As I sit in my bed with my morning tea, Karma Brown’s novel Come Away with Me, and the constant mind chatter telling me I need to pack for my upcoming weekend move, I cannot help but feel a bit of sadness for the end of the recent Midwest Writers Workshop. I realize I will soon enter classrooms and fulfill nightly homework or other obligations, but I will be without these people and this magic for at least a year. MWW encouraged me to meet as many people as I could within one short weekend, it brought me closer to my classmates and MWW staff, and it helped me realize what I truly would love to pursue once I graduate: becoming a literary agent.
Before the conference, I had no idea I would laugh as much as I did, and I had no idea I would end up sitting on trashcans with my fellow agent assistants because we deemed ourselves “garbage” for being menial interns surrounded by a ballroom full of greatness. Needless to say, we frequently found ourselves with red faces and little breath left from relentless laughter. Not only did I laugh more than I thought I would, but I also learned more than I ever would have by simply taking a classroom on editing, publishing, or agent-ing.
As agent assistants, we were right in the middle of the process. Nervous writers shook my hand as I led them into the pitch room, and most of them shuffled out before I could even wish them a wonderful day.
What was the best part of the process, though?
Seeing the look on these writers’ faces when I found them later and congratulated them because they were asked to send their full manuscripts, and not many other writers were even asked to do so. As their faces completely radiated, I immediately knew I wanted to continue helping writers fulfill their dreams.
This realization never would have taken place without the people with helped make this seemingly magical experience happen. Because of this, I honestly want to thank each of you.
Thank you for being a beam of light every day in the classroom and in the conference. You constantly encouraged and reassured us when we felt even a little unconfident about our work or abilities. Without you, none of this would have happened—quite literally.
Thank you for being such a wonderful person and for bouncing around the workshop to help with merchandise, planning, setting up, and for simply keeping smiles on our faces. Your endless love for everyone kept us going, and the workshop would not be the same without you.
Thank you for being our Queen and helping us not completely mess anything up. I feel like I cannot thank you enough for it.
To the entire MWW Staff:
Thank you for the incessant hours you’ve put into the workshop and for guiding the interns when we needed assistance. This all was able to happen because of you, and each person was an integral part in making this year successful. We couldn’t have done it without you.
Thank you for constantly being an upbeat force not only during the workshop, but when you visited our class as well. I think I can speak for most of us when I say you inspired us to become the best literary citizens possible. My Goodreads profile will never be quite as noteworthy, but it’s a good goal. You do it all, and seeing you in action makes me want to persevere so I can one day be as successful as you in a multitude of different areas of my life.
Thank you for being the best agent I could have asked for during the workshop. I had never seen an agent in action, and watching how in-depth you went during your mere three-minute pitches was astounding. You have the ability to go with your instinct on whether or not a book will become successful, and I left the conference feeling inspired. Also, thank you for not running away when I was an awkward mess at the airport. Can I be you?
To Jim, Lauren, Molly, Rachel, and Uwe:
Thank you for coming to this conference and dedicating an immense amount of time not only to all of the aspiring writers, but to your assistants as well. I think I can speak for all of us when I say we each left the conference wanting to be you, and it was the greatest feeling.
To J.R. and Kelsey:
Thank you for putting everything into The Facing Project. It motivated me to help bring this project to Ball State because I feel as though many of the students are unaware of the harsh realities many other students face every day simply by trying to go to class. Your dedication and commitment is inspiring, I hope I can make the same impact one day.
To Amy Reichert, Jen Malone, and Karma Brown:
Thank you for not being completely freaked out by my admiration. You all bring wonderful stories to the world, and without your work, this conference and others around the country would not continue. Seeing how long it takes for your precious words to finally come to fruition is an inspiration, and it was an honor meeting all of you. I cannot wait to see the other great novels you write on bookshelves from coast-to-coast.
And with that, I am mentally waving goodbye to each of you and the workshop until #MWW17.
Lauren is a Ball State University alumna with a Bachelor's degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. She enjoys breakfast for dinner with a side of literary enjoyment.