By the time you read this post, the ALA awards will have been announced, and unless you were actually there for the press conference in Dallas, you probably, like me, got up early, grabbed a cup of coffee and logged on to the live-stream for the announcements.
As well, if you’re like me, you probably had your favorites, the ones that you were holding onto for that treasured recognition. Indeed, there are some in our midst whose books have been “buzzing” with award fervor. We especially longed for medals for you. (And I hope you had a good supply of both vodka and Maalox by your side).
As the conference proceeded, you probably jumped up and down with joy for at least a couple of the choices, (I’m still smiling about Ashley Bryan and Susan Cooper) and likewise you scratched your head and grumbled about the titles that were left out.
This is the way it was for me this morning when my own personal list of favorite books and favorite authors were both announced . . . and not.
In the space of an hour my wise and generous, downright magnanimous self watched in wonder as the titles showed up on my computer screen. Little squeals of delight burst between my lips. But at the same time, my darker petulant and downright angry side was shouting, “What the . . . ?”
And that’s it in a nutshell, isn’t it? This whole writing/publishing/recognition thing speaks to how subjective it all is. I’ve been on both sides of publication and rejection, of receiving awards and judging awards, of being highly recognized and shut out.
What do we do with this? I don’t have any clear answers because to deny the sheer happiness and alternating sadness would diminish all of it I think.
What I know is that humans have a driving need for acknowledgement, for others of our kind to recognize good work when we see it. Thus the overpowering desire for publication. A book is a sure sign that we’ve done something significant, that we’ve broken barriers and worked hard. An award amplifies that.
What I I think is that we’re all in search of glory.
But let me just say that glory comes in many sizes. Some days it ends with a small “be,” and that’s enough. When I say “glory be” out loud it reminds me of the joy and wonder that I experience at the end of a well-formed sentence—both my own and others. It’s there when my cat jumps onto my keyboard and reminds me to stretch. I can tuck it into my back pocket and sit on it while I look for the missing plot point.
And then there are those wondrous glories that end in “hallelujah.” Because they’re a bit more rare, they give us something to reach for . . . something like writing a book that is prize-worthy even if doesn’t actually get the prize.
So at least for today, I’m inviting you to join me in that hallelujah chorus for all the winners, (and Larry Dane Brimner, if you’re reading this I’m talking to you). Let’s sing our hearts out for the ones we totally love, who got those beautiful medals, as well as for those we personally think should have won but didn’t. Mostly, let’s raise our voices for the wonder of stories and books and the children we write for too.
After all, when it comes down to it, we’re all members of the same choir. And that all by itself is glorious.
P.S. Just in case you need a little something to get you going, here’s my friend Ruthie Foster to lead the way: