There's the National Book Award and the MacArthur fellowship announcements that come in fall. I scan the MacArthur descriptions, and I'm always happy when I recognize names, and beyond that, I'm always happy to see how many ways people are following their passions and being recognized. This past week has also seen some awards in poetry world: the Lilly prize and others.
Often I feel a mix of emotions. I'm glad that literature is still being recognized as important. I add books to my ever growing reading list. More often, it's seemed that these prizes are being given to people in my generation or younger, which is both thrilling and a marker of how old I am getting.
I have often used these feelings to get on with my own writing and submitting. In past years, I might have had a stack of envelopes ready to go when literary journals opened in September for their reading seasons. The stack of envelopes has given way to a list of journals to remember to send electronic submissions.
But not this year. This year, I am in seminary, and most of my energy goes to seminary classes. I did write a poem yesterday, about the wicked witch of the enchanted forest who reflects on how she has mellowed in her older years. I can't decide if it's finished or not. I feel like I once had more, back a few weeks ago when the idea first came to me during a morning walk.
Let me also remember that I've gotten good feedback on my writing. Yesterday, one of my professors returned a shorter piece of writing with a note that told me I had done a great job and used words like powerful and poignant when talking about my writing. Wow! I am still thrilled.
I know it may seem strange that I am so thrilled. After all, I'm published, and I have advanced degrees. But still, there's always that worry that maybe here is where I find out that I'm not as skilled as I think I am, that I am just hot air and puffery. I have always had a strong case of imposter syndrome.
I would still be happy to have my poem chosen out of the submission pile. But I'm just as thrilled to be making good grades in seminary, and it's a thrill that hasn't grown dim with time.