The common cultural image of the writer is largely defined by solitude. When non-writers think of those who have dedicated their life to the written word, the first image that usually pops into their mind is one of some melancholy figure, poverty-stricken and lonely, scribbling away ecstatically in some basement, with eyes illuminated by candle light and red-rimmed from drinking. Anyone who actually does a lot of writing, though, knows that this illustration of the writing life—so popular in film and television—is largely a myth. Sure, writing is a lonely endeavor that usually requires long mornings or evenings alone and a life that that is usually plagued by financial struggle, but writer’s are also part of a community of other craftsmen; and their relationships with one another are usually what help push creative types forward in their craft. For Seattle writers interested in engaging with this community on a national scale, a wonderful opportunity will be in town next week. The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) the largest such organization in the United States, will be holding a conference next week for both published and unpublished writers in a city-wide celebration of writing. According to the AWP, the organization supports “over 500 colleges and universities, 100 writers’ conferences and centers, and thousands of individual writers as members.” The conference will unfold over four days, from February 26 to March 1st. The days will host a number of readings by established authors, opportunities for writing programs and schools to publicize their courses, and create
an all-around environment for writers to engage and network. According to the event’s website, last year’s conference was attended by over 12,000 readers and writers, and over 650 programs presented at the book fair. This particular year the conference is hosting a massive amount of established writers, far too many to name here, and writing programs. Some of the most notable speakers, however, include Tobias Wolff, Amy Tan, Gary Snyder, Annie Proulx, and Sherman Alexie, among many others. For those of us interested in getting published or becoming involved with the publishing world, the event will also host hundreds of tables of literary magazines and publishers, both large and small. The conference is also a great way to score cheap literary magazines and make connections with local publishers. Apart from the conference itself, the city will also be sure to host a number of independent readings and gathering for those who are attending the event. For those interested, visit the event’s website and register online.