The Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference was a couple weeks ago, and upwards of 11 (or 12 or 14, depending on who you spoke to) thousand writers, publishers and their ilk convened on Minneapolis for four days of literary…well, everything. Between panels, the book fair, off-site events, and AWP-sponsored dance parties, there was a little bit of everything.
That being said, an event like this is overwhelming and it isn’t just because most writers have some innate fear of large crowds brought on by the countless hours staring at a screen, alone, maybe in the dark. It can be overwhelming to even the most well-adjusted of us.
So with that in mind, I present a few helpful tips on how to navigating AWP:
1. Find the free food and booze.
Traveling is expensive and as a student or a young writer, money isn’t necessarily coming in hot and heavy, so it’s important to know when and where you can get free food and booze during the convention. There’s plenty of it, you just need to know where to look. Use the AWP guide to read up on offsite events and follow writers and publishers on social media to see what they say as well.
2. Know your hashtags.
The official hashtag for next year will be #AWP16, but there are others that writers avail themselves of during the event. Skim through twitter for a few minutes and you’ll come upon them. Flex your creative muscles and use hashtags like #AWPPickupLines and your followership will grow in no time.
3. Find the thruster.
If you went to AWP’s open bar events this year, you will know whom I’m talking about. This is not a practical tip as much as a way to derive pure entertainment out of your experience. At the dance parties at night there was a gentleman who really took to hip thrusting. To seemingly any song and with no one around. This won’t benefit your career, but it’ll be fun to watch if he’s there next year.
If you have food, booze, social media, you’ll be set. You’ll still get star struck when someone like Roxanne Gay or TC Boyle walks by, but with a little liquid courage or a free doughnut, but at least you’ll be able to tweet it after.
Be sure to also check out A Beginner’s Guide to AWP (The Practical Edition)!
About the Author
Sam Slaughter is the author of the chapbook When You Cross That Line (There Will Be Words, 2015) and the novel Dogs (Double Life Press, 2016). His other work has appeared in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Midwestern Gothic, and Heavy Feather Review, among others. By day, he works as a copywriter for a lifestyle company. By night, he is the Book Review Editor for Atticus Review, a Fiction Editor with Black Heart Magazine, and a Contributing Editor with Entropy. He can be found on his website, www.samslaughterthewriter.com and on Twitter @slaughterwrites.