AWP Seattle is coming up

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For some people, AWP is just too much. Too many people. Too many writers, too many crowds of people who all seem to want something. Of course, the problem is that all those people, all those writers, some of them needy writers (many of them needy writers) it can feel like you are drowning. I believe the expected attendance at AWP Seattle is something like 15,000 people, writers, editors and young writers and editors, people who run reading programs, people who want to be literary players.

Different programs react differently to making a splash in this territory. One low residency MFA director announced to the faculty that they wouldn’t have a table in Seattle. It’s too expensive and there are too many people and no one comes to sign up for our program, he said.

If you run your table well by having professional people working it and book signings going all the time, people will congregate at your table, but you can’t just have one person standing behind it playing with their laptop. In fact, no one should be standing behind the table and certainly not sitting down. Your people should be actively and energetically involved with everyone who comes by. That’s how you create a buzz.

The Whidbey MFA program is claiming their chance to make a splash. This is as close to them as AWP will ever come and they are taking advantage of the situation by sponsoring the bar! Yes, the bar to which pretty much everyone makes their way at AWP will have signs to remind you that Whidbey MFA is a player in the Northwest. I think that’s pretty cool.

But for the average person, AWP can be overwhelming. The trick is planning. My suggestion is this: Plan out what booths and tables you want to visit, what panels and events you want to go to and plan enough time for yourself. Some people like to go to the gym in the morning. Others take time during the day to go see some sights. I like to try to get enough sleep which isn’t easy.

The idea is that the more planning you do, the easier it is to accomplish your goals. Your goals are very simple—to recognize open doors when you see them and to walk through them. You see an open door, walk through. And to have a good time. To buy some books. To see some writers that you haven’t seen for a long time and remind yourself that you are part of a tribe. You are not alone. You are part of a group of other writers and you aren’t crazy. You are writing away being god in your own world and then you get to AWP and you are surrounded with other people like yourself. That’s why we go to AWP so that we can move forward with our part of the literary game, talk to other people, and don’t forget to enjoy yourself.

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Published in: on January 20, 2014 at 8:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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