AWP Conference

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On Saturday, I took time out to attend the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in downtown D.C. all day Saturday with a dear friend and fellow writer/writing instructor. The AWP is a three-day event, but because of my work schedule, I was only able to attend the last day — but it was still fabulous, and even though I attended only a few sessions, it was completely worth it!

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A photo of last year’s bookfair, from the AWP website. The convention center looked very much like this, except the room was much larger. Source: AWP.

There were dozens of book publishers, literary journals, and university writing programs at the booths. I met a lot of interesting people and picked up business cards from several publishers and literary journals, notably those interested in Florida prose and poetry!

Along the way, I picked up a few tchotchkes:

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I wear “Word Nerd” with pride.

I picked up even more business cards and sample literary journals (with their submission requirements).

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Yes, you will be hearing from me, Florida Review, and Saw Palm Journal.

I talked about Emmett’s story with several of the journal editors and publishers, who encouraged me to submit articles and stories! Empowering and encouraging — just what I need in the midst of all the manuscript review tedium and angst!

The best part of this annual meeting, though, was the workshops. As I listened to the speakers, I felt a lot better about what I’ve been doing for almost four years primarily in isolation (the writing part, that is). Mostly, the speakers confirmed what I was doing (i.e., my research and writing strategies) was on track, and fairly typical of the research and writing experience.

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This one was my favorite session; all I’ve been doing is immersion writing from the get-go. It was good to hear a lot of similarities of experiences with the writing and research struggles from these published writers.

In this particular session, Chris Arnold (whose book on the Amazon is coming out this year) said he had started out giving himself an 18-month deadline to get his book researched and written — which turned out to be extremely short-sighted.

Like Chris, I originally gave myself an 18-month deadline to do Emmett’s book — research, write, edit, publish — and that has turned out to be a Freshman-book-writer’s plan of action! Not ideal or realistic at all. Chris said that the reality of the work of research, writing, and administrative work that has gone into his project has taken almost 10 years. A decade — totally realistic given the scope of his work.

I don’t foresee Emmett’s story taking a decade. Emmett’s story is not the Amazon of biographies. But, the reality of the time investment needed to gather information, constantly look and check it out, and then, write the damn thing, is significant.

Listening to other writers talk about their odyssey was wonderful — and empowering.

I’m not discouraged by the fact Emmett’s story is taking long than I originally thought to bring to completion — I’m relieved, actually, and energized, especially after speaking with literary journal editors who were interested in Emmett’s story too.

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My friend/colleague/writer Ann and myself at the Conference!

And maybe, one day, my friend Ann and I will be leading a workshop to talk about our own writing and research adventures!

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