This is a term used by Harold Abrahams (played by Ben Cross in the movie Chariots of Fire) when he describes to Aubrey Montague (played by Nicholas Farrell) what it is to be a successful and upwardly mobile Jew in their beloved and Christian England. When Aubrey responds by saying, "Sounds clever. What does it mean?" Abrahams says it means (the proverbial) they will lead him to water but won't allow him to drink.
This pretty much nails on the head how I felt when my invitation, by the organisers, to enter my novel, Back Kicks And Broken Promises, in this year's Asian American Literary Awards (AALA) was rescinded. To recap the situation, check out my previous blog post Good Things Come To Those Who Wait by clicking here.
I'd discovered the AALA around 2005 and I stumbled across the rules on getting a book considered. The rules clearly state that self-published books are not permitted. Finally hearing back from the organisers, the day before the entry was due, I learnt that books from small presses, even indie ones, are allowed; just not books from vanity presses, which I guess means print-on-demand outlets. It turns out that the organisers didn't investigate deeply enough to find out that Abbott Press, the publisher I used for my novel, is, indeed, a print-on-demand outlet. It's the self-publishing company of Writer's Digest Magazine. When contacting me, I have to say that the AALA organisers were very apologetic and kind and I have no ill will towards them. Even though my hopes were raised - perhaps needlessly - that I may have made a breakthrough into the inner circle of writers and, particularly, Asian American writers, I was given a little ray of hope that my efforts as a writer are not being pursued in vain. Even though Back Kicks is not racking up sales, it may be gaining some kind of critical momentum. After all, it received a strong four-star review from Indie Reader and someone from the AALA organisation liked my book so much that it was invited to be entered without consideration of who published it. Someone from the 'legit' (read: not self-published) world of literature liked my book and considered it worthy to be an entrant into the AALA (read: can stand up to traditionally published Asian American books).
So, while I've waited, and I still think this has been a good thing - having been considered and invited (even though I was uninvited) - I am still waiting; waiting for full recognition of my work. My next two books, which I'm writing simultaneously, although less literary and more genre (science fiction and fantasy/action), they are still strong in Asian American themes and motifs. And, as far as the AALA is concerned, maybe I'll be able to get them traditionally published so my work can be considered again. Outside of the AALA, I just hope I write more books, like Back Kicks, that entertain, educate, inspire, heal, nurture and support those who read it.