Change will do you good

I just returned from my first AWP writing conference in Chicago, at 1:30 a.m this morning. I’m exhausted, but feeling flush with new ideas. I attended presentations on blogging and book publicity, meeting the dynamic writer Brendan Constantine at the latter, who told stories of stuffing publicity postcards in newspapers, and on brochure racks at hotels. In other words, anything goes! It was inspiring.

Also inspired by talking to poet Gerry LaFemina, who gave me advice as my first book goes to press: always be thinking ahead to how to improve your writing, how to get to the next level. Most writers I know seem to think of themselves as belonging to a certain genre – fiction or poetry – and the way MFA programs are organized seems to promote that division. I’ve thought of myself as just a poet for so long, that attempting anything else is scary. But I decided that next, I’m going to write a novel. Just to see what’s in there.

On the subject of new ventures, I love this excerpt from David Brendan Hopes’ A Sense of the Morning:

You must hike past the end of the road, for while you’re on the road you’re still in control. Adam made it; Adam’s smell pervades it. You must, as Ezekiel said, go up into the gaps. You hike past the farthest point you’ve known before. Of course it is beautiful, but that’s not why you go. It may be the first step you’ve ever taken beyond, and if so you are very lucky.

Go hungry if you can.

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