Sunday, February 15, 2009

Notes On A Writing Conference

Or editing. Or publishing. Or drinking. Or brown nosing. These may apply to most any professional conference, but mine was the annual AWP conference in Chicago this weekend.

1) It is inevitable that, in the long days of panels and socializing, you will begin to picture everyone naked. Then you picture everyone picturing you naked. Then you picture yourself naked. Then you start leaving your coat on in sweltering rooms just in case.

2) No matter how much of a big name you are, people will arrive 30 minutes late to your reading, then leave 30 minutes early as if they've just heard their mother died.

3) People you once knew--and who you never really hung out with all that much (maybe you should have)--will be very excited to see you, even calling out your name from across the room. You will talk a few minutes but the initial excitement will fade, and you will part awkwardly, wondering if you are now best buds. The trick in any encounter like this is to end it early, when you're at the top of your game, and not un-retire like Jordan or Favre.

(Notice the udders)

4) At some point you will feel like a dirty dirty tramp for telling a few people about your writing projects--especially editors. You realize you are the 100th person to do so, but feel you must say SOMETHING about yourself when they ask, when all they really want is for you to buy a book.

5) When someone asks you about yourself, you ask them the same questions to be polite, and sometimes it's even genuine curiosity. But the conversation and words tend to circle one another and never catch up to themselves, like a dog chasing its tail, so you aren't too sure if you even had a conversation in the first place.

6) You will wait at hotel reception for 30 minutes because Expedia did not book your reservation correctly. You will talk to them on the phone and they will cancel it and refund you (the hotel's idea). Then the hotel offers to rebook your room, but only for 2 nights when you need 3--turns out lots of lovers are coming in for V-Day (victory day? venereal day?). But hotels always have rooms in reserve for VIPs like you, and so you get bumped up to club level and get a tv in your bathroom mirror. Nothing like watching cops chase criminals across your chest.

7) Your feet will stink. Get over it.

8) You finally hang out with all the people who you work with, go to school with, and who live minutes from your house.

9) You will need to decompress by doing a list of your weekend since you don't own any deep pore cleansing cremes, or have a sauna in the basement.


Garden Wise Guy said...

Benjamin - long time no keyboard. Sounds a lot like the one writer's conference I attended, 'cept I ain't nobody, couldn't get a room at the "official" hotel, so schlepped 10 blocks each day with my laptop case, heavy jacket and other paraphernalia until arriving at the hotel in a sweat.

This latest post is a delight. Thanks for sharing your uplifting, affirming expedition.


Anonymous said...

Love that number 5!

garden girl said...

oh well Benjamin, at least you got to see the snow sculptures! Even though I live here, I only saw them on the news.

Benjamin Vogt said...

GWG--Oh, I've made those kind of conference schlepps before. I don't think staying at the conference hotel is a good idea though--too loud, too busy.
David--Mercy buckets.
GG--It was pretty cool they were right across the street, and the morning I saw them it was warm out.

Anonymous said...

I like number three. It's right on target. It's that familiar 'Hey - how are you?' from across the room during a break, and someone walks over and you say 'fine - you?' and as soon as you get the 'you' out, you realize that you have nothing else to say to this person and you'd better make up something and fast - or go get coffee. 'Great seeing you - I'm heading out to get coffee, gotta run before the line gets too long!"

Benjamin Vogt said...

Pam--Ah, how many times has coffee saved a relationship?

Kylee Baumle said...

But did you have fun?

Benjamin Vogt said...

Kylee--Eh. At least I was busy.