March 6, 2014 § Leave a comment
Standing in front of the live tweet wall outside the AWP Bookfair in Seattle this weekend, I realized something: We’re not on Walden Pond anymore. (In fact, Thoreau would probably be “Thoreau-ly” disgruntled at the social media presence.) This year’s tweets aren’t from birds on solitary lakes in the woods. This year’s tweets come from writers in real time, recording their experiences.
The Twitter presence at the AWP Bookfair this year seems a lot stronger than in past years—there’s the live tweet wall, where tweets with #AWP14 are posted, (“#AWP14 is all hugs and books and hugs and books and hugs”, for example, and “Thought this couple was breaking up (desperate kisses & ‘I love you’s’) but no—just separating to use the restrooms #AWP14.”) There’s also a Tweet Up, where people who are live-tweeting AWP can meet in person. Some journals offer prizes to conference-goers who tweet pictures win prizes. (Red Hen was offering free candy. Sarabande Books offered 25% off any book if conference-goers tweeted pictures of a “Hustle” tattoo.)
In the spirit of the tweeting writers, I’ll include my two cents on the AWP Bookfair in 40 characters or less:
@AWPwriter Writing advice at the One Story table: “Marry rich.” #writertruth #AWP14
@AWPwriter Happy small presses offer review copies. #starvingforpubs #AWP14
@AWPwriter In Bookfair aisle: Rejections from writers on each side. #writertruth #starvingforpubs #seriouslystarvingforpubs
@AWPwriter The NEA asks: “Why Do You Write?” Answer: “For the fuzzy animals.” #alsomymomreadsmywork
@AWPwriter Haiku board at The Southeast Review: “Short short contest runs/Each year until Mar. 15th/Risk is way worth it
@AWPwriter Overheard at AWP: She’s the writer. I’m the muse #Oregonstatemfabooth
@AWPwriter Overheard at AWP: How many berets have you counted?
@AWPwriter Overheard at AWP: If u want 2 write commercial fiction, write commercials.
@AWPwriter So many books, so many writers. #litnerdutopia #
This Twitter presence might be forming out of sometimes solitary artists’ need to belong. At Hedgebrook, conference-goers used #equalvoice to explain how they support women writers: “I support #equalvoice by being an active listener”, “Helping girls and women find their writing voices”, and “Writing for the silent.”
Community formed in other ways, too: Kaya Press and Writlarge Press worked to bring writers the opportunity to create three-minute-art. Writers were encouraged to write at an old-fashioned typewriter and write for three minutes. At the end of the day, each piece was compiled into a group of anthologies. At the Seattle Arts and Lectures booth, writers could create erasure poems by taking a piece of text and erasing each word except the ones that will make up the poems. At Hoot, writers rolled a giant die to win prizes, including copies of the postcard-sized literary journal. One booth even had writing-related fortunes for conference-goers: “Expect some deus ex machina today.”
Interactive Bookfair booths connect writers to each other. The interactivity served a greater purpose best articulated by Antioch University Los Angeles. “Community, not competition.”
Allison Pinkerton is an MFA student studying fiction at the University of Central Florida. Her fiction has appeared in damselfly press and VENICE Magazine. Her short screenplay, Neverland Lost, was a finalist in the 2013 SoCal Independent Film Festival.