Welcome to The AWP Diaries, a glance into Publisher Cindy DiTiberio’s first AWP conference experience. Each day this week, we’ll share a bit about what a single day looked like when she was at AWP. Here’s a look at Day 2:
7:45am Wake up, get ready for the day and head out in search of breakfast.
8:15am The line at Starbucks seems too long so I go to the NY Deli next door and order a bagel egg and sausage breakfast sandwich. Their coffee looks iffy so I go in search for a different place for a cup of joe. I wander into Spruce Cafe but they are a fancy pour over place that costs $4 a cup so I text a friend whom I’m meeting up with and ask whether she can grab a cup of coffee for me from her hotel’s free breakfast. She confirms she can and we plan to meet at the Convention Center.
9:00am Sit and eat my breakfast sandwich while waiting for my friend. Note how long the line is for registration that my friend will have to wind through.
9:10am My friend texts to ask where I am. I say: follow the sound of the steel drums. I am at a table over in their direction.
9:11am Find my friend who I haven’t seen since November. We hug and she hands me my coffee. Actually I grab the coffee first, grateful to have some caffeine to put in my system. We sit and chat, waiting for friend #2 to arrive from the airport and then we will all wait and weave through the long registration line together.
9:20am Friend #2 arrives. These are fellow mom writers from the bay area but I haven’t seen them since November. We get into line and start catching up while waiting to reach the front. They both have books coming out in September one week apart and are planning to do some events together.
9:35am We try to sneak into a panel on how to best spend money to promote your book but it is too crowded so we decide to head back to my hotel so my friend can freshen up and drop off her luggage.
12-1pm I hang out and man the Literary Mama table in the book fair. I meet Caroline Grant, who was our editor-in-chief from 2009 to 2014 and is now the founder and manager of the Sustainable Arts Foundation. I meet Brianna Avenia-Tapper, our Profiles editor, for the first time in person despite working together virtually for almost a year. So many women swing by to share their stories of writing for Literary Mama. One says we were the first place to publish her and it gave her the confidence to apply for an MFA in screenwriting and now she’s a screenwriter! Other organizations that support mother writers swing by and tell us what they are doing (post forthcoming on that!). My friends grab me a salad from the concession stand to eat before I head to my very first panel.
1:45-3:00pm Panel: Writing with Care: The Intersection of Memoir, Activism, and Caregiving with Minna Dubin, Angela Garbes, Sarah Jaffe and Shannon Carpenter
A wonderful discussion about how caregiving factors into their writing and whether they meant to become activists or whether it is just an offshoot of what they are writing about. Honest discussion of the publishing world and how sometimes the book you want to write has to pivot to fit what publishers are hoping to publish. I hang out afterward to meet Angela Garbes in person (she is soooo wonderful) and to chat with Shannon Carpenter, who ends up being one of the only men I speak to all weekend.
3:30pm Head back down to the LM table to see if they need anything from me before the event tonight. Meet fellow senior editor Rudri Patel for the first time and enjoy chatting with her.
4:00-5:30pm Chill in hotel
5:30pm Uber to Third Place Books Ravenna for a reading of Ariel Gore’s School for Wayward Writers. Luckily this is a very short walk to the Literary Mama Turns 20 event that starts at 7.
7-9pm Literary Mama Turns 20! This turns out to be a great event with a packed house in the downstairs Ballast Bar at Capitol Cider. Thanks to local Literary Mama Fiction Editor Sarah Dalton to finding the location and handling all the logistics and then MC’ing the event! Jill Christman reads first, initially a short excerpt from her beloved essay “The Sloth,” and then an excerpt from her book If This Were Fiction, about her daughter getting a googly eye stuck up her nose. A great way to start the night, with lots of laughs. Before the event, Jill shared with me that she began reading Literary Mama right from the start and knowing that she wanted to publish in a place like LM fueled her writing in the early years.
Then Minna Dubin reads from her forthcoming book, Mom Rage, an excerpt about how frustrating it was to have her other identities erased when she became “mom” and how she rebelled against that and tried to make room for herself, her queerness, and her writing while within motherhood.
Jody Keisner reads a beautiful piece about a runaway mother and her daydreaming about following suit. Cheryl Klein reads from her book Crybaby about a birth mother who strings her along and then ghosts her and the roller coaster of trying to hope that this relationship might lead to a baby.
Finally, LM staff and former staff read excerpts from our forthcoming anthology, including Brianna Avenia-Tapper, Jenny Bartoy, Sarah Dalton, Cindy DiTiberio, and Caroline Grant. It is a special night but I am exhausted when it wraps up so I hitch a ride back to the convention center with Jenny Bartoy and her local friends and then collapse in bed.
Come back tomorrow to read more of Cindy’s experience at AWP!