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.


AWP 2013: Failing Better

Well it’s over. The glorious, frustrating, and rejuvenating AWP 2013 conference has come to its close. This AWP has probably been my favorite as far as conference enjoyment is concerned. Every panel I sat in on was fantastic. I, once again, am leaving Boston with motivation and energy to go hard or go home in regards to my tenure track professor goal. I am even more sure that I need to get the hell out of teaching high school, because I feel more at home with the AWP crowd, despite my inability to bond with them, than I do anywhere else.

It is so strange because as Missy and I search the conference for the worst and best hair and outfits, I know we both find ourselves not wanting to be anywhere else. We might mock the pretentious and sometimes overly enthusiastic moderators (was anyone else witness to the moderating train wreck at the Amy Bloom-Richard Russo reading?), but let’s be honest, we wouldn’t mind moderating such a great pair of writers. Albeit, I don’t know if we would be as star struck as the moderator seemed to be. At the end of a day of conferencing, it seems necessary to seek other Bostonian neighborhoods in order to escape the AWPers; however, the next day we return for more.

I perused my old posts for 2012 looking for a post on AWP and realized that I hadn’t written about my Chicago experience. While Missy and I had a great time exploring the city, I found the conference to be a very difficult experience. I hadn’t gotten anything published in 2012, I hated (and still do) my job, and it seemed like everyone around me at the conference was doing something awesome. So and so had gotten blah blah blah to write a blurb for their book, this press had just published whoever’s novel, and so and so was on a panel with yada yada seemed to be the only kinds of conversations I heard. While I can truly say, I was not jealous that these strangers had success, I was deeply upset with myself for my lack of effort and very epic failure.

This year however, it didn’t seem as tough to hear the same exact conversations knowing that the editor of one of my pieces was sitting at a table at the book fair. It wasn’t as tough knowing that this year (and it’s early March) I have done more writing than I did all of last year. I have also submitted more work this year that I have ever in writing career. That feels good–okay it feels awesome. It’s nice to know my s*$& is coming together.

I’m not saying things are peachy in my world, but they seem to be looking up. It’s like I’m failing better, so I’ll just put that in my pocket. If I can keep it up, AWP may actually start feeling good and less painful. Last year, I hit bottom and while I’m by no means close to the top, I am at least starting to get glimpses of sun.



Never Ending Stack of Papers

My girlfriend and I are going to be exchanging our writing at the end of next week and I haven’t had a minute to write a word because of all the paper grading. It’s mildly depressing to think that the only thing that will get me a professor job is publications and while I’m adjuncting I only have time to grade papers. It is the most vicious circle.

I’m getting a new stack on Monday–booooo.

I have even considered skipping my work outs to give myself an extra hour of grading. This morning, however, I woke up with my first panic attack in four years and am glad that I didn’t give up exercise. I’ve been struggling to catch my breath all morning.

The job application burden is also making it very difficult to breathe. Perhaps I need to pull an all nighter and get this shit done so I can stop worrying. Once the paper grading and job applications are out I’ll be able to breathe. I can definitely see an all nighter my future. Well, maybe not an all nighter maybe a stay up until 1ish and not have dinner with the boyfriend.