The writer’s conference that could be

I fly out in about a week to attend the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association annual conference in Seattle. I’m excited, working on my pitch to agents, and a mite trepidatious about what I’ll find there. I’ve been to conferences before, sure, but no writer’s conference. As a quick recap, so far in my life, personal conference attendance has included:

The Popular Culture Association conference—This was held in the Chicago Hilton where they filmed the remake of The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford. It wasn’t the closest I’ve come to meeting Ford, since that distinction goes to the Arlington, Virginia location of the Capitol City Brewery, when Ford and I were seated only two tables apart. For what it’s worth, he seemed like a genuinely nice person. As far as the conference goes, I’ve never had so much fun at an event as this one, and I’m pretty sure it’s not just because I was a completely broke graduate student who subsisted on sneaking in at the ends of coffee hours to eat from the appetizer tables. There’s something about going to a conference where one is giving a paper on Single White Female in the next ballroom to a serious discussion regarding why Bugs Bunny cross-dressed that makes boring conference centers more lively. I like the academization of The X-Files.

National Association for Welfare Research and Statistics—This would have been one of the more dry conferences I’ve seen, except for the moment when a garden variety social worker called out a speaker from the Heritage Foundation on using misleading numbers to say that poor Americans don’t have it so bad because look, they have televisions and telephones. I never saw so many angry middle aged women in one place. The other great thing about this conference was that it took place in Madison, Wisconsin, and that turned out to be a very cute, charming town.

American Association for Public Opinion Research—May in Phoenix is not a good idea, and not just if one is a Latina migrant farmer. It’s bad all around. It should not be 106 degrees in May unless one is standing in a shadow on the surface of Mars. And that’s a bad idea because of the whole lack of oxygen thing. I did appreciate skipping one afternoon of the conference to go golfing with a colleague, and meeting James Brown (the sportscaster, not the king of funk) on the plane to Las Vegas. The workshops and panels, however, were really far from what I would call intellectually rigorous. Sorry, AAPOR, it’s true.

Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference—I love this conference like a younger sibling who doesn’t know how to behave. I don’t really get the hyphen in the title, either. Trans . . . health to not health? What is the trans connecting? Oh, transgender people! Then say it’s about the people, people. Anyway, this is a vital meeting up for the trans community, even as it quickly descends into near meat-market status, with folks checking out each others’ outfits for minimal levels of hipness and outsider status. The more buttons on one’s backpack, the better. And every time I attend this conference, I see middle-aged trans women walking alone, not nearly cool enough for the too cool for school kids. It makes my heart ache. The workshops here are hit and miss, but again, they’re some peoples’ only conduit of information off the Web and/or means of meeting other like-minded people. I try to remember that.

So what will PNWA 2010 be like, I wonder? Are there writers squirreled away in tiny corners of the Northwest, just waiting for their weekend of fun? Will everyone be more successful than me—a low bar, I grant that—or will there be other folks in similar situations to mine? Will I totally screw up and puke on an agent? I mean, I really want to be more socially adept than George H.W. Bush in Japan.

I’m sure it will go well. At least I’ll have my little finalist ribbon to wear around, looking as dorky yet proud as possible. And for giggles, I’ll try tweeting a few workshops if it’s not too interruptive to the panelists. If anyone’s interested, I’m 4evermore over on Twitter.

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Categories: ponderings


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4 Comments on “The writer’s conference that could be”

  1. July 14, 2010 at 11:12 am #

    This made me LOL. Seriously! You nailed the “highlights” of conference culture. I too, noted the hipster olympics thing, but it was at Southern Girls Convention.

    Also, I met HF once. He totally is a nice dude. In that seemingly crabby grandfatherly way. I think he’s probably been that way his entire life!

    • evmaroon
      July 16, 2010 at 11:46 am #

      I mean, aren’t conferences their own strange little microcosms of geekiness?

      I’m so glad you also had a positive interaction with HF! Other than that one Anne Heche movie, I’ve liked all his films.

  2. July 15, 2010 at 11:14 am #

    I wish I was going – so many good NW folks I want to meet in real life that I’ve met on Twitterville. I’ll be breathlessly waiting for your tweets! 🙂

    • evmaroon
      July 15, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

      I’ll be happy to provide them! I hope you make it out next year if you can’t this time around. I think actually meeting people will be great.

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