On my last night at RWA Nationals in New York , I attended the award ceremony for the Golden Hearts and RITAs.
It’s pretty much like the Academy Awards for romance writers, though I was disappointed to discover attendees did not receive schwag bags stuffed with diamond tennis bracelets.
We did have the pleasure listening to 22 authors squeal and sob with excitement over winning the prestigious awards. It made me proud and joyful and a little sniffly to watch the whole thing unfold.
But it also made me oddly uncomfortable.
I’ll preface this by saying I’ve never stood in the shoes of an author accepting an award like that, and I’m well aware that the first words out of your mouth as you step up to the mike may not be what you mean to say. If I’m lucky enough to ever win a RITA, I'm certain my speech will begin with copious amounts of cursing and a declaration that I forgot to don underwear.
Nevertheless, I was disheartened that well over half the award recipients chose to begin their two-minute acceptance speeches with some variation of the following:
“Ohmygosh, I totally didn’t expect to win, so I didn’t prepare anything to say!”
Maybe it’s a form of modesty. Certainly it would be off-putting to have someone grab the mike and shriek, “you guys, I totally knew I'd kick everyone’s ass!”
But what I fear is that they really didn’t expect to win.
That makes me sad.
Believe me, I know the urge for self-preservation when it comes to rejection. I’ve been there many times, hoping for an offer from a agent, or eventually, a call from my agent to say the book deal was finally, FINALLY going to happen. I know the feeling of not wanting to believe the good thing might happen because it would make the letdown that much harder.
But no matter what, I always hoped it might happen. That hope was generally enough to drive me to imagine what I might say, do, and drink when presented with honors ranging from a book deal to a Nobel Prize.
That's not to say my imaginary speech would go off without a hitch. I'm certain the cursing and stupid comments would come spurting forth like man chowder from a pork sword.
But the one phrase I can never imagine myself uttering is “I didn’t expect this.”
Shouldn’t we always expect it, at least a little? If you don’t plan the details of your future success, aren’t you setting yourself up for failure?
Feel free to disagree with me on this. I certainly don’t mean to disparage any of the award winners, and lord knows I don't claim to always say the right thing. Just see the “man chowder” comment above for evidence of that.
So what do you think? Er, not about man chowder. Have you heard people accepting awards with the caveat that they expected to lose and therefore, didn't prepare anything to say? Have you done it yourself? What prompts this? Please share, I'd love to know.
And for the record, I am wearing underwear. At the moment, anyway.