..can keep us from AWP.
I am in upstate New York and will leave soon with a fellow writer to drive south to DC. The weather here isn’t nearly as bad as predicted – we are some of the lucky ones. Many other AWP attendees have already had flights delayed or cancelled, or decided not to drive in the icy mix. But we will forge ahead.
Is it geeky to bring along my books by Junot Diaz and Jhumpa Lahiri in the hopes that they will sign them? I’m not usually a starfucker autographer seeker – I simply want to tell them how much their writing has meant to me and my writing. And to tell Mr. Diaz that his essay on how excrutiating writing can be to one’s psyche was a revelation.
Besides meeting new people and reuniting with friends, I have settled on a few presentations to attend, including “From Short Story to Novel” and “Women Writers and Rejection.” Maybe I should be on that second panel, as I have many years of experience with rejection.
Just the other day I received a rejection email from a top tier publication (which will be represented at AWP). This one stung a little harder than most. I want to go up to the editor and ask in person, why exactly was my story rejected?
Isn’t that what we all want to know?
But asking that, like going to panels that purport to tell you “what editors want,” is a crap shoot. Just like all publishing is.
Editors don’t all want the same thing – except great writing. The same editor may like something one day but hate it the next. Maybe the story “just wasn’t a good fit” even though you read back issues to make sure your work fit in their oeuvre.
I strongly believe that the cream rises to the top. And that some people are published, whether or not they have talent, because of the current zeitgeist (I’m looking at you Snooki). But writing is about the art of creating something. That is where 90% of effort should be. The other 10% should be laser-focused on the challenge of getting published, if that is what you want.
For a long time, I didn’t care if I was ever published. Now, with seven stories published and more on the horizon, I am starting to care much more.
And for that, nothing can keep me from AWP this year.