It was the last story that I had written with cold, calculating control (as opposed to the fevered, and often mad bursts of white heat). Every word, every thought, every unfortunate comma was thought of, deliberated then decided on. And, despite all the hard work, blood, sweat, tears, heart, soul and, ever more importantly, time, put in it, I was still unhappy with what came out.
I have never worked on a story as I did on Riverstone Heart. And I don't I will anytime in the foreseeable future as I have learned that my returns for the works I didn't work too hard on (and didn't, consequently, over think or over edit) were much higher than the ones that I've obsessed on for ages.
And yet, someone thought it was pretty good. A couple of people who I've idolized for so long, actually thought it was good enough to be cited in the Year's Best. It's a heady feeling. In fact, it's the second best news of the year, just edging out my first (hopefully not my last) Palanca (but still way behind the birth of my son for obvious reasons). I think it's because it's so unexpected. I mean, regardless of what I thought of my story submission for the Palanca, I still did something to join the contest, and come August, I'm of course hoping for the legendary Palanca letter. But this, this, was literally out of the blue. I didn't even know my idols read Serendipity mainly because it was so new there's no record if it being even in the radar. But they did. And here I am.
But perhaps the even bigger reason why I feel so good about this is that it is some form of validation; not that my idols read my work (but of course, that's part of it as well), but that there were actually people who did read my work - not just my friends, or my enemies, or people who knew me or, even more probably, knew of the people I knew. I was just someone out there, unknown, without anything or anyone to back me up or bring me down. And all that spoke for me was my story.
Perhaps that, more than an award, makes me feel like I wrote something of value. And whatever the future brings; even if I probably won't be able to replicate this wonderful year in terms of writing, I will always own this moment where I can say that, for at least one story, I was a writer.