One of my favorite things is seeing people in the act of being really happy for other people. I’m a sucker for those talent show clips from around the world where a performer goes onstage and the judges are all clearly prepared to be underwhelmed until that first note, or dance move, or sleight-of-hand trick, then they and the audience are brought to their feet or to tears or both. I loved seeing the preternaturally talented singer-songwriter Jai Waetford astonish the judges on The X Factor Australia when he was 14. And the reaction to Kieran Lai, who did an amazing body-popping dance called “The Tin Man” on Britain’s Got Talent. And neither the judges nor I could stop smiling watching the three male dancers from France do their saucy girl power routine wearing high heels.
It’s utterly delightful to witness humans celebrating other humans performing at their best.
Last week, I attended the 18th annual Independent Publisher Book Awards in New York. The venue where the ceremony was held was originally built as the Manhattan Baptist Church, and later turned into a recording studio because the acoustics were so good. Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell and John Lennon’s Walls and Bridges were recorded there, and the Stones, Stevie Wonder and many others trod the same floor the award winners walked across to accept their medals.
While it could have been stuffy and pretentious as some ceremonies are, it was anything but. The attendees didn’t necessarily know one another, but each time an author went onstage, the crowd erupted with talent-show enthusiasm and applause. As a newly minted medalist moved back to their place, others offered congratulations as they passed. It was a real celebration of the hard work and dedication that resulted in their books not only being honored, but being imagined and completed and published.
My thanks to the committee for awarding my novel, 11 STORIES, the gold medal for popular fiction. And to the other medalists for making my few seconds in the spotlight a happy glow that continues even now. I’m so glad we could be happy for each other.