No #AWP attendee can do a rundown of the event without talking about the goings-on outside of the conference center. Offsite, I enjoyed the company of crowds at The Loft party, had a terrible drink but was in good company at the Rain Taxi party, thoroughly enjoyed our successful Under the Gum Tree reading at Mason’s Barre (with at least 40 attendees!), and finished up with Phantom Drift’s fabulist reading. Phew! What a whirlwind. Can’t wait for LA 2016.
But now it’s time to get back down to earth, where I am working with some amazing writers doing revision.
Rebecca McClanahan, during panel S236: Narrative, Lyric, Hybrid: Crafting Essay Collections into Books, talked about the process of “deep and violent revision” that must happen for writers when they are designing a book. I noted that phrase, because it illuminates the pain and difficulty of the process of making something ready to go out and stand on its own in the world. (The panel also featured Renee D’Aoust, Peter Grandbois, Patrick Madden and Phillip Lopate, each of whom talked about how they assembled their collections.) Her phrase brought to mind being under the earth, where the roots of living things are.
In my capacity as editor, I know that working in our own pieces can sometimes feel like ditch-digging. Having an editor point out areas to be mined can feel like too much. I am always working towards making sure my writer-clients feel as little pain as possible during the process. To this end, we read other writers’ work and have conversations within the framework of those branches, listening to the rustle of the leaves/the language. And it is through the eager consumption of the sweet fruit other writers have borne that our own growth becomes less bitter.
Back to it.