A nice surprise…

Ten years ago, I entered my first poetry competition, without the slightest hope of being placed. Like most writers, I am not all that good at self promotion, and entering any kind of writing competition seems to fall into that category. And this seems a bit strange, even to me, because that first one? I won.

You could have knocked me down with a feather when I opened the mail that day and the letter fell out, complete with a substantial cheque.

It had been an international poetry prize, judged by the French poet and philosopher, Michel François. It was the linguistic and esoteric connection that had first attracted my attention. And suddenly I could, to my intense surprise, call myself an ‘award winning poet’… and that felt odd. Even odder in French, where the term for the prize-winner is lauréat, a word with a slightly different aura when applied to poets in English.

That was ten years ago. I’m still not comfortable with self-promotion, so although I steeled myself to mention the award in my bio, I am far happier promoting the work of others than my own.

For some reason, I checked the website of that poetry prize the other day, wondering what this year’s dates would be, only to find that the award will not be running this year. I found something else though, which once again took me by surprise. They had published a bilingual anthology of some of the prize-winning poems, edited by Michel François and including some of his own unpublished work.

I must have missed it when it was first released. I could not remember having been notified, but there had been a lot going on in my life at the time… so I assumed I was not one of the chosen poets. I felt I should obtain a copy even so, for winning that prize had given me the confidence to write.

It duly arrived and fell open at a bookmarked page. Whether by accident or design, the bookmark had been inserted at the page that held my poem. And that was a wonderful surprise. But the thing that made me really smile was a simple thing… the book is a hardback. And for some reason that made it suddenly seem real in some illogical and indefinable way.

I suppose it is a hangover from childhood, when all serious writers were published in hardback. These days, there is so much excellent writing published primarily in paerback…especially with the advent of print-on-demand services… that such a perception is completely out of date. But it made me wonder how many of us shy away, not only from mentioning our achievements, but giving ourselves any credit for them?

We downplay so much of what we do, because we are taught that it is not the done thing to blow one’s own trumpet. The trouble is that no-one else can blow it for us if they don’t know we have one to blow. There is, admittedly, a fine line between confidently stating your achievements and bragging about them… and that never goes down well.

Not all achievements come with honours, cheques or recognition. Most, in fact, are quite ‘ordinary’…but no less extraordinary for that. The parent who juggles home, work and children, giving all of themselves to what they do. The person who smiles in spite of chronic illness. The person who cheerfully puts their own dreams on hold for the needs of others. The quiet effort and ungrudging sacrifices that go into every single day are all achievements worthy of praise, and although we might not shout about them from the rooftops, we should, at the very least, recognise when we have done a good job.

It need not be a big thing… sometimes it is the small things that give us the encouragement we need. Sometimes it takes no more than a ‘thank you’ or a smile to boost our confidence in what we do. In my case, it took just three words available in hardback.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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71 Responses to A nice surprise…

  1. Susan Scott says:

    That is so lovely Sue!!!


  2. Very cool. I am not surprised that you are a lauréat poet. And yeah, hardcover… !


  3. Mary Adler says:

    What a lovely surprise. I am happy for you.


  4. Suzanne says:

    How wonderful that the bookmark was inserted on your poem. Getting published in hardback is still an honour I think for it is so hard to accomplish. Well done. 🙂


  5. Very happy for you and such a lovely, encouraging post as well.


  6. WELL DONE – you’re a deserving lauréat, Sue ❤ ❤ ❤


  7. ksbeth says:

    what a wonderful and well-deserved surprise, sue –


  8. Mary Smith says:

    Lovely, Sue. Loved they put the bookmark in where your poem is. There is something special about hard back.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. scifihammy says:

    This is a wonderful post and well done on your achievements too. 🙂


  10. fransiweinstein says:

    Congratulations Sue, that is wonderful; and truly something to be proud of. You’re so right — we are so shy and uncomfortable when it comes to acknowledging our accomplishments, whatever they are, but we shouldn’t be. They’re meaningful and part of who we are and there is nothing wrong with sharing good news, even about ourselves.


  11. This is wonderful, Sue ♥ In this world of the ephemeral, we need these tangible rewards to hold in our hand, evidence that we (and our work) are real. You are worthy and deserving of success, never doubt that! Your friend from far away, Connie


    • Sue Vincent says:

      Thanks, Connie. Witht he internet consuming every word and so little being left to posterity in tangible form, there is something about a physical copy of a book that seems to confirm reality …and we do need that sometimes.


  12. ellenbest24 says:

    A beautiful surprise. An inspiring post from an inspirational poet.


  13. trentpmcd says:

    Very cool, Ms Poet Lauréat 😉 I’m sure it does feel great to have your words in a hard bound book.


  14. quiall says:

    You have every right to be proud! And we are glad you took that first step.


  15. Well deserved, I am sure. Would be lovely if you shared the winning poem on your blog ❤


  16. Rae Longest says:

    This was fascinating reading for me–words from a real author!


  17. I think you pegged it with “holdover from childhood”
    Maybe that’s it. All those books in the library that we held in our hands.
    How cool and what encouragement to actually have your work in an actual hardback book. Solid. Real. And so wonderful. (Your whole body must have secretly shouted YEA!)


  18. paulandruss says:

    Wow What a lovely Surprise Sue.. and well deserved.


  19. Lyn Horner says:

    Wow! Congrats, Sue. That’s quite an honor for you and well deserved.


  20. Celebrating your every success! ❤


  21. This is wonderful, Sue! There is something about a hard cover book. Makes it seem official somehow.


  22. Wendy Janes says:

    Thanks for sharing your news. A hardback book – brilliant. I love the fact that the bookmark was placed at the page where you poem resides.


  23. dgkaye says:

    It is the small good things that often give us a boost to continue slogging on Sue. So toot your horn loud because you are a talented writer and very deserving. Huge congrats!! ❤ xx


  24. Widdershins says:

    Whoot! 😀 .. you hardcover published author, you! 😀


  25. Gary Lea says:

    The more I read, the more moist my eyes got. Don’t know why I was getting quite that emotional. But this is great! What we’re all striving for. Congratulations. And, yes, it’s hard to blow your own horn but somebodie’s got to do it. Thanks for sharing this.


  26. Darlene says:

    How wonderful!! I’m sure you are very pleased to be included in the hardback addition od this anthology!! Congratulations and thanks for sharing it with us. xo


  27. I still treasure hardbacks in a way I do not treasure paperbacks — also a holdover from childhood. How delightful that it was set to your poem 😀 What a lovely emotional tickle.


  28. macjam47 says:

    What a wonderful surprise! I’m so happy for you. ❤️❤️❤️


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