It’s actually very difficult to know what to write about it, because I was brought up to be very aware that the Evil Eye, would trip up boasters and braggers. My grandmother would never praise or compliment any of us without a muttered ‘kenayna hara!’ a kind of Yiddish superinjuction against the Evil Eye, followed by a highly sylised ‘Pah! Pah! Pah!’ - her way of spitting in said eye. My mother does the same thing. And (silently) so do I. I'm not a very Yiddish person (extraordinary how three generations can reduce a language to a handful of words, and that those words are things like 'rag', 'mad religious person', and 'grudge relating to wedding invitations') but fear of the Evil Eye goes deep.
So – kenayna hara! – I am thrilled that When I Was Joe is on the shortlist for the Branford Boase award, especially because it's the one award which is shared between writer and editor. I am so happy to see Maurice’s contribution honoured in this way. He’s got a completely magic touch as an editor - able to guide a writer without ever telling her what to do. I've been extraordinarily lucky to work with him. I'm also delighted that my friend Candy Gourlay is on the shortlist too, for the superb Tall Story, which deserves to win every award going.
|Four short-listed authors with the fab Angus organisers|
|The award itself - modelled on a Pictish stone|
But of course, it never works quite like that. I’ve been worrying about my current work-in-progress – for which I wrote not one word last week - am I on target (no), is it any good (hmm), can I settle down and concentrate on it sometime (hope so)? I’ve been vaguely angsting about what comes next – can I even come up with more ideas? And as always I’ve been attempting to balance my writing life with the demands of family and other work. In fact (it's midnight) I must go and clean the kitchen.
This week won’t be full of awards and shortlists. It’ll be a week to immerse myself in the latest book, thinking about the characters, the way their stories weave together, the right words to choose. If it goes well, that’s the most exciting thing of all. Kenayna hara. Pah! Pah! Pah!