AWP 2017: Kudos

That annual convention of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (#AWP) at the Washington, DC, Convention Center two weeks ago wasn’t all bad.

I talked to some smart, exciting people as well as many drudges. Here are my favorites.

Kudos to:

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  • Bix Skahill, author of Dope Tits and other titles and founder and proprietor of Thicke and Vaney Press: Publishers of Fair to Middling Works  in St. Paul, MN. I could have talked to Bix all day.
  • Soho Press passed out double-fold bookmarks that listed all of their crime authors and titles. Very cool.
  • Paper Monument distributed a wonderfully ironic postcard promoting its book, “Social medium: artists writing, 2000-2005”. You can see it at right.
  • Indiana Review printed a 2 3/4″ x 4 1/4″ preview (about the dimensions of a small cell phone) of its coming issue. The literary magazine fit four excerpts and one complete poem within its 16-pages. Cool idea, even if it’s still print.
  • Robert Kerroberts-rulesbeck, Michal Lemberger, Sujata Shekar and Zach Powers presented an informed and informative panel on “Emerging from the Slush: How to Get Your Short Story Published.” They understood the low-tech nature of the convention and passed out their key points on a book mark. It will hold my place in every print book I read from now on. Bravo!

More to come from AWP 2017:

  • Books I Could Not Resist – I didn’t intend to buy; I don’t need more books; but some thing are too good to pass up.
  • Hitchcock: What to Tell the Reader – What?

Writing Conventions: AWP 2017 (Thumbs Down)

Nine days have passed since I staggered out of the annual convention of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (#AWP) at the Washington, DC, Convention Center. Two long days at the gathering – Metroing in and out, walking the enormous exhibit hall, hustling from one disappointing panel to another – left me rung out.

But the detritus of the convention (see photo) still litters the floor, and I need to move on. Spring has interrupted my usually thought-filled February, and I have gardens to till and photographs to take.

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Post-convention slush pile

Preliminary thoughts overall:

  • That’s a lot of concrete to walk on.
  • Metro actually worked for my writing colleague and convention partner, and me.
  • Exhibit Hall was worth the price of admission, or at least the senior citizen fare.
  • Whole lot of poetry going on. Good for them.
  • Panels extremely uneven, most poorly planned and executed and full of academic drivel.
  • Also, the panel titles reminded me of National Enquirer headlines. They contained enough truth to keep them out of court, but their representation of reality would qualify as fake news.
  • There was not a single big-name writer on the program.
  • Most – not all – exhibitors and panels operated without benefit of technology that was popularized more than a decade ago. A discouraging number of exhibitors collected email addresses with a pen, paper and clipboard. Does no one own a tablet?
  • Overall convention managed very poorly.
  • Convention Center is so big it made 12,000 seem like a few hundred. I was surprised at how few people I remember seeing more than once.
  • This is a low-cost convention compared with the pricey Thrillerfest I attended in New York three years ago, but I got my money’s worth at Thrillerfest; I did not feel the same about AWP, which cost a tiny fraction.
  • I would not return, even for all those wonderful exhibitors. I don’t do conventions and conferences too well.

Finally, why would anyone waste money getting an MFA? You want to write? Write! But first do some living. A little experience can enrich writing immensely.

Going forward, I need to revive and revise some of my short stories.

For more rants about AWP 2017, stop back for:

  • Kudos – It wasn’t all bad.
  • Books I Could Not Resist – I didn’t intend to buy; I don’t need more books; but some thing are too good to pass up.
  • Hitchcock: What to Tell the Reader – What?

 

It Took How Long to Write That?!

Robert Louis Stevenson turned out The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in six days.

I look at that and think, “I’m so slow.”

J.D. Salinger wrote for 10 years to produce Catcher in the Rye.

Look at me. I’m a speed demon!

Printerinks created the following mandala (click for larger view) showing how long authors took to produce 30 of the world’s most popular books.

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I devoted three months each to my first three manuscripts back in 2014. I’ve been rewriting them ever since.

I’m still looking for my place on that circle.

(Tnx to the bookbaby Blog for bringing this to my attention.)