Getting excited now. Just two short weeks until The Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Chi-town! (I assure you, it’s much livelier than it sounds.)
My first AWP was Denver, now two years in the rearview, and I had a memorable time, even if no photographic evidence exists to confirm this. Sure, there were dozens of panels hosted by writers I respected (including my word-hero Michael Chabon), and just as many where the informative content trumped the unknowns presenting it. But let’s be honest: it’s really an excuse to get silly for four days and nights with my extended online family of writers who workshop together, support one another’s writerly trajectories (hopefully ascending), and conspire to commit all sorts of questionable acts that will ultimately shave years off our lives. Some have never met in person before, and others cross international waters to participate. It’s also an excuse to buy more indie books than will fit on my Goodreads shelf. To pawn a few of my own fictions. To feign enjoyment at listening to authors read their work aloud. To chat up fishnetted, becorseted, raccoon-eyed authors of amputee erotica in dark corners over a glass of absinthe. Though we all know such gals are usually costumed more like thrift-store managers, and prefer wine coolers to wormwood. I love them all the same.
Last time, I burnt myself out with too many back-to-back panels, and am taking more of a relaxed approach this year: just a few per day. After all, this is my so-called “vacation.” No secret benefactor is footing my bill; I’ve no obligation to present or perform anywhere (that I know of. . .). I’ll sleep in if I please. See the sights. Indulge. Endure an hour-long line for a gourmet hot dog, goddammit!
UPDATE: postmortem 2012 Chicago AWP photo gallery
But the real reason for this post isn’t to regale you with tales of literary conquests past, of syndicated television viewed in different time zones. It’s an invitation for you to come say hello, to let you buy me a pint, slip me a free copy of your book (paperback, please), or indulge me in droning on solipsistically about my own works-in-progress. Below is a preliminary list of the panels and events I may attend (unless something shiny or lacy distracts me) for those organizing their own stalking-and-accosting itineraries. I’ll be staying Wednesday through Saturday night (2/29 – 3/3) with my three ninja bodyguard/roommates at the Hampton Inn Majestic, right around the corner from the Palmer House (where most of the panels I care about are held, and where many attendees are staying). Gimme a shout in advance if you like.
8:00 pm Kick-Off Party @ The Empty Bottle (1035 N. Western Ave.)
9:00 am R121. Atypical Points of View in Fiction Narration
12:00 pm R170. Villains and Killers and Criminals, Oh My: Representing Evildoers in Lit Fic
4:30 pm R233. The Renaissance of Midwestern Literature
8:30 pm Margaret Atwood keynote
8:00 pm The Wrong Kind of Reading @ The Galway Arms (2442 N. Clark St.)
9:00 pm Karaoke Idol @ Beauty Bar (1444 W. Chicago)
9:00 am F119. Literature and the Internet in 2012
12:00 pm F169. The Place at the Heart of Story
1:30 pm F178. Natl Book Critics Circle Celebrates Award-Winning Authors
7:00 pm Beautiful, Words @ Beauty Bar (1444 W. Chicago)
9:00 am S104. Midwest Gothic: Dark Fiction of the Heartland
12:00 pm S165. Mine Is Clouds: Revisiting the Life and Work of Richard Brautigan
3:00 pm S215. Men from Venus, Women from Mars: Writing the Opposite Sex
6:00 pm Ear Eater #13: The Impossible, The Extraordinary @ Beef & Brandy (127 S. State St.)