As you can probably tell from the title of this post, I have just gotten back from this year’s AWP conference, held in Denver this past weekend. This being my first time going, I didn’t quite know what to expect. What I experienced was three full days of sitting in good panels, bad panels, decent panels, meeting brilliant authors and talking to actual publishers and editors, discounted book prices, good literature, seeing almost every literary magazine you can think of, free stuff, and the sudden and crippling realization that out of the 9,000 people that attended this year, 8,000 of them were just like me: unpublished, and trying their damnedest to become so.
Now, if you’ve never been to the AWP Conference, let me explain. AWP stands for Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and if you want to know more about what they do, you can visit their site at awpwriter.org. Every year they put on the AWP Conference in various cities in the U. S.. This year it was in Denver, next year it will be Washington D.C.. Basically, it’s a huge conference where writers, publishers and everyone in between are invited to come learn more about the art of writing, all the great presses, magazines and organizations that exist to support good writing, and to discuss new challenges and trends on the literary scene. For instance, everyone and their mom had something to say about electronic books and Amazon.com.
The AWP Conference is not about going to find an editor who likes your work and wants to publish you. Likewise, I didn’t get the vibe that publishers came there to hire new editors or interns. What did happen was I met a lot of cool people, learned more about the craft of writing, and was introduced to the hundreds of organizations that exist solely to promote good writing and more reading.
It was a little strange, being an undergraduate at what was primarily an older crowd of graduates, writers, publishers and editors. None the less, I still was able to enjoy myself and explore the different faucets of publishing.
I would encourage anyone who is interested to attend AWP next year, especially undergraduate students interested in publishing (gotta love that student discount), as I found there weren’t enough of us “representing”.
And lastly, if you did go to AWP, what was your favorite panel? What was the worst panel? Do you have any other advice to people who are interesting in attending in 2011?