Congratulations. Now Get Back to Work.

bye-and-stuff

“Bye and Stuff” by Lydia Komatsu

A few weeks ago, the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation announced they had selected me for a 2017 Alaska Literary Award. It’s a tremendous honor to join the three other recipients. It comes with five grand in cash, and it looks great to have this kind of thing on your resume, especially since I’ll be hoping to land an agent in the near future. Unfortunately, I’m bad at good things.

Ron Carlson came to our MFA summer residency in 2015. The guy is a successful writer, by which I mean to say that as far as I know, it’s how he makes a living (an increasingly rare thing in the business of writing.) And he was just the nicest guy in the world. But he was giving a talk one night or one day and it was about how all writers do the same thing, regardless of what they’ve achieved, or failed at. They write. You won an award? Awesome, you still get to write. You failed to get your book published? Awesome, you still get to write. Your book sold a bajillion copies and now you light cuban cigars with hundred-dollar bills?

Awesome. You still get to write.

Ron’s point was that at the beginning and end of the day, the unpublished writer and Bob Dylan Kazuo Ishiguro are pretty much the same. Nothing is changed by the fact of, or degree regarding, their respective levels of failure and success.

So there you go. Woohoo! I won something. And it’s a big deal that confirms that maybe I’ve got a shred of talent after all. I’m indebted to folks like Sherry Simpson and David Stevenson, my MFA mentors; and Erin Hollowell and Jeremy Pataky, who’ve enabled my literary citizenry.

Now, deep breath. Back at it.