I was thrilled to learn that James McBride has won the National Book Award for fiction. I have long been a fan of McBride. His memoir, The Color of Water, has a place of honor on my bookshelf as does his novel, Song Yet Sung. McBride autographed both books for me when I went to hear him speak at an event sponsored by the Friends of the Nashua Public Library in Nashua, New Hampshire a couple of years ago. My literary buddy, Lisa Allen Lambert, the literary life coach, invited me to the event at Rivier College.
During a private wine and cheese reception McBride and I talked about friends we have in common in the journalism field and his techniques for crafting a compelling work of literature. In the background, jazz was playing. I asked McBride if the selections I was hearing were ones he wrote and performed. He smiled slightly and said yes.
From mutual friends I know that in the early days McBride had a lot of ideas for books but nothing on paper. When he did begin the writing, he struggled. It was not easy for him to get to where he is today. People like McBride are an inspiration to people like me, toiling away at that first novel, hoping to one day get published.