Through the Rearview Drunkenly, Part One

Through the Rearview Drunkenly: A Brief Recapitulation of the Dramatic Events as They Transpired at AWP 2011.

Day Zero

The AWP conference is a lot of things to a lot of different people. To some wide-eyed optimists, it’s the chance to happen upon an agent/publisher who didn’t know they were madly in love with your work (me at AWP09 in Chicago.) To those with glowing cathode-ray tans, it’s a chance to put eyes, ears and a distinct laugh to those @names and forum handles and book covers (me at AWP10 in Denver.) To those who think they have a fragile grasp on a tiny bit of this whole writing thing, only to discover there’s are fields and fields of concepts growing at severe angles, it’s a nice refresher that you’re not as smart as you think you are but there is hope (me at AWP11 in Washington, DC.) For reasons that I’ll talk about later, this was a transformative conference for me, akin to NoirCon last November, where I realized that there were other people who geeked out just as hard about crime fiction (and most times harder) as I did. I didn’t attend as many panels as in previous years, but the ones I saw were concentrated awesomeness I’m still wrapping my head around.

I’m not a gigantic conference-goer, but I’m getting there. What always amazes me about the AWP conference is the breadth of groups that converge on one poor city and their neighboring cafes and bars. From Creative Writing PhDs to hand-stapled chapbooks, from repeat Pulitzer winners to authors of said hand-stapled chapbooks, they’re all there. The bookfair itself is enough to send me into an ecstatic fit of agoraphobia. I could go on for a while about this, so instead, I’ll try and sift through the debris and carbonation in my skull and come out with some cohesive narrative.

It’s an odd experience going to a conference in your backyard (or close enough.) I’ve always loved that disconnect between my real life and my writing life that a plane ride affords me. Add in that romantic notion of flying to talk about books with other word-nerds and it’s pretty damn awesome all around. Nonetheless, my little Hyundai death-trap works just fine. I don’t get down to DC until later in the evening, about four drinks behind my roommates, Caleb J Ross and Brandon Tietz. I’ve known Caleb for a few years and Brandon’s been an interweb friend for a while, but this was the first time we met in real life. Both of them are damn fine writers and we all have books on Otherworld Publications.

After the introductions, we head out to Murphy’s Pub for a few. I order cottage chips and a Mooney’s stout. My chips are two large potatoes cross-sectioned and fried. I pour on half a bottle of malt vinegar and bring home a takeaway box that I’ll eat for breakfast two days later.


Tomorrow: Day One

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