Discover more from Adventures In "Journalism" by Sari Botton
To AWP, or Not to AWP?
Help an indecisive Libra figure this out...
I have only once actually made it to the AWP Conference, despite many attempts and having been booked for panels and readings. A few times, weather interfered. Other times it was the flu, bronchitis, pneumonia—my usual winter upper respiratory BS. I attended the 2019 edition in Portland, Oregon, and it was a swell—and fruitful—time.
This year, I was scheduled to speak on a panel (about the business of writing and publishing newsletters). But at the beginning of the Omicron surge in December, when it seemed it might be unsafe to attend the conference in person once it rolled around, the panel got switched from in-person to virtual. Then, we were given very few time slots to choose from, and not everyone could make those available to us, so the panel was canceled.
Now it’s March, and AWP is in three weeks, and for better or worse, the world is opening up. And I can’t decide whether or not to go. Maybe you can help me…
⬇️ My panel has been canceled. What’s the point in schlepping all the way from Kingston to Philly?
⬆️ Well, I’ve never been to Philly and I’ve always wanted to check it out. Here’s a reason to go.
⬇️ Eh. How much of that city will I see in the course of a few days if most of what I’m doing is attending AWP stuff? I could go literally any other time.
⬆️ After so much isolation and feeling removed from others in my field, I could benefit from attending panels and readings, and schmoozing with colleagues I haven’t seen in years, and meeting some of those I’ve long been eager to meet IRL.
⬇️ Two years into this stinking pandemic, I’ve come to feel kind of introverted and shy, and resistant to smalltalk and “networking.” Also, my impostor syndrome now goes to 11.
⬆️ Some friends/colleagues I enjoy hanging out with will be there, and if I’m feeling too shy to introduce myself to new people, I can socialize with them.
⬇️ Then again, my friends/colleagues probably want to spend their limited AWP time connecting with people they don’t regularly see.
⬆️ I’ve been feeling so cooped up. A few days in Philadelphia could be a nice antidote.
⬇️ Okay, but what about the danger of contracting Covid there? The pandemic is very much not over even though, as a country, we seem to have decided to pretend it is. A few friends recently got pretty sick with it, and my mom’s vaxed/boosted friend just died from it. A conference full of people from all over the country milling about seems like a recipe for getting the virus.
⬆️ I could use a few days off from work.
⬇️ But I can’t really afford a few days off work, especially since I’m going away for a week in mid-March. And AWP is a different kind of work anyway, so I’d just be burying myself with more busy-ness, and putting myself behind with everything else that’s on my plate.
⬆️ Maybe going would help me get new work/a job.
⬇️ No school or publication is going to offer a job to a 56-year-old “legend” who doesn’t possess an MFA or other graduate degree.
⬆️ I want to go to AWP a little bit.
⬇️ I don’t want to go to AWP more than a little bit…and would perhaps like your permission to bow out.