not seen in quite awhile.
Still, when I look at how crowded my events calendar is, it’s easier to feel overwhelmed this year. That’s why advice like “Don’t do everything” or “Take it easy” is going to be so useful to me this year. (See yesterday’s post.)
Of course, I will do everything, but I’m looking forward to a year in which “everything” includes time to browse the bookfair, time to have a drink or a dinner with a group of writers, time to enjoy readings. It’s something I started figuring out last year in Seattle, but it took until the last day for me to really understand the importance of that ease. This year, I get to go into the conference with that understanding, and I’m looking forward to enjoying myself.