Tuesday, June 3, 2008

does winning make me happy?

From: Miele

I wish you congratulations on your LAMBDA award. Now there is something I am always thinking about when people win awards. Looking in from outside, I am thinking how this is wonderful, yes? So my question is, what happens when you win an award? And I see you have won several over years so, I am thinking you will know.

Curious I am to know if you feel happier than before you won or loved or successful or respected by other people? How much more things increase after winning? Or perhaps it is something different?

Just in case someone out there doesn't know this yet, on Thursday And Now We Are Going to Have a Party won the Lambda Literary Award for women's memoir/biography. I've just got back to Seattle and I'm still grinning :)

So, yes, winning is wonderful. It totally rocks. It feels very, very sweet.

But some awards, some circumstances, matter more than others. This award, I find, matters a lot. Perhaps it's because I won for my memoir, for the story of me, so it feels even more personal than winning for a novel. Perhaps that it was the 20th Lambda Literary Awards, and so was special. Perhaps it was that I was shown so much love in Los Angeles.

It was truly incredible. From the minute I got to the Silver Screen Theatre, in the Pacific Design Centre, I was overwhelmed by the goodwill. So very many writers, and readers, genuinely pleased to see me, and delighted to tell me how much my work means to them. It sort of blew my mind.

I've won quite a few awards. It's uncool to admit it but I always prepare a speech. I mean always. I had one prepared for this. But when my name was announced, my mind went utterly blank. That's never happened to me before, and I think it's because this award meant so much. It really mattered. Weirdly, I didn't understand that until it happened.

I honestly went to Los Angeles to meet people. I've never written a memoir before. I'm still not entirely sure I know how. So I hoped to meet my fellow nominees To say, How was it for you? or What did you find hard/easy? Winning was secondary. Don't get me wrong, I totally wanted to win, but the point was to meet people, to find out how they felt about their work. But before the ceremony I didn't get the chance for that (I was so busy talking to other people who wanted to shake my hand; it was wild). And afterwards I was swamped, again, by congratulations. Which, of course, I loved--but, ooof, it's tricky drinking a lot of wine, then sitting for two hours, then really, really needing to go to the bathroom while people, I mean really amazing people, and some Big Names, want to chat. I finally--finally!--met one other memoir nominee but she shook my hand and then disappeared before I could pull myself together and settle in for conversation. It was very frustrating.

To answer your question: yes, being at the award ceremony made me feel bigger, faster, stronger and more loved than before. I'd honestly had no idea that any of these people knew who the fuck I was. It turned out they really did. Astonishing. Winning was the cherry on top. And, no, I've never felt that way before. Trust me, I like to win. Not come second. Win. This time, wow, I felt as though I'd won the minute I walked through the theatre door. It'll take a while to figure it all out.

Clearly I'll have more to say about all this, at some point, but right now I'm only just back in Seattle, and am mazed and dazed with delight and astonishment. So I'll leave you with this pic of the actual award:

As you can see, the cat is not impressed...

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