Monday, March 5, 2012

AWP Redux

Little A and I had four glorious days in Chicago for the AWP conference. We went by train and felt oh-so-much-more civilized than traveling by plane. My mom met us in Chicago so that I could attend panels, meet friends, and drink and eat without having to worry about my three-foot companion getting plowed over in the riot of writers.

And a riot it was: ten thousand writers, editors, teachers, publishers, and their ilk descended on two hotels. I attended one panel on which my friend Kate Hopper and four other mama writers shared their thoughts on negotiating motherhood and the writing life. Take home message: jotting down little notes while waiting in the carpool line and at sporting events is key. Also: Hope Edelman eloquently conceded the ways in which writing can take away from mothering but thoughtfully dissected all the things that writing brings to motherhood.

I listened in on another one for first time memoirists, where I found that other writers struggle with the same issues of reportage versus personal story and finding the balance of the two.

But most importantly, I got to meet some new friends and see a few old friends from my Columbia MFA days. We sat down over drinks and food and talked about writing and reading and life and teaching. I realized how much I've missed the intensity of being surrounded by writers, of accessing a shared vocabulary to talk about craft and narrative and sentences and books. I realized I've been going along feeding the fire with tiny bits of kindling and scraps of wood and then this weekend came along and brought with it a barrel of kerosene and two cords of wood.

Now to keep the writing fires burning...


  1. Hi Rhena! I just wanted to say that I really enjoy your blog...and your writing. I like seeing the little update on Facebook so I know to click over. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Tonya! I'm so glad you like it. I'll keep posting reminders on Facebook...

  3. Nice blog. You might like this poem about mothers.

  4. Thanks for the comment and for the poem. Off to take a look!

  5. Hi Rhena. What a great PR spot about the AWP. Maybe each of you Literary Mamas who attended should share a paragraph for the blog? I'll send a question out via the listserv to solicit thoughts :)

    And what a great mom you have! I remember my mom helping me out in similar circumstances. Not only is it good for the mom, it's great for the grandchild/grandparent relationship!

  6. Karna, that's a great idea. Yes, my mom is fantastic. "Go out and just do whatever you want to do!" I was spoiled.