This week, while thousands of writers descended upon Tampa, FL, for the annual AWP conference, I remained snug in my own town, following the elation (meeting other writers, giving panels and readings) and exhaustion via Twitter. I went to AWP in 2013, and made the classic mistakes of going to too many panels and parties. I couldn't talk by the end of the conference (and for a day or two after), I was so worn out. (Thus the tender introvert.) After, I swore I would never attend another, but the next one is in Portland, OR, (so close!) and I would see my VCFA peeps and meet some of the writers who have inspired me so much, plus soak up all that literary magic. Do I dare?
As far as reading goes this week, I chipped away at The Gentleman in Moscow (I find it charming, but perhaps too charming?) and dipped into a couple of book reviews at the New York Times. But what I really want to mention is my long-standing habit of reading advice columns. Certain advice columns. I've read Dear Prudence and Carolyn Hax for years. In the early days, I was in search of how to handle life's stickier points (I was a gentle soul, easily pushed over), but now I read for a front row seat on humanity--and story ideas. Holy cow, are these columns a rich resource! You're welcome.
Writing was a bust this week. I wrestled with the start of my novel, at first tweaking words (this is a nervous habit in a first draft, like biting nails or picking at split-ends) and then realizing that those first paragraphs are nothing but summary, g-d it. On a long walk yesterday, listening to writerly podcasts, I came up with another, more intriguing angle. I need to stop fussing over details and just write.
Usually I get a lot of my writing and reading in on Friday night (such is my social life), but this week I was glued to online news and Twitter as a hostage situation in Yountville proved the worst possible outcome. The Napa community lost three stars. I lost someone I knew, and the people closest to these amazing women have suffered life-altering devastation. None of us can believe this happened.