THE BLOG
07/03/2012 03:50 pm ET Updated Sep 02, 2012

How Not to Blow Your Forty Five Seconds of Fame

We were hours away from the Minnesota Book Awards, and my husband wanted to know if I'd prepared any remarks in case the book I wrote won.

Well, no.

"I think you should," he said.

Now what? Prepare something, and feel silly if I didn't need it? Then again, we wouldn't be here if there wasn't a chance of needing it... and stumbling around for that minute or two on stage would haunt me for the rest of my life.

So I scribbled something out, practiced it in front of my sweethearts, and memorized it. Then I kept practicing -- in front of the mirror in the hotel bathroom, under my breath as we rode to the ceremony, in my head again as we took our seats.

And guess what? I needed it!

I was excited but relaxed as I walked to the stage, soaking up everything about the magic setting because I was prepared. "Congratulations!" someone said. "Don't lean into the mike," someone else whispered. "Stand about six inches back."

I walked to the podium. The lights were so bright I could barely see any faces, but I knew they were there. So I said, "Hi."

Hi!

That wasn't in my script, but it's what you'd say first. And I nailed it!

Which gave me the confidence to get the rest of it out. Which went something like this...

"My hero is a weatherman I read about in People magazine about thirty years ago, who supposedly loved his job so much he was embarrassed to get paid for it. I have been lucky enough to find not one but two careers I feel that way about, radio and writing. The thing about both is that you're not generally paid so much you can't live with yourself."

And they laughed. They laughed! I let them laugh before I continued.

"The reward is in the work. And once in a while, the chance to attend a great party -- with my friend Todd Orjala from the University of Minnesota Press... and my sweethearts, Darrell and Katie Anderson. Thank you so much for including me."

And that was it. I didn't stumble on one syllable.

You don't want to know how many times I've replayed this moment and everything else about the evening. The memories we made as a family that weekend are among our most cherished.

Now imagine I'd stumbled around for my fifteen seconds (well, forty-five seconds) of fame.

I'd always remember that.

Subscribe to the Culture Shift email.
Get your weekly dose of books, film and culture.