Right as covid hit, I went to AWP (a national writing conference) for the first time. Half the panels were gone. Half of the bookfair was gone. I talk about it more in this post.
Since covid is still going strong, AWP went virtual this year. I was nervous about it since ACES—which turned virtual last minute in 2020—was okay but didn’t feel like the full conference. I liked how DV Con did theirs, but AWP isn’t going to make a Discord any time soon. So…how did it turn out?
AWP had hundreds of panels going on. They recorded most about a month in advance, but the panelists were in the chat to talk, answer questions, and more. Some panels were live though, and you got invited into a Zoom meeting. You didn’t need a camera or a mic. We used break out rooms and the chat box to talk.
The best part about it being prerecorded is that I can go back and see the panels I missed. I don’t have to worry about missing information that might’ve been useful.
Each panel was also accessible with captions. Some even had ASL interpreting. Most of the panels and panelists were diverse as well. I got to hear from many different voices that I don’t hear from often.
Connecting to other writers
I’ve connected to many writers on social media. Writers also connected to each other in chat, giving out handles, websites, and books. Am I going to connect to these writers as much as I have through DV Con? I’m not sure. I prefer the breakout Discord channels, but I do think I made a few good connections.
I prefer this virtual bookshop to what AWP had before. At AWP last year, I lost a table number and ended up not being able to find an author’s book.
I do wish that the bookshop was organized like DV Con’s where each panel had its own section. Right now, it’s split up by last name into two main sections with over 400 books in each section. So, command+F is essential to find a book. There are a few other smaller sections, but those are for the Writer to Writer programs, award winners, etc.
They also had virtual Zoom booths to meet authors, publishers, and colleges. I got so busy that I didn’t get to do any of it.
Pricing is a bit up there. I registered early, and I’m also a member of AWP, so I got a discount for that. I paid $70 for the whole experience. That’s about the same as what I paid when I went to AWP in person. But I got more out of my money this time since I’ve been able to go to more panels, can rewatch panels, etc.
AWP is good. It has a lot of advice and words of wisdom for writers at all levels. I hope they keep it more accessible since travel can be hard. I also hope they keep it to where I can rewatch the panels I missed.