By Simmons Buntin
For Terrain.org, it’s difficult to measure success at a conference like the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference and bookfair, which this year drew well over 11,000 people. We’re not selling books or broadsides or subscriptions, so there’s no financial gauge. Instead, we’re promoting access to our online journal, which is free (and ad-free); talking with publishers about review, excerpt, and content-sharing possibilities; and mostly encouraging writers who have never heard of us to submit, though like most journals we can accept so little of what we receive.
This year felt to me a lot like New York, when we were on the third floor. It was a lovely space, but two flights up from the main bookfair area and didn’t get much traffic. In Boston, the second floor clearly didn’t get as much foot traffic as the first, and that’s a problem since we pay the same amount. But the projector and screen worked out well, and though I’m not sure it helped draw folks over from across the vast room, it did at least catch peoples’ attention as they walked the long rows.
I do feel like we made some great connections, helped get the word out on our unique journal, which has been publishing online for more than 15 years, and learned a good bit about how to approach the next conference (whether AWP in Seattle in 2014 or something/somewhere else).
As always, however, the biggest benefit, both organizationally and for me personally, is recharging through reconnecting. To catch up with Terrain.org editors Derek Sheffield and Andy Gottlieb, Terrain.org editorial board members Kate Miles and David Rothenberg and Erik Hoffner, ASLE and place-based writers such as Janine DeBaise and Susan Cohen and John Price and Joe Wilkins, Orion editors Chip Blake, Jennifer Sahn, Hannah Fries, and the rest of the gang; meet or see again so many of our wonderful contributors; and catch up with old compatriots like Teague Bohlen and Lauren Eggert-Crowe – that’s the real value. I am grateful beyond words for those lasting relationships.
They will sustain me until our next gathering, at which we will of course steal the show.
Photo by Simmons B. Buntin.