So I didn’t win the Golden Heart.
To people not in the RWA community, this may seem like a huge disappointment. And don’t get me wrong–I would have been thrilled if I had won, but as any Golden Heart finalist will tell you, finaling is winning. All the GH nominees are winners simply because we finaled. Ask any of them, and I guarantee they will say the same thing.
After the Golden Heart awards ceremony, I posted a picture on my personal Facebook page with the caption “I may not have won the Golden Heart, but I did win the Tammy Baumann award, a very nice second. It made me cry!”
My non-RWA friends were thrilled that I won second place. It took me a while to explain that no, the Tammy Baumann award is not an actual award.
But I will tell you that it meant more to me than any actual awards I’ve won.
Tammy was one of the anonymous judges for Letting Go when I submitted my manuscript for the Golden Pen, a contest that mirrors the Golden Heart and is run by the Golden Network. She believed in my story at a time when I was questioning whether or not I had what it takes to make it as a writer. Her comments not only gave me the confidence to move forward, but her critical comments also helped me improve my manuscript.
So when Tammy presented me with the black feather boa after the Golden Heart ceremony, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I was touched beyond words by the thoughtful gesture. That boa symbolizes everything that is good about RWA and the romance writing community.
We are all in competition with one another. Let’s face it–as much as we may enjoy it, romance writing is a business. We all want to sell books. We all want to make a list. We all want that huge advance. But instead of scratching and clawing our way to the top, we boost up our fellow writers. We plot together, we share manuscripts for critiques, we offer encouragement when it seems like the words will never come.
We take time out of our busy lives to pack black feather boas in a probably already-overstuffed suitcase.
That boa symbolizes home to me. Within my Golden Heart sisters (the Dreamweavers) and the organization as a whole, I’ve found my people, my place, my home. It was never more clear to me in that moment, in the aftermath of not winning the biggest accolade an unpublished romance writer can hope for, that I was right where I should be. With my sisters.