networking

The AWP 2015 Learning Curve

I’m wondering, how many of you were out there in Minneapolis this year? Anyone? What did you think?

I bumped into a peer (it’s not accurate to call this person a friend) from grad school who is now an editor at a pretty solid magazine, who was at the book fair managing the table for his or her press. It was this super-fake encounter. A discussion of art for the sake of art and not making money off a writing (those words were uttered–not by yours truly–but uttered nevertheless) ensued. I can’t say I’m proud of the fact this conversation happened. Though my peer (Good grief that sounds so snobby) seemed sincere about helping a sista out, so if our conversation leads to some baller publication, I’ll let you all know and then write a baller post about the importance of networking.

This year at AWP 2015 in Minneapolis I learned a few things…

1. I am not a fan of the midwest. I’m not saying the people from the midwest aren’t awesome; they are. My favorite comedians are all from the midwest and some of my closest friends are from the midwest. What I’m saying is I couldn’t live in Minneapolis (or Chicago, or Iowa, and definitely not anywhere in Ohio).

2. I HATE the Skyview thingy in Minneapolis. I have a pretty good sense of direction and got lost several times. At one point, on Saturday, I got lost in what I referred to as the SkyWorld and because it was a weekend it was empty and dystopian and because my mother embedded the fear of getting raped in me so very deeply, I practically ran out into the street at one point to avoid some dude in the SkyWorld. Needless to say, I’m not into it.

3. TC is warming up to me. This time TC was friendly and dare I say warm. This thrills me.

4. Chapbooks are totally having a moment. It seemed like no matter where I was: the airport in my hometown, airport in Minneapolis, the bathroom at the conference every one and their damn mother is getting a chapbook published. I’m not sure if this is a thing that mostly poets are doing (and I’m obviously not a poet), but I’m seriously wondering if I need to get on the chapbook train. Thoughts?

5. I am out of the loop. When people say names of important writers or editors, I’m like “who?” I am not sure if it’s because I’m working full-time in a job that doesn’t allow me time to read, or if it’s because I’m not working at the college level, or if I just never got into a rhythm of working to be informed. If anyone has any tips on getting with the program, it would be greatly appreciated. I do think some of that knowledge comes from submitting and learning the magazines where one submits. That is something I am definitely working on. I really want to work not only on getting more publications, but I also want to work my way into this community of writers so that next year in L.A. I know what panels to sit on to meet the “celebrities.”

What did you guys learn at AWP? Did you leave totally inspired? This was the first year I didn’t leave inspired. Instead I left with my competitive streak in tact. It’s on, people. It’s on like f**king Donkey Kong.

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CV Building Via Conference

This year February has become the month of conferences. I’ll be presenting at a conference this weekend. I’ve presented at conferences before, but they were sponsored by the English department of my grad school and I knew pretty much knew everyone who attended. Does your English Department hold conferences for TA’s and other graduate students?  A lot of the GTA’s in my program, including myself,  used the conferences as a way to add lines on our CV’s. I think it’s a really effective way to make you look like you care about your field. It’s also great practice for conferences that make you nervous. What do you do to build your CV?

Since this is my first official conference, I’m a bit nervous. Generally, I don’t get nervous when it comes to public speaking, but I’m kind of freaking out about it.

My paper is almost finished–I know, nothing like the last-minute. I think it’s pretty decent. I’ll probably edit it when I get back, and make it sound less conferency, and more edgy and essay appropriate. I’ll then send it out to a gazillion magazines in hopes that someone will pick it up and publish the thing. Do you guys do that with your conference papers?

Well, I recently got an email from the director or coordinator of the conference asking me if he could share my email with my panel. The panel originally had three people on it, but one of them had to drop out, so it’s going to be me and another person. I’m kind of glad about this, because I’ll probably lengthen my essay a bit and go into more depth. At first, I was glad I’d let the director give out my email. The other panelist emailed me and it turned out he knew one of my professors from graduate school. “What a great way to network,” I thought to myself.

WHAT AT MISTAKE.

This panelist is email happy, and frankly is a little too excited about presenting this weekend. He must be tenured and have job security. What’s that like? He keeps emailing me nerdy jokes about our panel topic, but at least he doesn’t want a super structured discussion. I also think he and my connection to my former professor may come in handy. Afterall, it’s not what you, but who you know. 

Let me clarify, it’s not that I’m not excited, I am. Presenting at this conference has forced me to work on an essay that I’ve been drafting mentally for about a year. It’s also a networking opportunity and with the job market the way it is, I think I’ll be able to become more than just a CV to some of the schools I applied for full-time work at, (some) who will be at the conference. When the panelist mentioned he knew my professor, I thought “I should exploit this connection to get some job interviews.”

Maybe this line of thinking makes me a bad person, but I don’t think so. I mean aren’t we supposed to take advantage of opportunities that lead to our success? Wouldn’t you network? Frankly, I’m seriously considering bringing my CV to this conference and passing it out. I know it isn’t a job fair, but what if a department chair from my area is looking for a full-time instructor of Creative Writing? This whole conferencing thing makes me wish I had a business card. It may be a good investment.

In the end, all this conferencing has made me realize that I need to be way more aggressive with the job hunt and building my CV. Also, having to work on my own writing instead of focusing on my students has been really refreshing. Don’t you remember when I had my mental breakdown in October? I’m truly on a mission, and I think TC’s comments, AWP, and my being reminded why I write is helping.