Tuesday, January 04, 2005

AWP Pt. 2: Awesome Wrestling (Professional)

Last evening, as I was trying to enjoy the sublime pleasures of the WWE, Wife dropped a pile of papers beside me -- the AWP conference guide.

This was a transparent ploy by brilliant & loving Wife to motivate me. My novel has been making the rounds at publishers, with the responses ranging from "We loved this, but it's not for us" to "This sucks, committ suicide." Given my predisposition to depression, the process has not done my spirits well (despite the fact I have been told on several occasions my experience so far is "par" for the course. Par is average, buddy.).

I had been rewriting short stories earlier in the evening, and, carefully and rationally evaluating said stories, I decided that everything I set to paper was garbage, my ideas were garbage, I was garbage, etc. Thus, pro wrestling instead of amateur writing. (Beats drugs).

Wife had pushed me to go to a conference a few years ago when I was in similar emotional straits. She told me it would provide motivation and contacts, both of which I sorely needed. I bitched and moaned and finally went. Of course, she was right. I met others who have helped my modest career, writhers who have proven to be worthy readers, and have been generous to a fault with their time and encouragement. It was natural that she would try to get me to go to AWP.

"Wife," I said, "can't you see I'm watching the full-tilt Chris Jerico-Triple H epic battle unfolding on television before me?"

"Just trying to help," she said. (Wife & friends will take AWP by storm.)

I eventually reviewed AWP conference materials and noticed that conference sessions break down into roughly three categories. Further investigation confirmed my earlier impressions:

1. We Are Writers, With a Capital W
How Do You Tell a Story No One Wants to Hear?
The Uses of Science in Contemporary Fiction and Poetry
The American Sonnet
Jazzing the Muse (about "globalizing the imagination")
What We Write About When We Write About Love: Women on Love

2. We Are Writers, We Are Teachers, We Are the World
The Professional Writer as Teacher
Evaluating Creativity in Public Schools
Teaching Fiction Through Genre Crossing
Black British Writing in Contemporary Fiction
Growing the Undergraduate Creative Writing Program

3. We Are Writers, Show Us the Bloody Money
Secrets to Nonfiction Book Proposals
Can't Find a Teaching Job? Try Going to Prison
What Are Editors Looking For?
When Good Submissions Go Bad
Legal Issues Every Writer Should Know
Finding and Working With an Agent

Plus plenty of sessions devoted to readings.

This is all fine and good. I know a couple of people on these panels, and they are terrific writers who will grant sage advice. There are many other writers whose work I respect, and I don't begrudge anybody or anything here. Really.

But it still doesn't answer my question of the day before: how do introverts with semi-retarded social skills make contacts that can help them publish? In other words, what's in it for me?

I still may go.