My AWP 2014 Seattle Tips And Or Advice

Filed under: Writing and Publishing — Administrator at 8:31 am on Tuesday, February 25, 2014

For months, people have been posting advice for going to AWP in Seattle. I’ve been ignoring it because I don’t like thinking that far ahead about things. But now the conference is tomorrow, so I finally read some of the advice. It made me nervous.

A sampling of the advice:

* Take a nap and don’t leave in the middle of panels.

* Get gel inserts and don’t sleep with random people.

* Skip the readings and panels and just hang out in the book fair.

* Don’t expect to get a feel for the conference the first time you go because so much is going on and it’s overwhelming.

* Bring business cards when I’ve been using my business cards to write notes and lists and little poems, so I probably don’t have that many left anymore and does anyone really want a business card these days anyway?

The collective anxiety is paralyzing. I can understand being apprehensive if you’re reading or speaking on a panel, but if you’re just going to hang out and glean knowledge, you’re going to be one face in 13,000 people. You’ll blend in. No one is looking at you.

Here’s my AWP advice:

DON’T be creepy. Here are creepy things I’ve witnessed at past AWPs: One lady was licking a tissue and wiping it on her hand like a cat licking its paw. Don’t do that. At a dance, a guy pinched my butt and ran away. Not cool. I was talking to a friend and this guy started walking behind us so he could eavesdrop on our conversation. When we stopped, he stopped. When we started, he started. It was strange. Don’t do these things.

DO stress yourself out. A lot of articles tell you it’s okay to just see one panel a day if you’re tired or overwhelmed. So you’re flying all the way to Seattle to see one panel a day? No, that’s wrong. See MANY PANELS a day. If it’s stressful to see a panel, do it anyway. You can sleep when you’re home. Or dead. Whichever.

DO be friendly. Smile and chat with people. Don’t worry about getting something out of people through networking–that’s not going to work at this conference. But on the other hand, don’t be a turtle and hide in a shell either. Have thoughts and opinions ready to share. Maybe write them out beforehand and memorize them?

DON’T complain about being overwhelmed. Writers are introverted. None of us wants to get out of the house and talk to people. Therefore, talking about being shy is redundant. You don’t want to be a cliché, do you? Keep your tiredness to yourself.

DON’T have regrets. If you want to talk to a writer you admire, talk to her. If you want to ask a question at a panel, ask it. Skip panels if you feel like it, leave the conference if you want a break, dance, cavort, laugh! Drink that frothy glass of milk that is AWP down to the last drop.

That’s about it. So in general, carry water, eat a low-fiber meal, buy a ton of books, and don’t drink too much alcohol. When feeling tired, repeat to yourself: sleep when I’m dead, sleep when I’m dead. And remember, no one can make you sing karaoke if you don’t want to.