It’s all over but the long lines at hotel checkout, the cab stands, and the airport. 

On Saturday, I went to three panels. I rounded out the last of my (always) excessive book fair purchases. I said hello and tried to talk meaningfully with a few people I hadn’t yet seen. That is so hard to do on Saturday. We are all hungover on Saturday. We are over-stimulated. We are full of AWP-love or AWP-sadness or AWP-apathy by Saturday.

First, I heard Dinty W. Moore, Sue Williams Silverman, Elena Passarello, and Michael Martone discuss the hows and whys of including famous people in one’s nonfiction (and sometimes even fiction). It was a funny and informative panel, and at the end some guy shouted across the auditorium that he needed his question answered immediately about someone I’d never heard of soliciting him for sex a million years ago. I might have those details wrong. 

Next, four women writers on non-narrative nonfiction read from their work: Joni Tevis, Brenda Miller, Julie Patterson, and Kimberley Myers. The writing was personal and lyrical and the panel ran long, which is really something that should never happen, especially not at 4 on Saturday.

Finally, Sean Prentiss, Robin Hemley, and Nancer Ballard on speculation in nonfiction. Nancer handed out a list of 21 scenarios (several of which came with examples) wherein speculation was acceptable, and could be used without crossing into deception, deceit, or other criminal nonfiction acts. Sean read a Judith Kitchen essay on writing what you don’t know. And I am sorry, but I forgot what Robin said, because by then, I was almost deliriously exhausted and my brain was too full for anymore information. Luckily, he read from his essay in Far Edges of the Fourth Genre, so when I get home, I can re-read it. 

I was so tired last night that I did not go out. I went to a quiet dinner alone, then, back in my room, I stacked up all of my book fair purchases and marveled at them. I thought on all the hard work and dedication and magic and sweat and tears each book represented, I thought of all of the amazing people I was fortunate enough to meet, or spend time with (again), or even just grin and hug in recognition/admiration as we passed like book-buying ships in the book fair aisles. I thought about how we are all trying so hard, about how grateful I am to be here, both figuratively and specifically. 

This weekend is such a drain, financially, emotionally, and physically. It is too much for some, and I completely understand that. But man, what an injection of writerly energy, community, and super human empathy. We are all trying so hard. How great is that? 

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