After a year pause, I attended the AWP conference in Philadelphia at the end of March. This is the big yearly conference for all things writing, bringing together writers, writing students, writing teachers, publishers, literary journals, etc. An estimated 7,000 people attended.

Here are 6 takeaways:

  • People are generally nice. It’s always good to get affirmation of this. In the past couple of years we’ve seen a lot of negative toxicity. AWP was a nice respite from that. People staffing the many booths were genuinely happy to chat. It was easy to strike up conversation with people sitting next to me at panel presentations. Panelists were happy to continue conversations after the sessions.
  • Bring good shoes. Each day I walked 10-11 miles, just walking around the conference, going back and forth to my hotel, getting coffee in the morning, and sightseeing. I have a nice pair of black Skechers that are so comfortable and look decent. I also wore my black boots I bought in Manchester in 2004 that are so worn and comfortable I could probably run a marathon in them.
  • Go to the Rocky steps if you’re in Philadelphia. I told myself for years that if I ever got to Philly, my first order of business would be to do the Rocky steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I wasn’t the only one!
  • Nonfiction is still my favorite genre. As if this were ever going to change, but still. I went to a few sessions that addressed aspects of nonfiction and it felt great to geek out with other nonfiction lovers.
  • You can use Twitter to search for people looking for pitches. Duly noted. Except I forgot the hashtag, lol.
  • A lot of powerful work is going in in the world of incarceration and social justice. My flight out on Saturday was delayed by a few hours, but it allowed me to attend a writing/incarceration panel on Saturday afternoon.

I made a lot of great connections that I need to follow up on. I’m so glad that I went!