Ask Avant is a series in which award-nominated internet persona Avant Garcia helps everyday people by imparting wisdom from the Council of Hedgehogs. Today's advisee is Klassnik from the Teahouse.
i don’t know what to do with myself. i’m not going to AWP. does anything else matter??? what should i do ?? @AvantGarcia: HELP!!!
— bird / BIRD / bird (@Klassnik) April 6, 2015
The first time I went to AWP, it was in Denver, and there was a giant blue bear outside of the convention center. As soon as I saw that , I knew I never wanted to miss another conference. In subsequent years, I’ve hardly seen any humungous animals lingering outside the conference, but I guess every AWP has been more or less a life-changing experience that I will never forget.
Unfortunately, this year, I’ll be unable to attend, as we live in a cruel, capitalist society that demands exchange of money for goods and services, and I have very little money. Like you, I too have been panicking about how I’m going to make it through the next few days.
There are several articles on how to survive AWP, of course, but relatively few on how to survive without AWP, and most of those have to do with not looking at Twitter (which is impossible). I think what this means is that there’s no actual way to survive outside of the conference; not attending is essentially a death sentence. Like the God of the Old Testament, the God of Writing is vengeful and jealous, and He shall smite those that defy His will.
So the only way you can truly survive outside of the conference is by attending the conference. But if you can’t attend, how do you attend? Simple: you attend.
Here are some ways you can attend, even if you can’t attend.
1. Have friends wear a mask of your face.
This has long been my strategy. It’s well-known that the God of Writing, vengeful and jealous as He is, doesn’t have very good eyesight. If He sees at least someone that looks like you at the conference, you should be fine. This is also one of the reasons that so many writers tend to dress alike.
2. Skype with someone in attendance and have them carry the phone around in their pocket, a la Her.
If you have access to Skype or Facetime or some other face-projecting program, ask a writer you love to carry you around in their pocket while they attend panels and check out the book fair. Just be sure they don’t fall in love with you (unless you want them to).
3. Use astral projection.
This is probably the most practical choice, as it requires no internet connection and no hardware, just a honed ability to transcend our physical plane of existence and a large number of candles.
4. Start your own AWP Conference.
Trademark laws aside, there’s absolutely no reason you can’t simply gather up all your stuffed animals and start your own AWP Conference. You probably won’t be able to get too many big name writers to attend, but I’m pretty sure Steve Almond is always down for this kind of thing if you give him a couch to sleep on and unrestricted access to your fridge.
5. Sacrifice ten lambs to Jonathan Franzen.
Franzen, the Lord of Fiction and the 2015 Winner of the Jonathan Franzen Prize in Fiction, will intercede on your behalf with the God of Writing, but only if you commit a ritual sacrifice to quench his unceasing thirst for animal blood.
More than anything, though: remember to keep your head down, and there’s always next year. Best of luck.
If you need advice, tweet your questions to @Queenmobs or @AvantGarcia.