|At a Starbucks with Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, and Christina Katz.|
First, it was my first trip to Chicago with Tammy. We stayed at the Sheraton next to the Chicago River and overlooking the Navy Pier. The grandparents watched the kids, and we got a few days together in the big city--and believe me, we took advantage of the opportunity (yes, we watched R-rated movies and slept in).
Second, this was my first AWP experience.
Now, I've been to comic conventions and BookExpo America, so I know what a big convention/conference can look like. But I wasn't ready for AWP. Maybe it's the lack of walls between booths (heck, maybe it's the lack of booths), but the bookfair part of the conference felt very chaotic and claustrophobic to me.
I picked up a few free literary journals. I had some brief conversations with poets and publishers. But if I ever go again, I'm going to need a better game plan--for the bookfair part of the equation anyway.
The main reason I finally got out to AWP was that Christina Katz invited me to speak on a panel with her, Jane Friedman, and Seth Harwood. While I was definitely interested in AWP, this was the kind of shove I needed to tear myself away from the kids.
Our panel covered the Tech-Empowered Writer, and I think it was filled with great advice. If you want a little taste, check out these posts we assembled for the panel:
- The Tech-Empowered Writer, by Seth Harwood
- The Tech-Empowered Writer, by Jane Friedman
- Let's Talk Tech, by Christina Katz
- Tech-Empowered Writers, by Robert Lee Brewer
Of course, there were a lot of questions--so much so that they followed us out into the hallways, which is a good thing. I love helping as much as I'm able.
After the Panel
Jane, Christina, Porter Anderson (who live-Tweeted the panel), and I found a Starbucks afterward and spent an hour or so just shooting the whatever-you-care-to-shoot. I cherish these moments to just hang out and talk shop, and they never last quite long enough.
Somewhere early in that hour, Tammy found her way over to us, and I was happy to introduce her to everyone. I'm really looking forward to getting up to that Poetry Hickory event in June with Tammy and meeting all the North Carolina poets.
|Tammy and I outside a pub in Chicago.|
Photo credit: Mark Griffin.
I didn't spend my entire time in Chicago at AWP. That would've been a waste of time and money (and this was definitely not a cheap trip). Tammy and I were able to visit the Art Institute of Chicago and a few local food spots, including Pizzeria Uno (great deep dish pizza) and Lou Mitchell's (busy, little diner with great fried taters).
Oh yeah, there was this bar--the name escapes me, of course--close to our hotel that served up the best jambalaya I've ever had. If I lived in Chicago, I'd need wider pants and a second job--because the food up that way rocks!
The weather was cold, though definitely milder than normal. For that, I was thankful. After living the first three decades of my life in Ohio, I know how bitter the winters can be north of Chattanooga.
|Tammy at Lou Mitchell's, a cute diner that gives Milk Duds to each customer.|
So... Will I Make My Way to AWP Boston in 2013?
That's a good question, and I'm not sure at the moment. Since panelists have to pay for everything (including registering), it's really the least cost-effective speaking event in the universe. So it's quite an expense out of my pocket, even if it was great to see some of my Facebook peeps in real life.
There's a part of me that thinks one AWP is enough; and then, there's another part that is brainstorming possible winning panel ideas. I guess, we'll see.
Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Plus, sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.
Check out these other Not Bob posts for writers:
- How to Monetize a Blog.
- How to Brand Yourself (and Take Over the World).
- Best Blogs for Writers to Read in 2012.