Late last week, I got word that To Begin Again won the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Award for Short Stories. This is beautiful news, but let me tell you, I'm not here to pat myself on the back! I am humbled, and though I can't make the awards ceremony in New York, I will be there in spirit, imagining what it would be like to accept a physical award for a creative work.
I remember the awards ceremonies I ued to attend for running races, how it felt, walking up to receive a medal for completing a five mile race. I tended to win in my category (for me, it was easy because I was usually the youngest in the race, collecting the 10 & under awards with routine smiles and winks). It was a nice feeling but one that proved a bit underwhelming and always made me think of the next race. Even as a child I knew that awards were a pat on the back, a pat that would be nice but would not carry me to the next race. After shelving the award, it was back to training.
In this case, I have to say, it is not underwhelming, it's simply nice. Let me just say, the stories in this collection are all dear to me. Some of them were published in literary journals, such as Annalemma Magazine and Foundling Review prior to the publication of this book, others were not. Many of the stories were rejected many times. But, for the record, I've taken any rejections, digested them, and aimed toward learning from them. In an odd way, I'm thankful for those rejections because without them, who knows, many of the stories in the collection might not have been nearly as strong.
So, as I accept my award in my solitude, on my blog, I want to express my appreciation for both the honor and recognition but also for those who were keen and honest enough to tell me I might want to revisit a story or two in the collection while they were still in the process of being molded. It is the urgings of some generous editors as well as exhaustive revision that makes a collection of short creative works. I do hope that you'll consider reading the collection as we indie authors struggle to be read. We don't have the corporate backing of the big houses, but we have no less interest or drive to share our art. If you read it, please, let me know what you think. It is my goal and plan to make the next book (the problem novel-in-progress (anything this problematic will either be great or trashed in a few years)) stronger than anything else I've written. In the meantime, you'll get a glimpse of the character in this book (see Wallace).
So, I appreciate the pat on the back, and I will strive to keep moving forward and not, as a good friend advised, rest on my laurels. I have writing to do. :)