This weekend I attended the AWP Conference in Washington D.C. It was a fourish hour drive, and I got lost a few times (as per usual, I always take a wrong exit somewhere along the way). Either way, it was AMAZING. I met some awesome people (writers, editors, agents), and made a few friends along the way. I also have a TON of things to submit to, and people to e-mail :)
I would firstly like to state that I almost was unable to attend this conference. I also may have lied to AWP and said I was a student, because otherwise I couldn't afford it (but I just graduated in May...so...it's close to the truth right? Creative non fiction and all :) ). Anyways, I haven't paid my rent this month. I paid my car payment a month late. I am super broke. It is thanks to the amazing Peter Macsovits that I was able to attend. Tuesday morning he had placed three very large ziplock bags full of mostly silver change on my car. This HUGE amount of change paid for: 2 tanks of gas ($26, $28, $5), food (well over $10), and various other things I didn't have enough money for. I still have some change left over.
I'm going to skip over the rest of the nonsense, and just start at the conference, basically. (If you want my more emotional responses, check this out.)
Thursday, I drove in from Miranda's place in Waynesboro, PA. I left around 6am, forgetting about traffic, and made it in around 9am. Because of this, I missed the first round of panels, and was super upset.
The panel I first attended then, was What They Didn't Tell Us (about the publishing process). It was here I spoke with Rebecca Rasmussen. She was amazingly personable. We talked about how broke we are, and I told her about Peter giving me money. (I actually told many people about his kindness, and dropped KHK's name throughout the conference.)
It was also because of her, that I learned "Hey, don't talk about your book, or really yourself. Be yourself, if people like you, they'll look you up." Which was pretty good advice and how I ended up meeting several other people. I now follow her blog :)
Around 4:30pm, I attended my next influential panel. Zu Vincent was on a panel discussing Writing The YA Novel. After, I spoke with her, and recognized me. (I'm not sure if she read my name tag, or if she remembered or expected me, but either way, she said hi, and I'll take it...also, check back to this blog post, I'll add pictures at some point). We discussed my query letter a little more, and from there, she allowed me to talk about my novel, my pitch, and also offered to go through the first 10-12 pages, and help edited them (and POTENTIALLY send it/them off to her agent). I literally was flabbergasted. Thankfully, I was able to cover up my shock and excitement, and like a normal human being say, "That would be amazing, thank you".
I was super tired after, but had been invited to the Poetry Foundation's reception, so I attended. Here, I met Pamila (Ammy) Novak. She and I exchanged phone numbers, and met some younger people as well (here I am only 22 and saying this, hahahaha). It ended up being an open bar (which would have been AMAZING if I didn't have to drive 2 hours home, or had a DD). She offered to house me for the remainder of the conference, so I actually ended up staying with her Friday to Saturday night. (Secretly I was fearful that she may murder me...just because I'm cautious of strangers, but it ended up being wonderful, and she fed me, and we rode the Metro together. It was awesome)
Friday I arrived super early and browsed around the bookfair. The gentlemen who I had walked up with actually published a book of poetry, which he signed and gave to me for free (Richard Peabody). From there I attended Relocating Poetry which discussed that -WE- as poets are the emotional translators. It is our job to convey emotion to the readers, to trigger their brains to feel in pain, in love, whatever. It was pretty good. The next round was To Tell You The Truth, and discussed memoirs. It was PACKED (I took pictures of me sitting, also to be posted soon). They did give very, very helpful advice so that was excellent.
The panel that really rocked my world was Love At First Query. There were agents and writers on this panel. Gordon Warnock spoke, and everyone discussed falling in literary love (with the white picket fence, and the two children). I ended up talking to him on Saturday about my novel, and he gave me feedback on that as well as my query letter, which was amazing. I was well aware that he as an agent would not be interested in my work, but he did give me the name of the agent at his agency to look up. Thus, the countdown continues to February 15th and submitting my query letters.
The Stranger Than Fiction panel had Kerry Cohen as one of the panelists. For those of you who don't know her, she wrote Loose Girl: A Memoir Of Promiscuity. (I can't spell, I'm sorry, the computer I'm on is lacking spell check). Last year at AWP, I attended her Truth Or Trash discussion and it ROCKED MY WORLD. They were all amazing, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it for over a year. Kerry has an amazing voice in her work: she is so brave and saying "Yes, I slept with a lot of people, yes I made a porno". She completely amazes me, and I finally got the courage to speak with her (picture to be posted soon :) ). I told her about the time in Target when I couldn't put her book down (but sadly haven't been able to finish reading it, as I have no money), and she gave me her book for free.
--For those of you who don't understand how epic this is, this is HUGE. As writers, we're not in it for the money. We're all usually broke, and every sold book, we only get FRACTION of what you pay. So her kindness also muted me, and again I had to cover it up and say "That would be amazing, I'll meet you at your table tomorrow." Saturday, as promised, I went to her table, she wasn't there, and the gentlemen who was there asked me to wait for her (she wanted to sign it). So a little bit later, I came back, and she and I spoke some more (talking about how much Stephenie Meyer's writing sucks)...and she signed my book, and took another picture with me....and I am completely amazed by this woman...
The next panel I had planned on attending was SUPER packed so I left. The following one, again was Kerry, who waved to me as I walked in. Again, this woman is amazing and made my day.
After that I attended the reception for the Two Year Caucus (spelling?) at Cafe Paradiso. Ammy had been elected President of the two year caucus!!! (Yey! Congratulations!). She, as promised, allowed me to stay the night at her hotel room.
Saturday was sadly the last day. In all honesty, I only attended one panel....and that's even a stretch. I showed up late, and left early. I was burned out, and Ammy and I spend most of our time picking up swag from the bookfair. This is where I spoke with Kerry and Gordon, as well as several other editors. I'm BEYOND excited to submit to some of these people (they seemed genuinely interested in my work). I cannot WAIT to send out e-mails and query letters (even if I hate them).