Being a writer means sometimes being a little awkward. I’m awkward, you’re most likely awkward, the people sitting next to you in your writing classes are most likely awkward. And that’s okay, that just means we have a better chance of understanding each other. And while you’re at AWP 98 percent of the people you’ll meet will most likely be a little off center as well. So don’t worry if this happens to you:
I smiled wide and said, “Hey, how are you?”
The lady who sat behind the large table just blinked at me, her wide eyes just staring. I stared back and I stood there in the silence wondering if I could just dash away and start over again. She pushed her lit magazine towards me. “Are you going to buy a copy?” she said.
I looked at her again, the silence was horrible, while everyone around us was loud and vibrant. I bought a copy. It was five dollars.
This wasn’t the last time I had an awkward interaction with someone. Even when I was working behind the table of BULL lit mag there were several people that just came up to me and wouldn’t look me in the eye or respond to anything I said. And that’s okay, sometimes that type of social situation happens, but just be prepared for it.
Here are some helpful hints that you might want to follow if you ever go to his wonderful convention!
Don’t introduce yourself right off the bat, if you do someone people think that you’re just there to sell your work. Partially that’s kind of why you came to AWP, but you mostly went because you want to learn something, make connections within the community, and/or see old friends that you can’t visit on the regular!
If you’re trying to network remember that you’re a person, they’re a person and we all like being people together and that’s how you actually network. They want to know that you don’t just want to be there for your own good but for the well being of writers in general. Part of being in the community is supporting each other, if you support them they are more likely to support you. And you begin to build a web.
Try to put yourself out there, go to panels, talk to the people next to you, talk to the people around you at the book fair. If you don’t try, you won’t make friends! And it’s worth it, I promise.
And remember that we’re all human. It’s okay to be awkward because we can all be awkward. Just put yourself out there, be nice to others and continue writing.