We’re all feeling a little exhausted after this year’s Association of Writers and Writers Programs (AWP) Conference in Tampa. A lot of us traveled from across the country, and spent hours in panels and on the book fair floor, and drinking and hanging out at the after parties. It felt a little bit like a vacation actually. But when I got back home, it felt like I needed a vacation from my vacation. Here are a few things that might make next year’s AWP even better.
An augmented reality map. It’s the way of the future. But it would be great to have step-by-step directions to all of my favorite panels and booths, a menu for the café inside the convention center that mysteriously doesn’t have one, a gauge for how many people are in the bathroom or Starbucks, and maybe an estimator for how long it will take to walk from one panel to another when they’re in different buildings and I still have to pee, and grab coffee to stay awake.
More quiet rooms. Let’s face it: A lot of us are a little crazy—that’s why we’re writers. Some of us make great connections and have good conversations at the book fair that covers a floor of the entire convention center, but the noise-level was so overwhelming that I was constantly running outside to catch some rays and just have some quiet time. If more quiet rooms are not in the cards, maybe the AWP tote bags could include a pair of earplugs.
A disclaimer before panels: Please don’t bring up your own work during Q&A time. Panels aren’t a chance to pitch your own work. Writers go to AWP to learn from other writers and support each other. If you talk about your own work during question/answer time, I also assume you like your own Instagram posts and have annoyed a lot of teachers over the years.
Food trucks inside the bookfair. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. I don’t want to pay $10 for a sandwich I could slap together at home in between revisions. I’m not saying I need a food truck with literature-inspired dishes (like the Crepes of Wrath, A Raisin bran-muffin in the Sun, or the Leaves of Grass iceberg wedge) but that’s exactly what I’m saying.
Time-Turners: There is no way one mortal can attend every single panel they’re interested in. Most of the coolest panels are at the same time, and when I was going to a bunch throughout the day, I was too tired for later ones (A nap at the hotel room would hit the spot, but can’t miss the panel on Suspense at 4:30!). This is where Time-Turners would be perfect— Pick up the device at the Information Desk and simply turn back time, and then I can attend as many panels through the day as I like. And later, maybe hit snooze and the dancefloor at the same time. Problem solved.
Maybe next year, I’ll get a couple of these features. But even if I don’t, I’m still coming back. Where else can I stand in line two hours for the one-hour of open bar?
Tori Cárdenas is an MFA candiate in Poetry and incoming Blue Mesa Review Poetry Editor for 2018-19. Her poetry explores folklore, science, and the collective unconscious, and has appeared in Conceptions Southwest, Cloudthroat Journal, Lavender Review, and the Taos Journal of Poetry and Art.