WARNING: This is a no-edit zone...
Q. At our last chapter meeting, we were discussing the RWA conference where you were up for a RITA award for BODY DOUBLE, and you won the PRO Mentor of the Year Award. Which meant most to you became a lively debate, and we want to know who was right. So which meant more? Being up for a RITA or the Mentor award?
I'm laughing here--and cringing. I should be diplomatic and say both were equally important to me in different ways. That would probably be smarter, but it wouldn't be honest, so I won't do it.
Both were important. The RITA nomination was an acknowledgement of my writing and book by my peers. No writer I know would ever say that doesn't hold value. It does. Call it verification or vindication or just acknowledgment, but writers know all the challenges of writing and when they like what you've written enough to honor it, well, that does matter.
Likewise, to be dedicated to helping other writers for as long as you've been writing and to be honored with those writers acknowledging your dedication to them, matters. It's significant. It too is verification of your efforts. These writers know what it is like to need help writing and not to find it, so when they do find it in some small measure, they recognize the value of it.
All this said, I have to say the Mentor award is nearest and dearest to my heart. The reason goes back to my early days as a writer, when I had so many questions and so much confusion, and I had no one to turn to for help. I didn't know another writer at the time. And finding the answers was often a time-consuming and lonely struggle.
During those often frustrating times, I made myself a promise. That if I ever learned anything about the craft or business or constructive solutions to challenges in living as a writer, I'd freely share them. Over the years, I've worked to keep that promise to me, doing lectures and workshops and seminars, answering the questions from those who ask, sponsoring programs like Aids4Writers and benevolence funds. I promised myself I would never forget how I felt during those hard times and the Mentor award is evidence to me that I didn't forget.
I won't say that I deserved it more or less than any number of others. I will say that what it represents to me is personally significant on many levels. It says to me that in some small way, to someone, I've made a little bit of difference in their writing experience. That touches me deeply, and I am very grateful for it.
My professional associates are probably cringing, fearing I've diminished the value I place on my writing, but that's just not true. I love it and value it deeply, and I hope every book I write touches lives of readers in some small way, too. The difference is that I rarely or never see most of my readers, though I am blessed with hearing from some of them. I often see and hear from the writers I mentor. and I expect that contributes. :)
Thanks so much for your note and the question. I won't hazard an opinion, but I will ask for one. You tell me. Who won?