Monday, April 12, 2010
Writer's Conference Recap
Experiencing AWP for the first time-- and quite possibly the second, third, fifth-- is equal parts comforting and terrifying, unifying and alienating. Comforting because you realize that you've found a safe haven, somewhere where you can shed restraint and let fly comments like "Etgar Keret has such a unique voice" or go to panels on manipulating alternative POVs and not be met with mystified stares, but blanketed in recognition and acceptance. Terrifying because of the overwhelming magnitude of which you are-- of varying degrees-- a tiny insignificant member of. Unifying in the way that George Saunders suggested we form our own literate nation ("until the in-fighting starts"). And alienating because, like any nation, we lowly scribes are obviously in a different class from the Saunderses of this hypothetical nation.
Conference vets will tell you it takes a few years under your belt before you stop feeling like an impostor. I definitely did get the small-fish feeling this time around; I couldn't help but wonder if anyone else felt like a hack in the presence of real greatness, of established writers and professors. But I'm looking forward to future appearances contributing to the deconstruction of my internal, debatably imagined poseur.
Conversely, I learned that a lot of writers have the same insecurities as I do. We should all be congratulated for our acting skills. Apparently, we are all neurotic, insecure, and terribly afraid of public speaking. It comes with the territory, however, so there you have it. I can't escape it. I'm now also fully aware that writers are all lushes and (mildly) scarily adept of some hardcore boozin'. Not surprisingly. There was free alcohol everywhere.
In the end, the conference left me intimidated, motivated, pressured, and exhilarated all at once. It was like a jump start to my stalled fingertips. I want it to keep going. The next one is all too far off. Washington, D.C. in February. Can't wait. Can we please just start our own writerly nation, already?
I need to get writing, right away.
I heart (free) pool! And beating Kevin!
Our booth at AWP.
Wine and beer!