Oh, Oscar

I have an admittedly complex relationship with the Big 3: Golden Globes, Academy Awards, and Emmys. This is because my goal from childhood was to be among those stars, and as I get older that seems less and less likely.

The far-too-late movement to include more minorities in filmmaking doesn’t seem to extend to the likes of me. Despite much wonderful feedback (even a win) for my screenwriting, I can’t get anyone to take me and my work seriously. Is it because I’m a woman? Or because I’ve aged out? Or just because I don’t know anyone?

This is why I resent the overall tenor of things like the Oscars, where they act as though if you just try hard enough you will get recognized. This is patently untrue. Sorry, del Toro, but you can’t just kick the door open. That door is like a bank vault; you need to be able to crack a safe open to get through it.

Some of my sorrow is my own fault, certainly. I made the choice to have a family, and Hollywood is not family friendly. I’ve worked on film sets; I remember the insane schedules and the gnawing worry about what my next job would be. It’s not steady work or a stable environment. Piss off one person and you may never work again.

Still, as a writer you would think I could at least get a script produced. Hollywood needs writers, right? Well, apparently they only need the five guys who write all the Marvel films.

I don’t mean to sound bitter, but I suppose I am a little. For all the talk of being inclusive, what they really mean is including the women (and minorities) who are already there, not anyone new. Those walls are still standing, that vault door is still firmly locked.

The Popularity Contest Writer

I’ve noticed more and more—and maybe it started with shows like American Idol, where contestants rely on voters in order to succeed—that “awards” in writing are based more on how many votes a writer can muster than whether or not their work is any good.

For example, cover art awards offered by various bloggers and reviews sites (InD’Tale, Books & Benches) almost always require a writer and/or cover artist to go begging for votes. So instead of the best cover winning based on merit and design, it’s really the most popular author or artist who wins.

Kind of like high school all over again, really.

Same for many site-based reading awards. Your book or story gets nominated and then rounds of voting begin. Then I’m required to annoy my readers with constant “please vote” messages. I don’t enjoy sending them, and they don’t enjoy receiving them.

I’m not bitter, per se. (Okay, maybe I am a wee bit.) But I’d be much more proud of an award that came from experts who’d actually evaluated the work and found mine worthy of recognition.

And I understand, certainly, that popularity matters in this industry, at least to some extent. Being popular is how you sell books, and sales = success. Or does it? Well, sales = success in the eyes of publishers at the very least. And if you’re successful by that measure, you’re more likely to be given more opportunities. More opportunities = more chances for success = more sales . . . You see how it becomes a loop.

The bottom line is: what’s popular isn’t always what’s actually good. We all know this. We’ve all picked up a best-selling book or gone to see some blockbuster film and walked away thinking, What rubbish. I don’t understand why everyone likes it. And we don’t all have the same tastes, which is part of what makes our world interesting. But apparently enough of us like some things so much that it makes a blip on the pop culture radar. It causes “buzz.” Whether that thing is any good or not.

A lot of the books in these contests are indie books by authors who churn them out and now have a mobilized following. I’m sure the authors write well, though I’ll admit I’ve read few of them. They’d tell me to get a “street team” or something, and then I could win awards via votes, too. But that’s not the point. At least not for me. The point is, an award shouldn’t be based on popular vote. Unless it’s the People’s Choice Awards, I guess. Any award worth bragging about comes from your peers and from people within the industry who have the experience to determine the good from the great.

That said, if my readers—all five or ten of them—ever want to vote for me if/when I’m nominated for a vote-based award, I won’t say no.

It’s a Major Award!

Well, maybe not “major” but Christine Rains was nice enough to give me the Booker Award:

The rules for the award are that the blog it is awarded to must be at least 50% about books (or reading and writing). You’re then supposed to share your top five favorite books of all time (or more than five if you like), and offer the award to 5-10 other bookish bloggers.

Well, here are my favorite books (in no particular order):

  1. Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir
  2. Exit, Sherlock Holmes by Robert Lee Hall
  3. Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
  4. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
  5. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
  6. Rivers of London (aka Midnight Riot) by Ben Aaronovitch
  7. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  8. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  9. The Last Sherlock Holmes Story by Michael Dibdin
  10. Any of the Hercule Poirot novels by Agatha Christie

As you see, I like a mix of things: historical fiction, mystery, fantasy . . .

I’ll have to think about who to give the award to and get back to you on that later; I’m running behind at the moment and need to get a move on my day.

Awards

Fellow author Christine Rains has awarded me the following:

Thanks, Christine! I don’t know if I really deserve them, but I’ll take what I can get. I am, in turn, supposed to pass these on to other deserving bloggers, but I don’t have much of a blogroll yet. I’ll have to think about it for a bit before sending these on.

I’m also supposed to share seven random facts about myself. I suppose this is in lieu of an acceptance speech? Well, okay . . .

  1. I can’t eat any meat that is on a bone. I mean, I guess I can, but I won’t.
  2. I got impatient and proposed to my husband instead of waiting for him to get around to it.
  3. I don’t cook.
  4. I do a pretty decent version of “Kiss Me” in karaoke.
  5. I no longer have a gallbladder.
  6. I hate flying but love to travel. Car or train trips are my favorites. Of course, sometimes you just have to fly.
  7. Though I skipped it this year, I usually teach Shakespeare, playwriting and other such courses at a local summer camp.

And oh my, I do believe it just started raining. Meanwhile, I only have a couple more hours to myself before I have to go pick up the children from school. Back to work!