01 May 2012

Edgar

by David Dean

April 9th: At the time of my writing this (but not at the time of your reading it), I do not yet know the outcome of the Edgars awards.  As you might surmise, I am keenly interested for entirely selfish reasons--my story, "Tomorrow's Dead" is a nominee.  Strangely, it appears that other writers have had stories nominated as well.  In my fantasy world this would not be necessary, as the flawless crafting of my gem of a tale would simply preclude the necessity.  In the real world, however, there's a very good chance that one of them, and not my humble self, will be waltzing out the door with the coveted bust.  It appears that these 'others' have written some pretty good stories themselves...at least according to some. 

I've been writing for twenty-three years and, like most writers, I have largely done so without much notice.  That's not to say I haven't been published, but my walls aren't exactly groaning under the weight of plaques and awards for it.  My biggest thrill to date, and it was thrilling, was winning the Ellery Queen Readers Award for "Ibrahim's Eyes".  Even then, I shared the award with the late, great Ed Hoch with whom I tied in the balloting, though he was certainly good company in which to find myself.

Other stories have received nominations for various awards, but none have come up a winner, and though I don't like to admit it, each loss was something of a blow.  Considering the undeniable prestige of the Edgar Allan Poe Award, I can't help but prepare for a correspondingly heavy one in this case.  Of course, it's a great honor to have a story nominated at all (and trust me, after twenty-three years I had put the very thought of it completely from my mind) but it also places something of a burden on one's shoulders.  I know that many of you have already experienced this (or will in the future) and understand what I'm talking about.  As the season of euphoria dwindles and the day of reckoning draws nigh, how I handle not getting the award becomes just as important as what to do should I win it.  Not only will many of my fellow writers be in attendance, but so will Janet Hutchings, the editor of EQMM and a wonderfully kind person who has shown great faith in me over the years.  My wife, Robin (She Who Walks In Beauty), will be by my side, as will my brother, Danny, and his wife, Wanda.  They are traveling all the way from Georgia for the occasion and, I'm sure, expecting a big finale!  Even my editing staff, which is to say my children, will be standing by their various phones for news of the outcome!  Thank God, I handle pressure really, really well, damnit!

Whatever the outcome, be it tears or joy, the following day (or perhaps just a little longer under the circumstances) I will find myself sitting in front of my computer trying to write something again.  Something good and worthwhile and that someone will want to publish.  I may find it easier if little Edgar's bust is perched on my desk overlooking my efforts, or I may find it more difficult because expectations have been raised and now I must meet them.  His absence may be a blessing in disguise, allowing me to carry on unencumbered and free to do exactly as I wish and that I have always done.  Or, just the opposite; creating a black hole that sucks the creativity out of me with a violent implosion.  Whatever the outcome, I'll have to start stringing together words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs just as I did before Little Eddie came into the picture.  But will I be the same?  I doubt it.  We writers are always affected by the things and events that surround and touch us, and this will be no different for me.  I just hope that when the dust settles that I've been made somehow better by the experience.  Saint Thomas More, patron of lawyers and writers (Utopia) put it this way:

Give me the Grace Good Lord, to set the world at naught; to set my mind fast upon Thee and not hang upon the blast of men's mouths (I especially like the 'blast of men's mouths' part).  To be content to be solitary.  Not to long for worldly company but utterly to cast off the world and rid my mind of the business thereof.

Though it is often referred to as the 'Lawyer's Prayer', I think it is good advice for writers too, don't you?  I will  complete this posting upon my return from NYC, but will not alter what I have written up to this point regardless of the outcome.  Here you have my true thoughts and feelings prior to the conclusion of the whole affair.  When I return, you will have the rest...for better or for worse.

April 30:  As promised, I have returned to complete my posting and I didn't alter one word of what I had previously written.  Most of you probably already know the outcome of the Edgars, but for those of you who don't--I didn't come home with the coveted bust.  Peter Turnbull is the very happy writer who carried away the prize; though I use the phrase loosely, as he was not actually present, but at home in England.  His story was very deserving, and I'm not just saying this to appear a gracious loser.  When I read it some months ago to acquaint myself with the competition, I actually did remark to Robin, "I may be in trouble here."  It turns out I was prophetic.

We had a wonderful time at the banquet and got to meet many a writing celebrity; several of whom we stalked like paparazzi.  Mary Higgins Clark and Sandra Brown were kind enough to act as if my wife and sister-in-law were old acquaintances and not two strange women who may have gotten past security.  It was also a distinct pleasure to visit with many of our colleagues, including my Tuesday counterpart, Dale Andrews (at the EQMM cocktail party) and Criminal Briefers, James Lincoln Warren (as dapper and clever, as ever), Melodie Johnson Howe, and Steven Steinbock.  It felt a little like a reunion on fast forward.  Doug Allyn sat next to me at the EQMM table and gave me his napkin after the announcement for best short story was made.  I believe he was muttering something like, "Show some spine, Dean...my god man, people are looking!"

Alright, it wasn't as bad as all that.  In fact, when the dust settled, I felt I might be able to go on after all.  As I remarked, quite bravely, I thought, "Tomorrow I will be writing again."  And I am.

 




            






10 comments:

Neil Schofield said...

David - if I could put 'Edgar-nominated' before (or after) my name, I'd be cock-a-hoop. I've always thought, perhaps fallaciously, that to be selected from among a thousand or so is better than to be selected from among five or six. But then that's me.
Well done you in any case - it is still a great story - and I hope you enjoyed the bunfight.

Janice said...

Sorry your story didn't win, but de gustibus non est disputandem, as some disgruntled Latin writer said. You're still a good writer. And there's always next year.

David Dean said...

Thanks, Neil; I am 'cock-a-hoop' (I think...)and wouldn't trade the whole experience for anything. As for the 'bunfight', well, as soon as I discover what that means I'll comment.

Janice, you have stumped me, as well. The only Latin I know comes straight from Catholic liturgy and I don't know much of that. There is always next year, but truthfully, I'm not very worried about all that--It's just nice to write, isn't it?

Robert Lopresti said...

Thank God, I handle pressure really, really well, damnit!

cracked me up, David. congrats on the well deserved nomination. having judged a number of contests, including Edgars, I concluded that the nominations are a pretty good evaluation of the best in a category, but the winners are a matter of taste and whim.

still, having won and lost (though not an Edgar I hasten to add) I know which is more fun.

good for you for getting back to work.

Janice said...

'There is no debating taste.' 0ne of the few things I remember from 2 years of Latin, but very good for writers to keep in mind. Painters, too! In any case, you will always be Edgar nominated and that's very nice as well.
I am sorry I did not get to meet you during your time in NYC but I was only down briefly for the MWA party on the Tuesday.

Herschel Cozine said...

David, congratulations on your nomination. That in itself is an accomplishment to be proud of. I think that oftentimes the winner is more subjective than the nomination. I say this to console myself upon losing the Derringer a few years back.

David Dean said...

Thanks for the translation, Janice. I'm sorry that we could not meet in NYC, too.

Rob and Herschel, I appreciate your congrats. I consider myself a pretty good loser, as I have had a lot of experience. As for the Derriger, Herschel, I've not won that twice! But to them, I say, "De gustibus non est disputandem!" (thanks Janice).

Deborah Elliott-Upton said...

You are a winner to us! And yes, being nominated is so wonderful that I am sincerely impressed. Yea for you!

Kay Chipper said...

Glad to hear that you reached that very long year in writing. I wish I could be that determined to pursue my passion too.

Eve Fisher said...

Congratulations on being nominated - and more than once! Wow!