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Starting a blog: my first AWP

I've a hard time starting a blog because, to be honest, I don't think that what I have to say is so important anyone else would need to read it. I know, ironic for an author to think that. When I'm writing fiction, it's different though. that isn't me speaking, it's my characters and their story. They have something worth reading, and they create a deeper connection that might resonate with someone. Me on the other hand, my opinions feel much less universally important.

So, why then, you may ask, bother starting a blog? Why spend the time agonizing over what someone on the internet might glean from my aimless stream of conscious? Because I was told to. If you learn only one thing about me, you should know, I'm generally a rule follower.

I love being given directions, or a check list. My favorite thing is not having to make a decision that might end up being the wrong one. Just tell me what to do and I'm there... mostly. (I have, on occasion, been known to break a rule I think it bias, or unjust, or just stupid.) But with this– with writing and trying to get published– give me a damn handbook and I will follow it to the letter.

This year I as able to attend my first AWP conference. I've been wanting to go for years, but I never had the time, or money, or someone to go with. This was the year it finally worked out. A friend from my writing group was able to go and we made a plan and took off for Seattle. This trip came on the tail of the hardest trauma I've experienced (but that's for another blog) and because of that, I was looking for an immersive distraction. Anything to take my mind off my grief. AWP ended up being so much more than that.

My graduate program at the University of Tampa was the first time in my life where I didn't feel silly calling myself an author. It was the first time I talked about my novel and didn't feel like people were looking at me as if I was a naive child. The other writers there understood the work and the desire for publication. I've been searching for that feeling since I graduated. I found it in small doses through my writing group, but being at AWP was like I had been thrown back into school for a week. (If you weren't able to guess, I love school.)

At AWP I went to panels about debut novelists, acquiring an agent, and getting published. Each of them talked about, to some degree, about letting people get to know you. Something I have been afraid of for years. When you grow up a bit of a nerd and a lot of an introvert, the idea of letting people get to know you is quake in your boots material– especially on the internet. We all know the internet is the kindest, most wholesome place that never attacks people or crushes their self esteem... right?

Yet here I am, starting this blog in an attempt to let people (agents?) get to know me as more than a query letter. And maybe those people (reader?) might like me and seek out my writing. Maybe I'll find some new source of community by putting this out there, or maybe I wont. maybe this will just be an outlet for my personal thoughts that other people happen to read? Whatever outcome occurs, I have AWP to thank. And I have AWP to thank for inspiring me to start submitting my short stories again, and dream in an almost realist sense that I might have something worth saying or sharing with other people.

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