March 6th, AWP
1. Try not to make eye contact in the elevator unless you are in the mood to talk to every person about what you do etc. On the other hand, forget that advice, speak up, turn your badge so everyone can see your name. Why are you hiding? You’re not really hiding, you came. You want to meet people, otherwise you’d still be in Milwaukee or Austin or wherever you came from. So smile. Speak, say hello. You’re among friends. These are your people!
2. Stock up on groceries. There will not be time to eat during the day so when you get back to your hotel room, you will be fainting and while you are drinking and watching late night movies, you will be famished. Here in Boston, there’s a wonderful grocery store right across the street called Shaw’s Supermarket where you can get booze, chips, candy, sushi , fruit, muffins. We’re fans of fruit, vegetables, snack stuff and of course, booze and water.
3. Don’t leave stuff in your room in plain sight. Hide your jump drive, your iPod, in fact hide your iLife.
4. Do not go to the board members of AWP and complain about things like why can’t we do this and why can’t we do that? If you have something to say, you could email it afterward. They are a bit overworked.
5. If you want to go anywhere nice, make reservations. We’ve had our reservations for weeks. There are thousands of writers in this city running around. If you want an actual dinner, that’s not the California Pizza Kitchen at the hotel, start letting your fingers do the walking.
6. If you see some famous writer, do not assume that he/she wants to talk to you. A good idea might be to wave. If they look friendly, saunter over, but don’t say too much. Ditto for famous editors and in case you don’t know who is a famous editor, here is a short list of some of the many famous presses/mags: Copper Canyon, Graywolf, Wave Books, BOA, Pitt Press, Ploughshares, you get the idea, when I see people from those organizations, I wave and smile.
7. Do not, under any circumstances, give anyone a manuscript. We have to ship back anything we don’t sell here, and we are not going to ship manuscripts.
8. Watch the alcohol. It’s easy to let it get out of control because the socializing starts early and goes late.
9. Try to get as much sleep as you can. If you start in on the four hour nights right away, you’ll be a blithering mass by Saturday.
10. Have a good time. We’re smart, inventive people. We could be making more money doing a lot of other things like finance, law or medicine. We chose literature. So since we aren’t going to have the money or the nice houses or the nice vacations and forget the nice clothes, let’s celebrate what we have. We’re part of the kingdom of makers. We’re gods.