Writers Hanging Out: My Trip to AWP
Since sophomore year, when I first learned that the AWP (association of writers and writing programs) conference was a thing that existed, I have wanted to go. "You mean every year a bunch of writers go to one place and, like, hang out? Sign me up!"
This year, since I'm the Creative Nonfiction Editor of The Evansville Review, I was finally able to get funding to fly out to Seattle with the rest of the staff and hang out with a bunch of other writers and editors for four days. And it was amazing.
A lot of times, finally getting to do something you've been wanting to do results in disappointment; it never ends up being how you expect. I expected AWP to be a place full of writers, where it'd be a little easier to talk to people because we were all interested in one fundamental thing--writing--and that was pretty much exactly what it was.
Sure, I had to fly there, and I still don't like airplanes. And sure, the line in the hotel lobby was staggeringly long, and the place got insanely crowded with people in green lanyards with AWP nametags on them. But that doesn't mean that the conference itself, and most of the people I met, weren't fantastic.
I don't know if you've ever gotten the chance to hang out with a bunch of people who all like the same thing you do for three days nonstop, but it's so wonderful even an introvert can't help but (mostly) enjoy it.
For those who (like me) don't really know what a writer's conference entails, it's basically like this: a bunch of writers all go to one place, and they talk about writing. At AWP, there is a bookfair where a ton of companies and literary magazines set up tables and try to sell their books or their services, and usually offer you free things to tempt you over to their area (this includes chocolate, sticky notes, and free editions of their review). In preparation for this, the AWP organizers even provide you with a tote bag upon registration.
In addition to the bookfair, which I like to think of as sort of a massive heaven of free things, there are panels where certain writers are asked to do a Q&A about a particular topic. I went to a panel about humor in memoir, and a few about young adult writing. Not only did I learn a bit about what other writers thought about the things I was interested in, but I also got to add a few more cool-sounding books to my to "To Be Read" list.
Because writers are often fun and awkward, there were a lot of readings and other social events for us to unwind and try to relate to people who aren't living in our heads for a little while. And let me tell you, you've never seen anything until you've seen writers of all ages and types letting it loose on a dance floor--it's a sight to see, and one I'll never forget.
On top of all the fun, writer and editor socializing, there was plenty of time to see a little bit of Seattle. We walked towards the Space Needle, bought Seattle t-shirts, and strolled by the waterfront, just like proper tourists. It was nice to get out and get some fresh air after all the time spent inside, sitting down and being serious just in case someone from a graduate program you wanted to apply to happened to walk by.
All in all, the AWP conference was a wonderful experience that totally lived up to and outlived my expectations. I'm so grateful that I finally got the chance to attend AWP, meet some of the wonderful people who are doing the very things I want to do with my own life, and to spend more time with the wonderful Evansville Review staff, handing out free copies of our magnificent literary magazine.
Basically, I'm already mentally planning my trip to AWP 2015 in Minneapolis. Writing majors, I hope to see you all there!