Confessional List of an AWP Virgin


Dear AWP,

You are a beautiful behemoth. I will ride dozens of your millions of corpuscles and arrive somewhere vital, fixated.

Overwhelmed Conference Virgin

AWP color ceiling


Notes Taken During a Panel

In a central circle, middle of the page: What is the purpose and effect of writing? Ego push vs. call to service

At the end of a branch to the left: What are the talismans of grief, of love, of trauma, of hope? Personal and universal—intimate and archetypal. Dogs/dead dogs/a dog.

In a box under this branch, arrowed further left: Isn’t archetype as personal as it gets? Isn’t the ego more isolating that deep levels of consciousness, interconnected? So…what are the implications for repetition of meaningful image in many works? Doesn’t symbol move across levels of meaning, or is a symbol most effective as it hops from one meaning to another, laterally, within a single, contained layer of consciousness? Onions vs. the knife, again. Yes, through layers. Contained consciousness? (underlined)

Floating in the left margin: Physical artifact calls consciousness—how can you determine what you are calling?

At the end of a branch above the central circle: Metaphor as conveyance—(e.g., cab) denotation to meaning.

In a box above this branch: Back to archetype vs. individual—if it’s truly mine, will it transport you?

On a slanted line branched out from the curve of the central circle on its right: I know this but it helps does it help you? (Yes! she has written.)

Under this, a remark, unattached: “Part of the writing of true experience, grief, love, loss, is tracing the path created to hide the truth from self and others.”

Below the central circle, another circle: Writers are wizards.

Under this: Can we

Upper right margin, in a semi-circle: Brain crush, in love.

On the next page: Why is stability such an issue? Like a credit report for buy-in.

On the page after that: Sex & Love everything is always really about time


My legs are sore.

I wish I lived in Seattle

I wish I lived in Seattle



On the phone at the foot of the second floor escalator in the main hall: It wasn’t declined, it just stopped working. You can’t assume that. Call the bank. Don’t fuck with the website, just call them. I can’t, I have a panel.

At the food court in the Western New England Annex: One woman—Plastic, plastic! Another woman, reassuringly—I think it’s just the lettuce.

On the stairs of the sub-floors of the Western Annex: I was so surprised at how inarticulate he was in front of a crowd. I always thought people who were good at writing were naturally good at speaking.

Leaving Annie Proulx’s keynote: If she was a god, I’d so go to her church.



“This is like Disneyland if Disneyland sold crack and had crack rides and crack was words.”

Then, from behind him, “That’s so offensive. There are people here who struggle with addiction.”

Low blood sugar view

Low blood sugar view


Schooled on the first day. On the second day, glad we had eaten breakfast. We were so glad we stopped to eat lunch. On the third day, nothing helped.



I like to meet people who know me first by what I’ve written. I like being a story person first and a physical person second. It’s agreeable skin.


Dear AWP,

I want you every day. But I cannot leave here fast enough. My best friend and I are both leaving you now, before you’re finished with us, and then we are going to talk about you. It will not be all complimentary. We’ll probably cry. Or sing. Or get drunk, a good combination of potentialities.

Kissless at this point,
Done with your love but still in love

Skybridge full of books: fun!

Skybridge full of books: fun!


Upon Reflection: A Set of Proposed Regulations

Presenters might refrain from refuting the purpose of the panel with opening remarks.
Presenters might refrain from insulting other genres.
Presenters might want to use notes.
Presenters might choose to use a stopwatch or any watch, avoiding the need to ask what time it is every few minutes or seconds.

Audience members might refrain from attending a panel in a tightly packed room where close contact is inevitable if they are visibly, contagiously ill.
Tall audience members might remember that personal space is not an entitlement doled out according to gender or knee length. Sit on the aisle if you need extra space. I did. And then if someone comes in with a limp, a cast, a clear need, for goodness sake, get up and let them have your aisle seat without having to be asked in the middle of a presentation. I want to hear every word Kim Stafford says. Even the prepositions.
Audience members might refrain from whispering questions to the presenters that have to be repeated five or six times in an awkward, forward motion, room-sized game of telephone.
Audience members should not argue with presenters or angrily refute their suppositions after the fact. It’s just embarrassing for everybody.

Everyone needs to take turns and be nice. Everyone needs to use deodorant, just for three days. Everyone needs to enjoy everything, even the crappy stuff, because it’s more fun, more enlightening, more inspiring, and more joyful than our day jobs. It is. Come on. It is. It is.


AWP, 2015: How Cold is Minneapolis in February?

Snow likes writers

Snow likes writers


About metonymicalpen

I earned an M.F.A. from Goddard College in 2013. Since then, my work has received the 2013 Beacon Street Prize in Short Fiction and the 2014 John Steinbeck Short Fiction Award. My stories have appeared in REED, reDivider, The Concho River Review, Sou'wester, Moon City Review, and elsewhere. Currently, I live in the desert with my family , but I am trying to move us closer to water. We need an ocean to float all of our ideas.
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2 Responses to Confessional List of an AWP Virgin

  1. AWP 15 is in April. Already looking into hotels.

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