Sleepless in the Saddle

The Space Needle on my walk at dawn...thanks to insomnia.
Yeah, just because it sounded good (read cornball), that title. Today I'm continuing my reflection on AWP (Association of Writers and Writers' Programs) conference in Seattle, where a reported 15,000 writers, publishers, editors and teachers of writing gathered to drink massive amounts of alcohol.

(Un)Fortunately, I didn't have the chance to drink that much until Friday night. I was kept sober by the fate of reading last at the Festival of Language on Wednesday evening. My liver thanks fate and the three people who decided to read 20 minutes when our limit was 5--especially the person--I'm going to call her Itsallaboutme--who took at least 5 minutes setting up her "background" music, which ended up being louder than she was as she droned on and on and on off stage for what seemed like a writer's damnation. And to you, dear Itsallaboutme, I wish you'd stuck around until the end of the reading, at which time I did indeed read a story about birds (not so private joke alert). OK, venting over.

So Seattle. Wow. What a cool town. What a nice town. Take the bus drivers. Well, take the bus driver who took us home from the "A Bang and a Smoke" reading/improv event on Thursday night (more tomorrow). A more entertaining ride I can't imagine. He sang "Happy Birthday" to me.

I have a seventh sense. Yes, a seventh: the sense that someone around you needs to sing. In this case it was the bus driver. So even though it wasn't exactly my birthday, I volunteered to be the birthday boy. Singing is so important. In Germany, there are big signs warning people "Nicht mit dem Fahrer reden während der Fahrt!!!" (no talking to the driver while he's driving). Here in Seattle, I think it's required. And fun. Actually, you're not only supposed to talk to the bus driver; you're also supposed to sing with him. Sweet man. All bus drivers should be like this person. Wait. No. All people should be like him.

Sara Lippmann's cool book cover at the AWP bookfair in Seattle!
With the exception of the inconsiderate Itsallaboutme, whom I didn't really meet anyway, I met so many sweet people in Seattle at AWP. I hugged Janey Smith. Well, he hugged me, and then I got lost in that hug. I think I might have disappeared for a few seconds into a world deep within Janey. All that to say: great hugger.

Sara Lippmann and I shared a drink and fries at a sports bar. That's right. We actually found a quiet table and had the best talk. And Sara has a book--Doll Palace--coming out in September, which I'll be talking about later this year. A lot.

I spent a lot of quality time with buddy Gay Degani. Great times, great sandwiches at the Honey Hole. Gay's book What Came Before is serialized at Every Day Novels, and it has just begun. If you like page-turning murder mysteries, go over here and start reading it. It will also be available soon in paper. I couldn't put this book down!

And then I met so many people whom I probably shouldn't mention by name on my blog for the sake of discretion and privacy: An incredible writer whose novellas I've reviewed, another person whose energy was so clear and positive that I just gave her a book (and then found out the next day that we both love Jincy Willett's writing), a writer from London whose book I can't wait to dig into, lots of indie/small press publishers, So many beautiful people. It goes without saying that writers are sexy.

Bill Yarrow was wonderful to record a lot of readings as always. Here's mine from the Festival of Language. Thank you, Jane Carman for organizing this event!

I must be off,

PS: Thank you, IMBO readers, for slinging this blog over 520, 000 hits over the last few weeks! 

PPS: I Must Be Off! is hosting its second annual Travel Essay Contest! Go HERE to learn more. Deadline for entries June 30, 2014!

Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's award-winning fiction and non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Indiana Review, Quiddity, SmokeLong Quarterly's Best of the First Ten Years anthology, Prime Number Magazine, Camroc Press Review, Feathertale, The Best of Every Day Fiction, Pure Slush, Bootsnall Travel and Chicken Soup for the Soul. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice. He is the managing editor of the daily litzine Metazen.


  1. "Itsallaboutme" Haha! Funny post. Why the Hell am I NOT following this? Well I DID just wake up from a coma. I'll sign up now!

    1. Hey, MGM! Great to see you here! Thanks for joining! And it was so good to spend time with you in Seattle.

  2. I want to dress myself in a dress made of cabbage. I want to take the thing as far as I can. And I want to fly, even though I know I am grounded for good...xo from your #1 penguin fan


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