It is the night everyone has been awaiting. One hundred and twenty-five authors have gathered, along with two thousand people, to learn who will be the winner… You see the happy fans crowding at the border of the red carpet… The flash of cameras…
|The Ossian Award|
Who will it be? The entries have been read and shared and judged.
The Master of Ceremonies, resplendent in an Irish kilt with the O’Shaughnessy tartan (Shaughnessy being the Irish name for ‘Seannachie’ or ‘Bard’)
The name is announced… The sudden silence is shattered by waves of cheering as the winner steps up to the podium.
She exchanges a ceremonious embrace with the MC, takes the award, a bust of the Seannachie, Ossian, looks at it, sets it down, and steps up to the microphone.
The audience murmurs appreciatively as the winner takes the award between her hands, looks deep into its eyes, and says, “And it’s about time that you came to me!”
|She said What???|
The murmurs stop as though they have been cut off. People stare, papers rustle, frowns begin to deepen. …And she stands, the statuette in her hand, smiling imperturbably while various people resolve never to read a thing she writes, ever again.
So… what’s wrong with this picture? Too brassy? Demeaning? In what way? Was she speaking the truth as she knew it? And if she did, what was wrong with that?
Well, there are ways and ways of saying things. Arrogance is never a good idea, but it is as big a lie as overdone modesty of the ‘Gee, it wasn’t any good at all’ sort.
I remember once hearing a talk that moved me profoundly. When next I saw the professor who was the speaker, I told him, shyly, that his talk had meant very much to me, that it had given me much pleasure and comfort, and made me think of things in a different way. All of this was earnestly sincere.
I remember that he stared and said, “Well, it really was not one of my better presentations…” (Did that make me a liar, or simply tasteless?)
I don’t think so. We shouldn’t be shouting about how great we are, but by the same token it is fine to admit that maybe we are good enough for someone to entrust hours of his precious time reading our work.
And it isn’t such a bad thing to be happy with ourselves even as we continue to try to improve.