The knowledge that I have a teaching job, a job I like, but it's not the best job, in a variety of ways. (If nothing else, it could pay better.) There are people here with better jobs, people interviewing for better jobs, and it's hard not to wonder if I should be out there too, trying to get a better job, even though it would likely mean picking up and moving away, which is perhaps not even possible this year, or the next, or for years to come. I have made a decision, made an investment in staying in this place, with this job, and I do like it in many ways. But it could be better.
And worse, the knowledge that so many writers (thousands, I think) at this sold-out convention are here to shill, to network, to market themselves and their work, and maybe I should be doing that too, I should be trying to make connections. But I kind of hate that whole process, it gives me a headache, and I would much rather hang out with my grad school friends and teachers, find out what they've been up to, see photos of their kids.
Oh, I'm doing a bit of DesiLit networking, but that's mostly not for me; it's to support South Asian writers, especially those who are feeling lonely and brown in an often overwhlemingly white space. It'd be nice to talk about my last book (but that came out seven years ago), or the next one (which isn't written yet, much less published), but mostly, I'd like to know more about them, about their work, what I should be reading, what our book club should be reading, what's going on that's exciting now, what's their inspiration, what do they need, how can I help them?
That's what I'm going to try to focus on, seeing friends and making new ones. I'll attend some panels -- there's one on Middle Eastern writing that sounds interesting, another on creating and sustaining a culturally-specific reading series, a third on post-Orientalist travel writing. Hopefully I'll learn something. And I'll try not to think about the fact that I haven't finished a book I'm happy with in seven years.
Oh, I've written books -- one mainstream literary novel, one nonfiction travelogue / memoir, one YA fantasy . But I'm not satisfied with any of them. And the new book, the erotic SF novel-in-stories, which is so not a respectable sort of thing to talk about at AWP, is only a third written. This summer, I'm not teaching and the kids are in school; with luck, there will be endless days to finish one book, and revise three others. Maybe get to that mystery novel I've been pondering, off and on. That's the plan.
In the meantime, this AWP isn't going to be about business, not this year. Hopefully it can be fun; at least I can show my friends photos of my cute kids. I'll make new friends -- if you see me, come up, say hi, please. And maybe next year, there will be agents and publishers to talk of too. That would be good.
Deep breath. Let's go.