Monday, December 01, 2014

Holding back the tears ~ aka. The 19th AAWP Conference...

So, here I am on the second day of the big conference. It has been amazing. Mostly just because there are other people in the world just like me! You know the old trope of the lonely writer, well, that's probably not true for everyone, not strictly true. I have many friends and acquaintances, good friends, people I feel lucky to know (you guys know who you are, I think). Having said that, none of them are writers trying to break into the academy. Some of my acquaintances are, and hopefully we'll be able to form friendships as time passes, but even so, these are not people I see all the time, and being acquaintances, I'm only just getting to know them, and them me, so it is hard to know how they are experiencing the entire three ring circus that is pursuing one's creative writing impetus, but also attempting to be recognised as a scholar, and even more so a pedagog.

But here, at this conference, I've found others like me, which the same thoughts and feelings, and fears, and even tears.

I've been so inspired hearing what others are working on, and I have been told I have inspired others as well, which is really lovely (and, as always unexpected, today someone singled me out in a room, and I thought she was talking to the person next to me, because I couldn't believe anyone would be inspired by my work, hahaha)!

This morning I attended a panel on being a sessional tutor, and one of the delegates cried when expressing her frustration at not being able to find any security in the academy. She, like me, has only ever wanted to teach creative writing, and like me she is in her 40s, and like me, she has children, and like her I just wanted to cry because I feel her fear. There were no words of reassurance than there would be any security in any of our futures. In fact, we were encouraged to have no fantasies of security in the academy, because even those with a semblance of security, only have that security provisionally. We were encouraged to know what we ultimately wanted to and go for that. We were encouraged to support one another - which can be so difficult in what is often a dog-eat-dog environment. We were encouraged to stand together, and I volunteered to take part in an effort to set recommendations for improving the conditions of sessionals in creative writing. So, there was hope, in action.

80% of the panel from this morning, including some of my favourite academics, mostly because of their generosity and their dedication to making the academy a friendly, inclusive place for Candidates! I want to be like these guys!

The second panel I attended today was on failure and creativity, that was actually far for upbeat than  had expected it to be, and I felt a new resilience in the knowledge that all writers fail, but we can choose how and why we fail, as a matter of practice and/or perception.

The third session I attended this conference (after two yesterday, one of which I presented in), was on various forms of reality hopping, and it was very inspiring to hear about different kinds of writing which hop across reality, either in time, or form or language. This session has seeded some inspiration for writing.

I have come back to my room now, and skipped a keynote speech and a book launch because we have the conference dinner at 8pm tonight, and I am already feeling quite exhausted. It has been such an emotional roller coaster today.

I have other stuff to say on travelling on my own (and how I'm not actually dying, and I may even be enjoying it, just a little bit...), but I'm going to leave that for another time because right now, I just want to have a coffee and a lay down!

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Good Job!