Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Journey Journey

I meant to post something more coherent than the last post, especially since that link wasn't working at a few points yesterday, but then in the evening, *electricity* wasn't working in my neighbourhood, and apparently the internet runs on that, so I had to make do with reading my flashlight (not as much fun, or as easy, as childhood memories make it out to be) and tripping over things.

Anyway, if you never got the link, my story "Chilly Girl," along with Krista Foss's "Swimming in Zanzibar" and Craig Boyko's "OZY," were shortlisted for the Journey Prize yesterday. I am very happy, obviously, for the honour of the recognition and the company in which I receive it. I *highly* recommend you read the whole collection if you haven't already--it's really inspiring to know so much is going *on* out there in the world of Canadian writing.

I think that this sustained attention to new work and unknown writers is what's brilliant about the Journey Prize. It keeps the stories front and centre, and gives applause and encouragement to both the writers and the journals that nuture them. We all would, I'm pretty sure, do what we do regardless, but applause and encouragement makes it a little easier.

The first draft of "Chilly Girl" was written for a class, rewritten for the final project, critiqued, rewritten again for a contest that it didn't win, performed at a reading, rewritten again and then put away. All of those events were joyful in their own way, and I was proud of the work (mainly) throughout. But when it accepted by Exile Quarterly in the summer of 2006, that was a huge huge boost. I made a couple tweaks for them, and it was published in December 2006, in Exile 30.3. In January 2007, the editors at Exile encouraged me to read the *entire thing* at the issue launch, which was terrifying and extraordinary.

Later in January, the Exile editor Michael Callaghan told me he'd nominated the story for the Journey Prize, which was brilliant but mystifying, because I didn't know how these things worked. I forgot about it until May (I didn't know when the longlist would be announced) and received the news that I would be in the anthology the day I was going out to celebrate finishing my thesis defense.

I got to check the copy-edited proofs in June (yes, even that was fun) and the beautiful book came out in November 2007. It was reviewed positively in December and now this shortlist announcement in February, leading to the "gala" awards announcement on April 1, 2008.

"Chilly Girl" has been knocking around in print for close to a year and half, and on my hard drive for *way* longer than that and all this time I've been beavering away, trying to write more, write better, just write. And if you extrapolate that to all the extraordinary stories in the collection, the ones that got nominated, the ones that were published last year or still just exist on people's hard-drives, it's sort of an amazing wealth of words that surrounds us, don't you think?

I think I'm making the point poorly, but what's great about this prize for me is it recognizes all of us who are beavering away after work and on weekends, in classes and with our friends. It rewards work that people did on spec, because they wanted to, with no thought *to* possible reward. And we'll all go one with it no matter what, but it is *so nice* to be noticed.

If you were a flower / I'd be a bee

1 comment:

Melanie said...

Is this the short-shortlist? Yahoo!