Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction

This is what I think about literary awards: they come about from selfless acts and are created and run by generous people. They are vital to writers and the literary world because they keep writing  important. Literary awards shine a big bright spotlight on novels and nonfiction and poetry and short fiction--they keep it all vital for authors and readers.

Can you tell I'm leading up to something?

I just received word SECRET KEEPERS received the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction. A huge honor, an annual prize "for the best novel set in the South." The award includes  $2,500, an expense-paid trip to New York City, and a luncheon at the Yacht Club.

It was the kind of email that would have set my heart galloping, except it already was-- I'd just come in from the garden and was already out of breath, with a racing heart. It was 100 degree out there, and I had been shoveling mulch, and was smarting from fire ant bites. This sounds like I'm complaining but I'm not-- I love those hard chores, the sweat, and the sore muscles. It clears my head. It strengthens my writing. It is, I realize, my meditation practice.  So-- I came inside finally, because I was out of my 100+ strength sunscreen. I have this Irish-English-Welsh skin--from my forebears generations ago-- skin that prefers foggy moist days.  Outside, I wear a big floppy hat and sunglasses and gloves and a long-sleeved shirt outside-- I look the Invisible Man (pictured here for your convenience)  if he were a woman. 

  I glanced at my email while I guzzled another glass of water and my knees went weak, and I sat down, trying to keep sweat drops off my laptop. After shock wore off, gratitude filled me, and that's one of the best feelings a human can have: gratitude.

So, looks like I'll be heading up to NYC in October, and meeting the judges of this fantastic award.

Writing is a solitary business. And then you send your novels out in the world-- like they are children who must make their own way.
How gratifying to know Secret Keepers might qualify for this award that is, as the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction explains,  "chosen for the quality of its prose, originality, and authenticity of setting and characters." Or in the words of the writer Willie Morris, the spirit of the novel might bring "hope for belonging, for belief in a people's better nature, for steadfastness against all that is hollow or crass or rootless or destructive."

Thank you doesn't even begin to cover it.


  1. A wonderful compliment, indeed--especially in light of the descriptor you provided by Morris. Congrats!


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