I was at my first AWP conference today-- New York Hilton, three floors of book tables, small and large presses, magazines, writing programs, famous writers reading, panels: I'm going to be on one tomorrow reading from After the Bell, the anthology of prose about schooling, teachers, etc. Many people there I knew, some I actually saw, others I just missed: at the Hamilton Stone table with Edith Konecky and Rochelle Ratner, saw Maggie Anderson, West Virginia friend and editor of After the Bell, Shelley Ettinger, Tayari Jones, Dahlia Elsayed from NJWP, people at The Writer, Suzanne McConnell just left, ditto Jayne Anne Phillips. I saw Willard Cook and Pamela Erens. I suppose, especially in New York, I shouldn't be surprised by the numbers. 7,000 participants, and they had to close registration-- at once a wonderful feeling, all those people who care about books and writing-- that what we do is serious, and at the same time the horror, the horror: they all are or want to be writers? And so many of them training more? Who will read what we all write? Young people from the programs, fragrant with ambition, old people with twisted mouths, self-involved, not having achieved all they wanted, ready to talk about themselves, not others. Double and tripling of exhilaration and dismay.