The Mark Blog

Bookmark This: Your Survival Guide to AWP

AWP: A Survival Guide
Starting this Wednesday, over ten thousand writers will land in Seattle, Washington for the annual Association of Writing Programs conference, also known as AWP. If you’ve never been to the conference, the multitude of panels, the large bookfair, and the number of offsite events can seem a bit daunting, but don't panic. We have culled together a superb collection of do’s and don’ts by Carolyn Kellogg from the Los Angeles Times and from author Roxane Gay.
 
Just consider this your AWP cheat sheet and don't forget to breathe. 
 
Carolyn Kellogg's Dos and Don’ts:
 
DO: Drink in the conference hotel bar. Despite the fact that hotel bars are notoriously overpriced, this is where you want to be. The conference hotel bar is where the cooler veterans will gather, the professors and published writers, people who've bumped into each other at this conference in other years and have maybe made a vague plan to do so again.
 
DO: Pick out two to five panels you can't miss. This will give a shape to your attendance and your days.
DON'T: Worry if you miss some of those panels. Serendipity may put something in your path that is equally important.
DO: Give yourself plenty of time to walk around the conference exhibit floor. Take your time at the lit journal booths: Pick them up, flip through them.
DON'T: Let the prospect of an early-morning panel curb your social activities.
DO: Attend some evening conference events: readings, parties, dinners, celebrations. These are better built for mingling -- or as more business-oriented types might say, networking -- than panels, really.
DON'T: Spend a ton of money running around a city you don't know. Share cabs with strangers. Take the subway.
 
DON'T: Worry about losing sleep. You have lots to do and see and hear and discuss. It's only four days. You can sleep when you get home. 
 
Read the entire list here: 
 
  
Some Dos and Don’ts from Roxane Gay:
 
Do drink a lot of water. Go offsite to buy bottled water because the convention center and hotel will charge exorbitant prices.
 
Don’t thrust your unsolicited manuscript into an editor’s hands. It will be awkward for both of you.
 
Don’t try to attend everything. It’s not possible. Instead, pick a few panels and offsite readings to attend and leave the rest to possibility.
 
Do visit the host city for at least an hour or two. There is life beyond the convention center.
 
Do acquire a good tote, and on Saturday evening, ship home all the books and magazines you buy.
 
Don’t pretend to have read someone’s book if you haven’t. Don’t be sycophantic or use flattery as social currency. You can and should engage writers in normal conversation. Writers are people, too.
 
Do have fun and do not take the conference too seriously. Do carve out quality time with your friends when you can—a quiet hour for coffee or a meal far from the hubbub of the conference.
 
Read the full article here: