Hello from Seattle! I flew out here with Whitney – our first solo trip since my emergency open-heart surgery last year. This was a major milestone, and I’m not ashamed to admit I was pretty anxious about it before we left. The flight was loooong, and already at takeoff Whitney decided she didn’t like her spot under the seat in front of us. Good thing the passengers next to us loved dogs –Whit was a bit of a sprawler. I was thrilled to hear our Seattle friend Greg calling out my name at baggage claim after we landed, and Whitney was happy to see him, too. She had to go, if you know what I mean.
I brought a Magic 8-Ball as a gift to thank Greg for picking us up, and I almost didn’t get it through security – to many ounces of fluid, doncha know. It got through on a technicality – they regarded it as a snowglobe, and snowglobes recently got approved by the TSA. In exchange for his Magic 8-Ball, Greg treated me to a couple of Seattle micro-brews (Mack & Jack’s lager – yum!) at the hotel bar before Whit and I settled into our room.
I’m here to attend the annual conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) here in hopes of finding a publisher for my next book
All the snow and ice in Chicago this winter has had one (and probably, only one!) benefit: it provided a lot of time to stay inside and write. I made major progress on the book I’m writing about the memoir classes I lead for Chicago senior citizens, and Whitney and I will spend a lot of time at the AWP book fair going table to table to talk about my new project to anyone who will listen. (By the way, it’s in the 50s, sunny and I’m not wearing snow boots.)T
My author friend Audrey Petty encouraged me to do this, explaining that AWP is the perfect place to come with a writing project that isn’t quite finished. Publishers and other writers I meet might like my idea and give me guidance on how to shape it differently or rework it somehow before it’s entirely finished.
You might remember Audrey from blog posts I’ve written about her before. She started thinking about doing an oral history of people who’d lived in high rise public housing back in 2008, and after McSweeney’s took notice, she spent most of the past three years under their guidance, tracking down former residents of Chicago’s housing projects and interviewing them for High Rise Stories: Voices From Chicago Public Housing, published by McSweeney’s Voice of Witness series late last year.
The conference doesn’t start until tomorrow, and I’ll meet up with Audrey then. She’s invited Whitney and me to come as her guests to the McSweeney’s cocktail party tomorrow night. Before then Whitney and I need to learn our way to the lobby from our room on the 26th floor of this absolutely huge hotel blocks away from the convention center. (Whitney is in front of our floor-to-ceiling windows enjoying the view as I type this blog post.) Once we tackle finding our way through the lobby, we’ll tackle making our way the four blocks to the convention center. I figure if I register before the conference starts they might let me in to figure out the lay of the land ahead of time. That way I’ll feel much more comfortable going table to table at the book fair tomorrow, asking each person there who they are and what they do, and then leaving my business card (it even has my name in Braille on it) to anyone who takes interest. Wish us luck!