I spent Wednesday through Sunday at a writing conference in Boston, and I have what you could probably call an AWP hangover. I am moving around my office slowly, shifting piles of literary journals from place to place, drinking a lot of water and trying hard not to take a nap on the keyboard.
Because I spent three days frantically tweeting the conference, I was planning to write a big post about AWP and the helpful writing things I learned there, but I can’t even. What I can do is give you this list, however, of the things I learned this weekend that may or may not be helpful:
- Tweed holds a stink. Launder that vintage jacket, gentlemen. It’s not going to get any less nasty without the help of a dry cleaner.
- Take some time to learn how the camera in your new device works before stepping into any convention center. People like photos that aren’t blurry.
- Socially awkward writers like to make observations about how socially awkward other writers are. But not in person; on the internet.
- Speaking of which, the easiest way to make friends at AWP is via Twitter.
- Also, Twitter was the easiest way for me to take notes. (I can read my tweets, which is more than I can say for the notes in my notebook.)
- Someone needs to make writer paper dolls, featuring buns, turtlenecks, peaked caps, pencil skirts, Neil Gaiman hair and tweed with cartoon stink lines coming off of it.
- If you leave postcards, journals or any other promo materials on a cafe table at AWP, a janitor will come by five minutes later and very politely tip your stuff into the trash.
- Ben Percy’s description of literary fiction as a genre* should be inscribed on something in stone.
- If you hear Ben Percy’s voice, you’ll understand that everything he says sounds as if it actually is inscribed in stone.
- I came out of AWP with a lot of brand new heroes (Jennifer Haigh, Michelle Legro, Sarah Einstein) but Julianna Baggott is my spirit animal. And not just because she led a raid on the men’s bathroom.
- OMG. You need a Tumblr.
- Take #11 with a grain of salt; someone from Tumblr was on the panel that told me that.
- Very few people at AWP want to hear you read from your book. They are much more worried about their own books.
- The bigger the author, the more people want to unburden themselves emotionally during those last five minutes of Q&A.
- Wine+book fair = event planner genius.
- Getting trapped in a panel > getting locked out of one.
*Ben Percy’s definition of literary fiction went something like this: “You may as well call literary fiction its own genre in which a bunch of pretty sentences drink tea and look out a window at boiling clouds until someone has an epiphany.” That’s not it exactly. I hurt myself laughing and couldn’t get the whole quote.