The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the 2015 Association of Writers Minneapolis Conference and Bookfair

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I’m not an educator, nor did I have a burning desire to go to Minneapolis in the spring, knowing winter storms ground planes and make life in general just plain miserable

but

I couldn’t attend AWP 2014 in Seattle, which is closer to my home state

and

my son had two readings scheduled and invited me along. Being a writer myself, there was no way I was going to say no.

We arrived a day early, and I’m glad we did. I have Meniere’s disease, and any form of travel can set my head spinning. The added day gave my body time to settle down as well as some extra time to get my bearings.

On Wednesday, the first day of registration, the hotel and convention center was like the inside of a beehive.  With over 13,000 registrants, the place was abuzz as writers arrived and networked. It was almost like being in the middle of a great movie.

 

THE GOOD:

 One of the biggest literary writer conferences in the United States

 Opportunities to meet editors, pitch story ideas, and listen to other writers talk about craft

 Over 500 panels to choose from, consisting of readings, discussions, or pedagogy running consecutively from 9 am to 5 pm every day

 A gigantic bookfair manned by every conceivable literary small press including Tin House, The Rumpus, and Prairie Schooner, not to mention the university presses looking for new voices

 Some of the best writers in the United States

 Some of the best educators in the United States

 Offsite readings, book signings, and events

 Karen Russell, Lance Olsen, Pam Houston, Kim Barnes, Robert Wrigley, Lidia Yuknavitch, Cheryl Strayed, Claire Davis, Stephen Graham Jones, and Trevor Dodge, to mention only a few

THE BAD:

 Over 500 panels to choose from, running consecutively with fifteen-minute breaks. Impossible to settle on just one

 A gigantic bookfair with conference specials, writer guidelines, and bling. Extra totes to carry everything home

 Offsite readings, book signings, and open bars wherein you crawl into bed at 2 am too wired and over-stimulated to sleep

 Long lines, incessant chatter fueled by all that writerly energy

 No genre discussions, no Alice Hoffman, Margret Atwood, or Charles Frazier

THE UGLY:

Me the day I leave Minneapolis to fly home, exhausted, my head spinning with thousands of ideas

In this world there’s two kinds of people my friend – those who attend conferences, and those who stay home. You dig?

THE END

Kim Barnes discussing No Country for Good Old Boys
Kim Barnes discussing No Country for Good Old Boys

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