Do you love people?
Do you got a ticket to Tampa and an AWP registration (or not) but don't know what to do?
Have you read all the guides for people who get stressed out at a writer party with a dozen thousand of your closest friends and wondered WHY DO THESE PEOPLE GO TO AWP?
Do you like to get down?
Come on with me.
How to get the most out of AWP if you are a gregarious party monster:
First of all you're going to be either driving which means you've prepared for driving in Florida (just imagine driving in DC with wider streets but way more guns and drunk people) or flying into TPA (which is actually a great airport). You've got to use an Uber or something like that to get to either the real conference hotel (because you or your program has fat cash) or one of the knock-off hotels like the rest of us proles (really will AWP EVER have a hotel big enough for all of us?). Either way, if you dilly or dally, Tampa has a lot of great stuff to offer. Just don't get too distracted.
Anyway once you've shaken off that unpleasantness, assuming it's Wednesday: HIT UP THE HOTEL BAR. The real one
Get a table, if you can, and let folks join you. Look like you want to be joined. You'll be a party host in minutes. Seconds if it's busy.
Easiest way to meet folks at AWP? Buy drinks at the bar. Or anywhere. But especially the bar. Writers drink and write things.
Maybe there's an offsite event somewhere you want to go to? Go to it! Meet folks! Buy books! TALK for goodness' sake. That's what you're good at. Do it.
Go back to the bar afterwards. Rinse & repeat.
By the way if we find a BETTER real AWP bar (the one in the Marriott will be crazy overpriced, etc. ) I will tell you.
Do you recognize someone famous (for a writer)? Tell them that you love their work. I've not met the writer who goes out in public and doesn't like hearing this. Note: this totally works for people who aren't famous for a writer but you still recognize. That person will just be over the moon.
Do you recognize someone but don't remember their name AND they aren't wearing a nametag OR you don't want to play "the nametag game" (that's when you look at someone's nametag and determine whether or not they're "worth" talking to--don't do that, only dbags do that)?
Ask them how to spell their name so you can recommend them to a friend. If they say their first name be like no, silly your last name. Generally it's not Smith so you're pretty safe.
At any rate now you know their name and you've complimented them and you didn't have to admit you couldn't remember their name. Note if I do this to you, I really just want to know how to spell
your name. I totally remember your name. 100%.
Pace yourself. AWP is a marathon of vices, not a sprint. Stay hydrated, my friend.
Did you wake up yet? It's cool that you missed your friend's 8 am panel. So did everyone else. Go swimming. Take a shower.
Go by the bar when you're really up. See if you know folks. Maybe hit up a panel.
Then it's time to
HIT THE BOOKFAIR.
The Bookfair could be its own post and for introverts it ought to be but here's the dish for extraverts:
It's a room full of about five thousand people.
IT IS A ROOM FULL OF ABOUT FIVE THOUSAND PEOPLE.
It is extravert heaven.
Talk to the people. Be nice. Get swag. Eat candy. Take shots. Be invited to readings.
talk to folks about how "they" rejected you. Man, they don't know you.
be a jerk. Ever. If you feel like people "misunderstand you" and "you're always just joking" you're a jerk. FOH.
creep on people (see above).
argue with folks (see above).
Buy stuff (note: it might be WAY cheaper on Saturday), especially journal subscriptions.
Get cool stuff like haiku written for you (HEY CHAD!).
Visit your favorite publications. Tell them how AND WHY you love their work.
Same as above but with writers.
Make sure you eat / drink / whatever so you don't pass out. The weather will be absolutely perfect but you're going to be walking a lot.
AFTER THE BOOKFAIR:
Okay maybe you should go to a panel or something? Take notes.
If you have a real question, write it down before you ask it. Don't talk to hear yourself.
Go back to the bar, y'all. Go to offsite readings. Go to bars with people at offsite readings. If you find a good place where writers are doing karaoke, let me know.
Do all of these unless you got invited to a specific cool swanky exclusive thing. Go to that instead.
How's that hangover?
Anyway Saturday's just like Thursday/Friday except the books are cheaper.
What is special about Saturday though is the DANCE PARTY.
Yes. AWP has a dance party.
Yes it is FRIGGING AWESOME.
Okay so go to that. Then go to the after party. Then go to the after after party.
Are you talking to people? Are you making connections? Are you making friends? GOOD.
FAM ARE YOU STAYING HYDRATED?
I know. I know. Your head hurts. Pain is temporary. Literature is forever.
If there's a cool brunch thing or some other reading, go. Tampa is cool. Chill out. Relax. Have fun on the plane with the other tired writers.
Okay see this is what's important. If someone gave you their email, email them. Don't forget. Follow folks on Twitter. Connect on social media. Give them a shoutout. Promote like you want to be promoted.
If a journal said submit, do it. Use this info on cover letters to help you.
Get rested and ready for PORTLAND!