I was restless all week. I would miss a family baptism to go to Santa Barbara for Dan Poynter’s 2012 E-Book Awards ceremony. I had guilt feelings of running after butterflies, and destroying the grass under my feet. What prompted me to take this two-hour trip that extended to three, due to traffic and road construction? What if I didn’t make it? Tough, I braced myself, you’re a winner already as a Finalist! Considering my respectable age, and my background as an ESL writer, I should be satisfied, no? but my heart wasn’t listening to logic. Literature is an indefinable art unlike solving a mathematical problem. One doesn’t know which expressions will resound on a reader’s emotional chords.
I am competitive by nature. I cannot live with partial success. I have to be the best or my ego crushes. Yes, it’s that fragile. “You cannot fail!” Father had hollered once, closing that avenue for me forever. I had to win or drown in shame. Now that I had advertised the event under duress, to explain my absence, I had to live with the results. No last minute editing. The book had gone digital ten months ago and nothing in its DNA could be changed now. I was at the mercy of the judges. I had nightmares of breaking down if I didn’t make it.
So, I sat furthest from the stage, and managed my heartbeats. The announcer went down the list, reading the projected names of Finalists and their books on the screen, announcing the winner in each category without Hollywood fanfare. I got used to the lull of the rhythm past the hour. As he started reading from the nonfiction authors’ list, my heart took a leap. I was one of two Finalists. The names appeared on the screen, next to the books. I braced myself, a split second . . . and the winner is The Immigrants’ Daughter!
Relief, euphoria, celebration. Diana and I started talking with our tablemates, some of them winners too. Dinner was cordial. In hindsight, it was not such a big deal really!