We freefall down the rabbit hole. We squish like funhouse mirrors in hotel lobbies and conference room floors, and we shrink to pinpricks in grand ballrooms. We rubberneck and get cowed and chicken out. We chase the fat cats. We heed advice from caterpillars. We drink and grow big; we drink and grow small. We shake and shimmy and scrimp, scribble and scrabble. We talk and we talk about writing, but for three lost days at the mad tea-party, we do not write.
So why do we do it? AWP: What is it good for?
We can’t answer for all ten thousand writers, editors, publishers, students, teachers, and lovers of literature who will attend (and the thought of trying makes us dizzy), so we’ll tell you what we look forward to at AWP:
Sharing ideas. We spend the whole year obsessing over Indiana Review, figuring out how to keep this gorgeous endeavor surging ahead. AWP is our big chance to chat in-person with other editors and discuss the dirty details of publishing a journal—what works, what doesn’t, what’s next. This year, Editor Jennifer Luebbers is taking part in a panel on motivating a volunteer staff (Thursday, R269), while our Associate Editor is canvassing for new ideas for web content and online models.
Meeting YOU! Our editorial staff will be at the IR book fair table—Plaza Level i1!—and you should come talk to us. We love to meet our wonderful contributors and put faces to the stories and poems we’ve cherished for so long. We also love to meet readers and potential readers, and we’re there to answer any questions you have about IR. Literature, for us, lives and breathes (and drinks and laughs and occasionally passes out), and we relish the chance to take our vibrant community off the page and screen.
Speaking of the book fair. . . It’s terrifying. There are so many books and exhibits jockeying for your attention that last year some of us wound up sprinting down the aisles avoiding all eye contact—and worse, grabbing swag and dashing. This year, we plan to stroll slowly, taking time to say hello, so that when we inevitably feel overwhelmed by too many options and too few dollars in our pockets—we’ll stay grounded with smiling faces.
Swag! Obviously, we love free stuff. But we also love giving it away and representing the “prestigious journal with good vibes” thing we have going. We have secret swag, including previews of our Summer 2013 issue, so come and get it!
Journals! IR will be selling our latest issue, featuring the infamous Frog-man, as well as select back issues at special AWP rates. We’re hoping to capitalize on other publications’ conference deals and discover some exciting new journals in the process.
Hero worship—Just a bit. We live in Indiana. While we get to work with phenomenal writers and professors every day, many authors we admire don’t pass through Bloomington very often. This year, our Associate Editor’s can’t-miss list includes George Saunders and Anne Carson (both on Saturday). For many of us, inspiration is found in the work of writers we love, and hearing them read and discuss that work is an opportunity too good to pass up.
AWP, at its best, is about inspiration—bringing writers together to remind us of our shared passion, the reason we toil away day-to-day in relative isolation—and why we hurry back to that solitude after the madness.
Why do you go to AWP? Tell us in the Comments section!