Thursday, March 01, 2007

AWP day one

I’ve been at the AWP conference for, like, 24 hours so far and half that time I’ve been “working.” Such a dilemma this when-to-illuminate-the-off-duty-sign question.

I’m here to immerse and absorb and ponder, but am pre-occupied, as always, with paid client work. As a project-oriented independent contractor with hourly billing, every time I illuminate the don’t-flag-me-down sign I’m just saying no to my ever-increasing mortgage payment!

Apropos to this, one of the two, count ‘em two, seminars I’ve attended thus far included a “balancing your writing against other concerns” component. One of the panelists—the token purist—said, “There’s always going to be the need to make money, that’s a given. If you’re really a writer, you make time to write.” Period.

A few years back my friend Monica Drake and I pitched our “Fueled by Distraction” workshop to AWP. They declined. But they shouldn’t have. I think I need to revisit some of the materials we used to demonstrate how to use the distractions presented by every day concerns as fuel (as opposed to barriers) to satisfying creative work.

Paramount to the success of this method, as I recall, is how to mine nuggets of possibility from quotidian detritus. I’m talking how to turn a library overdo notice into a short essay. Or how you can, say, leverage negotiating tactics employed when aligning the needs of a client with the aesthetic concerns of a graphic designer into lovely, conflict-ridden dialogue! Maybe the workshop should be renamed: How to step out of your busy life and become God. Hm.

More later…I have to go absorb.


  1. Anonymous12:39 PM

    I'd attend that workshop. I've also spent about half my time in Atlanta on bill-paying work rather than whatever it is the purists do here (as far as I can tell there's a tendency toward drinking Starbucks and brooding in hotel lobbies).

    Interesting to hear your take on the conference. It's my first and I admit to being a tad bit intimidated. Lots of smart folks looking really busy.

    "Fairy Tales and Contemporary Fiction" has been my favorite session so far...some amazing stuff.

  2. I really liked the Toward a Theory of Slippery Nonfiction seminar. But then, I'm really intrigued by David Shields and his take on the function of art: "to bridge the gap between separate consciousnesses" I eat that stuff up. Didn't attend the Fairy Tale seminar. Wish I had!


Thanks for commenting. If you have trouble posting a comment, let me know!