Tuesday, May 04, 2010

And the Winner Is ... Not You!

So I went to the Edgar Awards and finished in a tie for second.

OK--tied with the other four nominees who didn’t win. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Congrats to Stefanie Pintoff, who did win Best Debut Novel for In the Shadow of Gotham.

It was a great night, as each of my writer pals predicted it would be. I met Michael Connelly, had Harlan Coben slap me on the back, jawed with Columbine author Dave Cullen, and shook hands with Ace Atkins, who nearly broke my arm. I watched New York bookseller Otto Penzler whoop and dance like a nine-year-old when he won the Edgar for Best Critical/Biographical Book.

Sure, I was bummed about not winning, but not for long. My wife was with me and, after all, there were free drinks. I was actually more disappointed that I didn’t get to give the 60-second acceptance speech I had prepared.

So I’m about to foist it on you, dear readers, for reasons that should become apparent.

Naturally, I would have thanked my editor, my agent, my wife, my kids, and the Detroit Red Wings. But the important part would have gone something like this:

In my day job, I’m a journalist. Some years back I wrote a story readers liked. They sent me a lot of nice emails. One stayed with me. It said simply: “Your profession exists so people like you can write stories like this.”

Of course I liked the compliment. But the email stayed with me because of the way the reader phrased it: `Your profession … people like you … stories like this.' It wasn’t really about me. It reminded me that I was part of something much larger and more important than myself. And I really liked that feeling. I feel the same way tonight as I stand in a room filled with great writers and editors, and especially my fellow rookies-of-the-year. Thanks for having me.

I share this because I believe it. Writing is a lonely pursuit. It's made easier, at least for me, by the knowledge that I actually belong now to a world of people—like my pals in the Outfit--who open their veins and let them bleed on pages for all the world to see (and carp about on Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, etc).

If that was more than 60 seconds, please don’t tell Margery Flax at Mystery Writers of America.

Now how about a free drink?


Jamie Freveletti said...

Love the acceptance speech!

Jamie Freveletti said...

Love the acceptance speech!

Margery said...

Great speech, Bryan and it would have been okay if it was longer than 60 seconds. :)

Libby Hellmann said...

I'll buy.

Sara Paretsky said...

Bryan, condolence prizes are hard, but it was really great that your wonderful novel was nominated--a wider audience knows about it now.

Overheard at the Edgars, Harlan Coben to a winner saying, "How does it feel to have crushed XX (an NYT list-leader.)" The winner said to me, I didn't know it was a macho competition, which makes me think maybe MWA should ask all nominees to crush a beer can in their bare hands. Easier than choosing among five highly gifted finalists!

David Terrenoire said...

I've published one novel under my own name. It got some nice attention and sold in the dozens. My neuroses are such that I've been unable to complete another.

But the ongoing pleasure has been acceptance into this larger community of crime writers.

It's the best group to drink with, hands down.