Writing from beautiful, rainy Montreal, a city where I have always found good fortune. In the previous post, I guess I puffed up the GG nomination pretty good. I figured that was my moment in the sun, so wanted to make a little something of it. I never dreamed Lakeland would receive the actual award.
What was it like to win? I got asked that many times yesterday by ladies and gentlemen of the press. It was like this:
The laureates, as they grandly called us yesterday, had been given the good news by telephone about ten days ago — but were sworn to secrecy until the announcement. It meant that writers all over Canada had been sneaking around their friends and loved ones, telling vague, fishy stories about travel plans they were making. Sorry about that, folks.
You’d think knowing about the win in advance would have made us all calm as cucumbers. Some of us arrived that way. But the atmosphere at La Grande Bibliothèque, aka. the National Library of Canada, was electric. It was impossible not to be caught up in it.
While a few hundred rather sophisticated looking people took seats in an auditorium, we were lined up like school kids backstage at a play, instructed in French and English to wait for the applause, walk to our mark, shake hands, turn to the photographer, etc. We had been chummy over morning coffee, but once the hour approached we milled about silently, everyone re-reading their one-page speech, which had to be filed in advance.
The applause for the first laureate was shockingly loud. One by one we were sent through the curtains, and our very capable handler, Diane Miljour crossed another name off a sheet on the wall. We were being sent to the beyond….
I went out almost at the end, found my mark and grinned into the glare, clutching a little gold envelope. I have never made a speech before with a scrum of cameras flashing. I had to laugh, and did, briefly. It was a fun ride.
Immediately following the announcement, the aforementioned ladies and gentlemen of the press converged upon us. I had no idea how much media interest would come my way. Perhaps it was because of the subject of Lakeland — rather universal and accessible to a Canadian audience. I spent the next four hours doing interviews. Regina’s Dianne Warren, whose novel Cool Water won the English fiction award, was doing likewise across the room. Coteau Books also took a publisher’s award for Wendy Phillips’ book, Fishtailing, so it was a good day for the very literary province called Saskatchewan.
Well, back to earth . . .
The issues raised in Lakeland are still issues. If the GG award announcement has steered you to this page, and you’ve made it to the end of this post, I hope you will follow the trail a little further. Please take a look at newly-launched, not-for-profit website called smallredcabin.org. It is a forum to discuss our use of Canada’s wild spaces for pleasure — especially lakes. What do they give us, and what should we give back in return? Please visit, register, and contribute your views. You will not be asked for money, I promise. The site is just new, and needs only your ideas in order to grow.