I don’t know if this happens to other writers, but every time I see a strange, out-of-state number on my phone, I freak out for a second, trying to guess if it’s a telemarketer (99 times out of 100) or unexpected good news. Sometimes I pick up, sometimes I wait and Google the number. I figure if it’s good news, they’ll leave a message. But when I got the call from the National Endowment for the Arts, I happened to pick up. All I had to hear was where they were calling from for me to know what the news was . . . I was in my office at work, so I couldn’t go too crazy. I once picked up the phone for good news right by the copier and had to bite the inside of my cheeks to keep from screaming. But the news didn’t really hit me until I saw the list and my name alongside Paul Harding, Anthony Marra, Tea Obreht, Celeste Ng, Peter Ho Davies, Meghan Daum and all the others. It’s kind of crazy that emerging writers have to compete against the big guns for this one, but they do pride themselves on being the most egalitarian of awards. The timing was perfect/terrible/awesome/ridiculous because I’m six months pregnant, with baby on the brain (and almost no time to write in the foreseeable future!). But I know the NEA award will not only create opportunities, it will provide the kind of legitimacy I need for myself (especially now) and will force me to find a way to prioritize writing projects in the coming year.