Monday, June 25, 2012
I didn't make it to the Printer's Row book fest this year because, keeping with tradition, it was too hot. I was sorry to miss seeing John Green. He was the recipient of the 2012 Tribune Young Adult Literary Prize. You can find his acceptance speech on YouTube. He starts off with this: "The middle man is essential to the creation of a good novel." Maybe that's controversial, but your best work can't happen in a vacuum. It just can't. Then he talks about the early days of his career. I was surprised that he was passing himself off as a slacker who wrote mediocre stuff and perpetually missed deadlines. This coming from a prolific writer whose age is mentioned in every article ever written about him. He was probably trying to make us feel better so we'd like him. He talks about stealing ideas from friends, which I call "living the writer's life." And he asserts that books are written by regular people, which of course is true. (Except for one qualifier: regular people with time.) (He touches on time too.) Literary prizes are important because they recognize authors we should be reading. They help the publishing industry. Maybe they can even be inspiring. And when you listen to these accomplished authors talk about writing, you hear a common refrain. Hard work. Gratitude. Without these, a good novel will never happen.