Sunday, July 27, 2014
Savoring the Outside Point of View
Last night my most excellent friend, critique partner and Word-Whore alum, Carolyn Crane, won the Romance Writers of America (RWA) RITA award for her romantic suspense, Off the Edge. Even more exciting, she's the first author to win a RITA with a self-published book.
We knew she was one of the finalists, but it wasn't until the awards ceremony that we found out.
Carolyn has been my roommate at the conference all week, which is a treat for us. We live on different sides of the country and mostly communicate via email and instant messenger, sprinkled in with the occasional phone call. We often bemoan that we can't meet for a drink or lunch, so our five-day grown-up slumber party is an opportunity to saturate ourselves in writer talk and to savor each other's company.
The RITA finalists get to bring a guest or two to share their VIP table at the RITA awards, so I was Carolyn's date last night. I don't think it really hit either of us, the reality of the building tension, until a few hours before. We'd been running around all week, going to and from panels, speeches, meetings, lunches and parties. But we made sure to meet for dinner, eating early at 5:30, so we'd have time to get into our fancy dresses.
She was keyed up and so was I. Even though I kept reassuring her with the very true observation, that finaling for the RITA is really the big bump - in buzz and sales - I started to feel nervous. Now, a date's job at this kind of thing is to help maintain the calm, to buffer the anxiety, so I kept up a good face. Still, I really wanted this for her and the imminent possibility of great celebration or the bruise of disappointment loomed. I had my consolation words planned, knowing well how it can sting, even when you KNOW it's still amazing to get that close.
When her category came up, I rubbed a hand over her back, as much to soothe myself as her.
When they called her name, I burst into tears. I rarely have experienced the happy cry, but I did last night.
When she came back to the table, carrying her heavy golden statue, she sat and said, "Did I remember to thank you in my speech?" and I said, "I don't know - I was crying!"
One of those stories we'll tell forever.
This week's theme is: Choosing point-of-view (POV): How Do You Know Which One Is Right For Your Story?
In many ways, this is Carolyn's story. But it's also mine. I've walked this road with her from the very first glimmer of the concept for this series. Last night felt as much my joy as hers. Conventional wisdom says we should choose POV according to which character has the greatest emotional stake in a scene. Which means, if I were writing the book, I'd want to tell you this story from Carolyn's POV.
In real life, however, it's necessarily my POV. I can give a perspective that she can't. One infused with the pure elation of celebrating someone else's victory.
A sweet place to be.