The I'm Not at AWP Blues

I've got 'em. I've got 'em bad.

All of my friends are there, posting their smiling faces at the bookfair, their smiling faces in front of their panel posters, their smiling faces with authors' faces I only know from the back of their book jackets.

And what am I doing today? Well, I spent the majority of my day in my bathrobe. I snuggled my cats. I ate an enormous bowl of ice cream. Ok, this doesn't sound so bad :-)

I remember my own stint at AWP a few years ago. My palms were sweaty nonstop. I was so nervous, awkward, and felt just plain lost in that sea of writers. It was intimating, overwhelming, and, of course, exhilarating. I'm terrible at networking, but I did my best and met a handful of editors and publishers. I saw old friends, squeed like a teenaged girl after meeting Alison Jospeh. I moderated a panel, though my heart was inside my throat. During my book signing, I remember feeling utterly desperate for some fresh air, some peace, some quiet.

But truth be told, I'm still way mad jealous of everyone at AWP. I'll get over it, maybe, someday.

On a related note:

Earlier this week, I was having an interesting conversation (ok, eavesdropped on an interesting conversation) with my office-mate and his publisher, David. David was talking about his long journey as a writer, explaining how he spent years and years working fruitlessly on a novel manuscript that no publisher would touch with a ten foot pole, and how it wasn't until he "matured" as he put it, as a writer that he was able to find any sort of success.

I turned around in my chair, my attention peaked. "What do you mean?" I asked, butting my way into the conversation.

David shrugged his shoulders. "Well, just that!" and he proceeded to tell me that he opened his mind to new possibilities, took on writing projects that were out of his comfort zone like translations, poetry, short stories, editing, publishing. He participated in the literary community locally. He got to know other writers. He put himself out there. He saw writing as a community act and stopped just seeing it as something that we do in a dark room, alone, penning masterpieces in a vacuum of our own ideas.

I nodded, agreeing. Yes, that's what it takes.

And then he said something even more curious. Like he knew me maybe better than I know myself.

"Katie, you figured that out early, didn't you? I bet you're the type of writer that likes to wall up, to write alone, but you push yourself beyond that."

Hmm.... I shrugged my shoulders. "Sure, David, whatever."

But he was right.

For me, it's so much easier to be reticent, to retreat into myself. I would love to be like Emily Dickinson, maybe having just a small circle of friends to share my writings with, but otherwise, keeping to myself. But I know that writing doesn't work that way. So instead, I review, I edit, I work on other projects, put myself out there, and ugh, even go to AWP :-P

My own publisher wants to put together another panel for next year. And of course, I'll give it a go :-)