Last Thursday I flew into LA for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs aka #AWP16. I stayed at the Milner Hotel (about a 15 minute walk to the convention center). The first day I ate some food at Big Wangs, solo dolo, came back to the hotel and passed out. I woke up, called an uber and went to the Book Show, a cool independent bookstore, to watch a bunch of book readings. I got to see some impressive readings from old and new friends such as Gabino Iglesias, J. David Osborne, Rios De La Luz, David James Keaton, and Cameron Pierce. I linked up with a few of the people above and we cruised over to Angel City Brewery had a few beers and talked about life. It was a cool open space with tons of crisp graffiti and interesting food trucks and vendors outside.
Friday, I grabbed a smoothie from Whole Foods and ventured over to the convention center to actually see what AWP was about. There are rows upon rows of tables full of publishers, mfa programs, vendors, etc. It’s a bit overwhelming. Everyone wants to know if you write fiction and/or poetry, and wants you to buy their books. I linked up with Laura Lee Bahr and she introduced me to a bunch of people including Francesca Lia Block before bringing me over to the Eraserhead table. It was cool to link up with everyone again. Brian Allen Carr and Andrew James Stone invited me out to lunch and we had some great seafood. I went back to AWP and bought way too many books. Later on, a big group of us went to The Stocking Frame, a moody restaurant for the LitReactor/Broken River Books after party. We all sort of floated around and decided not to go to the reading afterwards because there were may too many readers and it would’ve been exhausting sitting through that.
Saturday, I grabbed another smoothie and a pitaya bowl from Whole Foods. Some random lady stopped me to ask about the bowl and we had a good laugh. I went back to AWP and ran into Brian Allen Carr again. He invited me out for some sushi with a friend of his. If you’re ever in LA, go to Sugarfish. The sushi was spectacular. I drifted around AWP the rest of the afternoon and bought a few more books. I attended a panel featuring Aimee Bender and a few others about weirdness in fiction. It was jam-packed and had me thinking about the weird aspects of crowd. Then I went to the Etheria Film Fest VIP party with Andrew James Stone. We walked in and there were a ton of people dressed up as horror characters and a random kid dressed in a Michael Jackson type jacket doing backflips across the room. Ron Jeremy was chillin on a chair with a small posse. He dipped out about five minutes later and I swear the party got extra lame. They started letting everyone and anyone in. David Agranoff and I decided to be petty-next door and made fun of random people dancing. We went outside where all the cool kids were and chilled. Andrew and I dipped out, picked up M.P. Johnson and looked for the AWP rooftop party downtown. We tried to get in the side to avoid the line, but a guy stopped us and informed us that the party had ended at 9 pm. I guess literary types can’t stay up late.
Sunday, I grabbed yet another smoothie and the people over at Whole Foods knew my name by this point. I laid around the hotel and listened to music before I copped an uber to Dark Delicacies for my first book signing. There were a bunch of other cool bizarro writers signing books too. I sat in between Michael Kazepis and Bix Skahill (I still need to write a book for him) and we cracked jokes and attempted to sell some books. I only sold a couple, but it was still a fun time. I dipped out a half hour early to join Laura Lee Bahr and friends for sangria.
I came away from #AWP16 feeling all sorts of feels. Shout out to Laura Lee Bahr, Andrew James Stone, and Brian Allen Carr for keeping me company the majority of the convention. And shoutout to all my other people (you know who you are). Now I’m motivated, inspired, and ready to finish a couple books I’ve slowly been chipping away.