The AWP conference is about wrapped up, so now I must get on with the work I put off to spend three glorious days in literary heaven.
For the uninitiated: AWP = Association of Writers and Writing Programs. Thousands of writers, publishers, and teachers from across the country descend on whatever city is lucky enough to host that year’s conference. This year it was Chicago. Yay!
The conference includes a book fair, eight hours of panels each day, and multiple receptions with free booze and food (for me, this is also an opportunity to shadow established writers and publishers until they beg me to leave them alone). I got to see some friends and former instructors who I hadn’t seen in years. And the readings! omfg, the readings. Readings everywhere, all the time. It’s spectacular.
Also cool: the first day, I worked my volunteer shift at the check-in booth. I got to see tons of attendees, including aforementioned friends, current colleagues, and successful writers (it’s nice to be reminded that it is possible to make a living, however modest).
Kind of a funny story: At the check-in bay, I had to ask for everyone’s photo I.D. before I could give them their attendee badge and swag. Tucker Max came through my line, a writer whose humor I appreciate, but whose deeply-rooted issues with/disdain for women I find disturbing and repulsive. Though I can’t help but like him a tiny bit for introducing me to the upper-decker.
Anyway, he’s very generic in appearance, so I didn’t recognize the guy. It didn’t hit me until I read the name on his license: “Tucker Maaaeh…” Yeah, I just kind of trailed off before I could stop myself, ending on a low note. He let it go without saying anything, and I even felt a little bad afterward. But not really.
Now I must catch up on the work I put off so I could attend the conference. My goal is seven-thousand words between tonight and tomorrow. I think I can make it – I’ve no urge to go out, as I have to detoxify my body after hanging around a thousand other writers for three days.
While touring Spain with classmates ten years ago, one of my teachers saw me handling an opium pipe for sale at a beach-side stand.
“Only writers are allowed to smoke opium,” he said.
“I am a writer,” I replied.
“Oh. I guess it’s okay, then.”