Well, it’s the season again: the Aurealis Awards have opened for nominations, and as usual, the arguments over the nomination process have begun.
I’ve played that game, and frankly, it bores me. What I’d rather do is draw your attention to this. Trent Jamieson is a subtle and talented writer, a major figure in the Australian SF short fiction scene, and one of the nicest and most graceful people going round. Let’s be honest- the man is damned gentlemanly. Here he gives us, in the most articulate way possible, every reason why the AAs are a worthwhile endeavour, and why they deserve support and recognition. Go, read.
In point of fact, I like Trent’s approach so much, I’m going to blatantly copy it 🙂
So, for your edification and possible scorn:
A BLATANT LACING OF TJ’S SHOES
I’ve been nominated for the Aurealis Awards on several occasions, and won the award for Best Horror Short story in 2006.
What did it mean to me to win? Validation, in a way. A jury of my peers had decided that one of my works was the best they had seen that year. Many of the writers with whom I conversed on a regular basis, and whose works and careers I admired, owned that little glass crescent: Geoff Maloney, Stephen Dedman, Dave Luckett, Sean Williams. Now I could count myself amongst their number, and for the first time in my career, not feel that I was a squire in master’s robes.
I had been fortunate, in all the time I had been a part of the Australian SF scene, that writers of much greater experience and mastery of the form had treated me as an equal, without reservation, when they had every right to treat me like the neophyte I undoubtedly was. The perception, I’m certain, was entirely mine, but now I felt like I could look them in the eye. On very few things do I indulge my ego, but belief in myself as a writer is one of them. To have a group of my fellows judge my work against the warp and weft of Australian publications, and pin a blue ribbon on its chest, elevated me. It was one thing for me to believe in my work—I do, without question. That others believed in it, well, that was another thing altogether.
Attending the Award ceremony, which I’ve done for the last 3 years (alas, I shall miss out this year) has brought me face to face with any number of people with whom I’ve since established firm friendships, along with a whole swathe of others with whom I’d already conversed via email: Geoff Maloney, Paul Haines, Brendan Duffy; Rob Hoge, Kate Eltham, Jason Nahrung, Karen Miller, Rjurik Davidson, Trent Jamieson, Heather Gammage, Margo Lanagan, Robert Dobson, Stephen Thompson, Kirsten Bishop, entire busloads of Vision Writing Group members…… I’ve given my family an interstate holiday, been invited back to tutor at Clarion South and conduct workshops for the Queensland Writer’s Centre, eaten the best Italian food of my life, gone backwards down a roller coaster, fondled the leg of a Marilyn Monroe impersonator, been invited to contribute to anthologies, eaten the worst Lebanese food of my life, and may be on the verge of signing with an overseas agent… all because I had the chance to win an Aurealis Award.
Truth is, there are very few awards that have a directly beneficial effect on your career. That’s not why they’re important. Awards are important, at least to me, because they form a focal point for everything that’s going on around you at the time. They’re a nexus point, a way of underlining what came before, and what you aim for afterwards. And they give you a chance to frock up, clink glasses with your peers, and at least for one night of the year, pretend to yourself that what you do does matter a damn to the universe. It’s a good feeling.