Tag Archives: awards

The joys of writing

Writing is a hard gig.**  First there’s the actual writing, a rollercoaster of pleasure and pain.  Then there’s finding a home for the product of your many hours of bum-numbing (literally) labour, and the possible (and, for so-far unpublished authors, inevitable) pain of rejection.  If you’re lucky enough to find acceptance, you then have to run the gauntlet of reviews, reviewers, and awards shortlists (or the lack of them).  And all of this while earning less than you would on the dole (unless you’re Mem Fox, who I heard remark about how much money she’d earned for such minimal effort.  Pah.) 

So writing joy can sometimes be thin on the ground, and when it descends, it needs to be noted and celebrated.

I am absolutely delighted, therefore, that the fabulous Cristy Burne has won this year’s Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Book Award in the UK for her novel Takeshita Demons.  I had the pleasure of getting to know Cristy through a mentorship program through Varuna: her writing has great energy, narrative drive and originality, and I’m so unspeakably happy to see that recognised.  (She also won the Voices on the Coast manuscript award last year for One Weekend with Killicrankie, which is a gorgeous piece of work). 

Cristy is also a study in what serious writers need to be able to do: keep going and keep positive.  Killicrankie had many almost-accepteds, and throughout she has continued to write, and to polish what she has already written.  The inimitable (and brutally honest) Doris Lessing once scoffed at a writer who had given up because his first novel hadn’t been published – her view, expressed in one Walking in the Shade (I think), was that you should keep going until you had it right, and that having several unpublished manuscripts in the drawer were part of learning the craft of writing.  (Anyone got the exact quote?)  Writing is not for the faint hearted; and faint hearted is what Cristy Burne is not.  I can’t wait to see Cristy in London in July and to have a glass of something nice to properly celebrate.

Meanwhile, I have just finished reading proofs for my Chomp Famous!, and am now in the process of doing a big structural edit/rewrite on Chess Nuts.  My wonderful editors make this part as easy as can be, but for my money, it’s way harder than the first draft.  But exciting, too: you can see the final novel taking shape under your considering, critical gaze.  Noice.

** Yes, yes, I know, nobody forces you to do it.  I’m merely making observations.

Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards shortlist for The Push

I didn’t realise The Push was up for an award so soon after publication, so it’s all the more delightful to be on the shortlist – and in such great company too.
This is what the judges said:

This is a fascinating work which evokes the historical setting of early 50s Sydney, via an 18-year-old girl’s introduction to ‘The Push’.  It’s also a subtle exploration of the emotional pull between freedom and commitment.  This is a riveting narrative in both its subtle ambiguity concerning character and motivation and for its skilful capture of 1950s Australia with such an unerring accuracy.   It details one of those pivotal times (like the 1960s and the ‘flower children’ movement), in Australian society, except that the ideas of The Push were the often unacknowledged precursor to flower power.  This little minority group in Sydney was experimenting with political, social and sexual freedom in the context of a very hidebound society. Erica’s friendship with Trish, Vanessa and Johnny will change her life forever.  The writer makes no judgments but shows how her protagonist is drawn into this daring group and will have to make many sacrifices if she is to survive within it. The ending is left open and offers many resonances for teenagers today confronting similar choices.

I’m also giving the address at the Western Australian Children’s Book Council dinner tonight, at which 117 people are turning up.  Not that I’m nervous, but I did have a dream all the guests were all in my house, which must have had Tardis-like qualities, as in its real-life dimensions we’d get to six people in the living room before we’d get to the sitting-on-laps stage.