Eight years ago, my wife and I flew to New York for the Edgar Awards. I was a finalist in the Best First Novel by an American Author category. I didn't win. If only they'd put me up against a bunch of Canadians. I would've kicked their Canuck butts!
Now I find myself headed back to New York for another Edgars ceremony. (That's my freshly dry-cleaned tux wrapped up like a ham salad sandwich in the picture.) I'm a finalist again, but obviously not for Best First Novel by One of Us. You only get one crack at that. And there isn't a category for Best 11th or 12th Novel by an American Author. So instead I'm a finalist in the Best Juvenile category, which sounds like something I should have been nominated for (and definitely would have lost) when I was 10 years old. I think if it were Most Juvenile I might have a decent shot at it now, but "Best"…that's a high bar.
And it's not just the category that's changed. I'm nominated for a different book series from a different publisher and will be joined at the Edgars banquet by a different editor and a different agent. I'm extremely grateful to report that my wife hasn't changed. But she won't be coming with me this time, so that's different. And the tux will be the same, but that's only because I'm too cheap to get another one. (My waist size -- whoa nelly, that has changed.)
Well, after eight years of ups and downs, I am no longer a publishing newbie. I am a grizzled old survivor. And I am constrained by many limits substantially closer and less porous and more all-around limit-y than the sky.
So I know now that I'll never be this and I'll never do that and I'll never get to experience the other thing. But I also know that's O.K. Because my wife is still my wife and my books are still my books and, aside from being older and wiser and substantially paunchier, I'm still me -- and I'm packing for the Edgars.