My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Winning a Nobel and Fiction's Fate (Mailbox)

I thought I told you to get rid of the image finding intern.
What the actual fuck is this??!!?
Nobel Prizes and My Damned Promised Fiction FFS! 

Stephen asks:

Has anyone won a Pulitzer or Nobel Peace Prize for Literature? If you want to win either, how do you do it?

My reply:

Nobel is a prize that is given in various categories including "peace" and "literature." But the peace prize is separate. You don't win a Nobel Peace Prize for Literature. You win a Nobel Prize in Literature. That's like saying you got a Best Actor Oscar for Best Director.

The process is completely based on write in proposals, and they don't tell you who got how many nominations until 50 years later. To write in a proposal, you have to be a previous Nobel Laureate, a professor of literature and linguistics, a member of the Swedish Academy, or a president of your country's literary society. They send you a letter inviting you to write in a nomination. The nominations are then sent to the Swedish Academy, and 18 people sift through the nominations to pick a winner. So basically you have to LITERALLY own a monocle and a brandy snifter to even have input. Then I'm not sure what happens. Either those 18 people see which author makes them say "Yes. Quite." (in Swedish of course) the loudest. OR they pull a name randomly and hang out with the bikini team while they're supposed to be deliberating, and generally laugh at how seriously the world takes this whole thing, skimming off the top of the cash awards to support various debauchery.

Either way, the writer doesn't do anything. They get nominated without knowing it. The Swedish Academy will VERY discreetly send a winner a notification that they might want to come to Stockholm. But the writer has nothing to do with this process. Basically they just get told they won.

Stephen, I notice that this is your third or fourth question about Nobel prizes you've sent me on Writing About Writing's Facebook Page. I don't want to smear on too much undue snark for someone who hasn't actually sent me hate mail, but if you're this interested in a Nobel prize, and you have a computer to log onto Facebook, this stuff is pretty easy to find. Google: it's awesome!   nobelprize.org

Pulitzers are a bit different. They're mostly for journalism. They do give out one award each year for fiction, and you just apply for that by submitting the fiction you want them to consider. Very competitive, though, as you can imagine. pulitzer.org

Allison asks:

Hey you said you were going to write some fiction last week. I really like A Demon's Rubicon [Chris: I added the link], and I was all psyched. What happened?

My reply:

In my best Billy Crystal voice: Don't rush me Sonny. You rush a fiction piece, you get rotten fiction pieces. You got money? Hooooweeee, I never work for so cheap. Except one time. But that was a very Nobel* cause.

Wait forget that last part.

Yes, I'm still working on the exciting conclusion. I'm fighting the forces of maudlin conclusions and aggrandizing narration. Life rolled in on a poopy-diaper-smelling cloud and demanded attention. Plus Burning Man. August was crap. Sometimes you just have to hold on to the bare minimum of writing and know that it's going to get better.

Fiction is like peeling open my chest cavity and showing you all my soul–especially since it's self published, so I generally have fewer editors, so I'm going to work extra hard to get it right. Even if that means I miss a deadline....or three.

*See what I did there?

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