But it dawned on me that unlike in journalism, with creative work nobody really cared if I ever finished something. That gets a little weird after a while. It turns out that’s a bad idea for me to hole up that way, and a bad idea for most writers. Think about it. Even in those first days in Paris, Hemingway got out of his little room and went out drinking, got great coffee in cafes, hung out with a writing group at Gertrude Stein’s place, and got into fights for fun and exercise from time to time. Read more
Every writer has a dream award, the one that she knows would change life forever. Pen/Hemingway, an award for first fiction book, has always been one of those for me. It’s the kind of award that you can get only when you are starting out. Only first-time fiction writers are eligible. It’s a fairy tale award. A Cinderella story award. A happy ending for a first book, and a beginning for just one lucky writer a year–plus a powerful nod to finalists and honorable mentions.
Founded by Mary Hemingway in 1976 to honor her husband Ernest, and to recognize “distinguished first books of fiction,” the award is administered by the wonderful PEN organization for writers.
Some of my favorite writers have won this award, here are just a few:
1981 – Joan Silber for Household Words
1985 – Josephine Humphreys for Dreams of Sleep
1993 – Edward P. Jones for Lost in the City
The recognition that comes from this award starts careers, lets the world know you are writing something worth reading. Plus, how cool is it to have your name in the same paragraph with Hemingway’s?
Yesterday afternoon I got the confirmation that Accidental Birds of the Carolinas was selected for Honorable Mention for the Pen/Hemingway award.
I am still so excited that I’m not quite breathing right. Today I celebrate by calling friends, doing a little yoga, and taking the dog for a very long walk, a glass of wine with a friend. Tomorrow, it’s back to writing the next thing. But ahh, the sweetness will linger through my days. Thank you, Mr. Hemingway, and your lovely wife Mary.
To read about this year’s winner, finalists, and honorable mentions, see www.pen-ne.org