I am just back from my first AWP conference. Have you heard of this thing? It’s the annual gathering of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, founded in 1967 to support creative writers working in newly established creative writing programs, and which now supports hundreds of thousands of writers/writing instructors and hundreds of creative writing programs throughout North America.
Perhaps needless to say, the attendance at the conference was enormous — a bit (just a bit) overwhelming for this introvert. But I am also so glad that I went, and quite grateful to Autumn Stevens, who invited me to participate in the panel she put together and moderated, “Words for the Wounded: Helping Special Populations Heal Through Writing.” This was my first writing/writers conference since the last OutWrite I attended since, what, 1998? 1999? In the intervening years, I’ve grown no less delighted and intimidated at the thought of gathering with so many Real Writers.
What are some things I learned at my first AWP in Minneapolis? Here, in no particular order, are some thoughts: