Long time no see! It has been a long, busy week, full of snow and classes and spending hours at a bookfair that took up 3 ballrooms, but I'm back home. The AWP Conference was great; I went to a lot of wonderful classes and found some journals that may accept my more...fantastic stories. I was there for 5 days, 5 very busy days, so I'm going to give the highlights and the parts that won't bore you all to death.
I took a red-eye flight to Boston, which meant I got about 3 hours of sleep, and I'm not sure how high-quality that sleep was. I traveled with a bunch of other students in my program, but since they were all sharing a condo and I was in a hotel, we split up at the subway station. Finding the hotel wasn't hard, and it was worth it: Fenway Park was right outside my window! The weather was cold and wet on Wednesday, when I got in. I checked the weather and saw it coming, but I wasn't thrilled. It meant I wasn't able to go to Old North Church or walk the Freedom Trail. So sorry, but no fun stories like that. The most touristy thing I did was eat a bowl of clam chowder.
Thursday was the first day of classes, and it was SNOWY! I mean it. Also, windy, which isn't the best combination when you're trying to navigate a city. When the snow is flying horizontally at your face, it's hard to check what street you're on. But I made it to the conference, even though I was sitting on the ground for the first class (on fairy tales, with a panel that included Jane Yolen and Kelly Link! Can we say yay?). I also saw Matthew Pearl, Julianne Baggott, and Benjamin Percy. I have a good, long list of books to read now that I'm back.
Rather than list out day by day (like I did with LTUE) what happened, here's my quick sum-up of what I learned over the conference: genre fiction is still looked-down on, but it's gaining respect. The setting of a story is important and can be a character in its own right. When writing literary fiction, ghosts and zombies mean things, like loss or hope or loss of hope. The brain treats fiction the same as it does real life, so the writer is literally creating a world for the reader. The reader takes part in creating that world, so too much description is bad. YA has a need for less description and more action than an adult book. Fan fiction, comic books, and video games are coming into their own as high-quality literature. And last, I am going to have a hard time finding work after I graduate.
Here are some things I learned outside my classes: convention center food courts rip you off. Dunkin Donuts has more varieties, but Krispy Kreme is better tasting. Snow apparently doesn't melt in Boston, it just turns to piles of slush. As soon as you're out of town, everyone is texting you. I'm not a fan of poetry readings, and I get cranky when I'm sleep deprived. Taking a red-eye to a convention with most of your classmates means not getting enough sleep, ever, during the days you're gone. And I may be sensitive after spending so much time in The Bubble, but after seeing the tattoos and the swearing and the smoking and the drinking and the clothing choices, I am apparently rather lady like for a serious fiction writer.
Most important thing I learned from the conference: there is good writing and there is bad writing. Genre has nothing to do with it (thank you for that, Julianne Baggott and Benjamin Percy! Thank you for validating my writing!).
It was a good experience, it really was. I'm glad I went. I feel more like a part of the writing community and less like a wannabe now. Maybe it was getting Italian with the other students (I had real, authentic cannoli), or maybe it was having a late night dessert party with them and the professors, or maybe it was just understanding the classes and getting inspired to write my own story. It seemed like every class helped me with the new story that is coming into my mind now. I'm beginning to understand the characters more, and the plot is coming in pieces. I may even have a setting for it now!
More to come on that, as I figure things out, and now that I'm back, the regularly scheduled blog posts are forthcoming.