I knew why I was supposed to be dressing up; I was in the top three finalists for the ASFF Amateur Short Story Award. I’d worked on this short story, emailed it off, and waited — with a bit of nail-nibbling — to see how I went, and I’d received an email back saying to dress nicely for the awards ceremony because I’d be accepting one of the awards.
Shiny, I thought, and made sure my little black dress still fit.
The awards night was Sunday night. I was simultaneously wired on caffeine, sleep deprived, and my own usual brand of slightly loopy. I sat near the front for ease of access to the stage. My friend Narrelle was one of the presenters, so it was super fun watching her banter with her co-host, George Ivanoff. They presented the Chronos Awards first. I was expecting the Ditmars to be next, and then everyone to wander off to the bar while this short story award, which I had very inaccurately thought was the equivalent of Emmy for Best Dog Toenail Polish in a Postmodern Drama, was presented.
They did not.
There was a speech from Rose Mitchell (no relation) of the ASFF about how winners of this award have often gone on to win other, bigger awards. (No pressure, I thought.) There was the announcement of third place, and it was not me. I turned around and looked at my friend Figgy, who was there with me, and possibly raised an eyebrow in a that narrows it down way. I can’t be sure because I don’t think I can actually do that.
Then they announced second place, which was also not me. Despite the caffeine-sleeplessness-loopiness combo, I was able to do the maths. I turned around and looked at Figgy again with my mouth ever so slightly ajar. Her facial expression was the physical equivalent of the sound of squealing.
Then they announced first place and it was me and I had to figure out how walking worked. I wanted badly to look at the audience, to see those of my friends who weren’t manning the registration desk, and the new friends I had made, to see their reactions. I physically couldn’t, because if I looked anywhere but at Narrelle and Rose, I was going to fall over. I was in actual tears.
I made it to the stage, I got my certificate (and cheque! Woohoo!), I then made it back to my seat and collapsed into Figgy’s arms. I picked up my phone to tweet, because internet, and it wouldn’t work because the results were being livetweeted and as a result I had so many notifications already that the app crashed.
I wasn’t so out of it that I couldn’t applaud the rest of the awards, and make delighted noises when Tansy won things, but a lot of what I did was sit there being gobsmacked.
Then after the awards were done I had a bazillion people congratulate me. Tansy hugged me. Jim Hines hugged me, which was awesome. Sharon Moseley hugged me. I had handshakes.
And then I had Stephen of Satalyte Publishing (and his gorgeous baby girl Elizabeth) pull me aside and ask to catch up on Monday in the Dealer’s Den… but that’s just the beginning of that story, a story that I hope will unfold more over the coming months.