Monday, July 20, 2009
Golden Heart final, Part 2
As most of you know by now, I didn’t come home with a beautiful Golden Heart win. Though I was disappointed, the honor went to a wonderful woman who recently joined the Heart of Dixie chapter, Kim Law. I wish her the best of luck with her submission, which was requested by the final editor! Squeee!!!
I wanted to do a bit of a continuation from last week’s blog, and let you know what it was like to be a Golden Heart finalist at RWA National conference. It was even more exciting, scary, and stressful than I imagined. I’m completely blessed to have had the experience.
We spent the first two days sight seeing, which was fun, but also painful. For the first time ever in my conference experiences, my shoes rubbed blisters on my feet. Even though I’d worn them at home. And thus began the week of band-aids. I had a great deal of trouble getting them to stick and had to replace them often. I went through 2.5 boxes of Band-Aids within a week. Yuck!
Being a new member of the Golden Network chapter, I was able to attend their conference retreat for the first time, which involved a panel of editors and agents discussing what they were looking for in authors and evaluations of queries. Tough, but a source of great information. Instigator and I also attended their Golden Network Dessert reception, where we mingled with current and former GH finalists and witnessed our friend Lynn Raye Harris’s “booting” ceremony, which bumped her into alumni status, since she is now a published author.
Fellow attendees were incredibly excited for me during the entire week. Complete strangers would cheer for me in the elevator and congratulations were overflowing. Many people asked me about my final, and it gave this shy introvert an opening to talk about my work and my writing journey with others.
Friday afternoon, the RWA National Board invited us to a dessert reception, where they presented all the Golden Heart and RITA finalists with a certificate. It was so exciting to watch everyone receive their certificate, to actually hold that piece of paper in my hands with MY manuscript title and name, to share smiles with fellow finalists. One would think that this would be a more blasé experience for the RITA finalists, but they were just as exuberant and I had the joy of watching several friends and acquaintances accept their own certificates.
On Saturday afternoon, I showed up for my category’s scheduled rehearsal for the evening ceremony and had to face the dreaded jumbotron. I’d been eyeing it with sick fear all week and now I had to grasp the reality of having my picture appear on it. Even worse, we took turns walking up onto the stage and experiencing the glare of the lights while we said our names into the microphones. That’s when the real shock came! You found yourself facing another jumbotron, with your face large and up close. But despite the big picture, the atmosphere shimmered with anticipation and sparkling excitement. I enjoyed chatting about the pitfalls of stairs, high heels, and long dresses. The show’s witty director, Laura Hayden, warned us of the dangers of drinking beforehand and not having our speeches prepared.
Two memories resonate with me from Saturday night: 1) Seeing my name and picture on the screen during the ceremony and hearing the applause and cheers of my friends. Far from the scariness I’d anticipated, I was so proud in that moment. Whether I won or not, my work was good enough to be there. Nothing will ever take that accomplishment from me. 2) The love and support of my people that night. The Playfriends who dressed me, hugged me, and beamed their own pride. Our mavens, Linda Howard and Linda Winstead Jones, who dusted diamond flakes in my hair, provided me with a beautiful goddess dress, and told me I was already a winner. My lovely chapter mates who stood with me that night, cheered for me, told me how beautiful I was, and affirmed their belief in me in so many other small ways.
Despite not being sure I would win, I wrote an acceptance speech so I would be prepared. I didn’t get to say it on stage, but I’m going to paraphrase it here. Because it really wasn’t about winning the Golden Heart, it was about the people who’d gotten me there. I’m convinced that the greatest gift this journey will ever give me – published or not – are these wonderful people who believe in me even in those moments when I can’t believe in myself. That’s another thing that can’t be taken away from me. I pray for everyone reading this that you’ll find the same.
I love you and thank you for the support you’ve shown me and the excitement of sharing this experience with me. It has been a wonderful journey. So much about writing is solitary and just pure work. This was the icing, the excitement and glitter (which I still had in my hair when I touched down in Alabama on Sunday afternoon). :) Now, it is time to get back to work…