--YOU GIVE THE BEST HUGS EVER
…I’m back from AWP, L.A., 2016.
What a juggernaut that was/is/always is.
…By and large, writers are the nicest people you’ll ever meet. They’re kind and supportive, awkward sometimes, yes, but utterly wonderful. Even if you’re a poet and they write non-fiction, there’s still a bond, a life raft you both share. It’s instantaneous. One reason is because you both know what it’s like to struggle with words, what it’s like to feel unconfident even calling yourself a writer. You both wrestle with doubt and the steady stream of rejection, the Maybe-I really-do-suck days.
But you also know how it feels when you’ve written something that sings, that feels like your heart has leapt onto the page and made itself ink in the most beautiful way. You know the warm embrace of acceptance. And you know when a fellow writer has created something that slays the monster. You cheer her on. You say, “More. Give me more. Keep slinging the hot words.” In this was you are similar to Anne Lamott who confesses: “My love for good writing is like the way most people feel about the ocean.”
All of this makes for a schizophrenic trade/hobby/life/craft. And that’s why you can be in a convention center with 12,000—twelve THOUSAND--writers and have the enormity of it gracefully undercut by the fact that you share a special kinship with every other bookbag-handler zipping past.
This is your tribe. These are your people. Even the strangers, they are yours and you and theirs. And isn’t that a lucky thing? A very, rare thing? I think so.
Here are some of the people from my tribe that I ran into (if you’re one of them, thank you for being in my life in some way, big or small, no matter which):
Kathy Fish, Bill Yarrow, Matthew Guerruckey, Jayne Martin, Michael Seidlinger, David Atkinson, Steve Gowin, Temim Fruchter, Stefanie Lipsey, Michael Fillapone, Randall Brown, Jessica Amanda, Zoe Ruiz, Sara Fitzpatrick Comito, April Bradley, Gessy Alvarez, Cynthia Alvarez, Chris Allen, Joani Reese, Bonnie Zobell, Shaindel Beers, Sarah Chavez, Andrew Stancek, Alice Anderson, Jen Knox, Aspen Matis, Sam Snoek-Brown, John Wang, Lori Ostlund, Helene Cardona, Michele Filgate, Richard Peabody, Aaron Burch, Cameron Pierce, Kimberly Ann Southwick, Aubrey Hirsch, Kona Morris, Nancy Stohlman, Katharyn Grant, Wendy Ortiz, Antonia Crane, Aaron Dietz, Ross McKeekin, Jim Ruland, Andrew Stone, Meredith Alling, Anna March, Carol Reid, James Claffey, Gay Degani, Jody Paloni, Joanna Valente, Ben Tanzer, Heather Fowler, Michael Martone, Matt Bell, Melissa Febos, Brandy Wells, Andy Roe, Sandy Ebner…and some I’ve likely missed, but not these three especially special people--Karen Stefano, Bob Kaye, Robert Vaughan.