On Awards and validation
It’s been an ice age since I posted, I know. I’m shit, I know. Shaddap.
Life’s been busier than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, as someone’s old granpappy used to no doubt say. In the last month, we’ve sold our old house, moved into a new house (moving blows serious goat), I’ve completed story edits on ENDSINGER, handed in my short for SLASHER GIRLS AND MONSTER BOYS and gotten about 90% of the way through story edits on ILLUMINAE. So yeah, busy. But, my new study has an actual fireplace in it. All I need is one of those chesterfield lounges and a smoking jacket with patches on the elbows. And maybe some kind of pipe.
I had some very good news last week which I should share: I am now officially an award-winning Sci-Fi/Fantasy author. Exclamation mark!
STORMDANCER got short-listed for a few cool awards, but never quite got past the finish line. However, I’m chuffed to report my novella THE LAST STORMDANCER won the 2013 Aurealis Award for best Fantasy Short Fiction. Which was very flattering and humbling and cool. Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend the show or the booze-up afterward because of the aforementioned moving house and goat blowing. Which kiiiinda sucks since I don’t get to wear a fancy suit all that often anymore, and my bride looks dynamite in evening wear. Alas.
Awards are a funny beast. It’s very nice to be nominated and even nicer to win them, but here’s the thing – I’m not sure you can let them occupy any space in your mind, or take them as any kind of validation of ability. And this is not to say I prefer the state of “not winning awards” to “winning awards”. I’m very flattered to have won. Given the choice, most artists would probably prefer the latter state of being – at least, people who rely on sales to pay their electricity bills. I am one of these, so chuffed to win, you may color me.
But you can lose or win on any given Sunday. A different jury almost certainly would’ve made a different decision. Talk to two different people, even people with common interests in genre fiction or marmoset death matches or hobo pit-fighting or whatever, chances are they’ll love and hate different elements of even the narrowest sphere. There are people out there who fucking HATE my books like poison. There are people out there who say I’m the greatest thing since time travel hover cars. Are either of them right? Both? Neither?
Dealing with a concept as nebulous as “making art”, how do you know you’re actually doing it well?
If you sell a lot of copies, does that mean you’re doing it well? Because Justin Beiber sells a lot of records and his music sounds like rhesus monkeys gargling jizz to me. 50 Shades of grey has sold more copies than any book in the history of the English language. Seriously, it’s sold more copies than the fucking bible. Lighting books on fire was a pretty popular pastime in certain parts of the world not so long ago. I’m not sure you can trust the opinions of the majority, is what I’m saying.
Awards? Again, lovely and flattering and wonderful to win them, but if awards were some kind of divining rod for quality, every show would be listing the same books, right? And one need only listen for a second to the latest shitstorm surrounding the Hugo shortlistings to get a glimpse of how far away from that sunny day we might be.
So again, very flattering to have won. It’s very nice, me ma and da were proud, and the trophy looks awesome next to my Stormdancer lego. Would like to continue winning them, if at all possible.
I guess I’m just saying this:
If you’re having fun making your art, you’re doing it well.
If it makes you feel better as a person, you’re doing it well.
If it gives you a reason to get up in the morning, you’re doing it well.
Everything else is just a bonus.
Thank you to all the judges, committee members and everyone involved with the Aurealis awards! And happy easter all!