It's an Honor Just To Be Nominated
But I had the best time at The Story Prize. I'd like to think it was because I have matured, but I don't have any other evidence of that. One of the coolest things was meeting Patrick O'Keefe. He won the award, and unlike me, who is secretly convinced that I am a genius and the world just hasn't figured it out yet, Patrick clearly didn't believe he was going to win. I genuinely thought Jim Harrison was going to win, so while they were getting ready for the ceremony, I kept trying to drag Patrick to the back of the auditorium so we could sit and commiserate. We'd start chattering but then we'd have to find out where we would enter or get our mikes on, so we didn't get much of a chance. But I was utterly charmed by him. Luckily, he lives in Ann Arbor, and I'm planning to get him to Cleveland to cook for him. I'll see if Ii can arrange a local signing and reading or something.
Mostly, I was so happy. While I am secretly convinced I am a genius, I am also secretly convinced I am a fraud. And this recognition was such a bolt of lightning, so out of the blue, that it lifted me up and wafted me through the whole process. While we were at lunch at the Lotos Club, Larry Dark said that he and Julie Lindsey read all of the submitted collections and then picked the three winners--which he then amended to the three finalists. I cringe when someone says 'It's an honor just to be nominated' but then, most awards don't give the finalists a check, ask them to read their work on stage, and treat them the way we were treated. I really do feel like I won something big. I would like to think I will be able to sustain this enlightened behavior through other aspects of my life. I suspect not.
Julie and Larry have put together a short list--which I plan to read.