Goodbye, Giller: Michelle Winters relives the awards gala and contemplates what's next
Michelle Winters got the surprise of her life when her debut novel, I Am a Truck, made the shortlist for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize. On Monday, it was revealed that Michael Redhill took home the $100,000 prize for his novel Bellevue Square. In her final post for CBC Books, Winters reflects on her entire Giller Prize experience.
Missed the series? Read them all here:
- Part One: First-time finalist
- Part Two: From slush pile to shortlist
- Part Three: On the road
- Part Four: Enjoying the ride
Well, there we have it. The lights have stopped flickering, the dishes have stopped clattering and the dog feels safe to come out from under the buffet. The Giller Prize haa passed and it's time to take inventory in the wake of what was a truly miraculous phenomenon.
Long live the book
All five of us nominees have been changed in countless ways from this honour (Michael Redhill's taking the longest to count), but I'm pleased to say that starting from a place of absolute obscurity in relation to my new writing friends, I had a lot to gain, and gained a lot.
One of the greatest gifts bestowed upon me was the extended life of my book. Before this nomination, the little light of my novel's existence was about to blink out peacefully, for good. Now it gets to shine just a little bit longer. People might give it as a Christmas gift. Two people might give it to each other, and laugh. Who can say in this topsy-turvy world?
But I think the most amazing thing I've gained from this experience, is just that: the experience. The having-lived-it part. People buy $250,000 tickets on the space shuttle to emulate this very kind of otherwise unattainable feeling. Not everyone will get the chance to live through a sudden, unanticipated success. I've been trying to describe it as best I can in these posts, it still defies description. Life should be filled with strange, unexpected things. As a writer, exploring this kind of improbable reality is delicious stuff.
A new beginning
As the Giller Prize's magical light retreats into the heavens, I think the strangest and most welcome sensation I've had is the return of my own agency. When you're in the throes of the whole campaign, the Giller does what it wants with you. Once it's over, you get to take control back. You get to be the creator again. I'm happy to say that the cosmic excitement of writing new characters and pushing a plot to the limits of your imagination remains a thrill unlike any other. It's good to see you again, blank page.
Michelle Winters is the author of I Am a Truck.