Confessions of an AWP Virgin

I’m the type of person who when asked if I want to go somewhere, answers, “When do we leave?” I love to travel and find all modes of getting somewhere exactly to my liking. I love boats, planes, trains, helicopters and cars. If it gets me there, I like it. So when Main Street Rag Editor, Scott Douglass, asked if I wanted to go to Boston for AWP, I jumped at the chance.

There are those who would think me quite insane to even consider sitting in a car with Scott for one hour, never mind eighteen hundred miles to Boston and back, but I had a feeling it would not be a problem. After all, we both love to travel. I found him surprisingly easy to get along with and we had a fine time watching the scenery go by and chatting the hours away. I even got a Photoshop tutorial as we navigated through Pennsylvania.

With twelve thousand people attending the AWP conference (Association of Writers and Writing Programs, in case you were wondering) I found the atmosphere rather overwhelming, but I enjoy meeting new people and talking about one of my favorite things, books. It’s particularly gratifying to talk about books with other people who love them as much as I do.

A steady stream of book lovers flowed by our table. Some wanted information on submissions, others were interested in our books. I was thrilled to meet editors and authors whose names I knew, but hadn’t met in person. Dennis Bormann and Gaynell Gavin came up from South Carolina and Steve Taylor and his son Matt came from Glendale, California. Editors from other presses came over to say hi too and I enjoyed meeting Betsy Teter of Hub City among others.

A tall woman with big pretty eyes came up to me at our table and asked rather breathlessly if I was Beth Browne, as if I was some sort of celebrity. She turned out to be the author of one of the novellas we selected last year and I had the immense pleasure of gushing over her book to her in person and nearly bringing us both to tears. Her book about two women crossing cultures form the U.S. to Morocco was such a moving story and so well told I could not put it down. Naturally, it made me cry at the end. I’m prone to that.

In between dashing off to panels and working the table, I endured the long bathroom lines by chatting with neighbors about our favorite books, favorite authors, what we do besides read and write. I even met a lady who came all the way to Boston from St. Thomas for AWP. And it snowed! Locals were apologizing for the appalling weather, but for those of us who have not seen snow in the past two years, a good six-incher was a rare treat. I enjoyed a walk after the storm and waded through ankle-deep slushy puddles to share fantastic Indian food with my dear friend, Carolina Wren Press editor Robin Miura. Totally worth the wet feet.

I’m so grateful to Scott and Main Street Rag for making it possible for me to go to AWP on my single parent/struggling writer budget. We drove through the night to get home and it took me days to recover, but it was worth it. I’m glad for the opportunity to get to know my comrades better, to build relationships with people who love books like I do. We’re all in this together and recognizing that is worth a lot. It’s even worth sitting in the car with Scott, even though he does hate to lose momentum on an on-ramp by braking. I never did have to grab the handrail in spite of his best efforts to make me do so. AWP was a great time, but I’m glad it’s only once a year.

Beth Browne
Associate Editor and Publicity Coordinator
Main Street Rag Publishing Company

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2 thoughts on “Confessions of an AWP Virgin

  1. What a wonderful adventure, Beth! I so enjoy living vicariously through your life with books. Glad you lived to tell the tale. 😉

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