About two weeks ago, I got some news that I was asked to keep quiet until it could be announced officially, but it’s officially official now: My story collection, WHEN ARE YOU COMING HOME?, won the 2014 Prairie Schooner Book Prize and will be published by the University of Nebraska Press.
Um, that prize. The Prairie Schooner. The University of Nebraska Press.
I am still stunned and elated and teary and grateful and holy smokes and pinching self and pinching others and oh-where-did-I-put-my-keys? and and and —
I’m a little bit of a mess, actually. More so than usual, I mean.
I found out while I was on the mountain in Sewanee, TN, teaching for the first time at the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference (a wonderful time all on its own merit!). After a dropped call and frenetic redialing, I sat under a tree outside the dining hall and listened to Kwame Dawes (yes, that Kwame Dawes) tell me the news. In the first few days, I seriously had to keep checking my recent calls to make sure I hadn’t concocted the whole thing while on a high from excessive consumption of dining-hall soft serve cones.
Gradually, it is sinking in: My first book is going to be published. Those little nine stories, the first of which I published way back in 2002. Written in the wee hours when I still chain-smoked, then in the early afternoons when I chewed lots of gum; written in Arizona, and Tennessee, and Alabama; written across more than a decade, from my late twenties to my early forties, with new wrinkles and grays and weird new veins; written when I was single, then desperately in love, and now married (and still desperately in love) to the loveliest person to whom I get to come home every day. I still cannot describe the sensation of this. The best I can do is say that it feels like a buoyant white glow, which starts in the toes and rises, expanding. Or riding the crest of a wave in the Pacific. Or leaping from a high dive, limbs askew. I think there may be balloons and monkeys and a whole orchestra.
Okay, okay. Rather than try to describe, let me begin by saying Thank You. These thank-yous will become much more elaborately specific — I can’t wait to write that 12-page acknowledgments section– but for now, thank you to Kwame Dawes and the Prairie Schooner Book Prize board and the University of Nebraska Press; I am honored beyond belief to have been chosen from what I know is a big pool of extremely talented writers. Thank you to those writers, for inspiring me in ways you don’t even know. Thank you to my writing teachers over the years, to my writer friends who are also the best readers in the world, and to my work colleagues for their support. Thank you most to my family and dearest friends, without whom I would be lost, and especially to Tim, forever and ever and ever.
With gratitude, love, elation, and wonder,