The SFWA doohickey arrived yesterday. Trumpets and shouting. This is the actual award itself, this massive great Perspex, or similar, thing with embedded planets and galaxies and my name on a plaque at the bottom. It freaking WEIGHS. I peeled it out of the box and, you know, it’s kind of a wow. Modesty forbids me to say that it is a wow.
This is the woman, after all, who keeps her Newbery Medal in its box and mostly forgets where she put it, and after many years of first staring at HP Lovecraft’s ugly face* looming over the World Fantasy Award and then at the unfortunately rather phallic shape of HP Lovecraft’s ugly head under the tea towel I’d thrown over it, when I was packing to move up here I levered the plaque with my name on it off the base of the thing and THREW THE REST OUT. When the archaeologists** are squirrelling down through the layers of dreadfulness in our 20th and 21st century junkyards and rubbish heaps I imagine them falling back with cries of shock and dismay when their efforts reveal a perfectly-preserved plastic grey, blank-stary-eyed, head of HP Lovecraft.***
The plaque is somewhere. Possibly in the back of the same drawer or shelf as the Newbery Medal.† I am really REALLY pleased to win stuff. I was really pleased to win one of the WFAs. I’m not the only writer in the world who tends to obsess over the bad reviews—well, I don’t read reviews. The good ones make me look nervously over my shoulder for the person they’re talking about and the bad ones make me miserable. But I do read book mail, and while a lot of the things people write me about what I did wrong Does Not Compute††, being bashed still hurts even if you’re an involuntary stand in for someone else†††. So winning awards does make you—me—feel as if I’m managing to tell my stories the way I meant—hoped—to tell them, at least for some of the people some of the time.‡ But the looking over my shoulder thing? That’s why the Newbery lives in a drawer. No, wait, I’m pretty sure it’s on the mantelpiece in my study. In its unmarked box. The WFA plaque . . . that is a bookmark somewhere. Somewhere. Have I mentioned that I have 1,000,000,000,000 books at last count?‡‡
Anyway. Back to SFWA and the Grand Matriarchy.‡‡‡ I pulled it out of its box and smiled at it in what was undoubtedly a distastefully self satisfied way, but there was no one around to see, except Genghis, and he doesn’t mind when I’m being a prat.§ And held it up, thinking, this one I am going to put on a shelf at something like eye level—at least till I start getting embarrassed; maybe I’ll hide it the next time I have the kind of house guests who find my peculiar approach to décor amusing and like to wander around looking at things—and noticed . . .
. . . one of the corners is broken. AAAAAUGH. And I had just been thinking, oh good, the statue-making plaque-stamping company spelled my name right.
I’m hoping there’s insurance or something and it can be mended? I’m writing to SFWA to ask. It’s only the bottom plinth thing, I don’t know if there’s a way to prise it off and then super-glue a new or mended plinth back on to the rest of it? Because the broken bit is small but eye-catching. I thought it might just be me and wounded vanity, but the first person I showed it to said, Oh, cool, that’s really ni—oh, no, the corner’s broken!
I would think this was the ghosts of some of the early classic guy winners rising up in patriarchal outrage, but surely they’ve kind of worn themselves out already over some of the other recent winners?? No, sadly, I think this is just my bad luck.
* * *
* Hideously modelled of some kind of greasy grey plastic: whose idea was this? It looks like a Gahan Wilson when he was having a really, really bad day.^ And this was the World Fantasy Award, not the World Icky Horror Award.^^
But this was also many years ago. The WFA probably has a fabulous rearing dragon/chimera/manticore/basilisk/Frankenstein^^^/Bandersnatch/leviathan now, and anyone winning one can sell it on eBay for millions of pounds/dollars/euros/yen^^^^ and never have to work again.
^ If it is a Gahan Wilson, of whom I am a fan, I’m very sorry he was having a really, really bad day when he designed the WFA, um, statuette? What do you call the thing? Besides ew?
^^ I’m an HP Lovecraft fan+, come to that, but I don’t want Arkham or Dunwich or the Colour Out of Space or their author looming at me from anything but a page of text I have voluntarily opened and can unequivocally close.
+ with the standard caveats. Lovecraft himself was a nasty piece of work, and it shows.
^^^ the monster, of course. The monster is the hero.
^^^^ if it’s yen, it’s gazillions
** Possibly alien from a galaxy far, far away, after humanity put off dealing with global warming just that one more decade too long, and we melted.
*** The only question is how many of these they will find in tips all over the world where award-winning fantasy writers have lived and been creeped out.
† I do have the two Mythopoeic Award library lion statues out, facing each other at either end of the mantelpiece in the sitting room.^ One of them is mine, for SUNSHINE. One of them is Peter’s, for THE ROPEMAKER. Siiiiiiiiiiiigh.
^ There are a MILLION things squashed between them of course. This is not a household that believes in empty shelves. And mantelpieces were made for tchotchkes. Nu.#
# DIARY’s heroine uses Yiddish as a comfort thing. In the process of writing it therefore Leo Rosten has become my new best friend and I find myself using more Yiddish than I used to. As a comfort thing.
†† I will EVENTUALLY get a new/revised FAQ up on the new/revised web site. At least one answer won’t have changed: The question is, What single thing would most improve the quality of your life? That readers would learn the DIFFERENCE between this book sucks dead bears and this book didn’t work for me.
††† Who presumably meant to be writing the book the reader wanted to read, and failed.
‡ My WFA was for the anthology IMAGINARY LANDS however. I’ve never done another anthology—of other people’s writing, I mean; there was only one story of mine in it—because I am hopelessly disorganised. Sigh. I was then young and naive enough to think I might acquire necessary skills; I liked the idea of putting together more anthologies. But learning systematic and methodical and structured? NO. WRONG. NOT WITH THIS STRANGELY WIRED BRAIN. So in poor IL’s case it’s a good thing it only sold about six copies^ because figuring out everybody’s royalties would have killed me, if there had been any.
^ how many people are on the voting panel for the WFA? That’s how many copies it sold
‡‡ And more arriving every day. I mean, duh. And while the Kindle is a great invention, I have 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 more books on that^, and I swear my iPad bulges out the back. It could be that the lovely wooden stand it is propped up on is slightly warped, possibly from the amount of tea that’s been spilled over it in the last twenty years^^, but I prefer the idea that a megazillion ebooks stress all those chips and electronic neurons and whatevers and eventually they swell like arthritic joints^^^.
^^ random household tip: green tea doesn’t stain wood. It only barely stains even white cotton t shirts, and I’ve never—yet—had a problem washing it out.
^^^ Actually, no, I don’t. Turmeric, green tea and no vegetables from the nightshade family. This doesn’t work for everyone, but it works an absolute blinding golden charm for me. I will have told you this story on the old blog: when I hit menopause and all kinds of faecal matter hit the fan, one of the things that happened is that I started gaining weight. I’ve always gained weight easily—I know I don’t look it, but this body goes to pieces really easily, starting with my knees, so I’ve been pretty fierce about staying thin—so I shifted over to tomato sauce—I don’t mean sugar-laden ketchup, I mean honest-to-goodness tomato sauce—as my condiment of choice. Six months or so later I couldn’t close my hands when I got up in the morning and I was getting on towards not being able to close my hands on a bell rope at all, that being the era of my life when I was change ringing several times a week#, service ringing tends to happen in the morning, and my knees were starting to protest stairs, especially bell tower stairs, which tend to the steep and twisty. I went into panic research mode, went off nightshades—tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers—and hey presto, my hands reverted almost immediately to bell rope friendly and my knees soon viewed stairs with equanimity again. The turmeric and green tea started later, but the point is that I’m fifteen or so years older, and still swollen-painful-joint free.
# SIIIIIIIIGH. Bell ringing is one of the things I really WANT to wedge back into my life one of these days. Weeks. Months.
‡‡‡ I’m so accustomed to calling it the Grand Matriarch that the Grand Master printed on the plaque is kind of a shock.
§ So long as the dog biscuits keep coming.