Although I don’t watch the Emmys, Oscars, Tonys, etc; I understand the fascination with these award shows. The glitz. The tears. The surprises. And the speeches.
I’m a junkie for speeches as well, especially author acceptance speeches (especially when I’m struggling with my own writing). Whether it’s for the Newbery, Printz, Boston Globe-Horn, or whatever, I love hearing authors talk about their process, or why they were drawn to write a book, or how, even with past success, each new book has its own traps and pitfalls. And since I just so happen to be stuck on yet another manuscript, I figured I’d share excerpts from some of my favorite author’s acceptance speeches.
The part about being a writer I like best is the time between books. It’s when you allow yourself to imagine that the next book will really be good; the next book will be the one you were meant to write. No story is as full of promise as the one that’s in your head. You get over this heady sensation soon enough, once you actually start writing, but the time before writing is…well, it’s rather like being in love. Or I should say being in love with love. You are open to anything.
[S]everal years ago, I didn’t even admit to most people that I was trying to write. When I did talk about it, I sometimes referred to my own work as “stupid.” I probably thought I was protecting myself from disappointment, calling my work stupid before anybody else could do it. But it turns out not to work that way. There is no protecting yourself.
All too often, I think, both well‐meaning and nefarious adults treat YA novels as if they are billboards. As if the books are moral lessons cloaked as entertainments, and the youth of today should read these novels in order to learn to have hope, stay strong, or speak out. We also fear they’ll read the wrong things and lust for bad boys, embark on disordered eating patterns or experiment with drugs.
“But books are not billboards. They are meant for complicated responses. They are ambiguous. They are meant to be argued over, unpacked, disagreed with, loved and hated simultaneously, and reread at different times of life for different meanings. That is the wonder of this art form, the way it invites multiple interpretations.
I know some people have a thirty page rule (for when they give up on a novel). I wish they didn’t. I’d like to think there are so many wonderful surprises on page 31 of someone’s story. I’d like to think that the first line of a novel doesn’t make sense if you haven’t read the last.
It’s a privileged place we hold in (young readers’) lives. We have access to places that most people don’t. We’re in those bedrooms late at night; we’re in the very dark place of a young person who feels rage at the world; we’ve been told we make black holes a bit smaller. We try to make sense of a world that stopped making sense to even their parents.
“I don’t think for one moment, that’s our responsibility as writers, but I’m glad that it’s our reality.
What about you? Are you an acceptance award speech junkie, too?