Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Moment

While I lolled in bed yesterday with the stomach yuckies, I watched the live broadcast of the Youth Media Awards from the America Library Association.  For those who don't know, that's where the book awards like the Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz are announced.  It's very interesting to think about to whom and how the awards are given.  Before I became a librarian, I don't know how aware I was of the awards (um, that's probably because before I was a librarian I was essentially a young adult and before that, a child), but as a librarian I actually participated in one of the committees that chooses the best of the best.  It wasn't one of the most prestigious committees, but the YALSA Selected Audiobooks Committee meant that I met with a small group of librarians over a period of two years to choose the very best audiobooks for teens.  An official list was created and shared with the world (or, at the very least, the world of librarians).  As an author, I am interested in the award-receiving side of this coin.  Of course I imagine that moment of hearing my name read over the ALA telecast, and then I fatastize about the speech I'd give and the clothes I'd wear.  The honor is bestowed on so few books and authors, but it's still hard to not want to be one of the chosen few.  After I don't win (this year I didn't have any eligible books, so I wasn't stressing about winning or not winning), I, and all of the other authors who didn't win, have to think about why not or why the other books were chosen instead of ours.  The thing about it is this, which is something very similar to what I tell kids when I talk about getting into the writing business: it's a small group of people who select the awards.  Period.  And they may not think you're funny.  They may not like the use of specific words.  They may like a certain level of fanciness or seriousness or a particular genre.  And if those are the people that are on the committee the year your book is up that does not happen to have any of the things that committee likes, well, then you are not going to win an award.

I have yet to have one of the buzzed about award-possibility books, so having my name announced would have been a big surprise.  And yet, aren't we all hoping to be that surprise name?  And why do we want it?  Hmmmm.  I'm trying to think of the real reason I want it.  Would it mean more money, from both book sales and from future book deals now that I am a decorated author?  Would other people have more respect for me?  Or would anyone, except librarians and teachers and other authors, even know who I was?  Do I really want people to know who I am?  Or is that part of the beauty of being an author: you can write and even be famous, but you can still leave your house?  I realize I am not saying a whole lot here.  It's snowing out, I just got over (and, yay, it is over!) the pukeys, and I'm thinking about the future.  And money.  And the future of my money.  Would an award really make that all easier?  And if something else in life becomes easier, doesn't that mean something else has to become more difficult?

Oy.  Now I'm really not saying anything.  Instead, I'm going to post a video I just learned about on the morning news.  It's from one of my old students, and it's apparently gone viral!  She was a 7th grader the first year I started working at my middle school, and she had a prominent role in the hilarious Welcome to the Resource Center video I made.  Good on ya, Katie!  Wishing you heaps of success.  Here's Katie's cover of "Whip My Hair":


Jeff Newman said...

Hi Julie. I ask myself those questions all the time. And I guess I'll never know the answers unless it happens. I suspect I could live with a certain degree of notoriety; there's a part of me that wants that, even though I don't know why and it makes me feel dirty. But I tend to think that winning a big award and the expectations that would create for my next book would ruin me. It's a pickle.

By the way, I enjoy your blog; I'll make and effort to comment more (improving my communication skills is my New Year's resolution!).

Julie H said...

Newman(as you are known in our house)! I thought about you during the announcements yesterday. I didn't think about the expectations of the next book. I feel like in books, at least kids books, it seems to give the author/illustrators more freedom to try things. Like, I won my award, now I can do the books I want to do! Or maybe not. I look forward to more of your commenting!

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