The Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Bookfair

Long time, no see!

Heading to Portland, Oregon later this month for the AWP Conference, but first, let me tell you this, which you won’t believe:

For over two months, I’ve been immersed in a mind-numbing, tedious but extremely rewarding pass back through my manuscript to rein in my overuse of “the”.  Yep. What can I say. Had to do it. According to The Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society, “the” is overused more than any other English language word*—and I believe it after seeing how many times I had overused it myself.

* here’s an example right here: I changed this sentence from: …“the” is the most overused word in the English language

I happened to stumble upon Faulkner Society’s Tips for Editing your Manuscript while on their website January 5. After reading, I told Word to do a search and was blown away at how many times “the” was highlighted throughout my manuscript. What an amazing exercise to take any piece of writing through. Give it a try and see how much more resonant, concise and active your sentences will be. This was a gift. I’ve linked to my PDF, that’s how much of a believer I am now. Would love to hear comments on your “the” adventures. Maybe you’re having a problem overusing a different word. whatever it is—Kill those little darlings!


Now, back to the AWP Conference which has been moving around from city to city every year since it’s debut in Washington, DC in 1973. This will be my first time going. Based on the wisdom of everybody I trust about literary matters, Portland, Oregon is THE place to be March 27-30 to pitch my novel at AWP’s Bookfair. I don’t suppose 12,000 people could be wrong. There will be over 2,000 presenters and 550 readings, panels, and craft lectures. The famous bookfair hosts over 800 global presses, journals and literary orgs. Colson Whitehead is keynote; Nikky Finney and Tayari Jones are leading sessions. Looking forward to this!

Colson Whitehead, author of The Underground Railroad, 2016. National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize Winner.