Last Thursday I received the news that my story "In the Spirit of McPhineas Lata" from The Bed Book of Short Stories published by Modjaji Books has been short listed for this year's Caine Prize. See the list HERE and read the stories.
When I first started writing seriously about seven years ago I remember not knowing anything about The Caine Prize. I suppose that's the case for most people who are not writers. I remember my friend and fellow writer, Wame Molefhe, explaining it all to me. She knew the importance of the Prize and I soon did as well. From then on we followed the Caine like others follow The Bold and the Beautiful. Each year we'd pour over the short list, reading the stories, discussing our favourites to win, and then be either happy or disappointed when the winner was finally announced. I'd meet Caine winners like Brian Chikwava and Henrietta Rose-Innes and be in awe of their talent. The Caine Prize was the goal held out there faraway in the distance and always at the back of my mind at least and I suspect Wame's as well was - "Some day I want to be there.".
And so last Thursday after a slightly disappointing day, having first been told two of my books had gone into second printing and I would be getting some royalties and then being told it was a computer mistake and feeling very down, I checked my email one last time before going into the house to cook lunch. And there it was. An email telling me I'd been short listed for the prize I'd always dreamed about.
So how do I feel? I'm writing this Monday afternoon after a frantic morning of congratulations from all sides after the official announcement. I feel a bit like a rock star. I know it will fade but for now I'm trying to just sit right in the middle of a big pile of happiness. I'm trying to remind myself how much I yearned for this very moment. I don't want to do what I usually do, tick it off as done and move on to number two. I don't want to think about the 11th of July (the awards day) and worry myself sick. I want to sit right here. Let time stop in my mind. Let me say for once without any reservation, without a single look behind my shoulder- I did this. I did this and it is an important thing.
This writing thing is such a crap shoot, keeping you always wondering if you're ever going to make it. Today you're fantastic, tomorrow you're a reject. But today, today I know I am a writer. I am a writer and I've done good.