Saturday Snap – Me at @saskbookawards 2017 (and Some Random Thoughts On The Awards, Life, and How I Got There)

So, I once again attended the Sask Book Awards tonight.

Here are a few random thoughts…

  • Was flying solo tonight as Shea decided to take advantage of the great weather and her parents (her mom works shift work) being off to take the kids and go to Weyburn for the weekend.
  • Yes, I wore an olive jacket, a purple shirt, a grey and purple tie, grey pants and brown shoes.  I told myself that whatever weird combination a person wears to the Book Awards is cool because it’s artsy and funky.  But really, I mostly looked like I was doing a bad Joker cosplay. 😉
  • I had to work at the library today so it was a record-setting race at 5pm to get home, throw on my dress clothes (the SBA is literally the only time I wear a tie all year!) and get back across the city to the Conexus Arts Centre.  Thought I’d be late but managed to get there in time to have a drink and a visit as part of their cocktail hour.
  • A friend I graduated high school with works with a local publisher and, if possible, is even smarter than she was in high school when she graduated with the highest average in our class.  She now gets shouts out from the stage multiple times for what a brilliant editor she is (and I get to re-live jealousies that go back to elementary school of wondering how somebody can be that smart!) 😉  But seriously, we got a chance to chat before the Gala and while catching up on various people we knew in common, agreed that it was funny that we’d both basically ended up close to where we thought we might end up in high school – her in publishing and me in libraries – and how some many former classmates had ended up exactly where we thought they would while others have veered off in very unexpected ways – career or otherwise.
  • As always, I got to chat with many friends and colleagues from the writing and publishing world and although there are times I regret spending the first ten years of my life making very little money in the non-profit sector, I don’t regret the experiences and skills and connections I gained in that time not to mention, in hindsight, realising how lucky I was to find work in my field relatively quickly after graduating, even with “only” a BA degree.  Some people I talked to tonight took SEVEN years to find work in a field even close to what they studied.
  • I met a few different people I didn’t know before who are not much removed in age from when I started in the publishing world and it was interesting to compare notes on how our career paths were similar and different.
  • I think the Sask Book Awards should make their official Gala program document into a more formal “game card” and have spots where attendees can put a check in a box beside who they think will win each award and keep a running total since many of us do this anyhow (I got 5/14 this year – not my best, not my worst.)
  • Coteau Books, of which I’m a board member, had a pretty good night winning four of fourteen awards (total that were handed out – even better percentage if you only look at awards where Coteau was nominated), more than any other publisher (I think).
  • Went for a drink at a downtown hotel after (in the old days before they tightened up our liquor rules so much, you might have two or <gasp> three drinks after the Book Awards) and hung out with a bunch of people I knew and a bunch of people I was meeting for the first time which was fun.
  • Happened to find out that someone I was sitting beside had more recently been on the same U of R facilitated exchange I’d gone on to England way back in 1995 (!) so that was the end of my talking about books/publishing for the night and I spent pretty much the rest of the night comparing notes about our respective experiences – travel itineraries, impressions of York, life in dorms, pubs we frequented, classes we took, “theresickness” and more.  Both of us agreed it was one of the most amazing experience of our lives.
  • Libraries got a lot of love at the SBA Gala – two of Saskatchewan’s heaviest hitters in the literary world (Trevor Herriot and Yann Martel via his proxy, Art Slade, who’s no slouch himself) directly acknowledged the importance of libraries from the stage and a few other presenters/sponsors acknowledged the recent library fiasco more in passing.
  • Our publisher had asked me, as a board member, to accept one publishing award on behalf of Coteau if we happened to win.  In a way, it’s probably good that we didn’t as I had plans to take a moment to share a few thoughts about the library issue myself! 😉
  • Sask Party MLA, Laura Ross, was there to present an award and I thought it was kinda funny that her constituency was listed incorrectly in the program *and* when she was announced. (Probably an innocent human error but I’m going to tell myself it was an intentional jab about the Sask Party’s own habit of playing fast and loose with facts.) 😉
  • I had lots of side conversations about the library issue with a variety of people and got lots of congratulations from attendees who recognized the victory the library sector had.
  • The SBA Gala is a weird place to be discussing advocacy and political strategy but I had more conversations on those topics tonight than probably ever previous SBA Gala I’ve attended in total (and I’ve been attending without missing more than a handful since 1997!)
  • Overall, a fun enjoyable night.  Usually there are things that stand out as really awesome and things I’m not enamoured with but tonight felt very even keel – not too high, not too low and everything just running smoothly.  As RPL Director, Jeff Barber said, when he got up to present the Book of the Year award (which RPL sponsors), “this is a great way to cap what’s been a pretty amazing week.”  I agree!

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