I’m adding mine to the flurry of AWP 14 Seattle posts that are flying from the fingers of people like us.
People like us: Hyperliterate English major types who are writers and who’ve embraced creative writing culture at the graduate level. And our professors, teachers, and in some cases idols. And publishers and people who work in publishing. And mainstream and Indie press people. And freelancers. And wannabes.
This year, in keeping with my goal for 2014 to do a better job of not driving myself crazy with things just because, out of deeply ingrained protestant guilt, I ought to, I spent my AWP time scouting booths at the book fair, looking for publishing houses that match my aesthetic, and I even made two contacts for possible freelance writing work.
I did not go to a single panel. I didn’t even look at the schedule.
I guarded the time I spent there, only spent four hours each day besides my volunteer time at the Wilkes / Etruscan booth. There is so, so much to see to enjoy to love at AWP. It is easy for me to get COMPLETELY overwhelmed.
This year, I emerge with a manageable number of contacts, a positive center of things to think about and pursue, and I do not feel so overwhelmed I’d like to sleep for three days.
I planned well this year
Fella (remember him?) and I spent a few days before and after AWP in Seattle doing Tourist Stuff. Space Needle, Chihuly Museum, The Great Wheel, waterfront, seafood, Pike Place, Original Starbucks, Other Original Starbucks, Piroshky Piroshky, Seattle Art Museum, many long, uphill (and later downhill) walks, microbreweries, etc. We stayed in a hotel on a pier. We could hear the water of Puget Sound sloshing under our room at high tide. We could open the window and dive in if we wanted. It was beautiful.
I have the hardest time figuring out how to introduce Fella, and I had to do a lot of that this trip. I should’ve had a plan. I have always disliked the term boyfriend. So I fumble and gag and make gaffes. Once, at a family reunion, I introduced him to a cousin I’d only recently learned I had as “heterosexual domestic partner.” When I introduced him to my colleague at the Wilkes booth, I said, “This is my smooch cuddle guy” before I even realized what was tumbling across my tongue.
Despite my issues of nomenclature, I LOVED Seattle. I want to move there. I belong there. It goes beyond superficiality, it is spiritual and hard to describe, a kind of energy, ethos, air: All I can say is Seattle is full of my people, it fills me with energy and joy, and I love the walkability, even though it’s hilly. Of course, I will have to reconcile myself to not moving there, at least not super soon. Sigh.
Here are some of the best superficial things:
1. There is not a bad cup of coffee in the whole town, even at diners. (We visited two such, both on 1st Ave, Lucky’s and CJ’s. CJ’s is better).
2. SO MUCH FUCKING DELICIOUS FOOD.
3. Fella hated this, but there’s a pervasive curry-meets-ketchup, sweet-spicy odor in the city part, away from the water. I loved it. It gave the chilly breeze a warm feeling. Like a well-worn kitchen, my grandma’s or yours, if my grandma were a fan of Indian cooking.
4. The food servers are talky and opinionated. I am a talky and opinionated food server, and sometimes people look at me like I’m barmy. I was at home among my brethren/colleagues/peers. I loved it.
5. Cars actually stop for pedestrians.
6. It’s all the best things about city and coast town without being too big or too small.
Observations about traveling
1. Airports are purgatory: slack-faced weary humans in suits or rumpled clothes, with tired, sideways-laying babies. Or people with laptops, working hard and frantic on something to distract them from purgatory. Or eaters with a sackful of soft pretzels or McDonalds fries, those who wander between food vendors buying overpriced comfort.
2. Renting a car to cross state lines is wicked expensive if you plan to drive from NY into PA. Renting a car in PA is super cheap comparatively.
3. Plane seats get less comfortable the more often I ride in them.
I heartily recommend the anthology, Get Out of My Crotch. Amazing. Some sad, poor editing (inconsistencies, typos, missing words, an unfortunate mis-allusion to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in which Violet eats a gobstopper instead of chewing gum), but I think the editors were in a hurry to get the book out before the outrage over the republicans’ War on Women died out completely. It’s important, brave work.
Reading Like a Writer is lovely, too. Like a long, wonderful conversation about long, wonderful books.