This evening, after a bad day of writing (translation: everything that I set down on paper stank) I turned on my computer to check my email. And discovered message after message with the subject line: “Congratulations.” They were emails from my wonderful fellow writers sending me best wishes on my Edgar Award nomination for “Best Novel.”
I was so flabbergasted that I didn’t believe it at first. Then I opened an official email from the Mystery Writers of America and discovered – yes, it’s true. VANISH has been nominated.
It’s my very first time.
Now a confession: to be nominated has been my dream for as long as I can remember. No matter how many books I sell, or how big my advances, the one thing that has driven me, since childhood, is the hunger for respect. To have people care what I have to say. Maybe it’s the fact I grew up a minority. Maybe it’s the fact that I heard a few too many racial epithets while a child. It left me with a lifelong need to prove myself.
Just a few days ago, during a radio show in the UK, the interviewer asked me, “What drives you to keep writing?” And I answered, in a startling moment of honesty: “To be accepted. To be acknowledged.”
The truth is, though, that one can never feel fully accepted. Those of us who feel like outsiders will always feel this way. All I have to do is visit a few blogsites tonight and I find someone posting “WTF is Tess Gerritsen doing on the Edgars nominee list? Her book doesn’t belong there!”
Even now, I still feel I’m on the outside, looking in at a marvelous party that I’ll never be invited to join.
But for the moment, I’m thrilled. I’ve had my gin and tonic, and I even poured myself an extra glass of wine with dinner. I’m letting myself feel, just for tonight, that I’ve been invited to the party. Not the outsider, not the Chink, not the girl who was never white enough, never from the right social class.
Tonight, I’m okay.