I lost today … and still won.
I learned this morning that I did not make the list of finalists for the inaugural Whistler Independent Book Awards. I had been thrilled to find my name on the list of 10 fiction nominees — the “longlist” — for what some are calling the first major awards for self-published authors in Canada. Of course, when I learned of my nomination on July 4th, I briefly envisioned myself on the podium at the Whistler Writers Festival this fall, thanking the academy before delivering a witty and poignant acceptance speech that would quickly catch fire on social media, thus launching my career as a literary genius.
Then reality caught up with me, and I began to research “the competition”. It was a humbling experience. After looking at the impressive list of authors who were on the longlist with me, I did not see the other nine people as competition, but rather as a group of competent writers whose names I am happy to be associated with.
I believe I wrote a solid debut novel, and — with the help of two editors, a painter, a photographer, twelve beta readers and two cover designers — created a quality product that belongs on a bookshelf alongside traditionally published works. But I’m just getting started as an author, and though I appreciate every bit of positive feedback for Goodnight Sunshine, I see each milestone on this journey as a building block — and a sign that I’m on the right track.
There was a part of me that struggled with the idea that my debut novel could win an award. I wondered at first if I was lacking confidence, or if I was fostering a sense of faux humility. But I knew deep down that it was neither of those; it was a recognition of where I am on my path as an author. I am growing increasingly confident that I did not belly-flop on my first dive into the deep pool of fiction writing … but I also know that I didn’t make a perfect entry.
There is something oddly reassuring about not quite winning an award. I had thought it would be a long-shot for Goodnight Sunshine to be on the Whistler longlist, and I am more than happy to make it that far. Though I have not read their nominated works, I am impressed by what I have read about the three finalists who eclipsed me for this award … and I would like to congratulate each of them for their shortlist selection:
- Byrna Barclay – The House of the White Elephant
- Kath Curran – Before It Was Easy
- Shawn Gale – The Stories That Make Us
I look forward to reading each of these books, and I would also like to give a shout-out to fellow longlist nominee, Donna Barker, for her darkly humorous novel, Mother Theresa’s Advice for Jilted Lovers — a thoroughly enjoyable book that I finished reading this morning!
I am more motivated than ever to keep writing. External validations aside, I recognize that when it comes to writing, the true definition of “winning” is playing the game in the first place. Whenever I push through my own self-doubt and embrace the vulnerability that is essential to writing, I know that I have already won.
6 thoughts on “Winning Without Winning”
My sentiments exactly, Mark!
And thank you for the kind words about my novel.
Donna, thank you for writing it! How Canadian we are being, eh? 😉
Congrats, Mark, for making the top ten. Now all we need is a bookstore where all these indie books can be found.
Thanks, PJ! Yes to the indie book store!
It was an honour for you to be nominated, Mark. Well done!