What It’s Like to Not Win the Pulitzer


Most of the time, the import of the words “it’s an honor just to be nominated” doesn’t require much translation. While the thought to say it is nice, maybe even ‘kind,’ this sentiment is only legitimate for as long as it takes for that person to lose, probably more often than anyone would be willing to admit. The tricky thing about the Pulitzer Prizes — which were handed out on Monday — is that you don’t even find out you were nominated until the winners were announced. At which point, you get the exciting news that, well, you’re a loser.

That said, we’re proud to have a Pulitizer “loser” on our staff. It’s pretty exciting! Not many get handed out, there’re tons of potential nominees, and it’s, historically, a pretty prestigious award. And sure, winning is probably exhilarating. But how great is it, exactly, just to be nominated?

Enter young playwright Kristoffer Diaz, whose play about professional wrestlers, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deityopening in a few weeks at Second Stage Theater — was announced as one of the three finalists who didn’t win on Monday. Which is a strange position to be in! On one hand, it’s as if you’re good enough, but not great enough. Or you could just be psyched that you’re even on that level, and react like Diaz did, as he checks out his voice-mails:

I know what it’s all about. I just don’t know to what extent.

The first two or three messages say “congratulations.” The third one, luckily, says “congratulations on being a finalist for the Pulitzer.” My heart pounds. I resist the urge to grab the nearest passenger and yell “I’m a Pulitzer finalist!” I listen to voicemails. I get two messages in before Carole Rothman calls me, filling me in on all the specifics. My agent calls from London — he’s still on his plane there, but just got the news. My brain is melting. My girlfriend calls, and we’re both speechless, and she asks what I want to do, and all I can think is “what the hell do you do at a time like this?”

I get off the plane. I call my mom. She’s getting her hair cut. She can hear in my voice that something is going on. She asks what’s wrong. I tell her. She goes somewhat speechless. If you know my mom, you understand the magnitude of that statement. I call my dad. He says something to the effect of “you’re fucking shitting me.”

See, sometimes, people are happy just to be nominated! And sometimes people just see what they’ve got and are rightfully and sincerely psyched about it instead of looking at the shittier side of life. The rest of Diaz’s blog post is here; it’s a fun, awesome, exciting share of a moment. Apparently, the losers do, in fact, get lucky sometimes.