I know: It's an exciting day here in the USA. But whatever happens at the polls, life will go on. Which means, among other things, that the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) will continue to hold conferences, and writers will continue to need work. (Keep reading--you'll see the connections soon enough.)
AWP has recently posted the schedule for its next conference, slated for February 2009 in Chicago. I'm actually going to take a raincheck (or snowcheck, as the case may be) and skip the festivities this year. But it's always interesting to see which proposals survived to the final program, and which writers will be participating.
Since the start the twenty-first century, I've been a part of three "successful" panel proposals— and more than three that AWP turned down. For last winter's 2008 conference, which was held in New York, my would-be co-panelists and I thought we had come up with a terrific idea: a panel on nonteaching job opportunities for writers in colleges and universities. The five of us, all MFA grads, are employed in postsecondary institutions in writing-intensive positions. AWP says that it's interested in conference proposals on "career advancement," including "jobs within and outside academe," and we thought we had a fresh and useful take on the subject.
Well, the AWP Conference powers-that-were must have seen it differently. They rejected our proposal. That's when Stubborn Erika ("The Taurus"), supported by the others, decided to take the idea elsewhere.
I approached my editors at The Writer magazine with an article pitch. You may have seen the result, "MFA Grads Find Nonteaching Jobs on Campus," in the November 2008 issue. The article is (if I may say so myself) chock full of insights from Matt O'Donnell (MFA in poetry, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro; currently associate editor, Bowdoin Magazine); Gregg Rosenblum (MFA in fiction, Emerson College; currently editor, Office of Career Services, Harvard University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences); Margaret von Steinen (MFA in poetry, Western Michigan University; currently Prague Summer Program coordinator and communications officer for WMU's Diether H. Haenicke Institute for Global Education); and Gabriel Welsch (MFA in fiction, The Pennsylvania State University; currently assistant vice president for marketing, Juniata College).
And if you haven't caught the article in The Writer, well, today is your lucky day! You can now find the text on my Web site as well. Just click here and scroll down to the "MFA Grads Find Nonteaching Jobs on Campus" link. Enjoy!