AWP18, indie book fair, and burnout

Can you stand perfectly still and hold this moment open?

Very cool sign spotted on the way to Whale Prom, the alternative book fair to the one featured at the official AWP writers’ conference. It’s an appropriate message that likely won’t be heard by the people who need it the most.


We don’t sit still at AWP. We’re selling or promoting or thirsting after a book deal or presenting or networking. And drinking. Oh man you are supposed to drink so much at AWP!

George Saunders gives the keynote address



Because it is special to be there–I would never have started attending this conference if the lit journal and press I volunteer for didn’t cover my registration cost.

The cost is certainly prohibitive for many talented writers, which is why an alternative book fair (which requires no registration fee) is necessary. And so hip. Whale Prom is a zine fest and I am wholly on board.

Was pleased to explore Tampa Heights. I will never forget the vegan empanadas I ate in a sunny park, NEVER. Heights Public Market is a must!

I had goals at AWP, don’t get me wrong! I was there to promote the artists and organization I care about. I was also collecting info on publishers of prose chapbooks for myself.

I did indeed feel the pressure to wear myself out because it is exciting, and this opportunity only comes once a year. I worry that if I don’t exude enthusiasm and do work for these projects at every hour of any day, I am being ungrateful. Or wasting an opportunity.

I can tell I’m in my 30s because I am able to confront this toxic belief. I am better at loving the work I care about if I am rested and relaxed.

So I did that. I didn’t drink a drop at AWP. I lingered over morning coffee and took hot baths and watched the sun set over the river while herons skimmed the water.


I woke up early to walk the Alafia Scrub Nature Preserve. Twice.


I tried to explore and get a feeling for Tampa, though I am not sure I achieved this.

Spent a morning in St. Petersburg and was smitten.

I … am still tired from the trip, and catching up. (I have a full time job and am writing my Master’s thesis in a field that is NOT publishing or creative writing. AWP was my vacation!)

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