Some Perspective for Awards Season

Look at all of the books, so many many books.

Look at all of the books, so many many books.

Just a little note for some perspective during awards season.

While I’m utterly delighted and very humbled to be nominated for this year’s Aurealis Awards, I’m also very aware that it’s a bit of a crap shoot. One year you may have produced work that you consider to be your best, yet judges don’t agree and you don’t make any lists. Other years you may think the fuss is a bit much because you don’t think you turned out anything super-duper; but you’re on lists.

My point? The shortlists and the awards, while they are very nice, are not the be-all-and-end-all of your career.

There’s a lot of amazing work that hasn’t made the shortlists, not due to any shortcomings, but purely due to individual tastes on the judging panels (who, let us remember, do their best and do not get paid for the time and effort they put in). Awards are not something you can control, they’re also not anything anyone ‘deserves’ or has a right to. Sure, everyone gets a bit miffed and butt-hurt to feel ignored, but being on or off doesn’t change anything about you as a writer. It doesn’t make you better or worse if you win or lose; it doesn’t make your readers love your more or less whether you’re shortlisted or not. It doesn’t mean your book is an ugly baby coz it’s not on a list.

“Easy for her to say” some will sniff, but this is something I’ve said for years (here and here). I’ve been on lists and I’ve been off them; I’ve won awards and I’ve lost them. It’s lovely to feel appreciated, but a shortlisting or an award doesn’t make me write more, or better, and it doesn’t make me stop writing any more than bad reviews or someone else’s public shouting of spite about me.

You don’t write for the awards: you write because you can’t do anything else. You write for one person, first and foremost: yourself. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, an audience chooses to come along for the ride. Who you are as a writer doesn’t change whether you’re awarded/shortlisted or not. The awards are the jam; some days you get it, some days you don’t.

So be gracious, always. Be sane, as much as you can. Be hopeful, but not expectant. Keep your foul moods and snide remarks for the privacy of your own home.  Most of all, keep writing for no one but yourself.

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3 Responses to Some Perspective for Awards Season

  1. Si says:

    I needed that. Ta.

  2. Amen! Awards and shortlists are a false metric for any sort of success. Shinies are nice but the words, oh the words! (Gotta go, has to write more words).