AWP: Turning Pro and Cutting Through the Haze

I just got back Sunday night from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference in Washington, D.C. I'm still recovering from the sleep deprivation and the rush of information, but my first report is that it was a healing and transformational experience. I've been on the verge of a big life change, and the conference overwhelmingly confirmed my direction. Over and over again, my instincts were confirmed. My own panel went well, although we had only seven people in the audience (it was at 9 a.m. the morning after the big readings and parties). That could have been disheartening, but it was actually great, because it took the pressure off and gave me a chance to practice my controversial presentation. A couple of people even told me that I should publish the paper!

The biggest confirmation I had, though, was in the direction of my writing and in my imminent plans to query. I had a strange moment, sitting at a publishing panel and listening to the authors talk about how they'd found their agents. I realized that I know exactly who I want to be my agent, if he offers representation. While I have a list of other agents to query, I just have a feeling about this one, a hunch. So much so that I almost got out of line to meet with some of the other agents. It's strange, and I know I shouldn't put my eggs in one basket, but sometimes there is inner clarity. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much, and want to have my query and back up list all ready to go if agent #1 says no. And I did force myself to stay in that line and at least get some cards from people, but it was a madhouse and all the agents were swamped. I was lucky even to get the cards.

I also came back with a revived and pressing determination to finish the book already and get it ready to send. During the semester, progress is always slow, because I've made a pact with myself not to shaft my students. But I keep closing in, and I really don't know how close I am. I've now given myself a deadline--by July 31, the manuscript must be ready to send, no matter what. Hold me to that, everyone.

I somehow also managed to lose three more pounds, despite two panini's, a late night bruschetta, and seven instances of wine. And in addition to the aforementioned agent panel, I went to several other panels that were chock full of good information. Some of it I'd heard before, but much of it I hadn't, and I'll be sharing it with you in my coming posts. Thanks to those of you who encouraged me to speak my mind at the presentation, and in general to this community for your continuing support and cheerleading. It means a lot.


Jeanna Thornton said…
Kath, getting ready to *launch* those queries can be the most frightening time...but *rejection* is just as important to the process of writing as your biggest supporter. Rejection splits and opens the reveal the passion needed to carry the load...without passion from an agent, the book will never see its full potential. Get ready to embrace rejection...hold it, pet it... then go on to the next great moment!

I am thrilled that AWP went well. Your potential is amazing.
Mylène said…
Hurrah! It was a good experience, and like all REALLY good experiences, it didn't just warm but centered you. And in the middle of the freneticism, no less. I'm so glad, now, you went.
Joy said…
What an encouraging post. I am thrilled that the conference went so well for you! From what you've already shared with me, I find that one of the most important things in writing, pursuing dreams (and in life in general) is to trust your instincts. Now it's time to go for the goal! I'm glad that you were able to be true to yourself and be rewarded for it.

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