Notes and Things From AWP

The Annual AWP conference was this past weekend in Chicago, and amongst learning how to successfully keep warm in freezing weather (hint: leggings under pants!), I learned some literary-type things:

  • An MFA can be a valuable degree, despite the fact that none of us know what to do with it. The ways other writers stretch their skills on their resumes is truly an art form. 
  • a good joke should flip around and surprise you: turn the sincere into the profane. Also can transform passive suffering into something active.
  • the “least trendiest” story in the slush pile is the one editors get the most excited to read. 
  • the act of applying to fellowships, grants, contests, etc is the thing that makes you realize what you are trying to do and what you are writing about. 
  • stories that are too long are easiest to reject off the bat. editors need a reason to turn those pages: grab by the first sentence. 
  • the “gas station effect”: the small moments in a story that keep fueling the tension, keep pushing it along. 
  • the short story collection is not dead when it comes to small, independent presses. 
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