I didn’t go to AWP last year. My work will pay for me to go to one conference a year, and last year I went to BizarroCon and this year I went to BizarroCon. But, as AWP approaches, I’ve been feeling a certain kind of longing to attend. It might be I’m lonely. It might be I miss my AWP-style friends.
For me, AWP is one of those things I struggle with. I love AWP. I hate AWP. I contain multitudes.
The chief benefits, so far as I can tell, of attending AWP are these:
1. Get to buy books on the cheap.
2. Get to meet people whose work you love.
3. Get to network.
Now, if you only know me through the internet, there’s is a firm chance you believe I’m an absolute asshole. This is because I really suck on the internet. I have noticed that people who only know from the internet, hate me. Honestly, I hate the internet me, too. So, that last thing might come as a kind of shock to people. But I usually make life-long friends at AWP, it seems. I’ve also had a pretty good record of meeting folks who then publish my books. I met Scott McClanahan at AWP. I met Matty Byloos at AWP. I met Cameron Pierce at AWP. Also, at AWP, I get to use my cell phone A LOT. I text people to see where they are. I talk to one person in real life while texting another, and it makes me feel like a kind of New York-based financial advisor. Or something.
There are, however, negatives to attending AWP:
1. It’s always cold as fuck.
2. You have to shake at least 1,000 hands that belong to noticeably sick individuals (flu sick, not perverted sick).
3. You have to network.
I realize that last thing is in direct conflict with benefit three from up above, but, let’s face it, I got into writing because I feel most comfortable when I’m totally fucking alone, and spending a weekend broadcasting a first-impression version of myself (or at least attempting to) makes me feel all hollowed out.
Also, when you go to AWP, there is always a super-hangover upon returning home. Now, I don’t drink anymore (unless things are going near-suicidally bad) so the hangover I’m referencing here is one of, I don’t know, emotion? You wonder around and meet people who’ve read your books, and you sign books, and you hug strangers, and there’s this glow, and this glow suggests to you that the whole thing hasn’t been a waste, the hours spent at the computer alone with your frustration and your self doubt, and for that weekend there is a kind of alignment of the stars, or spheres or some shit, and this waltz plays in your heart and you fucking dance to it.
Then you go back home.
And no one gives a shit.
Roller coaster? Pendulum? Peaks and valleys? You chose the metaphor. I, personally, am partial to Elliott Smith’s “the soaring high or the crushing down.” But that’s me.
Anyhow, what I thought might be fun, or depressing depending on how many people play along, is to open up the comments section of this post for all to weigh in on whether or not I should go to AWP this year.
You can speak as generally or specifically in regards to me as you wish. You can say: everyone should go to AWP it’s great. Or: Brian you gotta go! As examples.
I only ask that you be entirely honest. If you want me to go so you can stab me in the throat, let me know below. I assure you, that would greatly weight into my decision. “Do I want to be stabbed in the throat? Is it time yet for that?” I’ll ask myself.
So comment away. I look forward to the conversation. Depending on how it goes, I might drop the cash to get to Minneapolis. That where it is this year, right?