Acceptance Speeches and Gratitude

JK Simmons receiving his Oscar, photo by John Shearer by AP Photo.
JK Simmons receiving his Oscar, photo by John Shearer by AP Photo.

Warning: this post is incredibly loud and extremely personal. Viewers of a more generalist or nervous disposition should skip ahead to the next book review.

I heard that, with small exceptions, the Oscars ceremony on Sunday night was overly long and dull. I was never planning to watch it and was only mildly interested in the winners. [I have only seen 2-3 of the films across all nominated categories, most of them on airplanes, such is my social life]. But I struggled downstairs with a terrible migraine, so got to see live reactions on Twitter to the music, the surprise awards, the speeches.

Ah, the speeches! Some of them were political, rebellious, personal, memorable…  good for them. Typical acceptance speeches, of course, are all about gratitude, acknowledgement and thanks to collaborators and supporters. ‘I thank my parents, my spouse, my children, my dog…’

What to do, however, if those nearest and dearest are not at all supportive? I’ve written about it before. I’ve written a poem about it from the point of view of the supportive (and hitherto neglected) spouse. I’m not going to repeat myself. I don’t want to whine. I’ll just share with you a collection of anecdotes. Some of them are personal, some of them have been told to me by others. I suspect there is a glint of universality in most of them.

I really, really want to become a writer. All my teachers tell me I have talent. — What a waste of your intellectual capacities! You could do so many other things. Do that as a hobby, once you have got a good job under your belt, such as medicine or economics.

I did get to study what I was passionate about: languages and then anthropology. I even briefly got to work as an academic, but … it’s not like social sciences are real sciences, right? Surely an academic job in real science takes precedence. Why don’t you find a nice portable job, that you can take with you wherever you have to go to follow your husband?

This consultancy job is taking off, and you may be paid three times as much as your spouse, but it’s not really conducive to family life, is it? If you want to raise happy children, shouldn’t you find something more part-time, more flexible, even if it’s lower paid?

Patricia Arquette's rousing speech on gender equality. Photo from the Daily Mail.
Patricia Arquette’s rousing speech on gender equality. Photo from the Daily Mail.

Oh, come off it, being a trailing spouse isn’t that bad, is it? So you had to quit your job, but just look at your lifestyle in what is considered one of the most livable cities in the world! You can meet your lady friends for coffee and lunch, you can go to the gym, or, better still, explore the lovely nature surrounding you. You’ve got time on your hands, such a luxury! Lonely – psha! You can Skype your friends and family anytime. Anyone would envy you!

What do you mean, you want to start your own business? But who is going to handle all the organisational things this family needs? After all, you’re the only one who can speak the language…

What do you mean, you want to cut back on your work to focus on your writing? Writing will never pay the bills. If you’re not the next J K Rowling, you might as well not bother. Focus on your real job – just don’t travel so much with it. I can’t handle the kids all day – there’s very little time to do anything while they are in school.

OK, sure, honey, I’m supportive. When are you going to finish that book? Why are you wasting time on poetry? What have you been doing all day, why are you so tired? When are you going to get your book contract? Why should I go to the parents’ evening instead of you, so you can write –  haven’t you had enough time during the day?

Marion Cotillard in 2008. Photo: Digital Spy.
Marion Cotillard in 2008. Photo: Digital Spy.

This past weekend I had good news. After years of unseen labour and cold showers, I had very positive and personalised feedback about my writing from editors and agents at a conference organised by the Geneva Writers’ Group. They encouraged me to keep going, to finish my second novel as quickly as possible and to send it to them. Yes, I know there’s a long, hard road still ahead of me, that there are no guarantees. But it’s that first step, and so much better than I had ever allowed myself to hope for.

I come home in a disbelieving, golden haze, basking in their warm words. I open the door very nearly breathless, eager to celebrate with my loved ones, bring out the bugles, roll out the red carpet, open the champagne. Instead, I don’t even get the question: ‘So, how did it go?’

I’m realistic about the attention span and degree of empathy of little boys. In my exuberance, I pour out my joy regardless… but soon get bogged down in dinner questions, homework completed, cooking, setting the table and preparing schoolbags for the first day back after the holidays. I get to hear about levels completed on Super Mario Galaxy during my absence, while the older ‘child’ barely raises his head from his phone to listen to my anecdotes about the day. I expect to be brought down to earth by family commitments and daily life – but not necessarily a ball and chain weighing me down just as I am soaring.

Finally, at supper, I open a bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé that I’ve been keeping for special occasions and say, ‘Here’s to me!’ as we clinked our glasses.

‘Oh,’ replies my supportive spouse, ‘Why you?’

 

This is whom I’m going to mention in my acceptance speech:

P1020409

 

 

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44 thoughts on “Acceptance Speeches and Gratitude”

  1. Oh, that’s great news, Marina Sofia! Thank you for sharing it. And I’ve often thought that you have to start with an strong belief in yourself, because there are going to be times in life (and you’ve captured them brilliantly!) where even very well-meaning people aren’t supportive. I think a lot of people have moments where they feel exactly what you’ve expressed here.

  2. I’d love to read your book one day. 🙂 I’m sorry sharing your excitement gets put to the wayside so often, but I love that you made a toast to yourself anyway. You deserve it! 🙂

    1. I often hear other writers say how helpful their spouses are, making endless cups of tea, tiptoeing around, so I started to believe that’s the way things should be… Thank you very much for your kind words!

  3. Brilliant. Hopefully that’ll give you extra impetus to get it finished, now you’ve got some people who’ll remember you and your work. I hope you get it published – they’ll all change their tune when that happens, and it does as well as I’m sure it will! Hope to see it in the bookshop one day! SO great to get positive feedback from professionals.

  4. From having read your blog for a relatively short time it is clear how very well you write. I can’t wait to read your novel. Many congratulations on the great feedback and encouragement. Now – get writing!

  5. I’m so glad you have had some encouragement – even if it’s not yet from the people around you. I hope you can continue to draw some strength from this random collection of strangers on the internet who are all in your corner…we might not be around to share the champagne or take the kids off your hands for a few hours but we do believe in your right to pursue your creative goals and we’ll do whatever we can from afar.

    1. Thank you, Bernadette, that is so kind of you to think and say! By the way, not putting you on the spot or anything, but do you think you might have time now for participating in ‘What Got You Hooked?’ Shall I resend questions?

      1. I did rather lose track of that last year – sorry about that – life was a bit of a muddle and I did have something of a clear out of emails to motivate myself for the new year so yes if you send again I promise not to have another mental collapse before answering

  6. I’m so excited to hear this news, Marina! Your hard work is paying off so keep your eye on that ball, girl. If it’s any comfort, your spouse sounds like mine. It gets rather lonely not having a supportive loved one so feel free to email me any time you need an ear. I mean it. I know I don’t comment here often but I read you all the time. You’ve got what it takes and don’t ever forget it. xo

  7. smiles… cool on the good feedback – and was smiling about the fam stories… they surely keep us grounded – often in a good way – you should hear my daughter when she cits my paintings…. hahah… it’s good to have them around…smiles
    ..and cheers

  8. So sorry, Marina (silence or worse at home) but, also, so very, very well done and how exciting. I do think that at times those closest have stopped being able to be surprised and delighted by the unique gifts and talents…..habituation getting in the way of seeing muumy and partner is more than just someone-in-relationship to ME> ME .

    That ‘Why you’ is the worst. Ooff.

    1. A little of that is necessary for sanity, balance and not getting too ‘up one’s self’, that’s my philosophy. But I for one take great delight and celebrate each one of my family member’s achievements – so it’s reciprocity I’m looking for, I suppose.

  9. Congratulations! Support comes in many different ways, but sometimes blogging friends are just there to share the good, the bad and the ugly. Absolutely no reason to panic…

  10. Looking forward to it ~ hey, I know about family commitments and support ~ Did you know that my family doesn’t read my poems & my hubby is not interested either ~ But a good community or support from friends is crucial & I hope you get cracking, smiles ~

    1. No, mine have never read any of my writing. My kids did try to listen to one of my poems once (I was practising for a reading) but got bored and started teasing each other instead.

  11. I’m so happy for you that you got positive feedback on your writing. Congratulations!

    As for the children’s response, well, they’re self-centered as all the children. Mine don’t understand my love for books either.

    These other quotes made me cringe. No one would dare say that to a man. It’s as if the woman in us should disappear with marriage and motherhood. But if we let her die, we’re like a three-feet stool that has only two feet: it falls down.

    I gather you’ve lived in several countries, how does France treat you? I have the impression here’s not too bad for women who want it all: job, husband and kids.

    1. Since I work freelance, not in a French workplace, it’s a bit hard to tell, but I do like all the childcare facilities/after-school programmes (makes me feel I get something for all the taxes I pay, which I certainly did not feel in the UK). However, the problem here is that I am the designated French speaker, so only I can do all the administrative/organisational things for the house. Even when they involve my husband’s workplace or problems.

      1. Yes we have good and cheap childcare facilities and it is socially accepted to be a working mother.
        Being the only one in charge of administrative chores is not funny. Mes sincères condoléances. 🙂

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