By now, I know whether or not my short story “Amaryllis” won a Hugo. But since I’m posting this a week in advance, I really don’t know. I probably won’t be able to update with the news because I’ll be flying to Michigan for a signing. Whichever way it goes — went, rather — I’m incredibly happy about the nomination. It’s one of those external benchmarks that ends up meaning a lot because this is such a crazy business that doesn’t always give us concrete feedback. I think this is one of the reasons we have so many writing and book awards: it’s a way to provide concrete feedback, or to impose some kind of order on the mass of books and writing that appears every year. That may be a discussion for another time.
I’ve been reflecting a lot on my writing and the progress I’ve made in the 22 years since I sent out my first short stories. Because I think “Amaryllis” is the kind of story I tried to write in high school and college and couldn’t. A thoughtful, solid science fiction story like the kind I grew up reading. As a teenager, I didn’t have the experience — the emotional experience, the raw life experience to draw on (John Scalzi touches on this in in his advice to teenage writers). I didn’t have the ability to write about several threads and plotlines at once, which is one of the things that makes for good stories. (I could barely write one at a time then.) I didn’t have the ability to craft, to take the feedback I got on the story from a very trusted reader and use it to shape the story into something more powerful.
It’s been a startling revelation, that I actually seem to have learned something, or internalized something. I mean, of course I have, I should hope one wouldn’t work at an art or craft for twenty years and not learn something. But I felt a strange time dilation, considering that I have written something, without really realizing it, that my teenage self aspired to write.
Whichever way the award goes — or went — I got a great dress for the ceremony, which is/was co-hosted by our own Ken Scholes, and plan(ned) on making an event of it. If I get internet access I’ll try to pop in and say how it went.