Yesterday was a monumental day in the world of romance authors, for some more than others. The Romance Writers of America announced the finalists is its annual RITA (published authors) and Golden Heart (unpublished authors) contests.
Alas, my books did not make the cut. But in all honestly, I had no expectation that they would. Thousands of books are judged by an equal number of readers, and the scores are largely subjective. To final, a book must not only be of a certain quality, but must also fall into the hands of three judges who love it. Ever read a book a friend highly recommended only to think to yourself, “meh?” Yeah. That happens, as proven by the fact that some of my favorite stories and authors from last year did not make the cut.
Authors’ reactions to losing can range from anger, cynicism, and defeat, to mild disappointment and a commitment to do better next year. Apparently, this disparity in response is universal in any artistic industry in which awards are distributed (music, television, film). In fact, I’ve pulled a bunch of quotes by famous people about awards. What shocked me is to see that Tom Cruise had the most balanced opinion (or, at least, the one that most mirrors my own).
At one end of the spectrum, you have these:
Of course awards matter. Frank Ocean
It’s very validating when you are new in the industry to get awards. It boosts your self-esteem. Sheena Easton
I’ve won many awards and I want more. If you want to call it hunger then I’m hungry for awards. Shah Rukh Khan
At the other end, you hear this:
Awards are meaningless to me, and I have nothing but disdain for anyone who actively campaigns to get one. Bill Murray
Awards are so unnecessary because I think we get so much out of our work just by doing it. The work is a reward in itself. Natalie Portman
Do awards change careers? Well, I haven’t heard of many stories where that’s the case. It’s a fun excuse to meet colleagues and celebrate people who’ve done well that year in certain people’s eyes, and it’s nothing more than that. Benedict Cumberbatch
And then there is the Tom Cruise opinion, which is how I feel (except for the part about having won many, since I’ve yet to win any, LOL!)
Awards are wonderful. I’ve been nominated many times and I’ve won many awards. But my journey is not towards that. If it happens it will be a blast. If it doesn’t, it’s still been a blast. Tom Cruise
While Ms. Portman makes an excellent point, it seems a tad bit disingenuous. Yes, awards are not necessary, but they are fun. And I imagine it feels amazing to win (like Ms. Easton reports). However, I’d also guess that Mr. Cumberbatch is not wrong when he says it doesn’t necessarily change careers. For some it might, but there are certainly prior RITA winners whose names I’ve never heard before.
Basically, today I’m feeling proud of my friends who’ve been nominated and will cheer them on in July. Sure, I have a little envy for the thrill they must’ve experienced when getting the call, yet I am not depressed or jaded or bitter, because I know their accomplishments do not diminish my own.
I’ve released four books in my first fourteen months in the business. That feels amazing. I receive lovely emails from readers who’ve been touched by some of my work. Honestly, nothing could mean more than that to me. And I’m constantly making new friends in the industry, which has been such a gift for this stay-at-home mother of two.
Yes, next year I will ship off my work and cross my fingers, hoping I might get a turn in the spotlight. That nagging voice of self-doubt that says I’m an imposter might finally quiet down if I ever win a big award. But most importantly, I look forward to continuing to engage with my readers. They, after all, are the real prize to be treasured.