AWP or Bust

It is decided. I will go to AWP in Atlanta at the end of the month. Cass, from the MFA program, called and is coming out to the east coast for a week, three days at AWP (where she will read from her recently published book of poems). She wants to know: Are you up for it?

Um. Hell yes. Called the coffeehouse manager and got the thumbs up (that happens to be an open house day up at the craft school so technically, I was needed). Checked the registration rates: $45 for students (a bargain!) and I’ll split hotel and car costs with Cass. Emailed JGH – another MFA buddy who is also reading from her book at AWP – and got the low down. In a nutshell, she coaches me:

“Bring resumes! Bring manuscripts! Bring business cards! Seek out your favorite editors and publishers! And most of all, pace yourself! Get sleep the first night, then go from there. It never stops!”

I write her back and tell her I don’t have any favorite editors and I only know the names of publishing houses and presses I like, but not the people behind the names. Furthermore, what should I wear? I don’t want to go too pro because, well, that’s not me. It’s not my writing and it’s not my style. I want khakis and a sexy v-neck with a scarf. Maybe some interesting shoes. Definitely my green hat for at least one day. And a classy, functional, yet outdoorsy bag with a padded slot for my laptop. Will this do, I ask her? I want to know!

Check with Cass again – has she done this before? Nope, but she ran Wordstock (one of the biggest lit fairs in the Pacific Northwest) and has seen how this stuff goes down. “Networking,” she says. “Shmoozing. Face-to-face. Prepare yourself to be social. Oh and yeah, you might need to invest in one of those prepaid cell phones.”

Here we go folks. I’ve got a packet deadline for 2/10, a freelance contract deadline for 2/20, two regional editors to respond to, one web rights contract to write and sell, half of the inside of a house to paint by the end of next week, and the conference in two weeks. Oh yeah, plus two days of deep cleaning at the coffeehouse somewhere in between.

I step on the clutch, grip the steering wheel, hold on tight.

[P.S. AWP is the Association of Writers and Writing Programs][P.S.S. Thanks for the comments on the story – yesterday’s post.]
  • jeannine

    Katey, Whatever you wear will be fine! Businesslike-but-creative is a tough one. The fashion mags never talk about that in their pages 😉
    As long as you know the presses you like, you can find their booths and talk to their editors. Sometimes favorite authors will hang about, signing books, and you get to accidentally meet some writing hero/heroine. That’s pretty cool.

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