Never in my life have I aimed for a career in acting, singing, or cinematography, but that hasn’t stopped me from drafting and re-drafting my Oscar acceptance speech. Don’t pretend you haven’t done yours. I conducted a highly unscientific poll and found that I am far from alone in believing that “somehow, for some damn thing, I might eventually win an Oscar.”
As a fantasy, it’s right up there with finding true, enduring love and weighing exactly what you want to weigh for more than half an hour.
Why an Oscar? You have to ask? For anyone raised on a diet rich in popular culture (Genus: First World; Species: Western), the Oscars have been the last word in awards since Janet Gaynor collected the first Best Actress gong.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t kick a Pulitzer, Nobel, Bafta or Man Booker Prize out of bed. I’d never churlishly pass on letting the Queen turn me into a Dame, or say no to a Grammy, an Orwell, a Saltire, a Peabody, or even a Best in Breed from Crufts (though truth be told, the one that really gives Oscar a run for his money is the MacArthur Genius Award – I’m nothing if not grandiose).
But Oscar. . . Gold and shiny and instantly identifiable. Allegedly christened by Bette Davis in between ciggies. Progenitor of an entire industry of snarky fashion commentary. Watched by billions, including me, religiously (and always with a quip to hand) from the days of my childhood until I moved to Scotland and it became problematic.
Let’s be clear: I’ve never hankered after fame. Well, only just enough recognition in my field to get asked to do the sort of work I adore and the chance to meet an endless number of fascinating people.
Trouble is, you need a field. There’s no escaping the fact – even in our Selfie society – that to get an award of any description you have to do something first. I know this and I approve of this.
But. . .
Let me make a confession. Sometimes, while working on my current writing project, my mind wanders. Sadly it doesn’t wander off with my characters, imagining what they’ll do and say next. Instead I drift into fantasies about which bit I’ll read out at book festivals and how I’ll answer my interlocutor’s questions with lashings of wit and psychological perspicacity. I think about which pen to use to sign copies of my book. I envisage myself arguing with my publisher over its jacket.
I don’t have a publisher. I have not written this book. It’s still a collection of badly cracked shards that I’m hoping to assemble into a decorative object that’s not too wonky to stand unaided and does not qualify for the Bad Taxidermy website or the Bad Sex Award (you see the problems facing a writer capable of mixing metaphors until they’re sludge).
I am even, and this is beyond silly, worried about how I’ll handle bad reviews, when I know I’ll be lucky to get reviews of this book I’ve not yet finished and which my lovely agent has not yet sold. Because it’s still embryonic. And because not every book finds a home. Though it helps if it’s actually written. (Note to self: this might be why you’ve still not won the lottery.)
To my dishonour I’ve never been a woman who believed that doing something (anything) was its own reward. I require incentives. I need pats on the back and encouraging words in order to keep going. I am weak and needy. And strong enough to admit it.
It will therefore surprise no one to discover that the bit of my book I have written is the dedication and acknowledgement’s page, where I thank the members of my academy.
Now all I need’s a frock. And to finish.