How to Create Your Own AWP Experience: A Guide for Non-Attendees

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STEP 1
Turn your old canvas shopping bag inside out. Use a thick, permanent marker to write “AWP” on the bag. Fill it with pens and pencils “borrowed” from the office supply closet at your workplace and carry it everywhere you go for at least four days (including the bathroom).

Bonus Tip #1: Scrawl “The Paris Review” or “Ploughshares” on the pens and pencils.
Bonus Tip #2: Complement your AWP tote bag with a homemade AWP lanyard by taping an index card to the end of a necklace.

STEP 2
Prowl your neighborhood until you find someone who vaguely resembles Juan Felipe Herrera. Kind of, sorta, not really “stalk” him for several blocks whilst considering how you might introduce yourself. Abandon all hope by screaming, “I LOVE YOUR WORK!” before slinking into the nearest Starbucks.

Bonus Tip: If the Starbucks is ridiculously crowded, pretend that you are attending a panel on “How to Get Published.”
*Extra Credit: Write a heartfelt essay about how you almost met Juan Felipe Herrera.

STEP 3
When exiting your next group meeting at work, grab a co-worker by the arm and tell her/him that what your boss just said has literally changed your perspective on writing and/or life.

STEP 4
If a male co-worker complains about I.T. or becomes mesmerized by a bird outside the break room window, shake your head and say, “Oh, Franzen!” with a sad-trombone inflection.

Bonus Tip: Take advantage of your co-worker’s confusion by stealing his doughnut as you run out of the break room.

STEP 5
Find the magazine/journal section at your local bookstore. Circle the racks for an hour. You have just recreated the AWP Bookfair.

Bonus Tip #1: Randomly stop customers and ask them for their contact information.
Bonus Tip #2: Ask bookstore employees for freebies.

STEP 6
When riding in elevators, point to a “schedule of events” (take-out menu) and complain to the nearest person about how “the choices are just so overwhelming.”

STEP 7
When returning to your desk after a coffee break:
A) Pretend that you didn’t see “Craig” (a.k.a. Jeff from H.R.) walk by because you “can’t let go of the comments he made in that one workshop.”
-or-
B) Embrace “Sara” (a.k.a. Judith from the cubicle next to yours) because “it has been far too long since you’ve seen her!” (approx. 15 minutes ago)

Bonus Tip: Apologize to Jeff and Judith the next day. Blame stress.

STEP 8
Lie to your waiter about how far along you are on your novel.

STEP 9
Find a local hotel bar and ask the bartender what Susan Orlean drinks. When he/she looks at you in confusion, mistake this for an attempt to keep literary gossip to a minimum. Wink knowingly.

Bonus Tip #1: Discuss your manuscript with the closest bar patron whilst waiting for famous writers/poets to arrive.
Bonus Tip #2: As you become increasingly intoxicated due to your long wait, begin mumbling about “the state of the publishing industry.”
*Extra Credit: Get thrown out by the bartender as you drunkenly cry, “Joyce Carol Oates wouldn’t get thrown out of a bar!”

STEP 10
Re-brand your nightly Twitter #awp cyber-stalking as an “off-site” event. Tweet accordingly.

 

 

Photo by Robb Cohen




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About Author

Dorothy Bendel's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Catapult, Literary Hub, Electric Literature, American Literary Review, The Rumpus, and additional publications. She is working on an essay collection. See more of her work at dorothybendel.com and follow her @DorothyBendel

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