Yes, I did my happy dance when I got the phone call from Pacific Northwest Writers Association, telling me that my manuscript submission for my newest novel, Carry on the Flame: Destiny's Call (to be released August 1st) is a finalist in their annual contest for 2011. I danced a little jig around the living room with my husband, followed of course by our cats, who jumped and meowed beside us. The first words that popped into my head were Sally Field’s 1985 Oscar acceptance speech for Best Actress in “Places in the Heart.” She said, You like me, you really like me! (true quote – “I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”) I felt a kinship with Sally Field’s words, even more so given the title of the movie that won the Oscar for her - "Places in the Heart." The theme of my novel is about the heart, about how love is the ultimate magic.
Being a finalist in a writers contest is by no means the equivalent of an Oscar…but wait a minute…an author is an artist, as an actor is an artist. And achievements are the honey dew in life, meant to be savored, are they not? So, I savor this.
As a matter of fact, there are some other Oscar acceptance speeches that I resonate with.
There is the one by Robin Williams, who was voted best supporting actor for Good Will Hunting in 1998. Robin said "Most of all I want to thank my father, up there, the man who, when I said I wanted to be an actor, he said, "Wonderful, just have a back up profession like welding.'" Okay, what author hasn't thought that or been told that? Well, maybe not quite a back up career as a welder, but you can fill in the blank.
I was touched by Shirley MacLaine's speech when she won Best Actress for the 1983 film "Terms of Endearment. "Films and life are like clay, waiting for us to mold it," she said. "And when you trust your own insides and that becomes achievement, it's a kind of principle that seems to me is at work with everyone. God bless that principle. God bless that potential that we all have for making anything possible if we think we deserve it." And then she added: "I deserve this."
So, taking my cue from Shirley - I deserve this. And this is my acceptance speech.