Tuesday, March 5, 2013

AWP Advice, Whether You're Going or Staying Away

So, many people will be headed to Boston to the annual AWP convention.  There must be a reason why AWP so often happens in northern cities in February or March, but I can't figure out what that might be.  At one point, I thought it was cost, but I have since read that Boston is one of the more expensive U.S. cities for conference attendees.  That's one reason why I decided not to attend--the cost of hotels, even with the conference discount.  Yikes.

Could we not find some nice Southern cities?  Like, oh, say, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, or Tampa?  Sure, I have a vested interest.  It would be easier for me.

But if we're avoiding Florida, why not New Orleans or Memphis?  Austin seems capable of hosting huge groups.  I'd love another reason to head to the desert Southwest.

Ah, well, I'm not in charge.  But I do have advice for people heading to AWP.  Sandra Beasley also has excellent advice in this post.  And if, like me, you're staying home, Jeannine Hall Gailey has great advice in this post.

Here's my advice:

--Bring energy bars or nuts, snacks with fiber that will kill your hunger and fill you up; look for the kinds with high fiber and high protein. Buy these before you leave and pack them in your luggage.

--You'll likely be around a lot of sources of free water: water pitchers in the back of meeting rooms, coolers, water fountains. You may need an empty bottle or cup, so you might want to pack one.

--Caucuses are a great way to make connections.

--You'll need cash or checks at the book fair; many tables won't take credit cards. In the last hours of the book fair, you'll get many a deal. Of course, if you have to ship the books or pay extra because of airline regulations and the weight of your suitcase, the great deals may be not so great.

--Bring business cards or something of similar weight and shape that has your contact information on it.

As I look at that list, I'm struck by how it's good information all the way around. Always have a snack, always have a water bottle, always look for ways to make connections, and you can't always count on being allowed to use a credit card.

And remember, if you're at home, there's lots you can do to build your career, even if you can't make it to these conferences, like AWP.  Treat yourself to a book, and don't forget that your local public library likely has lots of them for you to check out for free.  Write something new each day.  Send some writing out into the world.  Pitch an idea to an editor.  Apply for a grant.

Once again, good information, for weeks when you can't get to AWP and for weeks when nothing much is going on in the wider world.

1 comment:

Jeannine Hall Gailey said...

Kristin - and why not the whole of the West Coast? I have been to exactly one West Coast AWP in the last ten years, and at least three in Chicago/DC/Boston - expensive, cold, hard to get to in the winter...I think we should start writing to the folks who run AWP about it! At least it'll be in Seattle next year and LA a few years after that, but yes, I vote for the American Southeast too!